Beans, beans, beans

Are you a baked bean lover? Jenni is and she reckons it's time others like her said it loud and proud.

Baked beans on toast

Jacket potato and beansWho doesn't love baked beans? Well apparently not everyone. At a food industry conference I attended last week we were talking about the impact of the credit crunch on shopping habits and one delegate commented that a future in which more and more people ate supermarket own-label baked beans was a bleak one indeed.

What rubbish. It's time we ate our baked beans with pride.

Of course, everyone seems to feel as though they have to make fart jokes when talking about baked beans. But they're never as funny as, Blazing Saddles. are they? And Mel Brooks released that back in 1974, so surely now we can move on.

Baked beans are great grub. They cost around 35p for a 420g can and it takes just three heaped tablespoons to count as one of our five-a-day veg portions. Their fibre and iron content are undeniably healthy, though some nutritionists say it's good to be wary of the sugar and salt content of some varieties. And choosing foods low on the food chain, like beans and other legumes, apparently helps reduce our carbon footprint. So what's not to like?

I often make Boston baked beans Boston baked beans from scratch overnight in the slow cooker, but eat canned beans just as frequently. Encouraging Tortilla and baked beanskids to jazz up baked beans is a great way to get them cooking. I remember one of the earliest things I learnt to make was a cross between beans on toast and cheese on toast - a€“ fledgling gourmet or what! I'd grill the bread on one side, then turn it over and spoon on hot baked beans (leaving quite a bit of sauce in the pan), then cover that with finely sliced cheddar and sprinkle it with chopped chives before grilling again. Come to think of it, I don't know why I ever stopped making it.

Top foodie nutritionist Jane Clarke Jane Clarke heartily recommends baked beans in her book Bodyfoods for Busy People, and even suggests serving them with good bread and red wine to friends who come round for supper. I'€™m not sure I'd have the chutzpah to crack open a can on those occasions, but wouldn'€™t serving own-made baked beans be fun? And a lot easier than most of the recipes we turn to when guests come over.