These are meant to be cooked and eaten, pods and all. They're best if they're steamed or stir-fried just until they're tender but still crisp. Select bright green beans that snap when broken in half. Their peak season is in the summer. Substitutes: wax bean (different color; wax bean is yellow) OR Italian flat bean (flatter pods, excellent flavor) OR dragon tongue bean OR winged bean (less flavorful) Because green beans are high in fiber and water, they are low in calories with one-half cup serving furnishing only 22 calories. Green beans are naturally low in sodium Beans are low in fat and loaded with nutrients, and we'd probably eat more of them if they weren't also loaded with flatulence-producing enzymes. There are ways to enjoy beans without having to forego social appointments, however. One is to change the water from time to time while you're soaking or cooking the beans. Pouring off the water helps gets rid of the indigestible complex sugars that create gas in your intestine. It also helps to cook the beans thoroughly, until they can be easily mashed with a fork. Most bean aficionados prefer dried beans, but canned beans are also available. These don't need to be cooked, but they tend to be saltier and less flavorful than reconstituted dried beans.