Though kale, quinoa and chia may be the most buzzed-about super foods, there’s another secret (and inexpensive) item you’re probably not cooking with enough: Beans. A longtime staple of many cuisines worldwide, beans are a nutritional powerhouse that can — and should! — find a way into your weeknight meals.
What Makes Beans So Healthy?
Loaded with fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and folic acid, beans play a pivotal role in a healthy diet, with one cup of cooked beans providing approximately 14 to 18 grams of protein, said Vandana Sheth, a CDE, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Beans are also rich in lignans (a group of chemical compounds found in plants) which are known to play an important role in helping with heart disease, osteoporosis and preventing some types of cancers. While all beans are nutritious, Sheth’s top picks include garbanzo, black and kidney beans.
How to Cook with Beans
Dried beans can be purchased in bulk bins from your local grocery store then soaked in water overnight and prepared on the stovetop in a pot, in a pressure cooker or on a slow cooker (Sheth prefers using her pressure cooker, as it speeds up the process). You can also cook with canned beans by simply draining and rinsing the beans before cooking. To make things easy, consider preparing a large batch of cooked beans then varying the ways you use them.
“Cooked garbanzo beans can be made into hummus, added to a soup, or tossed with herbs and vegetables in a salad,” Sheth says. “You can also make garbanzo bean burgers.”
Ideas for Cooking with Beans
Beans can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and can easily be incorporated into your diet. Use beans whole in salads, soups or casseroles; puree them into dips, such as hummus, or spreads for wraps and sandwiches. Even combining them with Hunt's® Tomato Sauce to create a plethora of delicious chili recipes and sauces! Sheth’s favorite bean-centered recipes include vegetarian chili, bean burgers and bean burritos — all completely different from each other with one central ingredient! Here are some more of our favorites:
Two-Bean Vegetable Chili—this easy chili uses canned beans and Hunt's® Diced Tomatoes with Sweet Onion as a base for an easy, and hearty, dinner.
Southwestern Breakfast Burritos—combine black beans, Hunt's® Petite Diced Tomatoes and cilantro with scrambled eggs and cheese for a breakfast wrap with a kick.
Stuffed Peppers—use a large bell pepper in lieu of a tortilla and fill it with your favorite burrito ingredients, like beans, brown rice, corn and Hunt's® Tomato Sauce.
White Bean Minestrone Soup—this recipe uses white beans, kale and pasta as ingredients for a classic and comforting soup in just 30-minutes.