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Cooking with Beans – Tips, Tricks & More!

By Kelsie White

Cooking with Beans – Tips, Tricks & More!

Nutrition Bites | Week 9

Welcome to Nutrition Bites! Because it is a new month, this session will be focused on a nutrition education topic. But don’t worry, I will still be sharing several great recipes with you! This week is all about cooking with beans. Beans and legumes are incredibly nutritious and should be included in every diet. But eating beans can be intimidating, mostly because of some of the unpleasant side effects (“beans, beans, the musical fruit”). Therefore, I am here to share some tips and tricks with you on how to prepare beans to reduce gas and bloating, as well as some fun recipes to get you started. Let’s dig in!

What’s the Big Deal with Beans?

When I was a nutrition student, one question that I consistently asked my supervisors and mentors was, “If you could recommend one food that everyone try and consume more regularly, what food would that be?” 99% of the time, the answer was BEANS! I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, because beans are one of the most nutritious food groups. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates (making them very beneficial for diabetes management), a great source of fiber (which can also help with blood sugar and cholesterol management), as well as a plant source of protein. Additionally, they are packed with many vitamins and minerals including folate and potassium. Just to give you an idea, here is what 1 cup of canned, low-sodium black beans provides:

  • 220 calories
  • 0 grams fat
  • 14 grams protein
  • 42 grams carbohydrates
  • 20 grams fiber
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 170 mg sodium
  • 1.7 mg iron
  • 44 mg calcium

There are a few nutrients in this list that I want to highlight. First is the amount of fiber! Depending on which beans you choose, you could get anywhere from 15-30 grams of fiber from just 1 cup. That alone is more than the average American eats in an entire day (about 10-15 grams per day). Here at Lifestyle Medical, we recommend you aim to consume 40 grams of total fiber per day, which is higher than the recommendations set out in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Simply adding 1 cup of beans to your daily diet can provide half or more of the daily recommended fiber intake. This can be a simple way to start adding in more fiber.

Types of Beans 

There are so many types of beans that I encourage you to do some experimenting, especially if there are certain ones you don’t like. Different types of beans can have different flavors, so keep an open mind and try a few types that you have never had before. Some options of beans and legumes include black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini beans, chickpeas, great northern beans, green peas, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and soybeans. Here is a chart that compares the nutritional composition of a few popular beans.

Cooking Tips

One of the first rules when it comes to cooking your own beans at home is to cook them “low and slow.” This is important to remember, especially when it comes to reducing unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms. This can be done on the stove top, or in a crockpot to allow for maximum cooking time. However, you can also cook beans using an instant pot if you are short on time. There are also some other tips you can try implementing to further reduce gas and bloating:

  • Soak beans in water a few times before cooking. Be sure to rinse well and discard the soaking water each time.
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda to the soaking water and/or during cooking.
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar just as beans finish cooking.
  • Add kombu seaweed during cooking.
  • Rinsed canned beans well and simmer in clean water for 10-15 minutes to allow for additional cooking.
Favorite Ways to Eat Beans 

Now comes the best part: sharing some of my all-time favorite recipes that include beans. First is a recipe for Crockpot Refried Beans. This recipe is simple to make and produces some of the most delicious and creamy “refried” beans. Some fun ways to eat these “refried” beans include tacos, burritos, bowls, and breakfast burritos. Next, here is a recipe for Black Bean Corn Salad. Eating beans in cold salads is a fun way to incorporate them, especially as the weather starts heating up. This salad is delicious on its own, or as a topping for tacos, soups, etc. Lastly, another great way to incorporate more beans is to include them in your Plant Power Bowls (aka Buddha Bowls). Here is a great recipe from the Minimalist Baker. Additionally, you can check out our article dedicated to building your own Plant Power Bowls.

Beans for Breakfast 

This might sound like a novel idea but eating beans for breakfast can be a great way to increase your intake. Check out this article for a bunch of tasty ideas. Here is also a list of some fun ideas to help get you started:

  • Sheet pan breakfast hash with beans
  • Breakfast quesadillas with beans
  • Avocado toast with beans
  • Huevos rancheros tostadas
  • Breakfast tacos with beans
  • Breakfast enchiladas
  • Beans on toast
  • Lifestyle Medical’s very own Dr. Dysinger also has his own beans for breakfast recipe. Check it out here: Dr. Dysinger’s Breakfast Beans
Weekly Challenge 

It is my hope that you read this and see the many good reasons to include beans in your diet, as well as some fun and easy recipes to start trying. This week, I want to challenge you to include beans in your meals at least 3x through the week. Enjoy!

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