A Healthy Chef's Guide to Cooking Gluten Free with Beans

When it comes to beans, people usually fall in one of two categories: they love em' or they hate them. Considering that today is National Bean Day, though, I figured we should celebrate bean lovers...and maybe even convert people in the latter group!

Now, beans and I have always had a good relationship, but we didn't start going steady until I began experimenting with more plant-based meals. Suddenly, I realized: black beans aren't the only legumes who know how to party! White beans, kidney beans, chickpeas...the list ran on and on.

casey the college celiac national bean day

As does the list of how you can work beans into your daily diet. The truth is, beans aren't just for side dishes anymore. They can be the star of an entree or even the secret ingredient of dessert. Ready to celebrate National Bean Day in (delicious) style? Here's a healthy chef's guide bean types, their health benefits, and common kitchen uses - plus plenty of drool-worthy gluten free, vegan and paleo recipes along the way.

1. Black Beans

You may only know black beans for being a plant based source of protein, but this food packs a bigger nutritional punch than just that. Black beans also offer high doses of fiber, folate, copper, manganese, vitamin B1 and magnesium. Studies have also shown that black beans can reduce inflammation, protect against cancer, improve digestive health and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Some common uses for black beans include dishes from Mexican, Brazilian, Dominican, Cuban and Creole cuisines. For instance, you've probably seen black beans inside or served as a side with burritos or tacos, or pureed into a thick soup or dip for chips. To use black beans to the fullest in your own kitchen, you can experiment with recipes like:

*V = Vegan, P = Paleo (in terms of the rest of the ingredients being paleo as beans are not part of a "strict" paleo diet)

casey the college celiac national bean day
Nachos, enchiladas, potatoes...whatever they are, they're delish!

Whether you're sneaking black beans into your dessert or diving into dinner, this plant-based protein is always guaranteed to give your taste buds one heck of a fiesta!

2. Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

Am I the only one whose mind was totally blown when I figured out that chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing? Or that chickpeas actually taste freakin' delicious? Well, even if I'm alone in those surprises, I'm not the only one enjoying the health benefits of chickpeas.

Chickpeas are one of the oldest consumed crops in the world, filling people's plates for over 7,500 years. As with black beans, chickpeas are high in fiber and protein. They are also packed with manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus and iron. Studies have also shown that chickpeas help maintain blood sugar levels, aid with satiety and weight loss, improve digestion, balance unhealthy cholesterol levels and reduce hypertension.

casey the college celiac national bean day
That purple sweet potato though...

, chickpeas first appeared in Mediterranean countries before spreading to southern France and Germany. Ancient Romans used chickpeas in everything from broths to roasts to stews. As chickpeas became popular in the Middle East, they also appeared in foods like hummus and falafel. Chickpeas are also unique in that you can use with chickpea flour and aquafaba, or the liquid found in a chickpea can! How can you easily add chickpeas to your diet? Try out recipes like:

2016 was the year that I became addicted to chickpeas...and I think these recipes are plain examples why!

casey the college celiac national bean day
Those cookies!

3. Kidney Beans

If you're craving a rainbow for dinner, kidney beans might be your secret weapon: they come in a variety of colors and patterns, including white, black, red, purple, spotted and striped. Besides being rich in protein, kidney beans consist of 78% starch and a good dose of fiber. They also offer high levels of molydenum, folate, iron and copper while helping protect eaters from colon cancer. Be aware, though, that kidney beans are toxic when uncooked or improperly cooked!

For people wanting to lower their meat consumption in 2017, kidney beans may become your new best friend. Combine them with a whole grain like brown rice or gluten free pasta for a complete protein. Because kidney beans hold up well when cooked, you'll often see them in simmered dishes or stews. Another bonus? Kidney beans absorb the flavors they're cooked with well. Some of my favorite dishes include:

casey the college celiac national bean day
Kidney beans = 100X more delicious than they sound!

I'll admit, kidney beans aren't my favorite out of the group...but some of these eats have definitely converted me.

4. White/Cannellini Beans

To round up this celebration for National Bean Day, here are some facts about white beans that you should know. First of all, one cup boasts around 90 calories - which offer 8% of your needed daily calcium, 7.7% of your needed daily potassium needs and 25% of your needed fiber. White beans also can help prevent skin damage (and skin cancer) and can aid people with Crohn's disease. Like other beans, Cannellini also help people regulate blood sugar, reduce high blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.

casey the college celiac national bean day
Under all of that pesto goodness...

As the Huffington Post has shown
, white beans can appear in a variety of recipes, ranging from dip to plenty of different kinds of soup to chili's to quesadillas. Some of my favorites?

Basically, these recipes show that, when it comes to food, white beans are the new black!

Maybe you're already a legume-lover. Maybe in 2017, you're just hoping to lower your meat consumption - which has been shown to not only make people healthier, but also decrease greenhouse gas emissions and lower health care costs. Either way, National Bean Day is the perfect chance to add some beans to your diet.

casey the college celiac national bean day
Make your pizza and eat it too!

Who knows. After you try some of these tasty recipes - or eat a bean brownies and don't even taste the bean - you might even find yourself asking: "Where have you bean all my life?"

*Also found at VegetarianMama, What's Cookin' Wednesday, Saucy Saturdays, Pretty Pintastic, Creative Collection, Snickerdoodle Sunday, RunningwithSpoons, InspirationMonday!*

What's your favorite type of bean or bean recipe? Do you try to add plant-based protein to your diet? Tell me your thoughts below!


  1. It's national bean day?! I need to celebrate!! I am a bean fan for sure. I love cooking up black beans and mashing them like refried beans! I add them to literally everything I eat :)

  2. Wow, I love beans but this gives me new ideas!!!

    1. Glad I can give you some new ideas :) Love you! XOXO

  3. These are great! I love beans, especially black beans and chickpeas, and I needed new ideas to try!


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