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.
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:
- Loaded (Sweet) Potato Wedges (V, P): because the only thing better than nachos is nachos using potatoes!
- Fudgey Black Bean Zucchini Cookies (V): black beans in cookies? Don't knock it 'til you sink your teeth in these chewy dreams!
- Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash (V, P): which puts a healthy twist on a Mexican favorite.
- Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Lime Rice (V): because nothing says "winter comfort food" more than a creamy bowl of soup!
- Salmon Black Bean Enchilada Bake: in case you want to add a sea-side touch to your usual enchiladas...
- Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies (V, P): a tasty treat from one of my favorite bloggers.
|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.
|That purple sweet potato though...|
Historically, 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:
- Seven Minutes 'Till Heaven Loaded Baked Potatoes (V, P option): any of these beans pair great with a fluffy baked (sweet) potato.
- Levantine Socca Pizza (V, P): give pizza a healthy upgrade using chickpea flour.
- Maple Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookie Dippers (V): another example that beans can be a secret weapon in baking.
- Two Bean Meatless Meatloaf (V): this recipe pairs chickpeas with pinto beans for a vegan alternative to the classic 50's Diner dinner.
- Slow Cooker Potato, Chickpea and Beet Greens Curry (V): you can't go wrong with creamy curry. And you know I love beet greens!
- 3-Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies (V): who knew that aquafaba would result in the fluffiest, lightest cookies ever?
- Mexican Crustless Chickpea Quiche (V): if you think you'll never taste quiche again after going vegan...chickpeas have proved you wrong!
2016 was the year that I became addicted to chickpeas...and I think these recipes are plain examples why!
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:
- Lentil Kidney Bean Chili (V): if you're looking for a delicious way to smash the plant-based protein, look no further than this chili!
- Gluten Free and Vegan Pizza with Pizzaz (V): beans on pizza? If you have any leftover beans from these other recipes, top them on your next pie for a hit of plant-based protein.
- Baked Kidney Bean Brownies (V, P): just hand these out at work, watch people devour them and then reveal their secret ingredient!
- The Easiest Gluten Free Green Veggie Soup (V): just add chickpeas at the end of cooking for a protein-packed, creamy addition to your soup!
- Vegan Kidney Bean Salad: in case you want to kick of 2017 with a fresh salad, this one is as healthy as it is delicious.
- Roasted Kidney Bean and Chickpea Trail Mix (V, P option): trail mix? with beans? Obviously, this recipe has my name all over it!
|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.
|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?
- Kale and White Bean Soup: I've always been a sucker for simple, cozy dinners!
- Vegan White Bean Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes: just when you thought mashed potatoes couldn't get any better...
- Creamy Gluten and Dairy Free Mac N' Cheese (V, P option): my latest discovery? GF pasta + white beans + a vegan cheese or pesto sauce = heaven!
- Stuffed Zucchini Boats (or Balls) (V, P option): for a veggie-packed meal, just add your choice of bean. White beans and pesto are always a tasty match.
- Southwest Veggie Burgers with Black Bean and Corn Salsa: these veggie burgers feature white beans, brown rice, one egg and spices. For double bean trouble, add a Southwestern salsa on the side.
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.
|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!