Plant-Based Basics: Beans

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Today I’m starting a new series called Plant-Based Basics! This series is one you won’t want to miss if you are new to a plant-based diet or if you feel like you’ve been struggling to eat well. This series will also be the perfect thing to send to you friends or family who are curious about what you eat.

Plant-Based Basics: Beans What you need to know to get started eating healthy

Today’s focus will be on Beans. For many plant-based eaters, myself included, beans make up a large portion of our diet.

Why Eat Beans

Let’s look at a few reasons that Beans are so good for you.

  • High in Soluble and Insoluble FiberWhy eat beans?
  • High in Protein
  • High in Carbohydrates
  • High in Minerals
  • High in Vitamins
  • Low in Fat
  • No Cholesterol

Eating beans reduces the risk of “chronic disease such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease” according to the USDA.

Beans are easy to include into your menu whether you eat vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to cut your grocery bill.

There are a lot of different types of beans too. I typically use pinto beans, black beans, white beans, and chickpeas most often. My favorite bean to use when I’m in a hurry is the lentil. Lentils are smaller and cook quickly.

Canned vs. Dry Beans

Canned beans are delicious and healthy. Although canned beans often contain large amounts of salt. Reduce the sodium levels by rinsing canned beans before using. Canned beans are fully cooked and can be eaten without any further preparation.

Dry Beans need to be cooked before eating. Follow the steps below for Soaking and Cooking Dry Beans or use this Printer-Friendly Guide: How to Soak and Cook Dry Beans.

You can expect to spend a lot more money on canned beans compared to dry beans. While dry beans are less expensive they take more time to prepare. Most people still consider canned beans to be inexpensive compared to animal products.

How to Soak and Cook Dry Beans

  1. Sort dry beans making sure there are no rocks, sticks or other debris.
  2. Rinse your beans with clean water.
  3. Put rinsed beans in a pot and cover them with water. I generally use a 1 part bean, 2 parts water ratio but you can use more water.
  4. Soak beans overnight.
  5. The next day, rinse the beans again and refill water. The water should cover the beans.
  6. Bring the beans to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Cook the beans from 1-3 hours. Some beans take longer to cook than others. (You can add onions, garlic, a bay leaf, etc. if desired.)
  7. Beans become soft when done. You can scoop up a few beans in a spoon and lightly blow on them, if the bean skin peels away they are done.

A one pound bag of dry beans is about 2 1/2 cups. Once cooked they will make about 5 cups of beans.

One can of beans is about 1 1/2 cups. Most of the time you will want to drain and rinse the beans if using canned.

Lentils do not need to be soaked prior to cooking. They cook quickly in about 20 minutes.

Some people swear by products like the Instant Pot Programmable Pressure Cooker, Stove Top Pressure Cooker’s, or Crock-Pot Slow Cookers for cooking beans.

Plant-Based Beans

How to Eat Beans

Beans are incredibly versatile! They can be eaten whole, puréed, ground into flour, partially mashed or even baked into treats.

We eat whole beans often. I like them in burritos, wraps, casseroles, mixed into soup or chili or just by themselves.

We also eat puréed beans a lot. Hummus is a popular bean recipe that can be made in a ton of different flavors.

Plant-Based Beans

Favorite Recipes that use Beans

Most of our favorite recipes are Mexican food but beans are used throughout the world.  These recipes are our favorites. Feel free to add links to your favorite recipes in the comments.

Even when a recipe specifies a particular kind of bean, often other beans can be substituted.

I use pinto beans and black beans interchangeably in many recipes including Taco Soup, Enchilada Soup, Unfried Beans (although I alter the spices slightly when making Unfried Black Beans), Taco Salad, Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole, or Bean and Grain Bowls.

I use white beans (Great Northern Beans) and garbanzo beans interchangeable too.  A few of our favorite recipes are Green Chili White Bean Dip, Lasagna, Creamy Italian Salad Dressing, Chickpea Noodle Soup, Lemony Quinoa Salad and many more.

I use lentils in Lentil Tacos, Quinoa-Lentil Tacos, Lentil & Barley Stew, Quinoa-Lentil Salad and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. I also randomly include them in almost anything. I feel like Lentils are the ultimate super food.

Are you a Bean Eater? What is your favorite way to prepare and enjoy beans?

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