Plant-Based Basics: Beans

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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7 Quick and Easy Mexican Food Ideas

Today is Cinco de Mayo. For most of you that is just an excuse to eat Mexican food, you know that I don’t need an excuse to eat Mexican food. It’s pretty much on the menu daily at our casa. It takes a lot of thought to branch out into anything else for me.

Today I’m going to forgo the normal Meal Plan and share 7 Quick and Easy Mexican Food Ideas! This is for those of you who haven’t planned and have NO TIME! Go ahead and admit it, embrace it even.

Each of these ideas can be ready in less than 30 minutes, some much less. If you are exhausted, frustrated or feel like running away from home then these recipes are for you.

7 Quick and Easy Mexican Food Ideas

7 Quick and Easy Mexican Food Ideas

Let’s begin the countdown with the recipes taking the longest time to the recipes taking the least amount of time. Remember they are all quick, taking less than 30 minutes.  [Read more…]

Creamy Italian Salad Dressing (Oil-Free)

Here is the deal, I need a good salad dressing for my salads. If you are like me you probably avoid the store-bought stuff too. It’s either loaded with oil, sugar, or loads of chemicals. No thanks!

My Sweet and Tangy Salad Dressing was such a big hit that I wanted to branch out. I wanted a creamy salad dressing. Most creamy dressings contain oil and even the “healthy” dressings contain nuts, often cashews. My little guy is allergic to nuts so those dressings are not an option. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of eating hundreds of calories of salad dressing in just a few spoonfuls.

Don’t worry, I have the answer. The frugal, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, oil-free, easy to make with pantry staples, vegan salad dressing answer.

Creamy Italian Salad Dressing

Creamy Italian Salad Dressing (Oil-Free, Low-Fat)

Creamy Italian Salad Dressing (Oil-Free)
Recipe type: Salad Dressing
  • 1½ cup cooked white beans, drain and rinse if using canned (I cooked great Northern beans)
  • ½ cup (to 1 cup) water
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional)
  1. Warm beans slightly then place in a blender or food processor (I used my Blendtec).
  2. Pour in ½ cup water.
  3. Squeeze juice from lemon into a small dish, remove any seeds then pour juice into dressing. Start with 2 tbsp of lemon juice and add one more tablespoon of juice if needed.
  4. Dump in the rest of the spices then blend/process well.
  5. Scrap sides of container and add more water if necessary.
  6. Dressing should come out creamy and smooth. More water and spices can be added to meet your preferences.

This salad dressing can be enjoyed on salad, in wraps and even served warm on pasta (gluten-free pasta for us). Last night we served in on a garden salad to accompany our Minestrone Soup.

Since this salad dressing uses beans I recommend you enjoy it within 5 days. Don’t worry you will come up with plenty of ways to use and this recipe makes approximately  2 cups. My 5 year old ate more than his fair share on salad then asked for more to eat with a spoon.

If you need a salad dressing with a longer shelf life try my Oil-Free Sweet and Tangy Salad Dressing.

Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide

Green Chili White Bean Dip

I’ve been selfishly keeping this Green Chili White Bean Dip to myself. Today is the day I set it free! It’s made with pantry staples so if you have nothing in the fridge you can still make this dip. I think it is “guilt-free” so if you end up eating the whole bowl with a spoon there is no harm done.

Green Chili white bean dip

Green Chili White Bean Dip


  • 1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used Great Northern beans)
  • 1 (4 oz) can of diced green chilies
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • cilantro (optional)


  1. Pour beans, chilies, and seasonings into a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth, add a little water if needed.
  3. Taste, add extra seasonings if desired.


I devoured this dip with Way Better Snacks Simply Beyond Black Bean Tortilla Chips and homemade Pico de Gallo. Way Better Snacks are made from real ingredients like seeds, grains and beans.

You could also eat the Green Chili White Bean Dip with veggies or use it as a sandwich or wrap spread. I finished it off with a spoon though, it is just that good!

This tip would be perfect for a potluck!

I also wanted to invite you all to join a brand new Facebook group for our community. The My Plant-Based Family Group is a group for anyone interested in plant-based living. Discussion, questions and encouragement are welcome! Click HERE to join!

Bean and Potato Burritos using Oil-Free Skillet Potatoes

Even before we transitioned to a plant-based diet our family loved Bean and Potato Burritos. My husband has told stories about going on field trips as a small child and his “packed lunch” was a Bean and Potato Burrito. Some of the other kids would want to trade their white bread sandwiches.

I don’t know how my mother-in-law made her Bean and Potato Burritos but I’m pretty sure they were not oil free, in fact they probably contained lard.

Bean and Potato Burrtios

Skillet Potatoes (Oil-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free)


  • 10 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, diced (I like to add extra onion powder too)
  • 3-5 garlic cloves minced, OR garlic powder to taste
  • salt and pepper are optional, add them after cooking to you taste
  • 1/2 cup or water or veggie broth (more if needed)


  1. Put diced potatoes, diced onion and garlic in a large skillet and add about 1/2 cup of water or veggie broth.
  2. Begin cooking over medium heat and cover with a lid. Stir regularly, potatoes will likely stick to the pan.
  3. Cook for 20-30 minutes adding more liquid as necessary.

Note: Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your skillet, amount of potatoes and the size of the potatoes. If you don’t use a non-stick pan ( I don’t) you will want to keep plenty of liquid in the pan to keep the potatoes from sticking and burning.


The potatoes are great in burritos or as a side dish. I also like to eat them in a bowl for a quick snack. To make Bean and Potato Burritos follow the instructions below. The potatoes are very soft and are perfect for small children, or kids who have lost a few baby teeth and need soft foods.

Bean and Potato Burritos (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Use the Oil-Free Skillet Potatoes detailed above along with the recipe for Unfried Pinto Beans (or Unfried Black Beans if you prefer). Choose your favorite tortilla, I used  Food For Life’s Black Rice Tortillas.

Layer Unfried Beans, Skillet Potatoes and any other toppings like fresh salsa or just diced tomatoes into a warm tortilla.

These Bean and Potato Burritos are perfect for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and travel well. I eat them warm or room temperature. I think I’ll make a batch for our next road trip too.

The Food For Life Black Rice Tortillas are vegan, gluten-free and yeast-free. I’ve also used them for Veggie Rollups for my boys. Like most tortillas that are vegan and gluten-free they are a little on the rigid side. This can be helped by heating them in a moist paper towel. I wrapped my boys rollups in plastic wrap to help them keep it from unraveling.

FTC Disclaimer: I received the Food For Life Black Rice Tortillas for free but was under no obligation to review them.