Beans are among the most nutrient dense foods available so they’re a beneficial food to include in your diet. They're also incredibly versatile. Here you'll find some of the top health benefits of beans along with my favorite vegan recipes.
Reasons to Love Beans
Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat…
Do to their affects on our digestive system, beans, pulses, and legumes sometimes get a bad rap, but they’re some of the most nutrient dense foods available so they’re a beneficial food to include in your diet. They’re also incredible versatile, so you can eat them for days on end and never get tired of them.
Because they can be stored for long periods of time and offer many health benefits, beans are found in most traditional cultures as a staple food. And they’re inexpensive, so you’re getting a lot of nutrients for little money. I love beans, and always keep several different kinds stocked in my pantry at all times. I like to buy dried beans and cook them myself, either in the slow cooker in the Instant Pot, but I also keep cans of beans on hand for those times when I want something quick. There are many reasons to include legumes in your diet on a regular basis, and I’ve listed just a few of them below.
The Health Benefits of Beans
- Beans are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc, making them one of the most nutrient rich foods available.
- They are also very high in protein, so you don’t have worry about where to get your protein on a vegan diet when you include legumes in your meals on a regular basis. (You probably wouldn’t have to worry about protein anyway!)
- The soluble fiber in beans can help reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- The fiber in legumes can also cut the risk of developing high blood pressure, and it can help lower it in those already suffering from hypertension.
- The balance of complex carbohydrates and protein in beans provides a slow, steady source of glucose. Studies have shown that they can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- The isoflavones and phytosterols in legumes can help lower the risk of certain types of cancer such as colorectal and breast cancers.
- They’re high in enzymes that are crucial for making skin pigment and connective tissue.
- Beans contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which keeps the digestive system moving smoothly.
- The high fiber content in legumes can also help you feel fuller longer and can stave off hunger, so it’s a good food to include in your diet if you’re trying to lose weight.
- They’re inexpensive and delicious!
Types of Beans
Some of my the most common types of beans include:
- Edamame (soybeans)
- Black eyed peas
- Great Northern
Other types of beans include broad, lima, cranberrys, mung, and fava.
How to Cook Dry Beans
Sure, you can just open a can of beans, but they're so much tastier when they're cooked from scratch.
To prepare your dried beans, first place them in a colander and check them for pebbles. Give them a good rinse and place them in bowl with enough water to cover them. Let them soak for 4 to 8 hours. Soaking them will cut down on the cooking time as well as make them more digestible. Then drain the soaking water and rinse the beans again. You can skip the soaking step, but your beans will take longer to cook.
Now you place your beans in a pot with water to cook them. If you’re cooking 1 cup of dried beans, you’ll need about 3 cups of water. One cup of dried beans will cook up to about 2 cups. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer uncovered. If foam that may forms on the top of the water, you can skim it off with a large spoon.
Your beans are ready when they're tender. The amount of time it takes depends on the type of bean, but in general they take about an hour to an hour and a half.
If you have a slow cooker, you can place your beans and water in it and cook them on low for 8 hours.
You can also cook dried beans in your Instant Pot. If the beans aren’t soaked, you will need to cook them for 40 to 45 minutes. Soaked beans should cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Then use the natural release for 20 minutes.
Note that lentils don't need to be soaked and take between 10 and 20 minutes to cook.
How to Make Beans More Digestible
As for those unpleasant affects on the digestive system, that often happens when beans aren’t prepared properly. To help with digestibility, use dry beans and soak them overnight before cooking them. Legumes can sometimes cause gas when they haven’t been cooked long enough, so increase cooking time. Add a little kombu or kelp seaweed to the water. They will improve the flavor, add minerals to the water, and help with digestion. Adding cumin, fennel, vinegar, miso, soy sauce, or salt towards the end of cooking will help with digestion, too.
10+ Vegan Bean Recipes
Chickpeas, pintos, lentils, kidney beans, cannellinis – there is such a wide variety of legumes to choose from, and they’re extremely versatile. They’re great in tacos, pasta dishes, soups, and salads. They can be mashed up and made into burgers or pureed and turned into dips. There are endless possibilities!
Snacks and Appetizers
These chickpeas are highly addictive! Snack on them, add them to salads, or use them to garnish soups.
This healthy recipe couldn’t be easier to make. Simply mix all of the oil-free pesto ingredients together in a food processor, and the spread it on slices of whole grain bread.
Serve this silky smooth dip with pita wedges or cut vegetables at parties for a fun appetizer, or spread it onto sandwiches for a delicious lunch.
Soups and Stews
Grab a spoon and dig into a cozy bowl of creamy Curried Pumpkin Peanut Soup! This easy to make recipe is a definite crowd-pleaser!
This homemade soup is terrific for lunch or even light dinner.
Loaded with vegetables, this vegan Three Bean Chili is the perfect comfort food for cold winter’s evenings.
Loaded with beans and peppers, hearty vegan chili is a terrific meal for chilly autumn days. It makes a great lunch or dinner.
This recipe is a healthy, plant-based version of the classic. It’s made with apples, walnuts, celery, and grapes, with a nondairy mayonnaise dressing.
This is the ultimate grab-and-go lunch. Prep your salad on Sunday, and you have meals at the ready for the week ahead!
This salad is made with just a few ingredients and a tasty almond dressing, and it takes just a few minutes to make.
Light and fresh White Bean and Cucumber Salad is a wonderfully summery side dish. Made with cucumbers, beans, scallions, parsley, and vinegar dressing, this Greek style salads is a great addition to picnics, potlucks, and barbecues.
Easy to make vegan Chickpea Salad Sandwiches are perfect for lunch at the office or school. Made with chickpeas, hidden veggies, and a pinch of seaweed, this recipe can be thought of as vegan or vegetarian tuna.
This healthy Baked Falafel comes together quickly, and it makes a terrific lunch or light dinner.
These burgers are spiced to perfection and much easier to make than you'd like!
Homemade vegan black bean burgers are loaded with flavor! Made with mushrooms, brown rice, and sun-dried tomatoes, this black bean patty recipe is easy to make comes together super quickly.
Lentil Loaf is a terrific main dish for holiday celebrations or weekend meals. Smother this vegan meatloaf with lots of cashew gravy for the ultimate comfort food dinner!
Homemade vegan Chickpea Pot Pie is the ultimate in comfort food! This easy vegetable pot pie recipe is from my first cookbook.
Cannellini beans are used to make a creamy sauce in this easy weeknight meal.
Made with black eyed peas and collard greens, Hoppin' John is traditionally served on New Year's Day for luck and prosperity in the year ahead. It's great just about any day of the year, though!
Can’t decide between soft tortillas or a hard shell for your tacos? Now you don’t have to! These Double-Shelled Black Bean Tacos are filled with Spanish rice, creamy black beans, and pico de gallo, and they’re made with both soft and hard taco shells.
Baked taquitos – filled with sweet potatoes and black beans — are both delicious and secretly nutritious! Serve them for dinner on busy weeknights or as side dish.
Brownies made with black beans? Yes, please! These vegan black bean brownies are moist, fudgy, and deliciously chocolatey. No one will guess that they’re secretly healthy and loaded with protein!
Use this dessert hummus as a dip for fresh berries, dried fruit, pretzels, or anything else you can think of.
What are some of your favorite ways to prepare beans?