12 Delicious Ways to Eat More Beans + 25 Super Recipes
Delicious, nutritious, disease-fighting AND fast to prepare! Beans are all that and more. Here are 12 fast, simple ways to eat more beans + 25 fabulous bean & lentil recipes.
I stood inside my pantry looking for “what’s for dinner.” Actually, I sat on a bucket of dog food and dropped my chin into my hands. I felt so discouraged it was too much effort to stand. As much as my family and I love black beans and rice – UGH not again! To eat more beans, I prepared the same couple recipes over and over. Week after week. Boring, boring and please not again!
But I’m not boring. And food is my love language. So of course, I can find new and tasty ways to eat more beans. And over time, I did. My girls grew up loving healthy bean and lentil dishes with all types of flavors and combinations. My husband loves that I’m still creating new meals for us. With my own kitchen creativity and more than two decades of experience helping clients improve their diets and discover new foods, I’ve got a dozen or so tips and tricks to help you add more beans to your diet. You’ll get taste, health and a smile.
Plus, I’ve compiled 25 healthy bean recipes from my own collection and those of my colleagues. Find them at the midpoint of this post.
I know they have that gas thing going on. But don’t let that keep you from the glory of beans. See below for how to fight the gas crisis and why beans (and other legumes) are so good for you.
12 Ways to Eat More Beans & Lentils
Here are a dozen ways to eat beans and lentils that don’t require a new recipe or too much effort. Start by draining and rinsing canned beans to wash away about 40% of the sodium.
- Toss any canned beans or prepared lentils into a mixed green salad. Try a different type of legume each week. This week toss chickpeas into your salad. Next week, open a can of kidney beans. After that, try black beans. Store the leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy beans from the same can a few times. And check out frozen options too.
- Liven up any sandwich with a smear of hummus. Use that same hummus as a veggie dip. Or try bean dip.
- Warm up to a bowl of steamy three-bean chili. Instead of meat, use kidney, pinto and black beans in your favorite recipe. Or combine beef and kidney beans for a meat and bean chili. Or skip beans and beef and opt for lentil chili.
- Grab roasted chickpeas for a snack or sprinkle some on salads, in soup or even on top of your favorite hummus.
- Fancy up tuna salad with chickpeas and fresh herbs. In the mood for chicken salad? Add cannellini beans and sliced grapes.
- Add favorites bean or lentils to a nourish bowl of greens, whole grains, roasted vegetables and salmon or chicken.
- Mix black beans, kidney beans, corn and salsa together with freshly snipped cilantro. Toss with a red wine vinaigrette and enjoy it as a salad or roll it in a whole grain wrap.
- Fill a whole grain tortilla with red beans, salsa, sautéed onions and peppers and a sprinkling of reduced-fat cheese.
- Toss chickpeas with diced cucumber, tomatoes, olives, parsley and a Greek-style vinaigrette.
- Add black beans to a tomato basil sauce and serve over whole-wheat spaghetti.
- Top tortilla chips with kidney beans and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Microwave briefly. Then add a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt, your favorite salsa and some fresh herbs.
- Thicken chili, stews or soups with smashed white beans. Smash them well, and I promise it will be our secret.
Why You Should Eat More Beans
- Beans are a time-saving nutritional powerhouse. They’re fast, versatile and very nutritious. A 1-cup serving packs as much as 15 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. They give us folate for healthy DNA, potassium for better blood pressure control and a host of other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They also contain resistant starch, which is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion and does not contribute to blood sugar. So yay for people with prediabetes and diabetes!
- Beans are inexpensive. Protein is a pretty pricey nutrient, but beans and lentils help you stretch your dollar.
- Beans shield health. Research suggests that eating beans regularly is good for managing blood cholesterol levels, preventing heart attacks, lowering blood sugar levels, managing type 2 diabetes, fending off some types of cancer, helping to trim waistlines, and beans may even help you celebrate more birthdays! Wow, how’s that for a list? See why I want you to eat more beans – even if they’re not super colorful, chic or exotic.
Make a point of finding new recipes and regularly trying them out. Page through ethnic and vegetarian cookbooks for fresh ideas. Ease your family into new foods by mixing beans and lentils with other foods they already enjoy – like meat and bean chili or tacos.
Fight the Gas Crisis
Their reputation for causing gas is well-deserved. You can tone down this problem by gradually adding more beans and other fiber-rich foods to your diet, giving your body time to adjust. Discarding the liquid from canned (or presoaked) beans rids your bowl of some of the hard-to-digest, noxious carbohydrates. You can also try an over-the-counter aid like Beano to help digest the offending carbohydrates.
Cheers to the health benefits and the yum of eating more beans. I’m no longer discouraged by black beans and rice. I still love them. Now I love them a couple of times a month instead of every week.
These Recipes Will Help You Eat More Beans!
Check out these fabulous 25 healthy lentil and bean recipes, so you’ll have even more options too!
Spinach and Chickpea Curry, Brittany Poulson, RDN, CDE, Your Choice Nutrition (shown above)
This aromatic heart-healthy Spinach and Chickpea Curry is an easy and delicious weeknight dinner, full of fiber and plant-based protein that’s ready in just 30 minutes!
Ensalada de Garbanzo – Sarah Pflugradt, RD, Salubrious RD
Eating the Mediterranean diet doesn’t have to require fancy ingredients, this salad takes a few pantry ingredients and long-lasting veggies for a delicious side.
Chickpea Waldorf Salad, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, Prediabetes: A Complete Guide
This Easy Chickpea Waldorf Salad recipe is made with dried cranberries, chopped apples, walnuts, and Greek yogurt. It’s a quick and healthful lunch that’s full of plant-based protein and fiber.
Chickpea Meatballs, Jamie Vespa, RD, Dishing Out Health
Vegetarian meatballs are rich in plant-based protein and fiber.
Chickpea and Lentil Nachos for One, Lauren O-Connor, RDN, Nutri-Savvy
This dish is high in fiber, low in sodium and portion-controlled.
Spicy Chickpea Power Bowls with Tzatziki, Leanne Ray, RDN, Leanne Ray
These bowls are packed with fiber from the chickpeas, nuts & vegetables, and also incorporate plain Greek yogurt for additional protein.
Easy Chickpea Bowl with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Feta, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, Prediabetes: A Complete Guide
Easy, delicious, nutritious, plant-based, veggie-loaded! This easy chickpea bowl comes together quickly, especially if you have leftover brown rice, farro or other whole grain.
Vegan Refried Beans, Jenna Braddock, MSH, RDN, CSSD, CPT, Make Healthy Easy (shown above)
Bring the Mexican restaurant experience home in a healthier way with this easy-to-make refried bean recipe. Use it as a dip or in burritos, tacos or enchiladas.
How to Make Gallo Pinto, Judy Barbe, RD, LiveBest
This Costa Rican-inspired dish is budget-friendly, meatless, and full of fiber!
Turkey Taco Soup, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, Prediabetes: A Complete Guide
A freezer-friendly & easy recipe rich in protein, fiber, and lots of veggies!
Slow Cooker Vegan Chili, Melissa Altman-Traub, MS, RDN, LDN, Melissa Traub
Here is a tasty and easy high fiber, low fat, nutrient-rich vegan chili recipe.
No Flour Brownie, KeyVion Miller, RD, KeyVion Miller Nutrition
A delicious treat that’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium!
Vegan Lentil Loaf with Mushrooms, Walnuts, and Quinoa, Nicole Stevens, MSc, RD, Lettuce Veg Out (shown above)
This lentil loaf comes packed with lots of heart-healthy ingredients like walnuts, quinoa and vegetables; plus it’s packed with fiber!
Lentil Sloppy Joes, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, Prediabetes: A Complete Guide
Sweet and savory. Delicious and nutritious. Fiber-rich and protein-rich. And a bit of comfort too. You’re going to like these lentil sloppy joes!
Mini Curried Lentil Cakes, Julie Kay Andrews, RDN, The Gourmet RD
This recipe is packed with protein and fiber and low in saturated fat and sugar – it’s also loaded with flavor from the fresh herbs, lemon, and curry powder!
Black Lentils with Garlicky Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata, Jenny Shea Rawn, RD, My Cape Cod Kitchen
Baby arugula topped with black beluga lentils, slow-roasted garlicky tomatoes, fresh burrata and basil. This dish is packed with fiber, protein, healthy fats and TONS of flavor. For a lower saturated fat option, sub a scoop of part-skim ricotta for the burrata.
Vegetarian Chili with Red Lentils, Marie Dittmer, RDN, Healthy Ideas Place
This healthier vegetarian chili calls for red lentils and lots of veggies instead of meat. It’s perfect for meatless Mondays, or any day of the week!
Creamy Oats and Lentils with Sweetly Spiced Apples, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, Prediabetes: A Complete Guide
This oatmeal takes a common pairing of oats and apples and adds lentils and milk to boost the protein. And cardamom and cinnamon make the taste AMAZING!
Kale Lentil and Beef Stew, Andrea Mathis, MA, RDN, LD, Beautiful Eats & Things
This stew can be made in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or on the stove, and is full of both heart-healthy fiber, and protein.
Spicy Harissa Bean Soup, Rachael Hartley, RD, Rachael Hartley Nutrition (shown above)
This spicy harissa bean soup is a tasty, pantry-friendly meal and packed and uses heart-healthy olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fats.
Summer Vegan Power Bowl with Maple Dijon Dressing, Amy, MS, RDN, Amy Gorin Nutrition
I love this bowl because you get a ton of veggies in addition to the beans! If you don’t have an indoor grill pan, you can roast the veggies instead.
Mediterranean Salmon Salad with Artichokes, White Beans, and Lemon Dressing, Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, Nutrition Starring YOU
Let your pantry do the work and whip up this Mediterranean Salmon Salad for a light lunch or dinner filled with protein and heart-healthy fats.
Tex-Mex Sorghum Chili, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian
This recipe uses almost all pantry staples and is rich in fiber.
Good to the Last Little Bean Sweet Potato Nachos, Judy Barbe, RD, LiveBest
Seriously simple Sweet Potato Nachos. Loaded with fiber-rich black beans, corn, and heart-healthy avocado. No chips required!
Easy Black Bean Burger Recipe, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, Prediabetes: A Complete Guide
I love a good veggie burger. And a black bean burger might just be my favorite type. This one is easy, healthy, and delicious.
How are you eating more beans?
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.
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Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.