Beans are so much more than just a meat substitute. They are so nutritious that everyone should be eating a ton of them, and not just vegans. Everyone.
Here are some interesting facts about beans:
- Beans are comparable to meat when it comes to calories.
- Beans make you feel fuller, faster, because of their high fiber and water content.
- Beans are high in antioxidants, a class of phytochemicals that incapacitate cell-damaging free radicals in the body (free radicals have been implicated in everything from aging, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s).
- Beans have an extremely low glycemic index (which means you would get less than half the blood sugar spike from eating beans than if you ate the same amount of carbs in the form of bread, potatoes or pasta).
Canned vs. Dry
Canned are convenient, but can be loaded with salt. Choose a low-sodium variety if you can. Make sure to rinse and dry your beans well if buying canned. This will help remove a lot of the salt (but not all of it). It will also prevent your beans from getting too soggy in your recipe.
Dried beans are a bit more work (soak 8 hours, then cook for 30-60 minutes), but the benefits are that there is no added salt, they’re much more inexpensive than canned beans, and they have zero traces of the plastic chemical BPA. I also personally find that dried beans taste a thousand times better than canned beans (I think canned beans are more “mushy”).
8 Ways to Add More Beans to Your Diet
1. Incorporate beans into your favourite meals, especially Mexican dishes like burritos and tacos.
2. Add beans to soups and stews. This is an easy way to “sneak” more beans into your diet. I love making a vegetable soup with black beans and chickpeas, and I’ve also had some really tasty white bean soups.
3. Eat more hummus. Who doesn’t love a bowl of hummus and some fresh veggies and pita slices? This protein-packed snack is super simple to make! You don’t just have to use chickpeas though. I’ve had some yummy hummus made from black beans and also white beans! Hummus is not just for dipping, either. Enjoy it in salads and spread it on tortillas and sandwiches!
4. Throw them in your salads. Adding beans to your salad will give you much more protein than any veggies you could throw in there, and it will fill you up faster and keep you fuller longer, too. I love putting chickpeas in my salads!
5. Roast some chickpeas. Stick them in the oven with a touch of oil and some spices (I like adding a splash of vinegar and some salt!) and bake until they are golden and crispy. This is a healthy snack that is easy and full of protein!
6. Add them to chilis. Instead of just using the usual red kidney beans, try to add a variety of beans to your chilis. I often add black beans and chickpeas to mine, but I’ve also started making a white bean chili with lots of different white beans, which is delicious, too!
7. Add them to tomato sauce. The next time you make up a batch of tomato sauce for your pasta, throw in some beans for added fiber and protein!
8. Make bean desserts! One of my secrets for getting my young kids to eat more beans is to hide them in desserts. Black bean brownies are their favourite! I also make chickpea chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake made with red kidney beans!