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All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus (FN1643 (Revised))

Beans are among the most versatile and commonly eaten foods throughout the world, and many varieties are grown in the U.S. Because of their nutritional composition, these economical foods have the potential to improve the diet quality and long-term health of those who consume beans regularly. The purpose of this publication is to provide evidence-based nutrition and health information about beans, preparation tips, sample recipes and references for further study.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D. Food and Nutrition Specialist

Krystle McNeal, R.D., Program Assistant

More Eat Smart publications


Northarvest Beans logo

Beans are among the most versatile and commonly eaten foods throughout the world, and many varieties are grown in the U.S. Because of their nutritional composition, these economical foods have the potential to improve the diet quality and long-term health of those who consume beans regularly [1, 2, 3].

The purpose of this publication is to provide evidence-based nutrition and health information about beans, preparation tips, sample recipes and references for further study.

Nutrient-rich Beans

Dry edible beans, such as pinto, navy, kidney, pink and black beans, are part of the legume family. A legume plant produces seeds in a pod; dry beans are the mature seeds within these pods. Other members of the legume family include lentils, peas, chickpeas, peanuts and soybeans [4].

As shown in Tables 1 and 2, dry edible beans are nutrient-rich foods; they contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients while providing a moderate amount of calories. Beans provide protein, fiber, folate, iron, potassium and magnesium while containing little or no total fat, trans-fat, sodium and cholesterol [5, 6]. Because of their high concentration of health-promoting nutrients, consuming more beans in the American diet could improve overall health and also decrease the risk of developing certain diseases, including heart disease, obesity and many types of cancers. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 1.5 cups of beans per week to take advantage of these potential health benefits [7].

Fiber Booster

Nutrition experts recommend that adults consume 25 to 38 grams (g) of dietary fiber per day (14 g per 1,000 calories); however, the majority of Americans do not reach this recommendation consistently [7]. Dietary fiber intake contributes to feelings of fullness or satiety and helps maintain functioning of the digestive system [7, 9]. Beans are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fiber. On average, beans provide 7 or more grams of total dietary fiber per ½-cup serving [6]. The consumption of fiber also has been associated with decreasing total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well decreasing the risk for developing coronary heart disease, metabolic syndrome, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and some gastrointestinal diseases [9, 10, 11, 12].

Full of Folate

The B vitamin folate is found prominently in beans [13]. Folate, or its synthetic counterpart, folic acid, is essential for the production of red blood cells in the human body and development of an embryo’s nervous system during the early stages of pregnancy. Adequate intake of folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects significantly in newborns [13]. Synthetic folic acid is better absorbed in the body than naturally occurring folate. Some folate can be lost from dry beans and other legumes during the soaking and cooking process or can be reduced when the vitamin interacts with other food components, such as fiber [14, 15]. Quick-soaking beans (boiling beans for a short time and then soaking for one hour) may lead to more folate losses than a more traditional long soak. In general, to maximize the natural folate content in beans, some researchers suggest using the slow-soak method and a cooking method that prepares the beans in 150 minutes or less [14].

Table 1. Nutrient content of selected beans compared with recommendations on food labels.

Calories (kcal)

Total Fat (g)

Saturated Fat (g)

Trans Fat (g)

Cholesterol (mg)

Sodium (mg)

Total Carbohydrate (g)

Fiber (g)

Protein (g)

Daily Values (DV) used on Nutrition Facts labels

2,000

Less than 65

Less
than 20

Minimize
in diet

Less than
300

Less than 2,400

300

25

50

Black

114

0.5

0.1

0

0

1

20.4

7.5

7.6

Cranberry

120

0.4

0.1

0

0

1

21.7

8.8

8.3

Great Northern

104

0.4

0.1

0

0

2

18.7

6.2

7.4

Navy

127

0.6

0.1

0

0

0

23.7

9.6

7.5

Pink

126

0.4

0.1

0

0

2

23.6

4.5

7.7

Pinto

122

0.6

0.1

0

0

1

22.4

7.7

7.7

Red Kidney

112

0.4

0.1

0

0

2

20.2

6.5

7.7

Table 2. Vitamin and mineral content of selected beans compared with recommendations on food labels.

Vitamin A (IU)

Vitamin C (mg)

Folate
(mcg_DFE)

Calcium (mg)

Iron
(mg)

Potassium
(mg)

Magnesium
(mg)

Daily Values (DV) used
on Nutrition Facts labels

5,000

60

400**

1,000

18

4,700

400

Black

5

0

128

23

1.8

305

60

Cranberry

0

0

183

44

1.9

342

44

Great Northern

1

1.2

90

60

1.9

346

44

Navy

0

0.8

127

63

2.2

354

48

Pink

0

0

142

44

1.9

429

55

Pinto

0

0.7

147

39

1.8

373

43

Red Kidney

0

1.1

115

25

2.6

357

40

Sources: Food and Drug Administration; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service [6, 8].

* All nutrient values per 1/2 cup cooked beans without added salt.

** 400 mcg DFE/day is recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult men/women (not pregnant or lactating).

Eating More Beans May Reduce Disease Risk Factors

Heart Disease

Elevated blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, are significant contributing factors to heart disease [18]. High plasma levels of homocysteine have been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Although some studies have shown that folate may lower homocysteine levels and, therefore, heart disease risk, the topic remains controversial and more research is needed [16, 17].

A varied diet low in saturated fat with ample fiber (especially soluble) and B vitamins are among the recommendations for reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors [18]. Several studies have shown that regular consumption of beans can help lower total and LDL cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease [19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25]. One study showed a 38 percent lower risk of nonfatal heart attack when a cup of cooked beans was consumed daily [22]. Other researchers reported significant reductions in blood cholesterol levels when canned beans were consumed on a daily basis [19, 24].

In an eight-week study, researchers studied the influence of daily consumption of ½ cup of pinto beans, black-eyed peas or carrots on blood cholesterol levels. Among participants consuming ½ cup of pinto beans per day, total and LDL cholesterol levels decreased by more than 8 percent. Participants consuming black-eyed peas or carrots did not experience a significant change in total or LDL cholesterol. Pinto beans and other dry edible beans contain significantly more dietary fiber (specifically soluble fiber) than black-eyed peas and carrots, likely resulting in this decrease in cholesterol [25].

Diabetes

Diabetes is becoming more prevalent throughout the world as the global obesity epidemic continues. Eating a variety of legumes, including beans, may be valuable not only in the prevention of diabetes but also in the management of blood sugar levels [26]. Beans are rich in complex carbohydrates (such as dietary fiber), which are digested more slowly. As a result, bean consumption has been shown to increase feelings of fullness and help regulate plasma glucose and insulin levels after meals [27]. Legume fiber was among the fiber types associated with reducing risk for metabolic syndrome, which includes glucose disturbances and increased risk of diabetes [28].

According to a recent study, regularly consuming beans as part of a low-glycemic-index diet improved blood glucose management, reduced systolic blood pressure and decreased risk of coronary heart disease [29]. Participants with Type 2 diabetes mellitus were placed randomly on a high-legume diet (consuming 1 cup per day) or on a high-insoluble-fiber diet with whole-wheat foods. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a measure of long-term glycemic control, was measured after three months. The group consuming the high-legume diet experienced a significant decrease in HbA1c and reduced their calculated heart disease risk scores [29].

Cancer

The role of bean-containing diets related to cancer risk has been the subject of ongoing studies [30]. Eating beans may reduce the risk for developing certain types of cancers due to their contribution of bioactive compounds to the diet, including flavonoids, tannins, phenolic compounds and other antioxidants [31]. These compounds act to decrease the risk of cancer, as well as other chronic diseases. Other researchers have shown that beans may have a synergistic effect when consumed in a diet containing other antioxidant-rich foods (such as fruits and vegetables) by decreasing oxidation in the body and reducing the overall cancer risk [32].

Bean intake has been associated with a decreased risk of breast, stomach, colorectal, kidney and prostate cancers in human and animal studies [33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39]. In particular, the dietary fiber content of beans may play a role in reducing the risk of colorectal cancers [36]. For example, a study that examined the impact of dietary fiber intake on the development of colon polyps in a cancer survivor cohort found that people who consumed more fiber, specifically fiber from legumes and cooked green vegetables, including green beans and peas, were less likely to show a recurrence of polyps than others [36].

Beans, Color and Antioxidants

Beans are high in natural antioxidants [40]. The color of the bean coat appears to affect the antioxidant capacity because this correlates with total phenolic content of the bean. Colored beans (red, brown or black) possess greater antioxidant activity than white beans [41]. Furthermore, some of these antioxidant compounds are lost during typical preparation and cooking methods, although significant amounts of antioxidants still remain [42].

Obesity and Overweight

Even though beans are not often promoted as a weight-loss food, regularly consuming nutrient-rich legumes may impact weight loss or management, although more research is needed [43, 44, 45, 46]. According to results from the National Health Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 to 2002, people who consumed beans regularly had a lower body weight, lower waist circumference and lower systolic blood pressure, in addition to a greater intake of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron and copper [43]. According to the results of studies conducted in Brazil, a traditional diet high in rice and beans was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI), compared with a typical Western diet containing more fat, snacks and soda [47, 48].

Consuming beans may contribute to feelings of short-term satiety as a result of the beans’ fiber and protein content [49]. In a study of 35 obese men fed four different protein-rich diets, the diet providing the majority of protein from legumes (including beans) induced the greatest amount of weight loss in an eight-week period. The group instructed to eat legumes at least four days a week also experienced significant reductions in waist circumference, body fat mass, blood pressure and total cholesterol when compared with the other groups [50].

Researchers have studied the role of hormones, including leptin and ghrelin, in regulating appetite and weight. Researchers determined the leptin and ghrelin levels in 36 insulin-sensitive and 28 insulin-resistant men. Leptin levels decreased among the group consuming a diet enriched with legumes. When leptin is present in smaller concentrations, it is more effective in regulating appetite and may aid in weight loss and weight maintenance [51].

Bean Benefits for Children

Childhood obesity is a continuing concern in North America and around the world, reaching epidemic proportions. Many strategies have been suggested to prevent and treat obesity during the childhood years, usually focusing on restricting caloric intake. Some have suggested that emphasizing plant-based foods, especially fruits and vegetables, in children’s diets would help prevent obesity [52]. Incorporating beans into the diet of children can help children maintain healthy weights, as well as promote overall health.

Most children do not consume the recommended amount of dietary fiber in their diets [7]. Because of the role fiber plays in satiety, inadequate fiber intake may contribute greatly to overeating high empty-calorie foods and weight gain [9]. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes the health benefits beans offer children and now requires that students from kindergarten through 12th grade be offered at least ½ cup of beans per week as part of new guidelines for school meals [53].

Beans in Special Diets

An increasing number of people are following special diets, such vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. While each special diet has different requirements, a common factor among them is that certain foods that normally would provide vital nutrients are eliminated. Beans can play a role in providing a variety of nutrients for individuals following these diets.

Gluten-free

For example, people with celiac disease should consume a diet that is free of gluten, a protein found in many grain products. They must eliminate these products from their diet, which increases the risk for deficiencies in several B-vitamins and other nutrients that typically are found in grains [54]. Beans are a naturally gluten-free food, and they provide many of the same vitamins and minerals often found in enriched grain products, including thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron and fiber. Bean flour may be particularly beneficial to those following gluten-free diets because bean flours can be combined with other gluten-free flours (such as rice or tapioca flour).

Vegan/Vegetarian

Those following vegetarian or vegan diets depend on plant foods to provide important nutrients often found in animal products, such as protein, iron and zinc. While vegetarians may consume dairy or eggs, those following a vegan diet consume no animal-based products. Those following a vegan diet may eat less saturated fat, cholesterol and more dietary fiber; however, those following a vegan diet may be lacking in vitamin B-12, vitamin D, calcium or omega-3 fats unless they consume appropriate supplements [55]. Beans can be a valuable part of any plant-based diet because they are rich in several nutrients and serve as a meat-alternative and contain the full complement of amino acids when paired with grains.

Budget-friendly Beans

As shown in Table 3, beans provide a variety of nutrients at a relatively low cost compared with other protein-rich foods [56]. According to the Nutrient Rich Foods Index, a tool that scores foods based on their nutrient content, which then can be compared to food price databases, beans and legumes are among the best foods in terms of amount of nutrients per unit price [5].

The cost is shown for a 4-ounce raw portion of meat/poultry, which typically results in a 3-ounce cooked portion.

Table 3. Cost comparison of protein-rich foods in American diet.

Protein food

Serving size

Cost per serving ($)

Ground beef (lean, extra-lean)

4 ounces

1.18

Beef (round roast, USDA choice, boneless)

4 ounces

1.16

Pork chop (boneless)

4 ounces

1.00

Chicken breast, boneless

4 ounces

0.82

Pinto beans (canned, drained)

½ cup

0.19

Eggs, grade A, large

1

0.16

Pinto beans (cooked, dry)

½ cup

0.07

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Retail data for beef, pork, poultry cuts, eggs and dairy products. Retrieved on March 15, 2013, from www.ers.usda.gov/data/meatpricespreads/.

Bean Market Classes and Cooking Time

Numerous bean market classes are available in the U.S. and throughout the world. While different beans do not vary greatly in nutrient content, they do differ slightly in taste, texture and cooking times. The following chart describes nine of the most common beans found in American grocery stores and lists some common cuisines using beans. The cooking time refers to the amount of time to cook dry beans.

Cooking times of beans

Preparing Dry Beans

Dry beans offer nutrition, health and economic benefits. However, you need to follow certain steps to ensure dry beans are cooked properly. The four basic steps are 1) clean, 2) rinse, 3) soak and 4) cook. The first two steps simply involve removing any broken beans or foreign objects from beans, and then rinsing them in a colander under cold running water.

Comparing Soaking Methods

The three different soaking methods vary in the amount of time required for adequate soaking. The “hot soak” method typically is recommended because it reduces cooking time and gas-producing compounds the most while consistently yielding tender beans.

Traditional Soak

Hot Soak (preferred)

Quick Soak

1. Pour cold water over beans
to cover.

1. Place beans in a large pot and add 10 cups of water for every
2 cups of beans.

1. Place beans in a large pot and add 6 cups of water for every
2 cups of beans.

2. Soak beans for eight hours or overnight.

2. Heat to boiling and boil for an additional two to three minutes.

2. Bring to boil and boil for an additional two to three minutes.

3. Drain beans and discard soak water.

3. Remove beans from heat, cover and let stand for four to 24 hours.

3. Remove beans from heat, cover and let stand for one hour.

4. Rinse beans with fresh, cool water.

4. Drain beans and discard soak water.

4. Drain beans and discard soak water.

5. Rinse beans with fresh, cool water.

5. Rinse beans with fresh, cool water.

Advantages:
No boiling required; reduces
gas-producing compounds with long soak

Advantages:
Reduces cooking time and gas-producing compounds; consistently yields tender beans

Advantages:
Much faster soaking time, requiring less planning

Disadvantages:
Long soaking time, requiring planning ahead of time

Disadvantages:
Long soaking time, requiring some planning

Disadvantages:
Fermentation may take place if left in hot water for too long; potential loss of some folate

4 Steps to Soaking Dry Beans

  1. First, inspect the dry beans, removing any broken beans or foreign materials.
  2. Rinse thoroughly in cold water.
  3. Next, use the preferred “hot soak” method: Add 10 cups of cold water to the pot for each pound (2 cups) of beans prepared. Bring the water to a boil and boil for one to three minutes. Cover the pot. Let stand. A four-hour soak is ideal.
  4. Finally, drain and rinse soaked beans. Cook and use in recipes.

2 cups of dry beans = 4 to 5 cups of cooked beans

Top 10 Tips for Cooking Dry Beans

  1. To cook soaked beans, add fresh, cold water to fully cover beans, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, if you wish. Adding oil prevents foaming and boiling over. Foam also can be skimmed off during cooking. Simmer the beans until they are tender.
  2. Cook only one kind of bean at a time if possible. Different types and ages of beans have different cooking times, so avoid cooking different types of beans together at the same time.
  3. Maintain water at a gentle simmer (not rapid boil) during cooking to prevent split skins.
  4. Do not add baking soda to beans at any time. This will make the beans more tender but destroys the B vitamin thiamine and also may impact the flavor negatively.
  5. Stir beans occasionally to prevent sticking during cooking.
  6. Keep beans covered with water during the cooking process. Add cold water periodically during cooking to ensure beans are covered.
  7. Check beans for doneness before eating. When cooked properly, beans should be tender but not mushy. Skins still should be intact, but the bean can be mashed easily between two fingers or with a fork.
  8. Drain beans immediately after they have reached desired texture to prevent overcooking.
  9. To add flavor after beans have finished cooking, try adding a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil immediately before serving rather than adding high-fat ingredients (such as bacon) during cooking. (See “Flavor-booting Tips” on p. 10.)
  10. To cook beans quickly, try a pressure cooker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This allows beans to cook in half the time and eliminates the need for soaking. However, this does not give the beans much time to absorb flavors from other ingredients. Therefore, use a pressure cooker when beans are needed quickly or to be used as a part of another flavorful dish.

Note: Hard water (naturally high in minerals) may affect cooking time/softening of beans. Distilled or softened water may result in a better end product.

Beans, Beans: Gas-reducing Tips

Consumption of nutrient-rich beans could decrease the risk for several chronic diseases; however, some people may be hesitant to increase beans in their diet due to the fear of intestinal gas and stomach discomfort, including increased flatulence. Certain nondigestible carbohydrates, termed oligosaccharides, are responsible. Some researchers have reported that flatulence associated with bean intake may be exaggerated, and individuals vary in their response to increased fiber intake [57]. Researchers suggest discarding the soaking and cooking water to remove some of these nondigestible carbohydrates [58].

Try these tips to reduce the occurrence of intestinal gas when eating beans:

  • Increase beans in your diet slowly. For example, you may start by eating 2 to 4 tablespoons of beans per day, and gradually increase each day.
  • Drink more water each day as you eat more beans (or other fiber-containing foods).
  • Use the hot soak method when preparing dry beans. The longer beans soak, the more you will reduce the amounts of the gas-producing compounds.
  • Change the water several times when soaking dry beans, and discard this water when soaking is completed. Many of the gas-causing carbohydrates are released into this soaking water.
  • Rinse canned beans without sauce (such as kidney, navy, Great Northern) before eating or using in recipes.
  • Consider using a gas-reducing enzyme tablet. These tablets are available over the counter in many pharmacies.

Flavor-boosting Tips

Beans tend to absorb the flavors of the ingredients with which they are cooked. However, take care to ensure that these added foods only increase flavor and do not hinder texture development. Follow these tips when adding each of these ingredients to beans to make them delicious and nutritious:

  • Acid: Adding sources of acid is a great way to increase the depth of flavor in bean dishes. Add foods such as lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, chili sauce, ketchup, molasses or wine after beans have been cooked fully. These acidic foods can prevent beans from becoming tender and lengthen cooking time if they are added too soon.
  • Onions: Adding onions also can increase the depth of flavor in beans. Add onions any time during the cooking process, but for a stronger onion flavor, add during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • Herbs and spices: Add oregano, thyme, garlic, parsley or any other herbs/spices any time during cooking. However, keep in mind that flavors of herbs and spices tend to diminish the longer they are cooked.
  • Salt: Add when the beans are almost tender because salt tends to toughen beans. Remember to use minimal amounts of salt to limit the sodium content of beans.

On the Menu: Beans!

How do you start eating more beans and reaping the many health benefits? Adding more beans to your daily diet can be as easy as adding them to the foods you already enjoy. Beans have a neutral flavor. Try some of the recipes included at the end of this publication. Here are a few ideas for adding beans to your diet:

  • Main dishes: Add beans to chili, burgers and rice for a satisfying entrée. Or try replacing the meat in recipes with beans, such as a bean enchilada or black bean and cheese quesadilla.
  • Side dishes: Baked beans or a bean salad would make a great addition to any meal.
  • Salads: Add beans to salads for added nutrition, color and texture.
  • Pasta: Adding beans to pasta dishes will provide another dimension of flavor and boost the appearance of the dish.
  • Soup: Pureed beans can be used to replace cream or higher-fat ingredients.
  • Dips and spreads: Bean dips and spreads make a great snack or appetizer.
  • Baked goods: Replace all or part of the fat ingredients with mashed or pureed beans in foods such as brownies and cookies. Beans will give the baked items additional protein and fiber and reduce fat, cholesterol and calories.

Beans in Baked Goods

Research has shown that pureed beans can be used to replace up to 50 percent of the fat in brownie recipes and still yield an acceptable end product [59]. Bean flours also are being made and used in grain products, such as tortillas. Up to 25 percent of wheat flour in tortillas can be replaced with bean flours, which yield a tortilla with similar texture, appearance and flavor while improving the overall nutrient profile [60].

Decreasing Sodium in Canned Beans

Consuming a diet high in sodium is linked to the development of hypertension and increased risk for heart disease. Canned vegetables, including canned beans, contain higher amounts of sodium than their fresh or less-processed counterparts. However, these beans still contain all of the valuable nutrients as their dry counterparts and can be part of a healthy diet.

To reduce the sodium content in canned beans, simply drain and rinse them before consuming or adding to recipes. Researchers reported that draining canned beans reduces sodium content by 36 percent, while draining and rinsing canned beans reduces the sodium content by 41 percent [61].

Recipes

Key to abbreviations

c. = cup(s)

lb. = pound(s)

Tbsp. = tablespoon(s)

pkg. = package(s)

tsp. = teaspoon(s)

g = gram(s)

oz. = ounce(s)

mg = milligram(s)

Note: You may note variations in the weights of the canned products you purchase. A slight difference in the amount of ingredients you add will not affect the overall quality of these recipes.

Recipes were analyzed using Food Processor SQL software.

Note: Beans can be used interchangeably in these recipes. Soaked, cooked beans prepared according to the directions provided can be used in place of drained, rinsed canned beans.

Arriba Nacho Dip

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 c. onion, finely chopped

1 c. green bell pepper, finely chopped

½ jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

3 large Roma tomatoes, chopped

¼ c. cilantro, finely chopped

¼ c. lemon juice

1 (15-oz.) can fat-free refried beans

4 oz. reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Make salsa by combining the first seven ingredients in a bowl; mix to combine. Put refried beans and salsa in a pot; stir until blended. Cook on low to medium heat for 20 minutes. Add cheese and allow to melt on top. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies.

Makes 12 servings. Per serving: 60 calories, 0.5 g fat, 4 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 230 mg sodium

Black Bean and Fruit Salsa

½ c. mango, peeled and cubed

1 c. papaya, peeled and diced

½ c. pineapple, diced

½ c. black beans, canned, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced

1 Tbsp. lime juice (fresh-squeezed for best flavor)

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently to coat.

Makes eight servings. Per serving: 40 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 0 mg sodium

Mediterranean Bean Salad

1 (15.5-oz.) can beans (Great Northern, navy or white kidney), drained and rinsed

½ c. sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips

a c. black olives, drained and chopped

a c. fat-free or reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled

a c. red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Fresh ground pepper

Drain and rinse beans. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Serve on a lettuce leaf with grilled flat bread, tossed with pasta, in a pita pocket sandwich, on top of tossed salad or with whole-grain chips or crackers.

Makes six servings. Per serving: 150 calories, 7 g fat, 5 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber and 200 mg sodium

Three-Bean Pasta Salad

8 oz. whole-grain pasta

1 (15.5-oz.) can three-bean salad, chilled

2 c. grape tomatoes

1 tsp. dried dill weed

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water and place in a medium-sized bowl. Add undrained three-bean salad, tomatoes and dill. Mix gently, cover and chill.

Makes six servings. Per serving: 110 calories, 0 g fat, 5 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber and 280 mg sodium

Sizzlin’ Baked Beans

1 (28-oz.) can vegetarian baked beans, undrained

½ green pepper, chopped

½ red pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1½ Tbsp. molasses

1½ Tbsp. ketchup

4 strips uncooked turkey bacon, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

In a 9- by 13-inch greased pan, mix all ingredients, except turkey bacon. Brown turkey bacon and drain fat. Crumble and sprinkle turkey bacon evenly over the top. Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for 40 minutes.

Makes 12 servings. Per serving: 100 calories, 1.5 g fat, 5 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber and 360 mg sodium

Turkey and Bean Chili

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 yellow or white onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ lb. ground turkey

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes

2 (15-oz.) cans beans (kidney, small red, pink), drained and rinsed

½ c. water

¼ c. reduced-fat sour cream

1¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Cilantro sprigs, for serving

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until vegetables are tender. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Stir in tomato paste, cumin and chili pepper. Cook and stir for one minute. Add tomatoes (with liquid), beans, water, 1¼ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream and cilantro.

Makes eight servings. Per serving: 170 calories, 3 g fat, 13 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber and 300 mg sodium

Stuffed Peppers

4 medium bell peppers, any color

½ medium onion, chopped

2 c. corn (fresh or frozen)

2 small tomatoes, chopped

2 (15.5-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tsp. cilantro, finely chopped

1 c. shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (try pepperjack for more spice)

Rinse peppers and cut in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place peppers in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for five minutes; drain. Set pepper halves on greased baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small skillet, sauté the chopped onion in olive oil until tender.

Mix together onions, tomatoes, corn and black beans in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, combine oil and seasonings; add to vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly. Fill pepper halves with mixture and top with cheese. Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes eight servings. Per serving: 130 calories, 2 g fat, 7 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber and 240 mg sodium

Chocolate Chip Bean Muffins

2 (15.5-oz.) cans beans (Great Northern, navy, white kidney), drained and rinsed

a c. low-fat milk

1 c. sugar

¼ c. butter or margarine

3 eggs

3 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. all-purpose flour

½ c. whole-wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

¾ c. semisweet chocolate chips

Combine beans and milk in a food processor or blender until smooth. Mix sugar and butter or margarine in a large bowl; beat in eggs and vanilla. Add bean mixture, mixing until well blended. Mix in flours, baking soda and salt. Add in chocolate chips. Spoon mixture into 16 greased or paper-lined muffin tins about half full. Bake at 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Makes 16 servings. Per serving: 240 calories, 7 g fat, 6 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber and 115 mg sodium

Web-based Resources


The Bean Institute website includes the latest research, cooking videos, newsletters, recipes and other resources.

The Bean Coordinated Agricultural Project includes teaching materials for adults and children, recipe videos, picture-based recipes, a cookbook and other resources.

References

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North Dakota State University Fargo, North Dakota

Revised November 2013

Copy editor: Ellen Crawford, NDSU Agriculture Communication

Technical editor: Rebecca West, NDSU

Publication designer: Deb Tanner, NDSU Agriculture Communication

Recipe photos: Stacy Wang, NDSU Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences

Bean photos: David Haasser, NDSU Agriculture Communication

The NDSU Extension Service does not endorse commercial products or companies even though reference may be made to tradenames, trademarks or service names.

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