Beans are the healthiest food we’re not eating. Even though these nutrition superstars are packed with protein, fiber, potassium, and folate, more than 80 percent of us don’t consume the recommended 1 ½ to 3 cups per week.
Why are we overlooking these nutritious, inexpensive plant proteins? One big reason is many of us have no clue how to cook them. Or we think they’re too complicated and time-consuming. That’s where canned beans come in. Canned beans offer all the nutrition of dry beans but with considerably more convenience (no soaking or sorting required!). Just pop open a can, and they’re ready to go.
If you’d like to work more beans into your week but need some inspiration, these simple, tasty recipes have got you covered. They take less than 15 minutes to prepare, and you can even whip them up in advance.
Before you get started, it’s helpful to know that canned beans can be high in sodium. But you don’t need to stress about it. When possible, choose unsalted or low-sodium varieties. If that’s not an option, just give them a good rinse before cooking, and you’ll wash away 40 percent of their sodium.
Garlicky Beans and Greens on Toast
This spin on the British breakfast classic beans on toast gets a nutrient boost from spinach. The result: Each serving delivers more than a quarter of your daily vitamin C, which helps you absorb even more of the beans’ iron.
Make it. In a large stockpot, sauté 2 chopped shallots in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic. Stir briefly and cook for 1 additional minute. Stir in 1 15.5-ounce can rinsed, drained, unsalted navy beans, 2/3 cup water, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. If the mixture begins to dry out, add a couple of tablespoons of water. Gently stir in 4 cups baby spinach and sauté 2 to 3 additional minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
Lightly toast 4 slices thick, crusty whole-grain bread. Serve bean mixture over toast. Top each toast with 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 294 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 361 mg sodium, 47 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 6 g total sugars, 0 g added sugars, 14 g protein
BLTA (Beans, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado)
Like a BLT, but better, this sandwich is packed with satisfying protein and fiber (roughly half a day’s worth!). At the same time, it’s practically saturated fat-free and contains zero cholesterol. We made it with pinto beans, but feel free to use any kind of beans you like.
Make it. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 15.5-ounce can rinsed, drained unsalted pinto beans, 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, salt and pepper, and ½ teaspoon each: smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Divide the bean mixture among 4 slices of whole-wheat bread. Layer each slice of bread with ¼ sliced avocado, tomato slices, and romaine lettuce. Top with an additional slice of bread to make a sandwich.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 416 calories, 11 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 456 mg sodium, 66 g carbs, 16 g fiber, 14 g total sugars, 0 g added sugars, 17 g protein
Creamy White Bean Tahini Soup
Naturally fat-free beans take on a luscious, silky texture when pureed, making them the perfect base for a creamy-tasting soup without the cream. We love this soup served cold on a hot summer day, but it’s equally delicious warm during fall and winter.
Make it. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add 1 diced Vidalia onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 to 3 cloves minced garlic. Cook for 1 additional minute and remove pan from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a blender, combine 2 15.5-ounce cans rinsed, drained, unsalted cannellini beans, 3 tablespoons tahini, 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth, and the juice of 1 lemon. Puree in blender until completely smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Stir in 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme.
Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight to allow the flavors to develop even more). Serve with lemon wedges and additional thyme, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 316 calories, 12 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 6 g total sugars, 0 g added sugars, 15 g protein
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.