Whether you’re looking into a vegetarian or vegan diet for ethical reasons, need to stop eating so much meat for your health, or are just trying to save a bit of money, the humble legume is a powerhouse of nutrition. Beans come in a wide array of sizes, colors, textures and flavors, but all of them offer exceptional nutrition for a low price. Canned beans can usually feed one or two people for less than a $1, and dried beans that you cook yourself are even more cost effective.
Beans are jam-packed with nutrients:
– B vitamins
They’re also low-calorie, low-cholesterol, naturally fat-free and provide plant-based complete proteins when paired with carbohydrates like rice or tortillas. If you’re ready to try incorporating more beans into your diet, why not start with a fresh recipe like the ones below?
Black beans are small, versatile and pair well with Mexican-inspired flavors. This recipe from Camille Styles brings a sweet-and-savory flavor combination so exciting you won’t even notice the missing meat.
These tostadas incorporate black beans, avocado, roasted butternut squash and a combination of chili spices and a touch of sweetness from maple syrup. The recipe calls for greek yogurt, but that ingredient could easily be skipped for a vegan meal. You can serve this as a pita filling or on a tostada; you could also easily pile it high with extra squash for a filling and low-carb protein bowl. For a different twist, try substituting sweet potatoes for the squash.
A staple food of Cajun cuisine, red beans and rice is a cheap, filling dish that’s perfect for making ahead of time. The base of the dish, like most cajun cuisine, rests on a combination of onion, celery and bell pepper sauteed in oil. Then add white or brown rice, kidney beans, garlic, sage, oregano, and cayenne or red pepper to taste.
You can spruce up the meal with your favorite vegetable, such as collard greens, corn on the cob or steamed broccoli and cauliflower. If you’re looking for more stick-to-your-ribs soul food, pair your red beans and rice with cornbread.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, can be more than the base of hummus. With their mild flavor and nutty texture, these beans are a versatile vehicle for powerful flavors. That might be one reason why chickpeas show up so often in Indian cuisine.
If you have the spices on hand, chana masala is an easy meal that comes together quickly and can be made from ingredients in your pantry. The sauce combines garlic, onion, tomato and curry spices simmered low and slow until the flavor blooms. Chickpeas are added to this mixture and cooked through until warm and soft.
Chana masala can be served over a bed of rice or folded up in a warm piece of naan bread.
White beans, with their buttery texture and mildly sweet flavor, are a natural match for the gentle tang of kale. This one-pot meal is vegan, gluten-free and packed with nutrients. It also comes together quickly thanks to its short ingredient list: Just combine onion, sweet potato, kale, white beans and coconut milk with a few spices.
Once you’ve mastered the base recipe, you can make it your own. Try substituting the kale for mustard or collard greens for a somewhat different flavor, or swap out the sweet potatoes for winter squash or even white potatoes. A can of diced tomatoes would go well with the dish too.
A staple of British cuisine, this hearty meal is the ultimate comfort food. You can dress it up with fresh artisan bread from your bakery or make a quick, cheap meal from whatever you have in the kitchen.
The basic concept of this dish is so simple you hardly need a recipe. Just toast the bread of your choice and heap a few spoons of your favorite baked beans on top. Add cheese and pop it under the broiler to melt until gooey. The exact combination of beans, cheese and bread is up to you, and the unlimited variations on this simple premise should keep you from getting bored.
6.) Lentil Tacos
Lentils aren’t technically beans, but they’re legumes with similar nutritional qualities. However, lentils cook more quickly than most dried beans, which makes them a great choice for a busy weeknight meal.
These lentil tacos are vegan but so tasty the carnivores in your life might not even notice. The dish incorporates cooked lentils with traditional taco seasoning to create a ground beef substitute. If you mash half the lentils and leave the other half whole, the mixture will stick together perfectly.
You can dress your tacos however you like. Try adding tomatoes, guacamole and a sprinkling of cheese or vegan cheese substitute!
As you’ve seen above, bean recipes don’t have to be simple or boring. If you don’t like one recipe or type of bean, skip it and try something else. With so many bean varieties on the market, you’re sure to find something that fits your palate. This year, invest in your health and your wallet by learning a few delicious new recipes for this amazing plant-based protein.