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Beans: Low Cost and Nutrient Rich Food
Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Bean Cookbook provided by the Maryland WIC Program.
USDA MyPyramid recommends choosing foods from each group (Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Dairy and Meat & Beans) in "nutrient rich" forms. Nutrient rich forms give you the most vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for the fewest calories. Beans are low cost and nutrient rich. They are excellent sources of protein, fiber and folate. They also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc. Use the bean cooking tips and recipes below to add beans to your meals.
- 1 pound (or 2 cups) of dry beans will give you 5 to 6 cups of cooked beans.
- A 15 1/2-ounce can (drained) of beans will give you 1 2/3 cups of cooked beans.
- If a recipe calls for cooking 1 pound of dry beans, you can get the same amount of cooked beans from three 15 1/2-ounce cans (drained) of beans.
- Large white beans cook the quickest, and navy beans and small white beans take the longest time to cook.
- Before dry beans can be used in recipes, they must be cleaned. Pick them over, removing any small rocks or dirt. Put the beans in a strainer or colander and rinse with cold water.
- Cleaned beans must be plumped up with water. You do this by soaking them in water.
Note: Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas do not need to be soaked.
- There are four ways to soak beans, depending on how far in advance you plan and how much time you have, you can decide which method of soaking will work best for you.
Bean Cooking Tips
- Traditional Slow Soak: In a stockpot, cover 1 pound dried beans with 10 cups water. Cover and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans.
- Hot Soak: In a stockpot, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Remove from the heat; cover tightly and set aside at room temperature 2-3 hours. Drain and rinse the beans.
- Quick Soak: In a stockpot, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil; let boil 2-3 minutes. Cover and set aside at room temperature 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.
- Gas-Free Soak: In a stockpot, place 1 pound of beans in 10 or more cups of boiling water; boil for 2-3 minutes, cover and set aside overnight. The next day approximately 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars will have dissolved into the soaking water. Drain, and then rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking them.
- Canned Beans Substitution
Several beans may be substituted for each other in any recipe. If you cannot find the exact bean listed in a recipe, substitute a similar colored bean or use your favorite in its place.
- Time Saver
Cook a large pot of beans and freeze the beans in 1 or 2 cup amounts. Cover the beans with cooking liquid or water to reduce freezer burn. Thaw frozen beans using the defrost cycle on your microwave, putting them in the refrigerator overnight or setting them in a pan of warm water for one hour.
- Food Safety
Beans are a high protein, low acid food, so you need to handle them like meat dishes. Keep hot dishes hot (140 to 165 degrees) and cold dishes cold (under 40 degrees).
- Beans can cause intestinal gas in some people. You can cut down on gas by:
- Adding beans to your diet slowly over a 3 to 8 week period. Once you are eating beans regularly, you will have less of a problem with gas.
- Soaking and cooking the beans using the Gas-Free soak method.
- Chewing the beans well to help digest them.
- Drinking plenty of water and other fluids to help your system handle the extra fiber.
- Calories: One cup of cooked beans contains about 230 calories.
- Protein: One cup of beans will provide over 1/3 of your daily protein needs.
- Fiber: Beans are high in soluble fiber, which may help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Iron: Beans are high in iron. However, in order for your body to absorb iron, also eat foods rich in vitamin C (e.g. oranges, tomato products, green bell peppers, cabbage, broccoli).
- Sodium: Beans are naturally low in sodium. However, most canned beans have added salt. To cut down on this salt, drain the broth off the beans and rinse them before adding to a recipe.
- Fat: Beans are naturally low in fat.
Looking for more recipes and information about beans? Try these resources:
Check out the soups, sandwiches and other favorite bean recipes below to add beans to your meals:
Looking for diabetic friendly, low sodium, high fiber or meatless recipes? Check out our Search Recipes above.
- 1/2 lb. extra lean ground beef
- 1 (16-ounce) can vegetarian beans in
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp. vinegar
- 2 tsp. dried onion flakes
- 1/2 tsp. mustard
- Garlic powder, to taste
- Whole wheat hamburger buns
Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Drain fat. Add beans, ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, onion flakes and garlic powder. Mix well and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Stir
occasionally. Serve on toasted whole wheat hamburger buns.
Makes 5 servings.
Per serving with bun: 356 calories. Fat: 10 grams. Sodium: 761 mg. Fiber: 6.3 grams.
These burgers are tasty and less expensive than commercial vegetarian burgers. Serve with Cucumber Sauce (search recipes), Couscous and Carrot Salad (search recipes) and sauteed zucchini and provide sliced oranges for dessert.
- 2 Tbsp minced onion
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 Tbsp. plain nonfat yogurt
- 1 tsp. Greek seasoning
- Pepper, to taste
- 3 Tbsp. plain dry bread crumbs
- 2 tsp. canola oil
Place onion in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. In a mixing bowl, combine onion, chickpeas, brown rice, yogurt, Greek seasoning and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until mixture is thick and pasty and beans are mashed. Divide into 4 equal parts and form each part into a patty about 4 inches across and 3/4 inch thick. Cover patties in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate 30 minutes (can be prepared a day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator). Place a large nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add oil; tilt pan to coat. Add bean patties; cook, turning once, until lightly browned.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 213 calories. Fat: 4.1 grams. Sodium: 474 milligrams. Fiber: 5.6 grams.
Serve with crusty whole wheat bread, marinated green bean salad with tomatoes and canned peaches for dessert.
- 2 cups lentils
- 10 cups water
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. dried marjoram
- 4 tsp. chicken broth granules
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 lb. low fat kielbasa sausage
Rinse lentils and drain well. In a large saucepan, combine lentils, water, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves and marjoram. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 50 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice sausage and brown in a nonstick skillet. Add sausage, chicken broth granules, and vinegar to lentil mixture. Simmer 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves and serve.
Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 167 calories. Fat: 1.5 grams. Sodium: 834 milligrams. Fiber: 15.8 grams.
Look in our recipe archives
for recipes for these tasty breads and sandwiches to go with your soup:
Good for You Cornbread
Caesar Chicken Wraps
Golden Apple Muffins
Old Fashioned Molasses Bread
To complete the meal, serve with an orange, red onion and lettuce salad and for dessert try fat-free chocolate pudding flavored with cinnamon. Try using vanilla flavored soymilk to make the pudding or pudding mixes designed to be used with tofu.
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilies
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup hot salsa (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. oregano, crumbled
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 1/2 cups instant brown rice
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 6 (10-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas
- Shredded lettuce
- Nonfat sour cream
Spray a large saucepan with no-stick spray. Place pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until limp. Add tomatoes, water, salsa and seasonings. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Add rice and beans and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat tortillas in oven or microwave.
To serve, fill tortilla with 3/4 cup of rice and bean mixture. Add lettuce, salsa and nonfat sour cream to taste. Fold in sides of tortilla and roll up. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 308 calories. Fat: 4.3 grams. Sodium 738 milligrams. Fiber: 9 grams.
Add a spoonful of cooked white rice to the soup when serving. Serve with crusty bread, carrot salad and lemon sorbet for a delicious Middle Eastern meal.
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups chopped onion
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced no salt added tomatoes
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp. harrisa*
- 1 (28-ounce) bag frozen cut okra
- 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
Place a Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add oil; tilt pan to coat. Add onion, saute until tender. Add cumin and coriander; saute until fragrant. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes, garlic powder, harrisa, okra and garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 to 40 minutes, or until okra is tender.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 160 calories. Fat: 2 grams. Sodium: 626 milligrams. Fiber: 7.9 grams.
* Harrisa is a Moroccan hot chili paste. If unavailable, increase cumin to 1 tsp. and coriander to 3/4 tsp. and add hot pepper sauce, to taste.
- 1 cup dried black beans
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 ounces lean ham, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 tsp. vinegar
Pick over the beans, removing any small rocks or dirt. Put beans in a strainer or colander and rinse with cold water. Place in a stockpot or plastic container. Cover beans with water to cover beans by 2 inches. Cover container and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. Place in a large saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender (about 1 hour). Drain and reserve.
Place a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add olive oil and tilt pan to coat. Add onion, ham and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is limp. Add water, seasonings and beans. Simmer 30 minutes. Add rice, mix well and cook an additional 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in vinegar and serve.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 186 calories. Fat: 3 grams. Sodium: 240 milligrams. Fiber: 6.5 grams.
To complete the meal, serve with whole wheat bread sticks, green salad with light Italian dressing and, for dessert, fresh strawberries and biscotti.
- 1 1/2 cups dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
- 1 large vegetable bouillon cube (makes 2 cups bouillon) or the equivalent*
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup small macaroni
Pick over the beans, removing any small rocks or dirt. Put beans in a strainer or colander and rinse with cold water. Place in a stockpot or plastic container. Cover beans with water to cover beans by 2 inches. Cover container and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. Place beans in large saucepan with cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until beans are tender (1 to 1/2 hours).
Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over moderate heat. Add olive oil and tilt pan to coat. Add onion and garlic and saute until limp. Reduce heat to low; add tomatoes and rosemary. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until thick. Set aside until beans are tender. Add tomato mixture and bouillon cube to beans. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, 1 hour, stirring frequently. With a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of beans and reserve. Puree remaining beans and liquid using a blender or food processor. Return puree to pan, add reserved beans. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to soup. Heat through. Serve sprinkled with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 241 calories. Fat: 3 grams. Sodium: 485 milligrams. Fiber: 6.5 grams.
* To further reduce sodium, use no salt added bouillon cubes.
- 3/4 lb. extra lean ground beef
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 (15-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes with mild green chilies
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 3 Tbsp. reduced sodium taco seasoning
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup grated light cheddar cheese
Spray a large nonstick skillet with no stick spray. Place over medium heat. Add ground beef and onion. Saute, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Add tomatoes, beans, macaroni, taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 25 minutes, or until macaroni is tender. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 335 calories. Fat: 8 grams. Sodium: 440 milligrams. Fiber: 5 grams.
Serve with whole grain bread, green salad and light ice cream with biscotti for dessert.
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 cup sliced leeks*
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 (32-ounce) carton reduced sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 of a medium head escarole**, cleaned and torn into 2 inch pieces
Place a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add olive oil; tilt pan to coat. Add leeks, stir, reduce heat to low and cook leeks for 10 minutes. Add garlic; saute 3 minutes. Add broth, beans, carrots, red pepper, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cook 15 minutes. Add escarole, mix well; cook 5 minutes until wilted. Taste, correct seasoning as needed and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 201 calories. Fat: 2.9 grams. Sodium: 596 milligrams. Fiber: 8.8 grams.
* Leeks can be quite dirty. Slice them and soak in 2 or 3 changes of cold water before cooking. Adjust seasoning according to your family's taste. Add more garlic and red pepper for an adult audience.
** Escarole (a variety of endive) is a green leafy vegetable. If you cannot find escarole, consider using kale as a substitute.
- 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can cannellini beans
- 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
- 2 Tbsp. soft pack sundried tomatoes, cut up
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- Fresh ground pepper
- 4 large whole wheat pita pocket breads
Drain beans. Combine beans, basil, sundried tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate for several hours to develop flavors.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pita breads into wedges, using kitchen scissors. Pull each wedge in half with your fingers. Place on a heavy baking tray and spray with no stick spray. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes or until golden.
Place bean dip in serving dish. Surround with pita chips and serve.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 161 calories. Fat: .5 grams. Sodium: 366 milligrams. Fiber: 7.5 grams.