Beans: The Humble Super Food
Updated: Mar 11
We at Nourishing Generations love cooking with beans and we wanted to share a couple of our favorite recipes using the amazing, but under-rated bean. Enjoy these recipes for Curry Lentil Soup and Black Bean Brownies. Yes, brownies! Read on about the wonders of beans and then check out these great recipes.
Beans are an often over-looked super-food. A great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals which can help reduce inflammation, fend off chronic diseases, contribute to weight loss and improve gut health. Beans are an affordable way to add a healthy boost to your daily meals.
People in Blue Zones – areas of the world with longest-lived populations – include beans as a prominent part of their diet. Beans are one of the foods most associated with longevity, providing many of the critical nutrients you need to thrive.
Protein is a vital nutrient that plays a key role in maintaining and repairing the body. Beans are high in amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and are one of the best sources of clean, whole food, plant-based protein.
Cooked soybeans, for example, contain almost 30 grams of protein per cup! A cup of canned black beans contains 14.5 grams of protein. A 150-pound person requires about 54 grams of protein per day.
There are 20 amino acids and nine that are considered essential amino acids. Of all beans, soybeans are the one bean that contains all nine essential amino acids. All other beans are considered incomplete protein but can be easily combined with grain, nuts, seeds, or dairy to create complete protein.
Beans are an amazing source of fiber that is so essential for good health, but so lacking in the average American diet. It is recommended that the average adult needs about 30 grams of fiber daily. Cooked split peas and lentils have approximately 16 grams of fiber per cup. A half-cup serving of black beans provides about 14 grams of fiber. Most people in developed nations today consume an excess of protein, but only about 10-12 grams of fiber per day.
Dietary fiber slows the movement of food through your gut, which can help you feel fuller for longer and stabilize blood sugar. These are the reasons that diets high in fiber have been linked to lower body weight, waist circumference, and body fat as well as a healthy insulin response.
For these reasons, fiber and beans are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, as well as cancer.
Another way that beans enhance our health is by improving healthy gut function. The fiber in beans feed our colonies of beneficial gut bacteria, increasing their number and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria strains. This improves intestinal barrier integrity, helping to prevent gut-associated diseases and supporting strong immune system function.
Incorporating beans into your menus can be a simple, affordable way to create super healthful meals. At just a couple dollars per pound for most organic dried beans, it’s easy to feed even a large family a healthy, affordable meal featuring a variety of beans. Beans are convenient and easy - keep a variety of dried and canned beans in the pantry ready for a quick, easy, healthy and delicious meals.
How to Prepare Beans
If using dried beans, soak beans for 8-24 hours prior to cooking by placing in a pot and covering with lots of water – enough to cover by 2 inches. Discard the soaking liquid, rinse, and cook thoroughly until tender in fresh water. It generally takes 1-2 hours to cook soaked beans, depending on the type of bean and how long they have soaked. Soaking is not necessary with lentils, as they cook quickly.
You can also cook beans using a pressure cooker or a slow cooker if you have either of those gadgets. A pressure cooker is nice as they save energy and are quicker than stovetop cooking.
Try the recipes below for a delicious, savory meal or a healthier sweet treat. Bon appetit!
Curry Lentil Soup
· 3 Tbs olive oil, divided
· 1 medium onion, chopped
· 1 medium carrot, chopped
· 2 large cloves of garlic, minced, divided
· 1-3 Tbs curry powder – adjust for taste
· 1 cup French green lentils
· 2 cups (or more) kale, shredded
· 4 ½ cups water, divided
· One 15 oz can garbanzos beans (or heaping ½ cup of dried beans, cooked according to instructions above).
· 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
· 2 Tbs butter
· 3 green onions, small bunch fresh cilantro, 1 lemon cut into wedges, optional for garnish
1. Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot, sprinkling with a little salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Add half of the garlic; stir until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes longer.
3. Add 1-3 Tbs curry powder, according to your taste; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the lentils and 4 cups of water. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Add kale and stir into soup. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the lentils and kale are tender.
6. While the lentils are cooking, place garbanzos, lemon juice, ¼ cup water, remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil, and remaining garlic in food processor and puree.
7. Add garbanzo puree and butter to the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and more curry powder, if desired. If soup is thicker than you would like, add ¼ cupful of water at a time until it is your desired consistency.
8. Ladle into deep soup bowls. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, and
serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Adapted from Epicurious
Black Bean Brownies
- One 15 oz. can of black beans or 1 3/4 cups cooked, cooled beans
- 3 large eggs
- 3 Tbs coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup packed brown or coconut sugar
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped nuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch baking pan with a little coconut oil.
In a colander, drain and rinse beans.
In a blender or food processor, add eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pulse to mix.
Add the beans and blend until smooth - 1 to 2 minutes - scraping down the sides of the blender or processor once or twice.
Add sugar and cacao , blending until well mixed. Stir in chips or nuts, if using.
Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the center of the brownies tests clean. Let cool before cutting into squares.
The students we cook with are skeptical at first about these brownies, but are happily surprised that they love them. We hope you will too!