I’ve been asked countless times how I get enough protein with my plant-based diet. It makes me wonder why people think that eating animals is our only option for getting protein. How about you? How well do you know plant-based protein sources? This blog will focus on a protein-packed, plant based food that will give you great health benefits – BEANS!
In the nutrition world, how much and what types of protein one should consume is highly debated. Some say that high-quality animal meat is needed for optimal health, while others advocate for a plant-based diet. I advocate a plant-based diet and will focus this discussion on the powerful benefits of beans.
Creamy cannellinis, meaty garbanzos, tender pintos, and so many more—beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around.
Beans are packed with tons of fiber, as well as plenty of iron and protein. They are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, and studies have found them to lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
I’ve found that many of my clients avoid beans because they just don’t know what to do with them or think they will give them digestive stress (or they DO give them digestive stress!). Here are some suggestions for how to use them:
- Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots or red onions, red peppers) with vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.
- Mix cooked beans with tomatoes, onions, veggie broth and your favorite seasonings to create a yummy bean soup.
- Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite bean (I like garbanzo beans, red beans and cannellini beans!)
- Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favorite seasonings. Voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread.
- Include 1/3 cup of beans with your other favorite toppings next time you make stuffed baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
- Add 1/4 cup pureed beans to your favorite pancake, waffle, muffin, or cake recipe. You’ll be surprised at how moist and springy baked goods are when baked with beans.
Try these tips for delicious and well-cooked beans.
- Be sure to wash and clean the beans first.
- Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking (hint: cut a bean in half; if the center is still opaque, keep soaking).
- After soaking, rinse, fill pot with fresh water, bring to a boil, then skim off the foam.
- To aid digestion, add a piece of kombu, bay leaf, cumin, anise, or fennel to the water.
- Cover and simmer for the suggested time.
- Remember: Only add salt at the end of cooking (about 10 minutes before the beans are done) or it will interfere with the cooking process.
- Quick tips: For speedier prep, boil dried beans for 5 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours.
Can you use canned beans? Yes, canned beans are fine if they will help you to get them into your belly! Just avoid canned beans that contain added salt or preservatives and go organic when possible! Also drain & rinse your canned beans thoroughly.