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How To Cook With Beans

Updated on September 3, 2012

Culinary Basics - Healthy Cooking with Beans

Beans are one of the healthy culinary basics found in a kitchen aimed at preparing healthy recipes while sharpening your culinary talents.

Using beans to create healthy recipes is one way to effectively incorporate them into your daily diet. However, there are also other ways that you can add them to your diet that don't require specific recipes.

Beans not only boost your immune system and have been shown to fight such cancers as breast, prostate and colon - they also are a superior source of protein as well as a major player when it comes to creating energy for brain and muscles.

The Facts About Beans

Beans have carbs but they are ‘good carbs’ supplying energy for brain and muscles

People eating beans or legumes at least 4 times per week have a 20-25% lower risk of heart disease than people eating them less than once per week

Beans have high levels of fiber – this regulates blood glucose levels – an especially good idea for diabetics

In countries with the highest bean consumption rate, these countries have the lowest death rates from colon, prostate and breast cancer

Beans have been shown to fill you up but not ‘out’ – they give you a feeling of your hunger being satisfied and they also help you to eat fewer calories – thus being able to maintain a steady weight

Some raw beans but especially kidney beans are known to create a toxin if not cooked properly. The toxin leads to a digestive ‘flu’ type illness if undercooked beans are consumed. The recommended method for dried beans to avoid this is boiling for 10 minutes before using in recipes

If dried beans are used in slow cooker recipes, make sure the above rule of thumb is applied (that the overall cooking time at high temperature is for 10 minutes).  Temperatures in a slow cooker will not destroy the toxin

Beans can cause digestive flatulence.  An effective strategy to avoid this is to soak the beans several hours prior to adding to other ingredients to reduce the natural sugars found in beans. Vinegar is also said to eliminate these excess sugars

Anasazi beans are said to be the only ‘fartless’ bean – they are also more expensive than most beans but you have to like the rep! 

Some Common Beans

Whether you are using canned beans or dried beans, here are some of the most popular and healthiest kinds of beans

  • Navy Beans – Rich in protein, fiber, folate, vitamin B1, magnesium and iron
  • Black Beans – Perhaps one of the most popular – loaded with antioxidants and fiber as well as high-quality protein
  • Pinto Beans – Very popular especially in Hispanic foods and cultures – likewise high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, vitamin B1, iron, magnesium and potassium
  • Kidney Beans – Very popular in chili recipes and for addition to salads, etc. Loaded with fiber and protein and a mineral that actually combats sulfites in your body - sulfites are increasingly present in many foods
  • Lima Beans (Butter Beans) – High in fiber, protein, potassium and iron


How to Use Beans

Soup and chili recipes are great ways to feature beans in your diet

Add kidney, garbanzo, or black beans to salads

Make a bean salad to complement meat or fish

Instead of refried beans, use whole, cooked pinto beans (otherwise known as rancho beans) as an accompaniment to Hispanic dishes

Use kidney, black or other beans in creole recipes for rice and beans – just about any rice can be combined with beans as a side dish or as a meal

Summing It Up

Beans are a great ingredient to round out meal-planning and are part of a program of healthy culinary basics. 

They are not only versatile, but they are relatively easy to prepare, economical and good for you. 

There are many, many ways to add them to your diet and the added health benefits are well worth the effort.




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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Yes - let's have a bean off - it is making me think I don't want beans for at least a month!

    • judydianne profile image


      11 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      I think you have exhausted the subject of beans in your hubs! All of us have! Maybe we should have a bean-off! or a smackdown with Bobby Flay! ha!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      I know - I'm thinking it could give one the farts just thinking about it! Oh - are we allowed to say farts on here? I mean gaseousness!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      11 years ago from Georgia

      Well, I mean, like, how many possible topics are there about rice and beans?? lol

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Holle - Isn't it hilarious? I wrote these last week but I loved yours, too!

      Hello, hello - that's exactly right - osmosis!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      11 years ago from London, UK

      By now, I am so healthy just by reading all lots of recipees and advices hahaha

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      11 years ago from Georgia

      Great minds, Buckwheat...great minds!


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