The Benefits of Beans

Beans aren’t just good for your body—they’re also good for your budget. Lentils and other legumes (including all bean varieties, like black beans, chickpeas, and soybeans) offer similar health benefits. How much do you need? Aim for ¾ cup per day of the superfood, which is a great source of lean protein, high-quality carbs and soluble fiber, a triple threat that can help stabilize blood sugar and keep you feeling full and satisfied. An added bonus: Beans and lentils are inexpensive and incredibly versatile. With so many different types to choose from, it’s easy to get your fix every day.

Need some bean-spiration? Try one or more of these delicious dishes:

Quinoa Black Bean Casserole

Quinoa Black Bean Casserole

Black beans are loaded with key nutrients like folate, iron, potassium and magnesium. I added quinoa to the mix of this Quinoa Black Bean Casserole as another vegetarian protein source so you should definitely feel satisfied after enjoying a helping of this hearty dish.

Tuscan Bean Dip

Tuscan Bean Dip

White beans, like the cannellini and navy beans in this Tuscan Bean Dip, are a good non-dairy source of calcium to help maintain strong bones and even fight PMS symptoms. Pair this flavorful dip with veggies for added fiber (a proven weight loss and heart booster). It’s a really crowd pleaser at parties and get-togethers.

Hearty Vegetable Bean Soup

Hearty Vegetable Bean Soup

Kidney beans contain vitamin C and niacin, both of which are essential for healthy eyes, skin and hair. This Hearty Vegetable Bean Soup also includes green beans and tons of other colorful veggies. Eat good to look good? Sounds good to me!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Black beans are paired with a number of star veggies (red onion, bell peppers, carrots, celery) and flavorful herbs (cumin, oregano and paprika) in the scrumptious soup. It’s great served fresh, right out of the pot, or you can let it sit overnight to let all the herbs and spices mingle. Add the crispy tortilla strips (they take each bowl over the top) and your preferred garnishes (chopped cilantro, scallions, shredded cheese, diced avocado, Greek yogurt, sliced jalapeños). This is one souper soup.

Black Bean Tacos

Black Bean Tacos

You’re not going to wait for Tuesdays to make this tasty taco recipe. Vegetarians and meat-eaters will both love this dish, which comes together in a snap. Make the bean and salsa filling, add it to a hard or soft taco shell then top with chopped tomatoes, shredded Mexican cheese, and jalapeños. 

Bean and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Bean and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Beans are breaking out of the lunch and dinner mold to help you get an energizing start to your day. Whip up this spicy Bean and Cheese Breakfast Burritos—they’ll most definitely get you moving in the a.m. and keep hunger in check for hours.

Crunchy Spiced Chickpeas

Crunchy Spiced Chickpeas

Garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas) may be best known as the main ingredient in hummus, but they also make a satisfying snack all on their own. I love to coat them with oil spray, season them up and bake until browned and crunchy. These Crunchy Spiced Chickpeas are an ideal swap for pretzels or potato chips.

Edamame Hummus

Edamame Hummus

For a unique twist on hummus, try my Edamame rendition. The recipe calls for young, green soybeans in place of classic chickpeas. Of course, you can keep it simple and add edamame to salads and stir-fries, or eat them right out of the pod for a delicious snack. My kids eat them like they’re candy.

Smoky Winter-White Bean Chili

Smoky Winter-White Bean Chili

This chili, which calls for white beans instead of the normal darker varieties, delivers a smoky flavor and hearty texture. Feel free to add your favorite toppers—light sour cream, cilantro, avocado and salsa—and contrary to the name, enjoy it any time of the year

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Slim down your sloppy joes with this meat-free version. Simply bypass the beef and replace it with heart-healthy lentils for a dish that’s as comforting as (yet lower in calories than) than the classic recipe. Get an extra boost by serving them in zucchini boats. Lentils also add a great texture to vegetable soups and side dishes. Warning: They are as scrumptious as they are sloppy!