Inspiring People to Cook More at Home

Here at the Bean Institute, we truly believe cooking at home is important for good health, both physical and mental. We love reading cookbooks and magazines, searching for new recipes. We love grocery shopping, especially the leisurely weekend trips where more time can be spent looking for new ingredients. We think dicing onions can be a mindful, stress reducing activity. And we love the thrill we get from heading into the kitchen to try new recipes, ingredients, tools, and techniques. But we recognize that not everyone shares our passion for cooking.

For some, cooking is a chore, too time consuming to be considered enjoyable. For others, cooking is a mystery, something that is too challenging or complex to be understood or undertaken. We want to help change this.

Research Shows People Who Cook More Eat Better

Research published in Appetite in 2013 shows that European adults who enjoy cooking are most likely to cook at home. This is not a shocking finding. We do more of the things we enjoy and less of the activities we don’t. So how can we help people enjoy cooking more?

This research team also found that survey respondents who reported having the most cooking skills also consumed the most vegetables and the least convenience foods. These correlations support the notion that being able to prepare your own food may help people make more healthful food choices.

Chances are, if you’re reading this issue of The Bean Bulletin, you’re already a fan of beans and someone who likes to cook. We’d love to enlist your help in sharing your passion for cooking with beans. But where should we start? Where should we focus our efforts? Here are some simple tips.

Start with Dietary Guidance: What Are We Missing?

When we look at current eating patterns in the United States, we note that intake of vegetables, including beans, and dairy are far below recommended levels. In fact, for both vegetables and dairy, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population don’t meet the recommended intake levels.

Focus on Easy Recipes That Quickly Build Confidence

One of our favorite ways to get people in the kitchen to start building culinary confidence and competence is to start with a super easy recipe like our Buttermilk Banana Bean Smoothie. This recipe features a full serving of dairy and two servings of beans, which as you know, can count as either a vegetable and protein serving.

Teach People Techniques

While we all love new recipes, what most people need is training on culinary techniques that can be used over and over again. We love teaching people how to brine beans as well as the benefits of brining dry beans before cooking with them. Brining dry beans in salted water reduces the cooking time and the likelihood that beans will split or burst. We’ve also noticed a much creamier texture from the brined beans compared to simply soaking in water.

How to Brine Beans
For every cup of dry beans, use 1 ½ tablespoons of salt dissolved in 2 quarts of water. Soak beans in the brining liquid for 8 to 24 hours. Drain brining liquid, and use the beans in your favorite recipe.

Show, Don’t Tell

When it’s possible, show people how to make a new recipe. You can do this via culinary demonstrations or hands-on instructions.  We know of a physician who shows clients how to make smoothies in his office. He attended Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives years ago, and he was so inspired to teach people how to cook that he installed a dorm-size refrigerator and a blender in his office. He now shows his clients how easy it is to make a nutrient packed, delicious smoothie in minutes.

Cooking videos are another great way to show people how to make delicious recipes. We produced five videos in 2016, and we hope you’ll share these with patients, clients, friends, and family members.

Getting Protein at Breakfast with Beans

Getting protein at breakfast is important. In this short video, registered dietitians Amy and Megan will show viewers how to make two quick & easy breakfast recipes – a Berry Black Bean Smoothie and Breakfast Bean Burrito – using canned beans.

Making Quick & Easy Bean Dips

Making bean dips is fast and easy, and there are endless variations. In this short video, registered dietitians Amy and Megan show viewers how to make quick & easy bean dips using canned beans, extra virgin olive oil, and a few aromatics and spices to make creamy bean dips and spreads.

Do you have a success story related to inspiring people to cook more at home? If so, please share it with us. We may feature you in a future issue of The Bean Bulletin.