Tag Archives: Tips

An image depicting baked beans with garnish

Jazz Up Canned Baked Beans

When you don’t have time to cook from scratch, canned baked beans are a welcome convenience. Give them a little extra pizazz and your own creative homemade twist with any of the following additions.

  • Adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers
  • Sautéed onions and a dash of dry mustard
  • Honey and Dijon mustard
  • Freshly grated ginger
  • Peach preserves
  • Splash of bourbon
  • Miso paste
Family cooking together

Pantry Items to Pair with Beans

If you’re cooking from a well-stocked pantry, you may be eating more beans than ever. To keep meal preparation simple and varied, make sure your pantry is also stocked with these shelf-stable ingredients that enhance bean dishes.
  • Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce: Simmer canned or cooked beans in any type of tomato sauce for a dish packed with nutrition and Mediterranean flavor
  • Frozen vegetables. Add frozen spinach, kale, or collards to beans along with a can of diced tomatoes for a satisfying soup.
  • Onions and garlic: Sautéed in a little oil, onions, and garlic add fast flavor to beans.
  • Aged cheeses. Mix shredded cheese with breadcrumbs as a topping for any baked bean recipe.
  • Don’t forget favorite condiments like soy sauce, hot sauce, canned peppers, salsa, and balsamic vinegar to build fast flavor into a pot of beans.
Red Beans In Wooden Bowl And Spoon

Dry Beans for a Healthy Immune System

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutrient shortfalls in the world. When people get too little iron, they’re at an increased risk for infection. Dry beans are among the best sources of this mineral and pairing them with vitamin C-rich foods can increase iron absorption dramatically.

Even if you’re limiting trips to the grocery store right now, you may have plenty of vitamin C-rich ingredients on hand. Cook beans with frozen spinach and canned tomatoes to create a satisfying soup that is packed with iron and vitamin C. Simmer baked beans with chunks of canned pineapple for a savory-sweet dish to serve over rice. Keep frozen green or red peppers on hand to sauté with onions and stir into cooked beans for flavor and plenty of vitamin C.

While there is no magic potion or pill that can boost your immunity, a balanced diet that meets nutrient needs can keep the immune system functioning well.

An image depicting a woman buying dried beans

Dry Beans in the Emergency Pantry

As consumers across the country shelter in place against the coronavirus, it’s not surprising that packages of dry beans have been flying off grocery store shelves. Dry beans are an essential part of any well-stocked pantry, especially one that feeds families through an emergency.

These foods are among the most economical sources of nutrition. One pound of dry beans provides as much as 1,500 calories and 100 grams of protein for less than $2.00. While canned beans cost a little more, it makes sense to keep a good supply on hand for fast meal preparation.

To keep dry beans fresh for as long as possible, store them away from light and keep them sealed in plastic bags or jars. When properly stored, few foods rival beans as a shelf-stable choice. One study found that canned beans that had been sitting in pantries for as long as 30 years were still acceptable to most people who tasted them, at least for emergency meals. For optimal flavor and nutrition, aim to use canned beans within two to three years and dry beans within a year of purchase. After a year, dry beans can harden and take longer to cook. If you have beans that have been sitting in your pantry for more than a year you can still use them. Adding a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water is one way to speed their preparation and produce softer beans.

An image depicting the chicken salad chapala recipe!

Beans for National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month – March – is a good time to be mindful of building more nutritious meals. Canned beans are a perfect choice, providing a convenient and fast way to add more fiber, protein, potassium, and iron to menus.

There is a plethora of ways to add beans to your favorite meals. You can:

  • Add beans to any salad, turning it into a main meal
  • Stir beans into canned tomato soup
  • Add beans to prepared pasta sauce and enjoy over spaghetti or rice
  • Mix beans into macaroni and cheese
  • Top a baked potato with beans and salsa
  • Add beans to any curry recipe
An image depicting umami-rich ingredients with beans

Add Fast Flavor to Beans with Umami Rich Ingredients

Sometimes referred to as the fifth taste – in addition to sweet, sour, bitter, and salty – the flavor or essence of umami was discovered in Japan around 100 years ago. The word is derived from the Japanese term for “deliciousness.” Small amounts of umami-rich ingredients can go a long way in enhancing the flavor of the simplest dishes.

Adding these foods to bean dishes is an easy way to create a savory meal with just a handful of ingredients. Try incorporating any of the following into cooked or canned beans for a dish that is packed with flavor:

  • Shredded aged cheese
  • Caramelized onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes rehydrated or packed in oil
  • A few tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Miso broth
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Grilled or roasted sweet peppers
An image depicting sprouted black beans

Sprouting Black Beans for Soup

Sprouting beans is a fun way to add a little extra nutrition to menus. Sprouting can make protein more digestible, improve absorption of minerals like zinc and iron, and may increase healthful phytochemicals in beans.

A little caution is warranted, though. Consumed raw, sprouted grains, seeds, and beans are a potential source of foodborne illness. Sprouted beans should always be cooked before consuming. You can use sprouted beans in any bean recipe like black bean soup.

Steps for Sprouting Beans:

  • Rinse 1/2 cup dried black beans, remove any stones or other debris, and place in a clean quart-size jar.
  • Add enough fresh water to fill the jar three-quarters of the way to the top. Cover with a mesh lid or cloth, secured with a rubber band, to allow airflow.
  • Soak for 24 hours at room temperature.
  • Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly. Repeat rinsing and draining 3-4 times per day until sprout tails appear. (Short sprouts are sufficient to see health benefits.)
  • Cook beans with sprouts as you normally would, but be prepared to check tenderness regularly. Sprouted beans may cook in half as much time as non-sprouted beans.
An image depicting beans soaking in water

Hot Soak Method Speeds Bean Preparation

If you forgot to soak your beans the night before you plan to cook them, the hot soak method can come to the rescue. Cover the beans with water, bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Remove them from the heat and let them soak in the hot water for an hour. Then drain, rinse, add fresh water and cook. It’s okay to let the beans soak longer if you don’t have time to cook them right away but be sure to put them in the refrigerator after they’ve soaked for an hour.

Click here for more information about soaking beans.


Give the Gift of Homemade Bean Soup

Homemade bean soup mix in a jar is a thoughtful gift for a busy hostess or anyone on your holiday list who has little time to cook. The key to making it special is to create different layers of colorful beans in an attractive jar and to provide a seasoning mix that is packed with flavor.


This recipe makes four 1-quart mason jars.

Instructions (Makes 4)

>> You’ll need one pound each of five different beans. Black, navy, pinto, cranberry, and kidney beans are all good choices.

>> For the seasoning mix, stir together:

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated onions
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Divide the mixture into four pieces of parchment paper or small plastic bags. To each, add 2 bay leaves and a cube of vegetable bouillon. If using parchment paper, fold it into a packet and seal securely.

>> Layer the beans into four different 1-quart jars, leaving enough space at the top for the seasoning mix before adding the lid.

To make the soup:

  1. Rinse beans then place in a pot and add water to cover by 1 inch.
  2. Do a quick soak of the beans by bringing to a boil, removing from heat and letting them soak in the hot water for an hour.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans. Add them back to the pot with the seasoning mix, one 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
An image for the Cream soup with beans recipe

Give Cream-Style Soups a Protein Boost with Beans

Cream-style soups are a favorite for warm, soothing meals on cold winter nights. The addition of a cup or two of cooked beans can stretch canned or homemade soup into a complete, protein-rich meal in just minutes. Stir a can of drained rinsed white beans into tomato soup. Or try pinto beans added to cream of celery soup.

An image depicting beans being rinsed

Rinse Beans the Right Way to Reduce Sodium

Draining and rinsing canned beans can reduce their sodium content by more than 40%. But taking just a few extra minutes is key to getting the most benefit. First, drain beans in a colander for two minutes.  Then rinse the beans under cool running water for 10 seconds. Let drain for another two minutes. The reduced-sodium beans are ready to use in any favorite recipe.

Source: https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/011110p62.shtml


Beans for American Heart Month

February celebrates Valentine’s Day and healthy hearts. For American Heart Month, pair beans with other heart-healthy foods like olive oil, greens, avocado, nuts, and dark chocolate.

  • Sauté onions and garlic in extra-virgin olive oil until tender. Add cooked beans and dried herbs.
  • Add greens like kale or spinach to any bean soup or stew.
  • Toss cooked beans and chopped walnuts into a green salad.
  • Add a square of dark chocolate to your next batch of bean chili
  • Coarsely mash together white beans and avocados for a sandwich spread


Storing Dried Beans

Dried beans have a long storage life, which means you can always have them on hand. It’s best to use beans within a year of purchase, but that’s only because the longer they sit on the shelf, the longer they take to cook. They are still safe to use, and if you store beans properly, they should be good for several years in your pantry.

To keep dried beans as fresh as possible, store them in food-safe storage containers with tight-fitting lids rather than in the plastic bag you purchased them in. Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If beans have been sitting on the shelf for more than a year, adding ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to each pound of beans while you’re cooking them can help make them softer.

Back to School with Beans

Start the school year with beans for good nutrition and a little bit of a lunchbox makeover.

  • Pack a small container of bean dip made with pinto beans and cheese and include dippers like carrot sticks or apple slices.
  • Add any type of beans to a thermos of macaroni and cheese or tomato soup.
  • Make a crunchy bean salad by combining cooked beans with brown rice, chopped apples, nuts, and celery.
  • For younger children, use cookie cutters to make white bean hummus sandwiches in fun shapes. If the bitter flavor of tahini is too strong for young palates, try making it with peanut or almond butter.

Baking with Beans

With their mild flavor and creamy texture, beans are a natural ingredient in healthier, low-fat desserts. Food scientists in Idaho found that pureed white beans—like Great Northern or navy beans—can replace up to 75% of the butter in cookie recipes. Replacing some of the butter in your favorite cookie recipe with beans can reduce the calories by nearly one-third, and it’s also a smart way to pack a little extra fiber and protein into sweet treats.

Try this recipe from the Idaho State University for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, made with great northern beans.

Or, see what one home cook did with sugar cookies: https://www.superhealthykids.com/christmas-bean-cookies-with-natural-food-dyes/.

Three Fast Ways to Flavor a Pot of Beans

There is no shortage of bean recipes on the internet and in cookbooks. But when you need to flavor a pot of beans fast, it can be as simple as opening a jar.

  • Stir ¼ cup of black olive tapenade and ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley into a can of drained, rinsed white beans. Serve in a bowl with warm bread.
  • Stir one cup mole sauce (a Mexican sauce made from tomatoes, peppers and chocolate) into a can of drained and rinsed pinto or black beans. Serve on a warm tortilla or over cooked rice.
  • Add ¼ cup of prepared basil pesto to a can of drained, rinsed white beans. Serve on a bed of salad greens.

Grow this Mexican Herb for Traditional Bean Dishes

Homemade refried beans are easy, but the traditional Mexican version calls for the herb epazote, which can be hard to find outside of specialty food markets. If you’re a gardener, one solution is to grow your own. A distant cousin to spinach and Swiss chard, epazote has a distinctly strong odor that makes it a good choice to repel pests in the garden. Both its flavor and aroma mellow with cooking, but even so, a little goes a long way. Add just 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh epazote to a pound of dried beans while they are simmering. Considered a medicinal herb, epazote is also thought to have gas-reducing properties. You can find epazote seeds through online seed catalogs.

Adding Smoky Flavor to Beans

Adding a few drops of liquid smoke to your favorite bean soup is the fastest way to add a smoky flavor to beans. Liquid smoke is a condiment that is created by passing smoke from smoldering wood chips through a condenser and then cooling the vapors to liquefy them. The liquid is filtered to produce a clean, safe product that is packed with the flavors most people associated with smoked meats.

Or try smoked paprika, a Spanish version of the more common sweet Hungarian paprika. It’s made from dried pimiento peppers that have been smoked over an oak fire and then ground into a powder.

A third way to incorporate deep smoky flavors into bean dishes is with the addition of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Try this recipe for Warm Chipotle Black Bean Dip.

Beans are the Secret in This Sauce

Let beans be the secret ingredient in your next batch of rich tomato sauce.

Adding beans to tomato sauce is an easy way to create a sauce that is extra thick, and also packed with protein. If you have picky eaters in your family, it’s a good way to sneak health-promoting beans into their diet, too. Choose canned or well-cooked beans and puree them thoroughly in a food processor. Then stir in ¼ to ½ cup of beans for each cup of tomato sauce, depending on how thick you want it to be. Any type of bean works for this.

How to Freeze Beans

Beans cooked from scratch are convenient when you prepare big batches ahead of time to freeze. You can drain the beans first or freeze them right in their liquid. Let cooked beans cool until the liquid is lukewarm.

Freeze in containers with tight-fitting lids leaving a half-inch at the top of the beans to allow for expansion during freezing. Some cooks stir in ½ teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice for each cup of cooked beans to preserve their texture, but this is optional.

Beans can be frozen for up to six months.

Two Ways to Soak Beans to Reduce Gas

While not every recipe calls for soaking beans before cooking them, if beans give you gas, soaking can help. Soaking overnight and then discarding the soaking water leaches out sugars in beans that are responsible for gas production.

But if you don’t have time for a traditional overnight soak, a quick soak is just as beneficial. Rinse the beans and then place them in a pot with three cups of water for each cup of dried beans. Bring to a boil and boil for two to three minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for one hour. Drain the water, add fresh water and cook.

For everything you ever wanted to know about beans and gas, read Bean, Beans, the Magical Fruit.

Baking with Beans: The Aquafaba Trend

“Aquafaba” comes from the Latin words for water and bean, and that’s exactly what aquafaba is: the liquid in canned beans. Instead of pouring that liquid down the drain, inventive and frugal cooks save it to make a quick substitute for eggs in baked products.

Aquafaba can be used straight from the can to replace eggs in cookies and cakes. Substitute 3 tablespoons of aquafaba for one egg. It can also be whipped into stiff peaks to make meringue or macaroons.

The liquid from any beans can be used to make aquafaba. With canned beans on hand, you’ll always be ready to bake a cake, even when you’ve run out of eggs, or if you’re expecting guests who don’t eat eggs.

Canned Beans versus Cooked from Scratch: Both Offer Good Nutrition

Cooking beans yourself saves money, but when you’re in a hurry, nothing is quite as easy as canned beans. They’re also good for you. Canned beans offer about the same amount of protein and fiber as their cooked-from-scratch counterparts. Beans from a can are lower in the B-vitamin folate, although they’re still a good source of this nutrient.  If you’re watching your intake of sodium, be sure to rinse canned beans or look for those that are made with less salt. For busy cooks, or those who don’t enjoy cooking, canned beans are always a good choice.

Additional information:



Beyond Hummus: Bean Dips for Parties and Sandwiches

Whether you need something a little different for a party or want a quick protein-packed lunch, any kind of bean can be used to make delicious dips and sandwich spreads.

White Bean Hummus: Substitute cooked or canned navy or Great Northern beans for chickpeas in any hummus recipe.

Black and Butter Bean Spread with Dried Tomatoes: Puree together ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, ¼ cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, one clove garlic, one 15-ounce can black beans and one 15-ounce can butter beans.

White Bean and Avocado Spread: Drain a 15-ounce can of white beans, saving the liquid. Puree together the beans, one large peeled and pitted avocado, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley. Add bean liquid, a few tablespoons at a time to get the right consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Red Beans and Walnuts: Puree together 1 ½ cups cooked red beans, ½ cup toasted walnuts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon dried basil and ¼ teaspoon dried parsley (or more to taste). Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet and Savory: Beans and Fruit are a Match Made in Heaven

Canned, dried or fresh, fruits add subtle sweetness to all types of bean recipes.

Toss cooked navy or Great Northern beans with fresh rosemary and figs sautéed in olive oil. Legend has it that this was a favorite dish of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Create a sweet and spicy salad dish by combining cooked black beans with chunks of fresh mango, diced red onion and minced jalapeno peppers. Toss with a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

Sauté crumbled sage-flavored sausage and chopped apples to liven up canned or homemade baked beans.

Make Sweet Vegetarian Pineapple Baked Beans in the crockpot for effortless homemade flavor.

Stretch Your Food Dollars with Beans

If you’re resolving to eat healthier and save money in the New Year, you should add beans to your menu. According to the Nutrient-Rich Foods Index, beans provide the best nutritional value for the lowest cost of any food. That’s not news to frugal cooks who have known for decades that beans are an economical yet tasty way to stretch soup, stews or even burgers and meatloaf. A one-half cup serving of canned black beans costs just 29 cents based on data from the USDA. If you cook dried beans from scratch, you’ll pay just 12 cents for a half-cup serving. Freeze unseasoned cooked beans in recipe size portions so you’ll always have them on hand for fast, economical meals.


Bean Dishes for Breakfast

Beans may not be common fare for American breakfasts, but they are not the least bit unusual in some parts of the world. Starting the day with beans makes sense. Their combination of protein and fiber gives them staying power, keeping hunger at bay throughout the morning. Here are five ways to include beans in the most important meal of the day.

• Spoon baked beans (your own or from a can) onto toast for a super-easy British-style breakfast.

• Fold black beans into a flour tortilla or an omelet and top with salsa for a Mexican-style breakfast

• Give hash brown potatoes a protein and fiber boost by stirring cooked pinto beans into them.

• Try Gallo Pinto or “Painted Rooster” which is a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast. This red beans and rice dish is often served with scrambled eggs. Make it by sauteeing 1 finely chopped onion and 1 finely chopped sweet pepper plus 2 minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add 2 cups of cooked red beans and season with salt and pepper. Serve over hot, cooked rice.

• If you eat breakfast on-the-go, bean muffins offer a healthy alternative to pastry or energy bars. Beans add protein and a pleasant moist texture to breakfast muffins. Try this recipe for White Bean, Banana and Walnut Muffins from the Today Show.

7 Strategies to Raise Children Who Eat Beans

Beans are a simply delicious, naturally nutritious food that provides important nutrients for a growing child, including protein, fiber, folate, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Unfortunately, some parents struggle to get their children to eat this highly nutritious food and they often wonder what they can do to encourage children to eat beans.

Researchers and child feeding experts have identified key ways parents can support and develop a positive eating pattern for kids. We’ve taken this great information and simplified it into 7 bean-focused strategies.

Here are 7 Strategies to Raise Children Who Eat Beans

 Strategy #1: Enjoy Regular Family Meals

Make eating together as a family a priority. Research has found many benefits of regular family meals including the development of healthful eating patterns, increased nutrient intake, and decreased the likelihood of being overweight. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends all people ages 2 and older eat between 1 to 3 cups of beans per week. Serving beans regularly at family meals and having young children eat along with the family is a great way to encourage healthful eating for your child, as well as the entire family. The main thing to remember with family meals is to make them frequent, fun and family-centered. For more information about why family meals are important, check out our article about the 10 Big Benefits of Family Meals.

 Strategy #2: Bring Kids in the Kitchen

Involving kids in the process of preparing their food helps them to become familiar with foods, and therefore more likely to accept and enjoy them. Beans are an excellent food to engage with kids in the kitchen. If you choose to use canned beans, a can opener is a great tool to teach kids to use. Rinsing canned beans is another simple task to teach kids. Beans also make a conversation piece in the kitchen. After a can of beans is opened and rinsed, taste a bean with your child. Ask them what they think it tastes like. After adding other ingredients, taste again and ask if the bean tastes the same or different. Ask why. These are not only great ways to get kids familiar with beans but also to better understand the process of cooking and how foods are transformed through different processes and ingredient combinations.

Strategy #3: Serve Family Style Meals + Beans

A key strategy to developing healthy eating habits is to offer a variety of healthy foods on the family dinner table and allow kids to pick what they’d like. Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding (a recognized authority in child feeding strategies) tells us that parents are responsible for the what, where and when, and children are responsible for the whether and how much. If a family meal includes baked chicken, potatoes, baked beans and salad, allow the child to choose however much of any of these foods they would like. If one meal they only eat chicken and salad, and the next it’s only potatoes and baked beans, that’s ok! Continue to serve beans regularly, don’t pressure, and eventually, your child may try them on their own.

Strategy #4: Be the Bean Eater You Want Your Kids to Be!

It’s  hard to tell your child to eat something they never see you eat. At family meals, make sure you are enjoying beans. If you have an aversion to a certain food, especially healthy foods, don’t push that aversion onto your child. Serve healthful food and model what it looks like to enjoy a wide variety of delicious, healthy foods, including beans, to your child.

Strategy #5: Talk About Food Before Nutrition

Experiencing food is much more exciting for children than learning the amount of nutrients in certain food. If you are shopping at the grocery store, have children help pick out certain foods. If you’re shopping for beans, have your child count how many different types of beans they can find in the grocery store. If you have a garden, get them in the garden. Have them help put away groceries. Involve them in the kitchen and teach them to cook. All of these experiences are learning opportunities and have the potential to build self-efficacy and preference for healthy foods.

Strategy #6: Always Serve Beans with a Positive Attitude

After you’ve served a food countless times and your child continually refuses it, you may go into an eating experience with an attitude of frustration and assumption that they will not eat a food. However, research has shown that for some foods, it can take 15-20 exposures before a child learns to accept and like it. Begin each feeding experience with an expectant attitude without exerting force. If eating beans is part of the family meal custom and everyone does it without making a fuss, your child may eventually follow suit.

Strategy #7: Make Delicious Bean Dishes

In our Bean Bulletin interview with Chef Garrett Berdan, he made the excellent point that we can’t expect kids to eat a food just because it’s healthy; it must taste good! If something doesn’t taste good, why should we expect kids to eat it? There are so many ways to make the simply delicious, naturally nutritious bean absolutely craveable! Check out our Bean Bulletin featured recipe: Cheesy Bean Broccoli Pasta and our Bean Institute recipes for hundreds of ideas to make delicious bean dishes the whole family will love.

Put Your Best Fork Forward with Beans!

March is National Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” Choosing nutrient-rich foods is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and beans are a key part of a healthy diet. Beans are rich in plant-based protein, fiber and a variety of other nutrients that are essential for health. There are also hundreds of varieties providing unique, versatile flavors. Bonus – they are also a good food for the planet, fixing nitrogen into the soil to reduce greenhouse gases. What’s not to love!

Make National Nutrition Month® as healthy as you can with beans. Here are 5 tips to put your best fork forward with beans every day!

1. Base Meals With Beans & Whole Grains – Building meals around beans and whole grains creates delicious meals that are easy and save you money. One of the best things about beans and grains is that you can make a large batch on a less busy day and it stores well for quick meals throughout the week. Beans and rice is the classic example, but get creative – ancient grains are popular right now and there are many options. Try pairing your favorite bean with quinoa, amaranth or farro. Toss in some roasted vegetables, a few nuts, and a heart-healthy vinaigrette, and you have a complete meal.
2. Beans On Salads – Salads are a great way to get enough vegetables in your diet and beans make a delicious addition. Add ½ cup beans to your favorite salad. Pinto or black beans go great on a taco salad, and white beans make a wonderful addition to Caesar salads. You can also try our “enlightened” Caesar Salad with Cannellini Bean Dressing. This recipe replaces the egg in Caesar dressing with cannellini or white beans. It decreases the calories and increases the potassium and fiber. It also provides a whole extra serving of vegetables!
3. Eat Plant Forward – Plant forward eating is not about giving up foods, but adding more delicious, flavorful plant foods into your everyday diet. Eating a diet filled with plants—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (the family beans belong to), nuts and seeds—is connected with living a longer, healthier life, and it’s a diet that’s good for the planet. Look for opportunities to add more plants to your diet. A simple idea – smoothies! They are a great way to get a wide variety of plant foods, and adding beans to your smoothie increases the protein, fiber and a variety of other key nutrients. Try our Berry Bean Smoothie. One serving provides 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.
4. Beans for Breakfast – A healthy breakfast is key to an overall healthy diet, and a breakfast that includes beans provides high-quality protein and fiber that keep you nourished and satisfied all morning. An easy way to begin a healthy day is to enjoy a Breakfast Bean Burrito. Fill a whole grain 10” flour tortilla with a scrambled egg, ¾ cup canned, drained and rinsed reduced-sodium black or pinto beans, and ¼ cup shredded cheese. Roll tightly to form a burrito, place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 45-60 seconds. Top with your favorite salsa and enjoy!
5. Cook At Home – Finally, a fun and easy way to put your best fork forward is to cook more meals at home. According to research from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, people who cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less. Cooking at home not only provides an opportunity to eat healthier, it’s also a way to put on your creative hat and experiment with new recipes, ingredients and flavors. Did you know beans are eaten all over the world? In collaboration with the Culinary Institute of America, we developed The World Bean Kitchen, your passport to discovering delicious bean cuisines from across the globe.

Cheers to a happy and healthy National Nutrition Month®, and we hope you all will put your best fork forward with beans!

Bean Bulletin Q&A with Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD

The Bean Institute recently sat down with Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, professor and extension specialist with North Dakota State University (NDSU). Julie has done extensive research, writing and educating about how and why to regularly enjoy simply delicious, naturally nutritious beans.

BB (Bean Bulletin): Julie, you’ve done a lot of research and projects to promote bean use and consumption. Can you tell us a little about your “bean history”?

Julie: Actually, homemade bean soup was my favorite food as a child, so my history goes back a long way! In my role as a nutrition specialist, I have focused attention on beans and other members of the pulse family for many years because of their fiber, protein and overall excellent nutrition profile. We work with limited-resource families, and we let people know beans are an economical and versatile option on their menus. I also had the opportunity to be part of a five-year project with plant breeders who were working to identify bean varieties higher in natural antioxidants. Being involved from the “ground level” was exciting.

BB: That is exciting. Beans and other pulses are a pretty desirable food right now. Why are consumers looking to add more beans to their diet?

Julie: I think consumers have become aware of the need for foods higher in fiber.  And while beans are a good source of fiber, they also are a source of low-cost protein, so they provide a way to extend our food budget. Beans also “fix nitrogen” into the soil, to make it available to other plants, so they are good for the soil, too.

We did a national survey of 733 dietitians, nutrition educators and other food-related professionals who work directly with consumers. We wanted to learn their and their clients’ perceptions of beans. The professionals were aware of the protein content (98 percent), fiber (97 percent) and low-fat content (94 percent) but less aware of the folate (58 percent) and antioxidant (41 percent) content. Most rated their knowledge and use of beans higher than that of their clients. Based on their feedback, we used this information to create bean education resources for anyone to use.

You can read more about the study here: www.neafcs.org/assets/documents/journal/2016%20jneafcs.pdf

BB: Since you work with Extension, you provide education that helps all people try to live a healthy life. What are some of your key recommendations to make healthy living a priority?

Julie: We focus on simple strategies based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in our outreach to consumers. Key messages such as “fill half your plate with fruits and veggies” seem to resonate better with consumers than more complex messages. Of course, beans count as a vegetable or a protein, so they certainly fit within that message.

I am a strong believer in setting goals, and we often integrate goal-setting activities in our Extension education efforts. We have found significant improvements in healthful living behaviors when children and adults set goals and track their progress related to eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing their physical activity levels, having more family meals and getting enough sleep. Setting goals is the first step to achieving those goals.

BB: March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” What does it look like to put your “best fork forward”? And how does one put their “best fork forward” with beans?

Julie: As we developed and tested bean recipes, my student interns and I became more tuned in to the versatility of beans as menu items, ranging from salads to desserts. My students made the black bean brownie recipe several times, “just to test them”!

In putting your “best fork forward,” I would encourage others to try the various forms of beans available in grocery stores, including dry, canned and frozen. Keep your menus interesting by experimenting with the wide range of available recipes, including international cuisine.

BB: What are your favorite strategies to get more beans in your diet? And do you have any great tips for getting kids to like and eat their beans?

Julie: Being the mother of three, I have found the best strategy for getting my own kids to eat nutritious foods is to invite them into the kitchen to help me cook or to help grow vegetables in our backyard garden. My collaborators and I did a research project with preschoolers and their families a few years ago. We helped the children grow a wide range of beans, including dry edible beans and snap beans, in their preschool gardens. The children helped make simple recipes, such as black bean salsa and bean muffins. We found significant improvements in their willingness to taste foods if they helped grow and prepare them. We also found a significant increase in bean use at home among the families.

BB: Many consumers believe that eating healthy costs a lot. What are some ways consumers can eat well while saving money?

 Julie: Planning menus, shopping with a grocery list and eating at home more often are typical cost-saving strategies. I’d also recommend adding more beans to your grocery cart. Beans cost much less than animal-based protein, so they can help stretch our protein dollar while helping us get fiber and key nutrients in the process. In fact, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we include 3 cups of legumes in our diet every week.

BB: The research related to beans is always growing. What emerging area of bean research do you find most interesting or promising?

Julie: Beans increasingly are being shown to play a role in weight management and preventing and/or managing heart disease and diabetes. Canadian researchers reported that just one-fourth of a cup of beans/pulses per day reduced blood glucose levels by 20 percent. I am keeping my eyes open for new published research on the “MIND” diet. It combines the features of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. It includes beans and studies their role in potentially delaying the onset of dementia.

BB: Finally, we know you’ve developed a lot of bean recipes over the years. Do you have a favorite?

We have an entire cookbook of bean recipes, so choosing one is challenging. I always enjoy salsa, so here is one that combines tropical fruit and beans. See www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/bean-resources-1 for the entire cookbook and teaching materials.

Black Bean and Fruit Salsa

Credit: NDSU Extension Service

Black Bean Fruit Salsa-001
½ c. mango, peeled and cubed
1 c. papaya, peeled and diced
½ c. pineapple, diced
½ c. black beans, canned, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently to coat.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 40 calories, 1.5 g fat, 1 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fiber and 30 mg sodium.

5 Ways to #EatMoreBeans

Regularly consuming beans in any form (canned, dried or frozen) is good for your health and your wealth, and canned beans are a great time-saving ingredient. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend enjoying 3 cups of legumes (including beans) per week, which is about ½ cup per day. To make sure you meet your bean needs, here are 5 simple tips to #EatMoreBeans:

  1. Add drained and rinsed canned black beans to salsa. Serve with whole grain tortilla chips for a satisfying snack.
  2. Mash drained and rinsed canned pinto beans with a little extra-virgin olive oil and Italian seasoning. Mash to desired consistency and serve with whole grain pita chips and vegetables crudité.
  3. If you’re eating out and there’s a salad bar option, get it and be sure to choose beans.
  4. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Remember beans count as a vegetable or protein food.
  5. If you’re cooking up scrambled eggs for breakfast (or any meal), toss in your favorite bean for an extra dose of protein and fiber.

Home Cooking Tips from Chef-Dietitian Cheryl Forberg

For our January 2017 Q&A, we talked with Cheryl Forberg, a James Beard award-winning chef, best-selling author, and the nutritionist for NBC’s The “Biggest Loser” television show. A culinary expert as well as a registered dietitian, she has shared cooking and nutrition tips with the show’s contestants for seventeen seasons.

Cheryl received her culinary education at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After graduation, she embarked on a European apprenticeship journey that included stints at top French restaurants from Champagne to Strasbourg. She later was chosen for the opening team of Postrio restaurant, Chef Wolfgang Puck’s first venture in Northern California.  She also worked as a private chef for Lucasfilm Ltd. in Northern California.

Forberg went on to earn a degree in nutrition and clinical dietetics from the University of California at Berkeley and to work as a research dietitian at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Forberg has written or contributed to 17 books, including her latest, A Small Guide to Losing Big. She has contributed articles and recipes to numerous culinary and health publications, including Prevention, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Parade, Shape, Fitness, Cooking Light, Health, US News and World Reports and The Washington Post.

Bean Bulletin (BB):  Cheryl, we know many dietitians who later pursued culinary training, but you took a different path, first becoming a chef and later becoming a dietitian. What prompted you to pursue this path?

Cheryl Forberg (CF): When I left the restaurant world to cook exclusively for private families, many of my clients had dietary restrictions, from low sodium to low calorie.  At the time, there were few chefs who knew about nutrition and few dietitians who were also chefs.  I felt I could go further for my clients if I understood the physiology of their eating requirements and requests. I attended the University of California, Berkeley to pursue a nutrition degree and RD credentials.

 BB: When you create recipes for home cooks, what principles or guidelines do you keep in mind? For example, when we create recipes, we always give people the option to use canned beans in place of starting with dry beans knowing that saving time in the kitchen matters to most home cooks. We also promote brining beans as a way to save time when starting with dry beans.

CF: While my time as a private chef was spent cooking for affluent clients with unlimited budgets, my time with “The Biggest Loser” reminded me that most Americans have a very limited budget and not a lot of time to cook.  My mother lives in a small town in Wisconsin and I use her as my tether.  If Mom can’t find or afford a particular ingredient, I usually leave it out of my recipes because I know that most of my readers will be in the same boat.

 BB: In your opinion, how do the acts of shopping for, preparing, and eating home-cooked meals contribute to better health?

CF:  There’s so much work to be done in terms of nutrition education.  If only people understood that a little more time in the kitchen, and a few more dollars spent each week on quality ingredients can equate to more healthy years ahead and lower medical costs. Everybody wins.

 BB: We know you’re an avid home gardener, and that you have some animals on your small farm as well. What advice do you have for people who want to grow more food at home, or eat more fresh, local, seasonal foods?

CF: Nothing tastes better than fresh. Even if you live in an apartment, a few pots of fresh herbs can add a magical finish to a simple home cooked meal—whether it’s a dusting of chopped parsley or a few shredded basil leaves. And if you do have room for a garden, start slowly with a few veggies and try to take local garden courses to learn which fruits and veggies work in your area and whether you have the great fortune to grow winter veggies as well.

BB: We also know you love beans. How often do you cook with them, and do you typically use dry beans, canned beans, or both?

CF: I adore beans. I love them not only because they’re a great source of fiber and protein, but also because they’re so versatile and SO inexpensive.  I usually have at least five different dried beans in my kitchen, and even if I only need a cup or two cooked beans in a recipe, I usually cook a whole pound and keep the rest on hand to add to salads or soups (or to put in the freezer for next time).  But I’m super busy like everyone else so I always keep cans of black, pinto, and garbanzo beans on hand. Hummus is my go-to appetizer for last minute guests, and I love to use different canned beans for that.

BB: What are your favorite bean dishes to cook at home?

 CF: I often experiment with different bean dishes to serve with grilled meat or for meatless meal. I usually add onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, mustard, oregano, chipotle, and smoked salt. Sometimes I add fire-roasted tomatoes and/or bacon.  I also love to add beer while they’re simmering instead of adding water, and I often finish with fresh cilantro and a lime squeeze.   I always have enough for leftovers so that I can top them with poached eggs for breakfast—farm fresh eggs from my chickens!

BB: What’s the best bean dish you’ve ever eaten, and why? Was it something you cooked, or something you ate at a restaurant?

 CF:  I love the bean dishes cooked at home because I know exactly what’s in them and I feel good about that. The best bean dish I recall in a restaurant is Lobhia Aur Khumbi that I ate at an Indian cafe in Berkeley called Ajanta.  Though the dish itself was vegetarian and the primary ingredient was black-eyed peas, which are technically a bean, it was loaded with umami-rich shiitakes and complex curry seasonings. It was memorable and absolutely scrumptious!

BB: Finally, what advice do you have for people who want to cook more at home?

CF: If you’re intimidated or afraid, take a class. It will do wonders for your confidence and give you great ideas. If you can’t take a class, buy a book or two or explore the wealth of great recipes online.  Start simple and get creative as you learn more and build confidence.

BB: Cheryl, thanks for taking the time amidst your very busy schedule to answer our questions. We love talking with bean lovers who also love cooking!

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.


Tips for Elegant, Stress-free Holiday Entertaining

Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry. We’ve all likely heard this phrase, and while it’s lovely to enjoy all the holiday season has to offer, hosts may find their plates overflowing with to dos, with little time to relax and celebrate the season. However, with a little planning, prioritizing and self-care, the holidays can be enjoyed by one and all.

Here are 7 tips to embrace all the merriment the season has to offer.

  1. Get Organized: During the holiday season, calendars fill very quickly. Keep an appointment book and make sure you’re not overscheduling yourself. Also, as your event is approaching, make sure you have a detailed list of everything that needs to be done, as well as a timeline for when you’re going to do it. There are lots of tasks that can be done days, even weeks, in advance of a holiday party. Keeping organized and on schedule will keep you cool, calm and collected.
  2. Ditch Complicated Dining: While multi-course dining is a treat, the time, fuss and stress that accompanies it typically doesn’t match the reward. If hosting duties don’t allow you to relax and enjoy your company, it takes all the fun (and purpose) of bringing loved ones together. Consider cocktail foods (like our featured recipe: Pork & Pumpkin Empanadas) or one-pot meals instead of the large, sit-down, multi-course dining.
  3. Don’t Overdue Expensive Items: It’s generous and thoughtful to provide guests with luxurious foods, but don’t let it break the bank. Share a couple expensive items and economize on the rest. Fancy flatbreads and spreads are a great way to save money and enhance your holiday feast. Our Garlic & White Bean Bruschetta is a Spanish version on the classic Italian dish. It’s a beautiful hors d’oeuvre that exudes elegance but is simple and inexpensive.
  4. Potluck, Potluck, Potluck: When hosting friends or family, any good guest will typically ask, “What can I bring?” Make your list and be prepared to share suggestions that complete your menu and shorten your to-do list.
  5. Know What’s the Best Use of Your Time: Some foods that are absolutely worth the time and effort to make homemade, and others are just as good store bought. Most guests would rather have a calm, happy host and some prepared food than time-intensive dishes and stressful holiday dining. Take some help from the store and don’t apologize for it. Also, think about other time-intensive tasks on your to-do list. Determine if they are necessary or if there’s someone else who can take them off your list.
  6. Skip the Full Bar: Providing guests a full bar of drinks is very generous, but it’s time consuming and expensive. Instead offer one or two memorable holiday cocktails. There are tons of festive holiday drink recipes available on the Internet, and guests will enjoy trying something unique and special for your holiday gathering.
  7. Eat Well, Exercise & Get Enough Rest: It is essential to practice good self-care throughout the holidays. While it’s temporarily delicious and enjoyable to indulge in all the holiday treats, overdoing it will leave you unhappy and likely more stressed. Even when enjoying holiday parties, enjoy a variety of healthful foods. Focus on foods high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. Also, be sure to take time to make healthy meals, exercise and get enough rest outside of the holiday party shuffle.

 From the Bean Institute, we wish you all a happy, healthy holiday season. Cheers!

Smart Strategies for Promoting Beans in Schools

If you’re following the latest food trends, you’re likely aware that beans get a lot of positive buzz, and rightfully so.  Beans are a nutrition powerhouse, an affordable source of protein, and an incredibly versatile ingredient.

At the Bean Institute we’ve had the fortune to travel across the country and meet many outstanding school nutrition professionals who’ve shared their strategies for getting kids to like and eat beans. We’ve consolidated their brilliant ideas and are sharing them with you.

Spice Up Beans on the Salad Bar

Many districts utilize the salad bar to serve beans to students. This works as a great offering place, but schools find more success when they enhance their salad bar beans. Draining and rinsing beans and placing on the salad bar is easy, but adding a few ingredients like herbs and spices or a simple vinaigrette can take beans from bland to grand. Our zesty Black & White Bean Salad is an easy recipe that is gaining popularity around the country.

 What’s in a Name?black-bean-spinach-burritos-21

Did you know the name a food is given can make a big difference in how much students will serve themselves and eat? According to research from The Smarter School Lunchroom Movement, when a menu item called a Bean Burrito was changed to the Big Bad Bean Burrito consumption increased by more than 40 percent. Consumption could have been higher, but they sold out in the second of three lunch periods! Take a few moments to examine the names you give your menu items; if they need some help, consider asking students to recommend new, more appealing names.

 The Power of Presentation

We’ve all heard the phrase, “We eat with our eyes, but with the success of social media websites like Pinterest and Instagram, students expect beauty from all of their food choices. Schools are finding styling success by presenting beans in disposable plastic serving cups with colorful garnishes, or by layering bean salads by individual ingredient in plastic cups with domed lids. These presentation steps take time and money, but they make the final dish feel a little more special—and more likely to be selected and eaten.

Customization is King

Young people are accustomed to the “Have It Your Way” restaurant world. By providing this type of experience in schools, you can encourage students to exert more control over their food choices. Build-Your-Own Burrito Bars are a great way to provide customized food experiences. And what do all burritos need? Beans! Schools that have provided both a pinto and black bean option at their burrito bar have reported the most success in getting kids to take beans. One district told us recently they put a small sign between the two beans containers that says “Two Beans Are Better Than One.” That small sign is having a major impact on motivating students to put both black and pinto beans in their burritos.

Send Home Recipe Ideas

Kids eat what they like and like what they know. And kids get to know a food by seeing and eating it over and over again. Schools are an important place to expose young people to delicious bean recipes regularly, but we know kids also need to taste beans at home. You can provide beans recipes for parents in school newsletters or on your district’s website. Providing simple, delicious bean recipes is a great way to encourage continued bean consumption at home. You can access the volume recipe for White Bean Turkey Chili and the home version at BeanInstitute.com.

Editor’s Note: Yes, you have our permission to share bean recipes from The Bean Institute website with your student and their parents.