Finally. Beans, peas, and other legumes are trending. Maybe it’s because people are looking for more plant protein. Maybe it’s because pre-cooked or canned beans are ready in a matter of minutes. Maybe it’s because the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses—aka legumes. (Okay, probably not.) That said, we still eat fewer beans than experts recommend.
Want to boost your bean eating and get dinner on the table faster? Let some of these seasoned beans do the work for you.
1. Flavor-packed refrigerated beans
“Beans are better fresh,” says the Better Bean website. “You won’t find our beans in the usual place. Look for our uncanny beans in the refrigerator section.”
It’s well worth looking. From Tuscan White Beans to Skillet Refried Red Beans, Better Bean’s seven flavors let you heat and eat beans that taste like homemade. The best part: Better Bean does the seasoning for you, with flavorful ingredients like fennel seed, rosemary, ancho pepper, and tomatillo. Better, indeed.
2. Indian bean entrées
From lentil dal to channa masala, Indian cuisine treats beans right. Many Tasty Bite, Kitchens of India, Jyoti, and Trader Joe’s heat-and-eat pouches or cans are rich in beans. Unfortunately, they’re also rich in sodium (around 500 to 800 milligrams per half cup).
Solution: add a cup of drained no-salt-added canned beans or cooked red lentils to the contents of each package. Mix a two-serving pouch of Tasty Bite Channa Masala (450 milligrams of sodium per half cup) with a cup of unsalted chickpeas, and voilà—you’ve got a meal that serves four (with roughly 230 mg of sodium per half cup). And there’s still plenty of sauce to go around.
Got a side of vegetables to add to your plate? Dinner is done.
3. Heat-and-eat bean blends
Who needs a side of rice when you can grab a bag of cooked beans from the freezer?
Take Trader Joe’s Melodious Blend. It goes from freezer to plate in about five minutes. The blend is a “masterful mélange of green lentils, red lentils, and green garbanzo beans, harmoniously balanced with a smattering of diced tomatoes, a splash of extra virgin olive oil, and a dash of sea salt,” says the bag. Mmm.
4. Bean-and-grain pilafs
Not yet ready to replace your side of grains with beans? At least add some beans to your brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, or other whole grains.
To save time, pick up a bag of frozen Birds Eye Protein Blends. Birds Eye doesn’t skimp on the beans, judging by the impressive amount of protein (10 to 14 grams) and fiber (9 to 17 grams) in each cup. Just open a bag—the Italian Style, say—and heat your “whole grains, lentils, spinach, broccoli and white beans with a garlic parmesan sauce.”
Or try the Asian Style (with edamame, carrots, red peppers, and sauce) or California Style (with lentils, peas, broccoli, edamame, and sauce). Their sodium (about 400 to 450 mg per cup) isn’t too bad, considering that the dish consists of potassium-rich beans and veggies.
Another pick: nutty-tasting Whole Foods 365 Spelt, Green Lentils & Long Grain Brown Rice. Look for the cooked blend in shelf-stable pouches.
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