If you're eating a healthy, diverse diet, you've probably made
beans one of your staples. Full of
protein, fiber and nutrients, beans can help control blood sugar and cholesterol
levels, lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and even contribute to a
longer life span compared to meat products--and they're inexpensive, to boot. But if
you've been eating a lot of beans, you may feel you've exhausted
your repertoire of chilis, burritos, soups and salads. Luckily, beans
are as versatile as they are nutritious, and there are some different
things you can do to put a twist on the basic bean:
1. Black bean brownies
Want to have your brownie and eat it, too? Beans give these brownies a
healthy bump in fiber and protein, and while it may sound strange to have
beans in baked goods, many people swear they can't taste them in the
final product. If you want to go all-in on a healthy brownie recipe, try this
2. White bean ranch dressing
Again, beans transform the nutritional profile of a food not generally
considered healthy. This
homemade version gets its creaminess from yogurt and white beans, and its flavor from herbs,
garlic and lemon juice. White beans can be a good addition to other types
of creamy dressings, such as Caesar.
3. Sandwich spread
Think bean dip on bread, and you'll have a more exciting sandwich than
with your traditional mayo or mustard. Hummus is probably the most common
type of bean spread, but homemade white bean spreads have the advantage
of adopting different flavor profiles depending on the ingredients you
use (such as cilantro or rosemary). Here's a
basic spread recipe to start with, which has been paired with roasted vegetables. Once
you've mastered it, experiment with different herbs and even other
kinds of beans.
4. Spaghetti and bean balls
Trying to cut back on meat?
Here's a way to enjoy an Italian classic that's vegan, thanks to the inclusion
of kidney beans. Make sure to cook the balls thoroughly so they can stand
up to the tomato sauce you'll want to pair them with.
5. Pasta noodles
As demand for gluten-free products has grown, more
grain-free pastas have filled grocery store shelves. Among them are pastas made with black
beans or chickpeas, which can have more protein and fiber than the regular
wheat varieties. If you're feeling ambitious, you can make your own
chickpea noodles by grinding the legumes into flour, as in
this recipe that pairs the pasta with mushrooms and Parmesan.