It’s no secret how much I love beans. Whether black beans, lentils, chickpeas, or fava beans (my all-time favorites), I have the dried and canned varieties of so many. But honestly, I didn’t start out as a bean lover.
Growing up beans were never really a part of my diet. In fact, I remember one time for a school project we had to bring in a dish with a food important to our culture. My mom prepared a chickpea salad, that I was literally in tears over. I had never eaten a chickpea and was beyond mortified that I would have to show-off a bean to my class. I was so worried that the kids would start singing that infamous song, “Beans, beans the magical fruit…” When it was my turn to show off my food, I said I forgot it at home. Although I had to sign my name in an awful book for the kids who didn’t do their homework, I breathed a say of relief that I wouldn’t hear that dreadful song.
Needless to say, that little girl would be quite shocked now that I’m a proud, and vocal, supporter of adding beans to our diets! I won’t get too much into the benefits of these nutritional powerhouses, for more information on that topic, check out this post, “Why Beans are an Essential Part of my Diet.” But here’s a quick breakdown:
Beans are full of fiber
Great source of protein
Provide phytonutrients to the diet
So, how did this once bean-hater become such a bean-lover? Slowly, and over time. I would make a bean dish at home, be mindful of ordering a meal full of beans when eating out, and invested in my favorite tool for cooking beans, which is one of the tips below!
Check out the five tips I am honored to share with you to get more of these powerful little foods in your diet:
1) Enjoy some dips + spreads
When I first went plant-based this was the number one way I started eating more beans. My veggie wraps would always have a spread of hummus, the sandwich filling would be a delicious chickpea mash, or I’d make a white bean dip for some veggie sticks.
If I had to suggest one go-to I’d say try out different hummus products until you find your favorite, or experiment with some recipes! Hummus is great because the homemade versions can last for a week or so in the fridge, not that they’d last that long, trust me these are delicious! You can use hummus as a spread for a sandwich or a dip for some veggies (carrots and raw peppers are my favorites).
2) Don’t be scared of cans
I think many of us let the idea of perfection hold us back from doing anything. I used to be like this when it came to my beans. If I couldn’t make my beans at home from scratch, I wasn’t interested.
Although my preferred option is always homemade, now I am completely okay with grabbing a can if that’s all I have time for.
Be gentle with your cooking ability and your time. If in the beginning, you don’t have the confidence or knowledge to whip up a black bean soup from scratch, don’t sweat it. Open up a couple of cans and get cooking! Just be sure to rinse off the beans to wash away any of the sodium or other substances.
3) Try some delicious ethnic foods
This was my favorite way of falling in love with beans! Although I am the type of person that always orders the same thing, this self-imposed challenge was a way for me to try so many dishes I would have never in the past.
Whenever we’d go out for our Friday dinner, the meals I would order would have to have some bean component to them. This meant in Italian restaurants ordering a big bowl of minestrone soup, in Mexican restaurants black bean burritos, in Ethiopian places, lentil stews, and in Mediterranean restaurants, fava beans. In fact, this activity is what introduced me to fava beans, and I’ve been in love ever since.
4) Use them as a garnish
For those that aren’t ready to make beans their main course, don’t worry! You can start small by simply adding beans as a garnish to the meals you are already eating.
Top your salad off with some chickpeas. Throw some black beans on a plate of organic corn nachos. Add some lentils to your homemade veggie soup. I remember the first time I added black beans to salad, I literally added four. And I kept working up until eventually now my salads are more beans than anything else!
5) Invest in a pressure cooker
This tool has been amazing in making beans a staple in the diet. Like I mentioned, I do think canned beans are better than no beans, but homemade beans are king. Using my pressure cooker has cut the sometimes-hour (or more) cooking process in half, even if you forget to soak your beans!
Although I was scared of using this appliance at first, I’m so glad I finally learned how. Now cooking these foods is a breeze. And I almost always have a homemade option in my fridge ready to be eaten.
Do you already like beans? What do you think would be the best way for you to start adding beans to your diet? Tell us in the comments!