Even though they come in tin cans, not much is shiny about canned beans. They’re like a handy man that lives next door: dependable and helpful, but, well, a little boring. But with meat being hard to get right now, canned beans are finally taking center stage.
“Beans are a great source of protein, as well as minerals and fiber, and they’re low in saturated fat- compared to animal proteins,” registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD says, about the health benefits all the different types have in common. “Beans have also been shown to fight cancers, improve glycemic control and lower cholesterol,” she adds.
Here, Rifkin points out more health benefits of the various beans worth stocking up on right now. Plus, a whole slew of canned beans recipes to try at home.
“Black beans are high in folate and fiber, with 15 grams a serving,” Rifkin says. “They also have 15 grams of protein per serving and have been shown to lower bad cholesterol.” Some other nutritional highlights of this particular bean: They’re also a good source of calcium and high in antioxidants.
Proof that what’s in your can is actually magic beans? They can be transformed into a fiber-rich dessert, being used in place of both flour and eggs. And they’re still super gooey and chocolate-y too. Check out the video above for the full recipe.
You can combine black beans and cocoa and enjoy it by the spoonful for dinner, too. While this chili may sound like a treat, it still has a mostly savory flavor profile—the chocolate and coconut just add a hint of sweetness. Take that, boring regular chili!
Navy beans have pack even more protein per serving than black beans at 20 grams per cup. “They’re also a good source of B vitamins and, like black beans, also help lower LDL cholesterol,” Rifkin says.
Navy beans, onion, garlic, thyme, celery, olive oil…this soup is a nutritional goldmine. Using navy beans as the core of a hearty soup is one of the most foolproof ways to enjoy them. All you do is combine the ingredients, let them simmer and mingle together on the stove, and then you eat.
Chickpeas tend to be the core of falafel recipes, but navy beans work just as well. This one also calls for garlic, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, which gives your meal inflammation-fighting superpowers.
If you like to work out in the evenings, your body will especially benefit from a serving of pinto beans added to your dinner: Rifkin says they’re a good source of magnesium (with 50 milligrams per one-cup serving), which helps with muscle recovery. (Magnesium has also been linked to good sleep, BTW.) And of course you’ll still be getting good fiber and protein too.
Use pinto beans in the place of meat while still getting a classic sloppy Joe taste thanks to the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, chili powder, and garlic powder. This recipe also uses another healthy bean on this list: kidney beans.
6. Pinto posole
Posolo is a Mexican stew eaten during times of celebration. Even if you’re simply sharing a meal with loved ones, that’s reason enough to be thankful and celebrate. Chili peppers, cumin, and cilantro are all used here to add extra heat and flavor.
Edamame (aka soybeans)
You may be used to consuming soy in the form of tofu or tempeh, but the same benefits can be found in canned soybeans, too. “Soybeans are rich in iron and manganese,” Rifkin says. Iron helps transport oxygen to your body’s cells and thus is crucial for energy, so if you’ve been feeling sluggish, it’s an especially good food to add to your diet. Like the other beans, soybeans are also high in protein and fiber.
Sick of hummus? Switch it up by blending soybeans instead of chickpeas. Add a hint of garlic, olive oil, and cilantro to make it taste fresh and, you know, not from a can.
Adding canned edamame to a salad is about the easiest way to up the protein on your plate. And because soybeans taste pretty neutral, it works no matter what dressing you drizzle on top. If your salad game has been lacking lately, use this recipe as a guide, which is full of different flavors and textures.
“Kidney beans are one of the most consumed beans,” Rifkin says, adding that they’re yet another fibrous win. While kidney beans are lower in protein than the others on this list, they are an especially good source of calcium, with 80 milligrams per cup, a good portion of the 1,000 milligrams you want to aim to get a day.
This dish is simple (and cheap!) to make, and is a super satisfying comfort food. Besides the pinto beans, all you need are potatoes, onion, garlic, parsley, and dill—that’s literally it.
Tofu is typically the go-to when it comes to vegetarian curries, but canned kidney beans can be used too while bringing many of the same nutritional benefits. This recipe uses other pantry staples, like canned coconut milk, vegetable oil, and a few key spices. Top with any fresh (or frozen) veggies you have and dinner is served.
Here are some more meal ideas besides canned beans recipes using common pantry staples. Did you make one of the canned beans recipes you want to share? Join Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group!