Category Archives: Meatless Main Dishes

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

Here’s a delicious soup, made without added oil, is easy to put together and feeds a crowd. The recipe can easily be adjusted to make more or less, as needed. See a video demonstration below on how to make this soup. The recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale
Makes 8 Servings

8 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2-1/2 cups small sweet potato cubes (about 1 large sweet potato)
6 cups chopped kale (1 bunch)
1-1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
½ cup rice of choice, rinsed
1-1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried thyme
Salt to taste, optional

Add all ingredients to a large pot with a lid. Stir to combine the ingredients. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Enjoy!

Tips: To shorten preparation time, you can use pre-cut fresh kale sold in the produce section of many grocery stores. If that’s not an option, you could also use frozen, chopped kale. One 12-ounce bag should be enough. If that’s not available, use most of a 16-ounce bag. Frozen, diced onions may be used, as well as frozen carrots and sweet potato cubes. When you use frozen vegetables in place of fresh, they will not absorb as much liquid as the fresh vegetables would, so you should omit the 2 cups of water to start with. As the soup cooks, if you want more broth, add the water or more vegetable broth.


About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Kale Vegetable Soup

Kale Vegetable Soup

Here’s a delicious soup recipe that really isn’t hard to put together, so don’t let the ingredients list scare you! See the tips section for suggestions on how you can cut preparation time by using pre-cut vegetables and/or canned veggies from the grocery store. This soup is really delicious, so it’s worth giving it a try! See the video demonstration on how to make this soup. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Kale Vegetable Soup
Makes About 6 Servings

1 small bunch of kale, washed and finely chopped (about 6 cups)
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15.5 oz) can of black beans (or beans of choice), rinsed and drained
6 cups vegetable broth (OR 4 cups of vegetable broth + 2 cups of water)
1-1/2 cups diced white potato (1 large potato)
1-1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup corn
1 cup diced yellow onion (or 3 Tbsp dried onion flakes)
½ cup steel-cut oats, OR rice (of choice), OR another grain of choice
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste, optional

Place all ingredients in a large pot that has a lid. Cover the pot and bring everything to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until everything is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir the soup occasionally as it cooks. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Enjoy! Store leftover soup in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

Tips:

To make things easier with less prep work, you could use frozen diced onions so you don’t have to dice them yourself.

You could use already shredded or sliced carrots from the grocery store. OR you could use 1 can of sliced carrots (drained). OR you could even use frozen carrot slices.

For the potatoes, you could use frozen diced potatoes, OR one can of diced potatoes, drained.

If you opt for using canned vegetables you could reduce the liquid by one cup, if desired, to reduce the amount of broth in the soup (canned vegetables will not absorb as much liquid as fresh vegetables).

Also, if you don’t want to add any grain (like the oats or rice) to the soup, you could increase the corn to 1-1/2 or 2 cups to compensate (one whole can of corn should be enough).

If you don’t want to cut up the kale from a fresh bunch, you could buy pre-cut kale in bags. Beware that the pieces are often rather large and may be too large for soup, so a little chopping may still be needed.

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini Beans 101 – The Basics


Cannellini Beans 101 – The Basics

About Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are originally from Italy, and are popular in Italian, Greek, and French cuisines. They are part of the family of white beans, and are cousins to navy, great northern, and butter beans. Since cannellini beans are shaped like red kidney beans, they are sometimes referred to as white kidney beans. Cannellini beans are large and firm, so they hold up well when cooked at low temperatures for long times, such as in stews and crock pot meals. They have a silky texture with a mild, nutty flavor, so they can be used in a lot of dishes. They are available dried and canned.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans have a lot to offer besides being a valuable source of protein and fiber. A one-half cup serving of canned cannellini beans has from 5 to 8 grams of protein (depending on the brand and how they were processed), 5 grams of fiber, no cholesterol or saturated fat, and a lot of Vitamins B1 and B2, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, calcium. The one-half cup serving has about 100 calories.

Lowers Blood Sugar. Recent research with type 2 diabetics showed that a low-glycemic diet rich in legumes, such as cannellini beans, can help to lower blood sugar and overall A1C levels.

Lowers Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk. The same study as mentioned above also found that many participants also experienced lowered blood pressure with accompanying overall lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

Protects Cells from Inflammation and Damage. Legumes, such as cannellini beans are excellent sources of compounds that have antioxidant properties that protect and repair cells, helping to lowering the risk of infections, cancers, and heart disease.

Helps with Fluid Balance. Cannellini beans are rich in iron and potassium, which are important in maintaining fluid balance and transporting oxygen throughout the body.

Safe for Many Diets. Cannellini beans are safe for most people to eat. They are gluten-free, high in fiber and protein, contain no saturated fat, and are very low in other fats. Furthermore, allergies to cannellini beans are very rare, so even those with many allergies should be able to eat cannellini beans.

Concerns. People who must follow a low-FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) diet due to Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome need to limit their intake of beans or legumes. In that case, beans of any type may not be the best choice for them.

Intestinal Gas and Bloating. Some people experience a lot of intestinal gas and bloating when eating beans. This can happen when they are not used to eating beans or legumes on a regular basis. It’s helpful to slowly get your intestinal microbes used to the increased fiber by eating a small amount of legumes on a regular basis. Slowly increase your intake as your body gets used to the increased fiber. Eventually you should be able to eat legumes freely without distress. Just allow whatever time is needed to slowly adjust and get used to the added fiber.

How to Select Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are available canned and dried. Unfortunately, dried cannellini beans can be hard to find, where not all stores carry them. So, canned beans may be your only choice.

Many varieties of canned beans are processed with a lot of salt, and some with calcium chloride, a firming agent. If you’re limiting your sodium intake, look for low sodium or salt-free options. If you want to avoid additives such as calcium chloride, look for an organic option. Organic varieties should not be processed with such additives. However, they may still contain salt, so be sure to read labels carefully.

Some stores may carry dried cannellini beans in bulk bins. If you have that option available to you, look for beans that are plump, smooth, white, and evenly colored. It’s helpful to know if your store has a fast turnover of their bin sales. That helps to ensure that your foods from the bins are fresh and not old, stale, or rancid.

No matter how you purchase your cannellini beans, be sure to look for an expiration date. Dried beans will typically last for 2 to 3 years. Canned beans will usually last about a year, and sometimes longer.

How to Store Cannellini Beans
Store canned or dried beans in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight, such as in a pantry. Be sure to place dried beans in an airtight container. This will help them to keep longer and will also keep insects and rodents from eating through the plastic bags that they are sold in at the grocery store.

Store extra opened canned beans, or ones that have been soaked or cooked in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use them within three days.

Cooked, dried cannellini beans, or extra opened canned beans may be frozen for later use. Simply drain them well and place them in a freezer bag or container and store them in the freezer. It is helpful to store them in increments you know you’ll need at one time, rather than a large amount in one container, which would be hard to divide up once frozen. Label and date them when placing them in the freezer. Frozen beans will keep for about 6 months.

How to Prepare Dried Cannellini Beans
Dried cannellini beans should be prepared like any other dried bean. They should be soaked before being cooked. This makes them more tender, reduces cooking time, and also reduces their gas-producing tendencies when eaten. Preparing dried cannellini beans is not hard, but it does take some time.

First, place your dried beans in your cooking pot. Sort through them to remove any stones or other debris that may be in the bag, and any beans that don’t look good. Then rinse the beans and drain the water. Next, cover the beans with fresh water by at least two inches. There are two methods of soaking to choose from at this point…

Overnight method. Cover the pot and allow the beans to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain the water and cover the beans with fresh water by at least two inches. Cook your beans (see directions below).

Quick soak method. Cover your rinsed and drained beans in your cooking pot with fresh water. Place the lid on the pot and bring them to a boil. Boil them for two minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow them to rest in the covered pot for two hours. Drain the water, then fill the pot with fresh water. Cook your beans (see directions below).

Cooking your soaked beans. Place your pot filled with water and soaked beans on the stove. Cover the pot and bring them to a boil, then lower the heat. Tilt the lid on the pot and allow the beans to simmer until they are soft. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending upon how fast they are cooked and how long they soaked. Stir them occasionally. Be sure they remain submerged. If needed, add more hot water to the pot. Do NOT add salt or acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice to the water at first. This will cause the beans to be tough and will make them hard to cook. If salted or flavored water is desired, add flavorings when they are close to being done. When they are soft, drain the water and use them as desired. Soaked dried beans may also be cooked in a pressure cooker or slow cooker.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Cannellini Beans
* Some canned beans are processed with a lot of salt. If you’re limiting your salt intake, look for low or no-salt options. Buying dried beans is another no-salt option. If you can’t find low-sodium options or dried beans, rinse and drain your canned beans before using them. That will reduce the sodium content by up to 41 percent.

* Make an easy salad by tossing together some cooked cannellini beans, mozzarella cubes, diced tomatoes, chopped fresh basil, and a drizzle of your favorite salad dressing. Extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper would work well on this salad.

* Give your mashed potatoes a nutrition boost by adding in some mashed cooked cannellini beans. Your potatoes will have more protein and fiber and will still taste like mashed potatoes.

* The next time you make lasagna, mix some mashed, cooked cannellini beans with the ricotta cheese.

* For a different breakfast or lunch, sauté your favorite greens with some garlic. Add some cooked cannellini beans, then top with a fried egg and some grated Parmesan cheese.

* Make a quick soup by combining vegetable broth, a can of cannellini beans, a bunch of your favorite greens and some other veggies, if desired. Add a little parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil to allow flavors to blend and enjoy!

* Canned beans are ready to use and don’t need further cooking. Just rinse and drain them and they are ready to be added to your recipe, dish, or salad.

* The standard recommendation is to rinse and drain canned beans before we use them. However, they can be eaten straight from the can, even with the liquid in the can. The main reason for rinsing them is to reduce the salt on the beans. Rinsing them can reduce the sodium content by up to 41 percent.

* You can easily add some extra flavor to your beans by cooking them with aromatics like onion, garlic, and herbs like rosemary, thyme and/or a bay leaf.

* To add a nutrition boost to your breakfast, add some cooked cannellini beans to your morning oatmeal. Their mild flavor will blend with the oatmeal, and the added nutrients and fiber will do a body good.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Cannellini Beans
Basil, bay leaf, cilantro, cloves, cumin, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, savory, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Cannellini Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beef, chicken, eggs, lamb, pine nuts, pork, sausage, shrimp (and other seafood), walnuts

Vegetables: Artichokes, artichoke hearts, arugula, bell peppers, broccoli rabe, carrots, cabbage, celery, chard, chiles, chives, escarole, fennel, garlic, greens, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, shallots, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Lemon, lime, olives

Grains and Grain Products: Couscous, pasta, rice, spelt

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese, milk (dairy or non-dairy)

Other Foods: Oil, pesto, stock (vegetable), vinegar

Cannellini beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Bruschetta, casseroles, chili, dips (bean), French cuisine, Greek cuisine, Italian cuisine, pasta dishes, purees, salads, soups, spreads, stews

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Cannellini Beans
Add cannellini beans to any of the following combinations…

Balsamic vinegar + herbs (basil, rosemary, sage) + olive oil
Basil + tomatoes
Bay leaf + savory
Beet greens + walnuts
Bell peppers + garlic
Chard + garlic + olive oil + rice + vinegar
Cilantro + garlic + lemon juice + olive oil
Garlic + olive oil + pasta
Garlic + herbs (sage and/or thyme) + tomatoes
Lemon + spinach

Recipe Links
Cannellini Beans with Spinach https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/cannellini-beans-with-spinach

12 Quick, Delicious Dinners to Make with Canned Cannellini Beans https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/quick-delicious-dinners-to-make-with-canned-cannellini-beans/

45 White Bean Recipes for Soups, Salads, Stews, and More https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/pretty-much-everything-you-can-do-with-white-beans-gallery

15 Cannellini Bean Recipes You Will Love https://theclevermeal.com/cannellini-bean-recipes-you-will-love/

12 Easy Ways to Cook a Can of Cannellini Beans https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/article/12-easy-ways-to-cook-a-can-of-cannellini-beans

10 Ways that Can of Beans Can be Dinner Tonight https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-turn-a-can-of-white-beans-into-dinner-261477

17 Ways to Use White Beans https://www.thespruceeats.com/ways-to-use-white-beans-4843027


Resources
https://bushbeans.com/en_US/product/cannellini-beans

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/cannellini-beans

https://cronometer.com/

https://www.medicinenet.com/low_fodmap_diet_list_of_foods_to_eat_and_avoid/article.htm

https://naturallyella.com/pantry/legumes/white-beans/

https://www.nutritionbycarrie.com/2019/05/white-beans.html

https://pulses.org/us/cooking-tips/#cooking-guide

https://beaninstitute.com/to-rinse-or-not-to-rinse/

https://beaninstitute.com/white-bean-oatmeal/

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Simple Lentils

Simple Lentils

Here’s a REALLY easy recipe for delicious lentils that can be used in a variety of ways. Simply gather your ingredients and add them all to the pot. Bring them to a boil, cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender. It’s THAT easy! Serve them as they are, over a bed of cooked grain or pasta, over mashed potatoes, as stuffing for tomatoes or cooked winter squash, in a tortilla wrap, or even as a meatless Sloppy Joe filling. Use your imagination!

Below is a video demonstration of how to cook the lentils.  The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Simple Lentils
Makes About 6 Servings

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup diced yellow onion
1/3 cup diced bell pepper
1 cup diced carrot
1 (4.5 oz) jar or can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2-1/2 cups vegetable broth
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
1-1/2 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a medium size sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Place a lid on the pot, and allow the lentils to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid is gone. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve.

Serving Suggestions: Serve the lentils as they are, over a bed of cooked grain of choice (such as rice, quinoa, couscous, millet, barley, wild rice, etc.), over pasta, over mashed potatoes, as a stuffing for tomatoes or winter squash, wrapped in a tortilla, or used as filling for a meatless Sloppy Joe sandwich. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination!

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Easy Succotash

Easy Succotash (Oil Free)

Here’s a REALLY easy recipe to put together and it’s delicious too! You can use canned lima beans, or frozen or dried lima beans that you’re already cooked. Any way you go, this is a winner! The succotash can be served any temperature you want, from cold to hot. It can be eaten as it is, or served over a hot cooked grain or pasta. It can even be included in a salad. So, it’s as versatile as your imagination! The recipe is below along with a video demonstration of how to make the dish.

Enjoy!
Judi

Easy Succotash
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
½ cup diced bell pepper
½ cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp dried parsley
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
2 cups cooked lima beans, or 1 (15.25 oz) can lima beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can organic corn, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Cooked hot grain or pasta of choice, optional

Place a strainer over a medium to large saucepan that has a lid. Empty the can of diced tomatoes into the strainer and allow the juice to drain into the pan. Transfer the strainer to rest on a bowl so it can collect any remaining juice. Bring the strained juice to boil and add the diced bell pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Sauté the vegetables and herbs in the tomato juice until the vegetables start to soften and most of the juice is gone. Add the cooked lima beans, corn, strained tomatoes (including any remaining juice that strained into the bowl), and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and allow the mixture to heat through, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Remove from heat and drizzle with apple cider vinegar; stir to combine.

This may be served cold, room temperature, warm or hot. It can be enjoyed as it is, or served over a hot cooked grain of your choice, or even pasta. It could even be used as part of a salad. Enjoy!

Easier Chickpea Salad

Easier Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)

If you’re looking for a very simple chickpea salad (mock tuna) recipe that’s fast and easy to put together, you found it! This skips using any prepared mayonnaise, has no added oil, and is vegan. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the salad. The written recipe follows the video link.

Enjoy!
Judi

Easier Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)
Makes 1 or 2 Servings

½ cup cooked (or canned, drained) chickpeas
2 Tbsp to ¼ cup diced celery
2 Tbsp diced onion of choice
¼ avocado, diced
1-1/2 to 2 tsp white wine vinegar
1-1/2 to 2 tsp prepared Dijon mustard
Dash of black pepper, or to taste

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and somewhat creamy. Enjoy!

This is excellent by itself, served on a bed of salad greens, used as a sandwich filling, wrapped in a tortilla, or wrapped in large leaves of greens such as kale, collards, cabbage or lettuce leaves. Use this salad any way you would enjoy a tuna or chicken salad.

2 to 4 Servings…
1 cup cooked (or canned, drained) chickpeas
¼ to ½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced onion of choice
½ avocado, diced
1 Tbsp (+1 tsp if more tang is desired) white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp (+1 tsp if more tang is desired) prepared Dijon mustard
Black pepper to taste

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna) (Vegan, No Added Oil)

Here’s a simple salad made with chickpeas, vegan mayonnaise and sweet mustard dressing for a little tang. It can be served with a green salad, on a sandwich, in pita bread, as a dip with tortilla chips, on its own, or in any way you might include something like a tuna salad with your meal. It’s good no matter how you enjoy it! Below are video links showing how to make all the components, and the written recipes follow the videos. If you need a short cut, simply use your favorite mayonnaise and mustard dressing that you have on-hand.

Enjoy!
Judi

Sweet Mustard Dressing

Vegan Mayonnaise

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 1-3/4 cups cooked chickpeas
½ cup sweet mustard dressing, of choice*
1/3 cup mayonnaise, of choice**
1/3 cup diced celery, more or less as desired
2 Tbsp small diced onion of choice, more or less as desired
Black pepper to taste

Place chickpeas in a food processor and pulse very briefly to coarsely chop them up. Transfer the chopped chickpeas to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Chef’s Note: This salad is delicious on a bed of salad greens, used as sandwich filling, wrapped in a tortilla or pita bread, or served with tortilla chips as a dip. It may be used any way you would use a tuna salad.

* For an oil-free sweet mustard dressing, try my Sweet Mustard Dressing (recipe below).
** For a vegan mayonnaise option, try my Vegan Mayonnaise (recipe below).

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option) Makes About 3 Cups
1 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1 avocado, diced
½ cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup or honey

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Enjoy! Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

Vegan Mayonnaise (White Bean and Avocado Mayo) Makes About 2 Cups
1 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR 1-3/4 cups cooked white beans of choice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Avocado, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

Rinse and drain the canned beans, reserving the liquid from the can, if opting to use it. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Use as you would any mayonnaise. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.

Cook’s Note: Since this is made with avocado, it will have a pale green tint, which is unlike traditional mayonnaise. However, the flavor is very similar to that of traditional mayonnaise.

Lima Beans

Lima Beans 101 – The Basics

About Lima Beans
Lima beans, often called butter beans because of their buttery texture, are thought to have originated in South America. Early European explorers first discovered them in Lima, Peru. With that, their name as “lima beans” was established. It is believed that the beans have been cultivated in Peru for over 7,000 years. They were carried around the world by explorers and have since become an important crop in Africa and Asia. In the United States, most commercial production is in California.

There are many types of lima beans, with the most popular in the United States being the Fordhook (also known as the butter bean), and the baby lima bean. The pod is flat, oblong, slightly curved, and usually about three inches long. The pods often contain two to four seeds that have come to be known as lima beans. The seeds are usually a cream to green color. However, some varieties can have white, red, purple, brown or even black seeds. Limas have a starchy, potato-like flavor and a grainy yet slightly buttery texture.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Lima Beans
Lima beans are an excellent source of molybdenum, with one cup providing 313% of our daily needs of this important trace mineral. Limas are a very good source of dietary fiber, copper and manganese. They are also a good source of folate, phosphorus, protein, potassium, Vitamin B1, iron, magnesium and Vitamin B6. One cup of cooked lima beans has 216 calories, 13 grams of fiber, and almost 15 grams of protein. They have very little fat, zero cholesterol, and are very low in sodium.

Caution. Lima beans should never be eaten raw. This includes grinding them for flour, which should not be done. They contain compounds that, when damaged, can release cyanide. To destroy the enzymes that release these compounds, it is extremely important to soak and completely cook your lima beans before eating them. Once this is done, they can be a very beneficial addition to a healthy diet.

Iron. One cup of cooked lima beans provides about 25% of our Daily Value of iron. This can be important, especially if you have low iron levels. Serve your lima beans with a Vitamin C-rich food (such as bell peppers or citrus fruits) in the same meal and your iron absorption will be increased.

Heart Health. Lima beans are rich in fiber, folate, potassium, and magnesium, all of which contribute in unique ways to improve and maintain heart health. Limas are rich in soluble dietary fiber which helps to remove cholesterol from the body, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. Folate, which is plentiful in lima beans, is known to help keep homocysteine levels in check, thereby helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. Limas are rich in potassium and magnesium. These are important in helping blood vessels to relax, maintaining proper blood pressure.

Free Radical Protection. Limas are a very good source of manganese. This mineral is a key factor in antioxidant compounds that seek out and destroy harmful molecules in the body, reducing oxidative stress. This helps the immune system to function at its best warding off disease and helping to prevent various health conditions.

Sulfite Sensitivity. Lima beans are an excellent source of molybdenum, a trace mineral that is part of the enzyme that metabolizes sulfites. Sulfites are added to many foods and even medications as preservatives. Yet, some people are sensitive to sulfites, causing a rapid heartbeat, headache and disorientation. Those who react to sulfites may be deficient in molybdenum. If this is the case, lima beans may help alleviate that problem.

How to Select and Store Lima Beans
Fresh Lima Beans. Fresh lima beans are not easily found, and are usually sold in specialty markets or farmer’s markets where they are locally grown. If you find fresh lima beans, look for ones that are firm, dark green and glossy, and without blemishes, wrinkling or yellowing. They are extremely perishable, so if they are shelled, examine them closely for mold or decay.

Fresh lima beans in their pods should be refrigerated and used within a few days. For optimal storage, shell the beans, blanch them, then freeze or dehydrate them. Frozen lima beans do not need to be thawed before being cooked. Once cooked, they should be used quickly as they will only keep refrigerated (in a covered container) for 3 to 4 days.

Dried Lima Beans. Many grocery stores carry dried lima beans, as prepackaged or in bulk bins. Make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage. Store your dried lima beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place, where they will keep at good quality for 2 to 3 years. However, when stored properly, they will be safe to eat well beyond that.

Canned Lima Beans. Most grocery stores stock canned lima beans, and they are usually stamped with a “best by” date. For long-term storage, look for a stamped date as far in the future as you can find. Read ingredient labels, as some canned lima beans may contain additives that you may or may not want. Salt, coloring agents, firming agents, and flavorings may be added. Organic lima beans may not have coloring or firming agents, but still may have some flavorings added, so it’s important to read the ingredients list to be sure the contents will meet your needs. Also, some canned foods still contain liners made with BPA (Bisphenol-A), an anticorrosive agent, whereas others are not. If BPA is a concern to you, be sure to read the label carefully and also check for information stamped on either end of the can itself. If there is no mention of BPA anywhere on the can, it most likely has a liner that contains BPA.

Canned lima beans should be stored in a cool, dry place. If you notice rust, leaking, extreme damage to the can, or bulging, discard the can. The contents may not be safe to eat. If your canned beans have an off odor, flavor or appearance, or if there is mold in them, they should be discarded. Unopened, properly stored cans of lima beans will maintain a good quality for 3 to 5 years, but will be safe to eat beyond that, even if it is beyond the “best by” date. Note that over time, even though the beans will be safe to eat, the flavor, texture and color may change.

Once opened, canned lima beans should be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container and used within 3 to 4 days. If you cannot use them within that time, simply place the lima beans in a covered, airtight container and store them in the freezer. They will maintain their best quality for 2 months, but will be safe to eat beyond that.

Frozen vs Canned vs Dried Lima Beans
Cost. When comparing the cost per serving, there were a number of options to compare: frozen limas in steamable packaging, frozen limas in non-steamable packaging, dried lima beans (baby and large), and canned lima beans (non-organic (baby and large), organic, and seasoned). There was a wide swing in price per serving based on prices I found at the moment and the type of bean, brand, vendor and organic vs non-organic options available. Because prices can vary so much considering all the variables, the best way to find the cheapest price per serving would be to carry a calculator to the store with you and compare among what is available at the time. However, here are my findings that could very likely apply to most scenarios.

Cost per 1/2 cup serving:
$0.13 Baby dried lima beans (generic brand) at $1.72 per 16 oz bag
$0.17 Large dried lima beans (generic brand) at $2.22 per 16 oz bag
$0.27 Frozen lima beans (generic brand) in regular packaging at $1.34 per 16 oz bag
$0.27 Canned large butter beans (Bush’s) at $0.94 per 16 oz can
$0.33 Canned seasoned lima beans (Margaret Holmes) at $1.16 per 15 oz can
$0.34 Frozen lima beans (generic brand) in steamable packaging at $1.34 per 12 oz bag
$0.67 Canned organic butter beans (Eden brand) at $2.34 per 15 oz can

Overall, the dried lima beans were the cheapest per serving, with BABY limas, generic brand, at a large discount store being the cheapest at $0.13 per serving. Considering the difference in cost per serving between the dried lima beans and the next in line with respect to cost, it seems safe to assume that dried lima beans are your cheapest option. Even when considering the cost of electricity or gas and water to prepare the beans, the dried beans will probably still be your least costly.

When comparing canned vs frozen lima beans, the frozen generic brand in regular (not steamable) packaging tied in price per serving with Bush’s brand canned large butter beans. This was an interesting discovery and makes some brands of canned beans worth adding to your pantry for an emergency food or when time for food preparation is short.

Price per serving increased with specialty packaging (steamable) or treatment of the beans (seasoned or organic). So, it’s helpful to have this knowledge when shopping for lima beans, understanding which would be your least expensive per serving, and knowing that you’ll pay more per serving for specific options, especially organic.

Overall winner = Dried baby lima beans

Convenience. Needless to say, canned beans are more convenient than dried beans, and even frozen lima beans since they still need to be cooked. You simply open the can, rinse and drain the beans, and they’re ready to use. The canned beans are an excellent choice if you’re always short on time and can’t (or don’t want to) take the time to cook dried beans. However, it does not take a lot of time to prepare frozen lima beans. They usually cook in about 15 minutes. They can be put on the stove first to cook as other foods are being prepared. So, they are a close second to canned beans with regard to convenience. With that being said, canned beans should be a staple item kept in your pantry in case of an emergency. If the power goes out or if you temporarily lose your water supply, canned beans can be eaten straight from the can (where frozen or dried beans cannot be eaten without being cooked first). Canned beans can be a lifesaving source of food when there is no way to cook. It’s better to be prepared, and not need it, then need it and not be prepared!

Many people believe cooking dried beans is a big ordeal. However, when considering “hands on” time, it’s actually very little. It takes little time to sort and rinse the beans then cover them with water in a pot. After being soaked, it takes little time to drain them then refill the pot with water. The cooking process pretty much takes care of itself. Then draining them takes little time, again. So, it’s really not hard nor time-consuming to cook dried beans when considering actual hands-on time. Furthermore, they can be cooked in a slow cooker or pressure cooker to make things a little simpler.

Overall winner = Canned lima beans

Nutritional Value. The nutritional value of canned or frozen lima beans is about the same as cooked dried lima beans. Either way, the beans need to be cooked completely before being eaten or canned, so they should have about the same nutrient content. So, this factor should not be a determinant when considering which form of lima bean to buy.

Overall winner = Three-way tie

Additives. If you want to avoid any additives in your foods, cooking dried or frozen lima beans is an excellent option. In this case, you can control what is added to the beans. Canned beans may have added salt and other ingredients as firming or color retention agents. Organic canned beans will not have firming or color retention agents, but still may have added salt. Some beans are canned without salt, so read the label to be sure. So, organic beans may be a good choice for you. Otherwise, cooking dried beans gives you complete control as to what is added to your beans. Frozen lima beans usually do not have any additives in them, so they are another excellent option if you’re avoiding additives of any sort. When in doubt, read the label to be sure.

Overall winner = Tie between dried and frozen lima beans

BPA. BPA (bisphenol-A) is an anticorrosive agent that has been used in can linings and other applications such as water bottles, bottle caps, water supply lines and even dental sealants. Research has found that this agent may cause harmful effects such as increased blood pressure and damage to unborn fetuses and young children. If you’re concerned about the possible harmful effects of BPA, it’s wise to look for cans labeled as BPA-free. Progressively, more manufacturers are using BPA-free cans, but not all. So, it pays to read the label or the information that was stamped on the end of the can. To avoid BPA from cans, cooking dried or frozen beans ensures you’re not ingesting any of the chemical.

Overall winner = Tie between dried and frozen lima beans

Flavor and Texture. Taste perception is subjective and differs from person to person. However, the overall consensus is that cooked dried beans taste better than canned beans. I agree with that statement (in my humble opinion). When adding frozen lima beans to the comparison test, I personally find the flavor of frozen lima beans to be the best among the three options (canned, frozen, dried and cooked). If flavor is a big factor for you, then cooking frozen lima beans may be your best option, followed by cooked dried, then canned. The advantage of cooking your own frozen or dried beans gives you the opportunity to flavor them to your liking. Adding onions, garlic, and/or herbs during the cooking process allows flavors to infuse in the beans that would not otherwise happen. If you still need the convenience of canned beans, adding them to soups, stews or other dishes where they will be combined with a lot of other foods, may mask the flavor difference of canned beans.

Overall winner = Frozen lima beans

How to Prepare Dried Lima Beans
First sort through your dried beans to remove any stones, debris, or damaged beans. Then give them a good rinse, and drain the beans. Then they need to be soaked. There are two ways to soak your dried lima beans…

Long Soaking Method. Simply place your sorted and rinsed beans in a large pot with a lid. Cover them with at least two inches of water and allow them to sit in the covered pot for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain the water and cover them by at least one inch of fresh water. Cook as directed below.

Quick Soaking Method. Place your sorted and rinsed beans in a large pot with a lid. Cover them with at least two inches of water and bring them to a boil. Boil the beans for two minutes, then remove the pot from the heat. Cover the pot with its lid, then allow them to sit for two hours. Drain the water and cover them by at least one inch of fresh water. Cook as directed below.

Cooking Your Soaked Beans. Bring your soaked beans that have been covered with fresh water to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and tilt the lid on the pot. Allow them to simmer slowly until the beans are tender. This will usually take about 45 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms as they are cooking.

Important! Do not add any salty or acidic ingredients to your beans as they are cooking. This will cause them to become firm and will be hard to cook properly. If seasoning is desired, add any salty or acidic ingredients toward the end of cooking time. If desired, aromatic ingredients such as onions, garlic, and herbs may be added at the start of cooking to flavor your lima beans.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Lima Beans
* Try a succotash burrito or taco filling. Combine cooked lima beans with corn, chopped tomatoes and scallions. Top with diced avocado, cilantro, and a little hot pepper if desired. Enjoy!

* Blend cooked lima beans and sweet potatoes together. Serve with your favorite grain and vegetable.

* Add lima beans to your favorite vegetable soup.

* Lima beans are very versatile. Use them as a main dish, a side dish, in soups, stews, and curries, and even in salads. Get creative!

* Try roasted lima beans! Dry cooked lima beans on a cloth or paper towel. Transfer them to a bowl, coat them with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, lime juice, and some cayenne powder or paprika. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 425F until they are slightly browned. Watch carefully, as they can burn easily. Enjoy them hot or at room temperature. Store extras in the refrigerator to enjoy later.

* For easy and flavorful lima beans, cook a pack of frozen lima beans in stock or broth of your choice. Add in a little onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and you’re done!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Lima Beans
Basil, bay leaf, chervil, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, dill, fennel seeds, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, sage, salt, sorrel, sumac, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Lima Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (green), chicken, ham, pork, seafood

Vegetables: Bell peppers, carrots, chives, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, scallions, spinach, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes and tomato paste

Fruits: Lemon, olives

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (esp. cheddar, feta, Parmesan), cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Molasses, oil (esp. olive), tamari, vinegar (esp. cider, red wine), wine (dry white)

Lima Beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, dips, purees, salad (i.e. three bean), soups, Southern (U.S.) cuisine, spreads, stews, succotash

Suggested Flavor or Food Combos Using Lima Beans
Add lima beans to any of the following combinations…

Chili pepper flakes + garlic + lemon juice + olive oil
Corn + tomatoes (succotash)
Corn + garlic + rosemary + tomatoes (succotash)
Fennel + garlic
Feta cheese + olives + tomatoes
Feta cheese + spinach
Garlic + lemon + olive oil + oregano
Garlic + onions
Scallions + yogurt

Recipe Links
Corn and Lima Bean Salad https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/corn-and-lima-bean-salad

Garlicky Lima Bean Spread https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/garlicky-lima-bean-spread

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken with Basil Lima Beans https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/bacon-wrapped-chicken-beans

Herbed Lima Bean Hummus https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Herbed-Lima-Bean-Hummus-103043

Southern Lima Beans with Rice https://www.food.com/recipe/southern-lima-beans-with-rice-51795

Baby Lima Beans (Butterbeans) https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/baby-lima-beans-butterbeans-recipe-2116626

Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/lemon-salmon-with-lima-beans-recipe-2106927

Lima Bean Tahini Dip https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/lima-beantahini-dip-8246428

Farmer’s Caviar https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/farmers-caviar-5407929#reviewsTop

Butterbeans with Butter, Mint, and Lime https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/butter-beans-with-butter-mint-and-lime-51238420

Greek Style Baked Lima Beans https://holycowvegan.net/greek-style-baked-lima-beans/#wprm-recipe-container-13108

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=59#descr

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17565

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17564

https://www.livestrong.com/article/42153-lima-beans-nutrition-information/

https://www.organicfacts.net/lima-beans.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-soluble-fiber#section2

https://www.dovemed.com/healthy-living/natural-health/7-health-benefits-of-lima-beans/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/280126-health-benefits-of-lima-butter-beans/

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/roasted-lima-beans-recipe-1969781

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/dried-beans-vs-canned-beans-nutritional-values-3026.html

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/67651/do-frozen-lima-beans-contain-cyanide/67660

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Spring Mix Salad with Carrot-Orange Dressing

Spring Mix Salad with Carrot-Orange Dressing

Here’s a delicious, very healthful and easy salad to put together. Of course, feel free to vary the vegetables according to your preferences and what you have available. The suggested dressing is Carrot-Orange Dressing and the recipe is below. This dressing is light, with it being free of oil, salt and sugar. It’s healthful and the flavor is adjustable according to your taste. Give it a try sometime!

Below are videos showing how to make the dressing and the salad. The written recipes follow the videos.

Enjoy!
Judi

Spring Mix Salad with Carrot-Orange Dressing

This recipe is designed so you can make as much or as little as you want, and of course, change the vegetables according to your preferences. The dressing recommendation is below, but you could use any dressing you prefer.

Spring mix
Shredded red cabbage
Onion (diced red, yellow, or scallions), optional
Cucumbers
Celery
Shaved or diced carrot
Broccoli sprouts, or chopped fresh broccoli
Blueberries
Clementine segments
Fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
Garbanzo beans, or beans/peas of choice (cooked or canned, rinsed, drained)
Green peas (frozen and thawed)
Avocado slices, optional
Sliced almonds or walnuts, optional

To make the salad:
Wash all vegetables and cut them into desired size pieces. Arrange ingredients in a serving bowl and top with a few avocado slices, if desired. Mix dressing ingredients as directed and drizzle over salad. Enjoy!

Carrot-Orange Sauce, Dip, or Salad Dressing
Makes About 1-1/4 Cups

This delicious mixture can be used as a sauce over cooked vegetables or grains, as a dip, and as a dressing for green salads. The key is in the amount of lemon juice or vinegar you add. See the suggestion below!

¾ cup chopped carrots (raw, blanched, or frozen and thawed)*
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
½ cup orange juice
½ tsp ground coriander seed
2 to 4 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar**

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. (See notes below.)** Pulse or process until smooth. Transfer to a covered container, and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to allow it to thicken. Use within 1 week.

If you have a high-powered blender, the raw carrots can be pureed until smooth. If you do not own such a blender, using blanched, or frozen and thawed carrots will give you a smoother product since they will be easier to puree.

*Cook’s Note: To blanch fresh carrots, placed diced carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and allow to cool some before processing.

** Suggestion: The amount of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar you add to this dressing transforms it from a sauce to a dip, or to a salad dressing. Use less acid (2 to 3 tablespoons) if you want to use this as a sauce over vegetables or a grain. Use a medium amount (3 tablespoons) if you want to use this as a dip. Use the full amount (4 tablespoons) if you use this as a salad dressing, so the tang will bring the flavor out above the salad greens. If you’re not sure, add just 2 tablespoons at first, taste it, and add more acid as desired.

The flavors will blend well when this mixture is allowed to sit in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight. This is especially helpful when adding 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar. When using this as a sauce with less lemon juice or vinegar, it may be used right away. However, allowing it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes gives the ground flaxseed time to thicken the mixture before it is used.

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans 101 – The Basics

Below is a comprehensive article all about our beloved pinto beans! Everything from what they are to how to cook and use them is covered. So, if you have a specific question about what to do with pinto beans, you should find what you are looking for below!

Enjoy,
Judi

About Pinto Beans
Most people are familiar with pinto beans, with their beige color with splashes of brown. When cooked, they become pinkish in color with a creamy texture. Pinto beans are among the “common beans” that appear to have originated in Peru. From there, they spread throughout the Americas, then to Europe when Spanish explorers introduced them after returning from voyages to the New World in the 15th century. Spanish and Portuguese traders introduced them to Africa and Asia. Today, the world’s largest producers of dried common beans are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, and the United States.

Since beans are an inexpensive source of protein, they have become popular in many cultures around the world. Today, pinto beans are the most commonly eaten bean in the United States. They can be eaten whole, mashed, pureed, refried, simmered and stewed.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are an excellent source of the essential trace mineral molybdenum. They are also a good source of fiber, folate, copper, manganese, phosphorus, protein, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and iron. One cup of cooked pinto beans has about 245 calories. Pinto beans are also a good source of some phytonutrients that have been shown to help prevent some cancers, notably stomach cancer.

Fiber. Like other beans, pinto beans are high in fiber. A one cup serving provides 15 grams of fiber. Of that, 4 grams are soluble fiber. This type of fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract and binds with bile removing it from the body. The body is then prompted to make more needed bile acids, and it uses cholesterol in the process. So, in an indirect way, soluble fiber helps to reduce blood cholesterol. Translation…eating pinto beans helps to lower your cholesterol!

The remaining fiber in pinto beans is the insoluble variety. This is known to help speed the movement of gastrointestinal contents, warding off constipation. It also helps to prevent digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

Heart Attack Risk. In a study that compared the food intake of over 16,000 middle-aged men in various countries, researchers found an 82% decrease in heart attack risk in those who ate the most legumes. In another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers followed about 10,000 Americans for 19 years. Those who ate the most fiber (21 grams per day) had far less risk of heart disease than those who ate the least fiber (about 5 grams daily).

The nutrient profile in pinto beans also contributes to their aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Folate is known to lower homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is known to be an independent risk factor for heart disease when its levels are elevated. Having an adequate amount of folate in the diet helps to keep homocysteine levels in check, and eating pinto beans can help with that.

Furthermore, magnesium, also found in pinto beans, acts as nature’s calcium channel blocker. This helps to improve blood flow and the transport of oxygen and nutrients around the body. Researchers have found that a deficiency in magnesium is associated with heart attacks.

Potassium, also plentiful in pinto beans, is an important electrolyte in the body, used in nerve transmission and muscle contraction. This makes potassium important for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. A one cup serving of pinto beans provides 746 mg of potassium and only 1.7 mg of sodium, making them a noteworthy food to eat for preventing high blood pressure and preventing atherosclerosis and stroke.

Blood Sugar Control. The benefits of the fiber in pinto beans doesn’t stop with GI transit time and cholesterol removal from the body. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. This is especially helpful for those with insulin resistance or diabetes. People eating high fiber diets have been shown to have lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins) blood levels. These are all markers for heart disease and are often elevated in those with diabetes and insulin resistance.

Sulfite Sensitivity. Pinto beans are an excellent source of molybdenum, a trace mineral that is part of the enzyme that metabolizes sulfites. Sulfites are added to many foods and even medications as preservatives. Yet, some people are sensitive to sulfites, causing a rapid heartbeat, headache and disorientation. Those who react to sulfites may be deficient in molybdenum. If this is the case, pinto beans may help alleviate that problem.

Iron. Pinto beans are a good source of the essential mineral iron. Iron is a crucial part of hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency leads to fatigue because not enough oxygen is reaching tissues around the body. Furthermore, the mineral copper (which is plentiful in pinto beans) is used in the making of hemoglobin. Anyone who suffers from low iron levels would benefit by including pinto beans in their meals when possible.

Energy Production and Antioxidant Defense. If all that’s not enough, pinto beans are a good source of manganese and copper. These two minerals are key components of an enzyme (superoxide dismutase) that disarms free radicals in the mitochondria (the cellular organelle where energy is produced). Copper is also used in another enzyme (lysyl oxidase) used in the production of collagen and elastin, important in making our blood vessels, bones and joints.

Memory. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is critical for proper cognitive brain functioning. Thiamine is used in the making of acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter used in the memory function. Low levels of acetylcholine have been associated with age-related senility and Alzheimer’s disease. Since pinto beans are a good source of thiamine, it’s another powerful reason to eat these beans when you can!

Protein. Eating pinto beans is an easy way to add protein to your menu when looking for a meat alternative. Combine them with a grain product, like rice, pasta, or a tortilla, and you have an amino acid combination that will rival any animal food you can name. Furthermore, it will be free of cholesterol and saturated fat, and have fewer calories. One cup of pinto beans provides over 15 grams of protein. When combining 1 cup of cooked pinto beans with 1 cup of brown rice, the protein level jumps to 21 grams!

How to Select Pinto Beans
Dried Pinto Beans. Dried pinto beans are usually found pre-packaged in most grocery stores in America. They may also be found in bulk bins. As when purchasing any dried food, whether it is pre-packaged or in bulk bins, be sure there is no sign of moisture or insects in the beans. When purchasing from bulk bins, it’s best to purchase from a store than has a good turnover of product to be sure they are not old.

Canned Pinto Beans. Canned beans are a very convenient alternative to their dried counterparts. Most grocery stores carry them. Read the ingredients list because some canned beans are processed with additives and flavorings that you may or may not want.

If you’re concerned with BPA (bisphenol A) that has been a common anticorrosive component of can liners and other products, check the label or information that was stamped on the can. Many processors are now using BPA-free liners. If the label or can does not state BPA-free, it may contain BPA.

How to Store Pinto Beans
Dried Pinto Beans. Store dried pinto beans in an airtight container in a dry, cool, dark place. They should keep well for 1 to 3 years. Depending on conditions, they may keep well for longer than that, but their quality may deteriorate over time, although they should still be safe to eat. If they have any signs of mold or moisture on them, or insect or rodent damage, they should not be eaten. [Note that the longer dried beans are stored, the longer they may need to cook to get tender. They absolutely should be soaked before being cooked, which will help to shorten the cooking time.]

Canned Pinto Beans. For the longest shelf life, store canned pinto beans in a cool, dry place. An unopened commercially processed can will usually last 3 to 5 years for best quality. They are still safe to eat after the expiration date if the can is not damaged and they were stored in a cool, dry place. Note that the quality may decline with age, with changes in color, flavor, and texture. If the can was bulging, rusting, severely damaged, or if you notice an “off” odor, flavor, or appearance when opened, the beans are not safe to eat and should be discarded.

Cooked pinto beans or unused beans from opened cans will keep well in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

How to Preserve Cooked Pinto Beans
If you’ve cooked more dried pinto beans then you can eat within a reasonable amount of time, the extra beans may be frozen. Simply transfer them to a freezer container or bag. Label them with the contents and date and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months for best quality. They will be safe to eat beyond that, but their quality may decline over time.

Dried vs Canned Pinto Beans
Cost. When comparing cost per serving, dried beans are cheaper than canned beans. The cost of a serving of canned beans is usually about twice that of cooked dried beans. Even if we were to take into consideration the cost of the water and electricity used in cooking the dried beans, the dried beans would very likely still be cheaper. So, if you’re looking for ways to save on groceries, buy dried beans and take the time to cook them. To use less water and electricity in the long run, cook a big batch (a pound or two of beans) at one time and store the extra cooked beans in the freezer. They’ll be ready when you need them.

Convenience. Needless to say, canned beans are more convenient than dried beans. You simply open the can, rinse and drain the beans, and they’re ready to use. The canned beans are an excellent choice if you’re always short on time and can’t (or don’t want to) take the time to cook dried beans. Also, canned beans should be a staple item kept in your pantry in case of an emergency. If the power goes out or if you temporarily lose your water supply, canned beans can be eaten straight from the can. They can be a lifesaving source of food when there is no way to cook. It’s better to be prepared, and not need it, then need it and not be prepared!

Many people believe cooking dried beans is a big ordeal. However, when considering “hands on” time, it’s actually very little. It takes little time to sort and rinse the beans then cover them with water in a pot. After being soaked, it takes little time to drain them then refill the pot with water. The cooking process pretty much takes care of itself. Then draining them takes little time, again. So, it’s really not hard nor time-consuming to cook dried beans when considering actual hands-on time. Furthermore, they can be cooked in a slow cooker or pressure cooker to make things a little simpler.

Nutritional Value. The nutritional value of canned pinto beans is about the same as cooked dried pinto beans. Either way, the beans need to be cooked completely before being eaten or canned, so they should have about the same nutrient content. So, this factor should not be a determinant when considering which form of pinto bean to buy.

Additives. If you want to avoid any additives in your foods, cooking dried beans is your best option. In this case, you can control what is added to the beans. Canned beans may have added salt and other ingredients as firming or color retention agents. Organic canned beans will not have firming or color retention agents, but still may have added salt. So, if salt is no issue, organic beans may be a good choice for you. Otherwise, cooking dried beans gives you complete control as to what is added to your beans.

BPA. BPA (bisphenol-A) is an anticorrosive agent that has been used in can linings and other applications such as water bottles, bottle caps, water supply lines and even dental sealants. Research has found that this agent may cause harmful effects such as increased blood pressure and damage to unborn fetuses and young children. If you’re concerned about the possible harmful effects of BPA, it’s wise to look for cans labeled as BPA-free. Progressively, more manufacturers are using BPA-free cans, but not all. So, it pays to read the label or the information that was stamped on the end of the can. To avoid BPA from cans, cooking dried beans ensures you’re not ingesting any of the chemical.

Taste. Taste is subjective and differs from person to person. However, the overall consensus is that cooked dried beans taste better than canned beans. I agree with that statement (in my humble opinion). If taste is a big factor for you, then cooking dried beans is your best option. Also, the advantage of cooking your own dried beans gives you the opportunity to flavor them to your liking. Adding onions, garlic, and/or herbs during the cooking process allows flavors to infuse in the beans that would not otherwise happen. If you still need the convenience of canned beans, adding them to soups, stews or other dishes where they will be combined with a lot of other foods, may mask the flavor difference of canned beans.

How to Prepare Dried Pinto Beans
Dried pinto beans should be soaked before being cooked. This makes them more tender, reduces cooking time, and also reduces their gas-producing tendencies when eaten. Preparing dried pinto beans is not hard, but does take some time.

First, place your dried beans in your cooking pot or a bowl. Sort through them to remove any stones or other debris that may be among them, and any beans that don’t look good. Then rinse the beans and drain the water. Next, cover the beans with fresh water in your pot by at least two inches. There are two methods of soaking to choose from at this point…

Overnight Method. Cover the pot and allow the beans to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain the water and cover the beans with fresh water by at least two inches. Cook your beans (see directions below).

Quick Soak Method. Cover your sorted, rinsed, and drained beans in your cooking pot with fresh water. Place the lid on the pot and bring them to a boil. Boil them for two minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow them to rest in the covered pot for two hours. Drain the water, then fill the pot with fresh water. Cook your beans (see directions below).

Cooking Your Soaked Beans. Place your pot filled with fresh water and soaked beans on the stove. The water level should be at least one inch above the soaked beans. Cover the pot and bring them to a boil, then lower the heat. Tilt the lid on the pot and allow the beans to simmer until they are soft. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending upon how fast they are cooked and how long they soaked. Stir them occasionally. Be sure they remain submerged. If needed, add more hot water to the pot. Do NOT add salt or acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice to the water at first. This will cause the beans to be tough and will make them hard to cook. If salted or flavored water is desired, add flavorings when the beans are close to being done. When they are soft, drain the water and use them as desired.

If you want to flavor your beans as they cook, aromatic ingredients such as onions, garlic and herbs may be added to the cooking water from the start. This will infuse a rich flavor into your beans that they would not otherwise have. However, just remember to save the salt and acid ingredients until VERY late in the cooking process. In this case, the bean broth can be saved and stored in the freezer to be used in soups and stews for extra flavoring.

Soaked dried beans may also be cooked in a pressure cooker or slow cooker. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cooking soaked, dried beans in your appliance.

Quick Tips and Ideas for Using Pinto Beans
* Try using cooked or canned pinto beans in chili recipes instead of kidney beans.

* Make an easy sandwich or tortilla filling or dip by blending pinto beans with sage, oregano, garlic, and black pepper.

* Make a yummy wrap by layering cooked pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, and chopped onions on a tortilla. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Broil briefly until the filling is hot and the cheese melts. Top with diced avocado and chopped cilantro.

* Add pinto beans to vegetable soup.

* Make a simple one pot meal by heating cooked pinto beans, cooked rice, and cooked vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, and tomatoes. Season to taste and enjoy!

* When cooking dried beans, if you want to flavor them, try adding aromatic ingredients such as garlic, onions, and herbs. These ingredients can be added at the start of cooking, so the flavors will infuse the beans as they cook. Just don’t add any salt or acid ingredients until the end of cooking to avoid making the beans tough. Then save the water when you drain the beans. Freeze it in measured amounts and add the flavored bean water to soups and stews later.

* Even though some people do not soak beans before cooking them, it IS highly recommended to soak them first. This makes them easier to digest, reducing their gas-forming tendencies, and also reduces their cooking time.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Pinto Beans
Anise seeds, bay leaf, chili powder, cilantro, cumin, garlic, oregano, parsley, pepper (black), sage, salt, savory, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Pinto Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (others such as black, kidney), beef, eggs, ham, pork

Vegetables: Chiles (i.e. ancho, chipotle, jalapeno, poblano, serrano), fennel, kale, mushrooms, onions, scallions, tomatoes and tomato puree

Fruits: Avocados, lemon, lime

Grains and Grain Products: Chips (tortilla), corn, quinoa, rice, spelt, tortillas

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp. cheddar, Jack)

Other Foods: Barbecue sauce, beer, liquid smoke, maple syrup, mustard, oil (esp. olive), stock (i.e. vegetable)

Pinto beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Burritos, casseroles, chili (meat and meatless), dips, frijoles, Mexican cuisine, nachos, pates, purees, salads (i.e. taco salad), salsas, soups, Southwestern (U.S.) cuisine, spreads, stews, tacos, Tex-Mex cuisine, tostadas, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Pinto Beans
Add pinto beans to any of the following combinations…

Chiles + Sage
Chili Powder + Cumin
Cilantro + Liquid Smoke + Onions
Cumin + Garlic + Onions + Quinoa
Oregano + Sage + Thyme

Recipe Links

Perfect Pinto Beans https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/perfect-pinto-beans-3339174

Mexican Pinto Beans From Scratch (1 Pot) https://minimalistbaker.com/mexican-pinto-beans-scratch-1-pot/

Easy Refried Beans https://www.camelliabrand.com/recipes/easy-refried-beans/

Pinto Bean Burrito Bowl with Avocado Cilantro Dressing https://www.camelliabrand.com/recipes/pinto-bean-burrito-bowl-with-avocado-cilantro-dressing/

Chipotle Pinto Bean Tortilla Soup https://www.camelliabrand.com/recipes/chipotle-pinto-bean-tortilla-soup/

Cheesy Bean Quesadilla https://www.camelliabrand.com/recipes/cheesy-bean-quesadilla/

Pinto Bean Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/beans-legumes/pinto-bean/pinto-bean-recipes

10 Amazing Dishes to Make with Canned Pinto Beans https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/g986/canned-pinto-bean-recipes/

Tuscan Pinto Bean Soup https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a16075/tuscan-pinto-bean-soup-recipe-ghk0414/

Pinto Bean Burritos https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a10513/pinto-bean-burritos-recipe-ghk1010/

Three Bean Vegan Tamale Pie https://www.connoisseurusveg.com/three-bean-vegan-tamale-pie/#wprm-recipe-container-13289

Vegan Pinto Bean Brownies http://www.exsloth.com/vegan-pinto-bean-brownies/

Homemade Vegetarian Chili https://cookieandkate.com/vegetarian-chili-recipe/#tasty-recipes-23997

Easy Refried Beans https://cookieandkate.com/easy-refried-beans-recipe/#tasty-recipes-28453

Loaded Veggie Nachos https://cookieandkate.com/loaded-veggie-nachos-recipe/#tasty-recipes-28532

Pinto Posole https://cookieandkate.com/pinto-posole-recipe/#tasty-recipes-28231

Mole Pinto Beans https://www.food.com/recipe/mole-pinto-beans-173251

Resources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=89#descr

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-bpa

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18010

https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-tell-if-pinto-beans-are-stale-or-too-old/

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18011

https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/Cardiovascular/handouts/beans/

https://beaninstitute.com/dry-vs-canned-beans-which-is-better/

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/dried-beans-worth-effort

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/index.cfm

https://www.camelliabrand.com/dry-beans-vs-canned-whats-the-difference/

https://www.ehow.com/info_8245575_things-make-pinto-beans.html

https://foodcombo.com/find-recipes-by-ingredients/beans-pinto

https://cals.arizona.edu/fps/sites/cals.arizona.edu.fps/files/cotw/Pinto_Beans.pdf

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.