Beans are an incredible food product. They are super healthy, highly sustainable, and a protein-packed substitute for meat. In this post, we share a recipe roundup of the best healthy bean recipes. You’ll find recipes with beans including a variety of side dishes, main courses, and desserts.
To offer as many options as possible, we have included both dried bean recipes as well as recipes with canned beans. There are also easy recipes with beans from a wide range of cuisines including Italian, Mexican, and Indian. These bean recipes include vegetarian and vegan recipes as well as a few with meat.
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What Are Beans – So Many Types
Understanding what beans are can get a little confusing. Beans are a type of pulse. So then what’s a pulse? A pulse is an edible, dried seed which grows in pods. Pulses are part of the legume family, which also contains green beans and snow peas. While pulses (beans) might be a part of the legume family there is a difference. Legumes are eaten fresh, whereas pulses are always dried then reconstituted in order to be consumed.
I told you this can get a little confusing. Check out our post on pulses to learn more.
Believe it or not, there are over 400 varieties of beans. That’s right 400! It’s no surprise that most people are familiar with only a handful of beans. Of the 400, red kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans are the most recognizable. This is thanks in part to these beans being commonly associated with popular bean dishes like chilli, refried beans, and various dips. There are also lesser-known beans like black-eyed peas and fava beans as well.
Beans are an important part of a large number of cuisines, including French, Indian, and Mexican. They can be boiled, mashed, baked, as well as pureed offering a great deal of flexibility in creating dishes with beans. Meals with beans are not limited to dips or salads. Beans can take center stage in a main course like black beans and rice or cassoulet.
Looking for more healthy recipes? Check these out:
There are a number of reasons why you should eat beans. First and foremost, beans are healthy. They contain a number of vital nutrients and minerals like fiber and protein. Fiber is important in maintaining good digestive health while protein gives us energy. Some of the most nutritious beans include chickpeas, cannellini beans (white beans), and kidney beans.
We are nowhere close to being considered vegetarians. We enjoy meat too much to give it up entirely. That said, we are trying to keep tabs on how much meat we consume. Not only is it good for us to take a day or two off from eating meat, it’s good for the environment. Beans have been the perfect sustainable substitute for us to eat. So much so, we actually look forward to Meatless Monday.
Over the years we’ve been fortunate to live in cities with diverse food scenes. We’ve also traveled extensively to countries like India and Mexico where beans play a big part in the local cuisine. These experiences have shown us the versatility of beans and is just another reason why we love cooking them.
Types of Healthy Beans Recipes
With over 400 varieties of beans, it amazing that we only think about a handful of recipes involving beans. For me, beans have always meant chilli. I know chilli-purests will give me a hard time about adding beans to chilli, but that’s how I like it.
Needing more fiber in my diet, I’ve turned to beans and lentils. As such, I’ve learned a lot more about how beans are used in recipes around the World. Being big fan of Indian food, I knew lentils were a key ingredient in many Indian dishes. What I didn’t know was that beans, specifically black beans, are also used. One of my new favorite dishes to make is an Indian Black Bean Curry.
The Best Healthy Bean Recipes
Here are our recommendations for delicious and healthy recipes for beans. We have tried to include a wide variety of easy bean recipes. These recipes for beans include side dishes and mains, as well as soups and salads. More importantly, we’ve selected recipes from a number of different cuisines to keep things interesting. As we find and test out new recipes, we will continue to update. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed.
Healthy Bean Recipes
Beans are an incredible food product. They are super healthy, highly sustainable, and a protein packet substitute for meat. In this post, we share a recipe roundup of the best healthy bean recipes. You’ll find recipes with beans including a variety of side dishes, main courses, and desserts.
Creamy protein-rich vegan strawberry and blueberry white bean smoothie! This easy & delicious shake is a healthy, simple, and fresh dairy-free breakfast or snack. Secretly hiding protein- and fiber-rich beans and even veggies, it’s the perfect 5-minute recipe for kids, athletes, and those looking to eat healthier.
Tropical flavors - mango, avocado, citrus, and plantains - dress up simple black beans in a healthy, hearty one-dish meal... Tropical Buddha Bowls with Plantains, Black Beans, and Mango Salsa can be on your table in less than 45 minutes!
Healthy and flavor-packed bean salad prepped with dressing in a jar. This simple bean recipe keeps up to 5 days. Just tip them out into a bowl, give them a toss, and lunch is served. Great as a side with some marinated tofu or tempeh too!
Greek black-eyed pea salad is a delicious, refreshing vegetarian salad that’s very easy to make and is loved by everyone. This bean salad is perfect for picnics, potlucks, or just a simple lunch with the family.
This creamy white beans, lemon, and dill recipe is the perfect warm side dish to a big salad. It also goes well on the side of roasted or grilled meats. Made with garlic and cream, there’s a dairy-free modification as well.
Lupini beans are a super nutritious legume that isn't well known in the US but are very popular in Italy, Portugal, and Spain, for example. Learn how to cook and eat these beans so you can enjoy them, too!
Searching for bean dinner recipes? How about Brothy Beans with Garlic Toast? Beans and toast are a super easy dinner, and a darned delicious one, at that, this is a healthy Mediterranean-inspired meal.
This easy chipotle black bean recipe takes things up a notch with a little bit of smoky pepper. It is paired with tangy and moist cilantro lime rice for a perfect main dish or side dish. Serve alongside fresh avocado, with some chips and salsa, and you have a fiesta at home.
A quick and simple breakfast that looks like you went to a lot of trouble, these easy egg, bean, and chorizo tostadas are sure to be a hit! It's the perfect healthy pinto bean recipe to kick start your day.
More than "just" a breakfast dish, Mexican Black Bean Shakshuka is a well-balanced one-dish meal absolutely loaded with South-of-the-Border flavor! With the help of a can of black beans and a can of diced tomatoes, this healthy meal is ready to eat in under 30 minutes...
This vegetarian cannellini bean cassoulet is a tasty meat-free version of the traditional French cassoulet. Made with white beans, asparagus, and mushrooms, included below are vegetarian, vegan, and dairy-free modifications to this hearty vegetarian stew.
These Arrabbiata Beans (Spicy Beans) are a twist on the classic Italian pasta dish! Simple, fast, and easy to make, white beans are cooked in a spicy garlic red pepper sauce. Add any veg or meat as desired!
These Italian flavored black bean meatballs are a delicious and hearty plant-based alternative to traditional meatballs. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce over pasta or zoodles for a comforting healthful meal.
This Moroccan harissa chicken with chickpeas recipe is a fairly easy to make meal, in one pot, and tastes like it’s been slow cooking all day. The chicken and harissa go so well together and are complemented by chickpeas, tomatoes, and classic Moroccan flavors.
If you’re looking for a healthy Black Bean Burger recipe that is gluten-free, vegetarian, and full of flavor, then you’re going to want this one. It’s a meal prep recipe you can make in less than 20 minutes.
This Spicy Black Bean Burger is the perfect burger for anyone whether it is meatless Monday or not! It's packed full of a flavor, and with the seasonings, it really can't be beaten. Add on a dollop of my homemade avocado cream sauce to brighten up the burger and you're all set.
Eric Hoffman is the husband who eats all of these tasty bean and lentil dishes. He is also co-founder of Food And Drink Destinations. After 8 years of traveling the world, he now lives in Ireland with his wife, Amber.