Beans and Legumes are perhaps one of the most perfect foods in the world. They’re high in fiber,
vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, protein and are regularly enjoyed by some of the longest living
populations on earth. But many people aren’t used to cooking with beans outside of a burrito. Well,
that’s about to change.
Here are five ways you can use beans in ways you might not have thought of.
*This guest blog is brought to you by Joey Bruno of ThriveCuisine.com*
Black Bean Brownies
You probably don’t normally associate beans with dessert, and you definitely don’t think of
beans when you hear the word “brownie.” Before you scroll on, shaking your head at the
suggestion, give me a minute to convince you.
What makes a brownie perfect? It’s the texture. A great brownie is thick, oozing with an ooey-
gooey center that is just so satisfying to bite into.
Beans can give you that. Black beans are starchy just like flour, and—when mixed
properly—they can provide that same gooey center. On top of that, their flavor is mild enough
to take on the taste from the rest of the ingredients that make a brownie delicious.
Here’s a quick and easy way to make black bean brownies that you’re sure to love…
1 x 15 oz cans of black beans (unsalted)
8-10 pitted medjool dates
¾ cup of cocoa powder
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp raw cacao nibs
Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor. Then, bake at a low-temperature (250F or
121C) for around an hour. Let cool and enjoy.
The end result is a rich, decadent dessert that is packed with fiber, healthy fats, and
Vegan Cheese Sauce
Beans are a staple of a vegan diet because they allow you to make so many comfort foods.
Having a good vegan cheese sauce ready that you can adapt to many different dishes is
By using a can of white cannellini beans, lemon and nutritional yeast you can whip up a quick
and easy low-fat vegan cheese sauce. Add some cashews to make it even more rich if you’re so inclined. It can be used to top burrito bowls, add flavor and texture to sandwiches or used as a base for a pizza.
Here’s a very simple recipe…
1 x 15 oz cans of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
½ lemon juiced
¼ cup of nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
Add ¼ cup of soaked cashews to make it super creamy and indulgent (but with higher
To make, you simply place all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until
completely smooth. You may need to scrape the sides and blend a few times to get the texture
If you are eating a gluten-free diet or need to make a dish gluten-free for guests, it can be
challenging to find that you need flour to make a recipe work. With some dried beans on hand,
you can make your own gluten-free flour in a matter of minutes.
You can easily whip them up into a flour with a capable blender or food processer by simply
placing the beans/grains in and grinding them until powdery.
Here are some examples…
Making a chickpea flour is as easy as blending up and pulverizing dried chickpeas.
Almond flour is as easy as blending and pulverizing raw almonds.
Brown rice flour (which is normally overpriced when bought in the specialty section) is
simply ground up and pulverized brown rice!
With this flour mix, you can bake fiber-rich foods with whole ingredients instead of nutrient-
You can either mix it in with traditional flour to give breads and other baked goods a nutrient
boost or you can completely replace the traditional flour (some Xanthan gum will help keep the
texture of the original). You can also use bean flour to make gravy and homemade, gluten-free
Mock Tuna Salad
Did you know that you can use chickpeas, tahini and lemon to make a mock tuna salad?
Tuna salad is a versatile, take-anywhere dish that can be used for a quick lunch, at a picnic, or a
potluck. Chickpeas allow you to make a vegan version that is just as delicious and versatile, and
the tahini makes it filling and rich while lemon gives it a bright flavor.
Here’s a quick and easy way to make a mock tuna salad:
Take one 15 oz can of chickpeas, drain and rinse.
Add 2 tbsp of tahini, 1 tbsp of mustard and ¼ of a juiced lemon
Mash with a stick blender or potato masher until everything is
well mixed and uniform texture (doesn’t have to be totally smooth)
You can then use it anywhere you’d use tuna: salads, sandwiches, wraps, or eat on its own!
Unlike tuna, this version is packed with fiber for an extra health boost, and you don’t have to
worry about things like mercury.
A lentil loaf can be an excellent alternative to a meat loaf. You can use it as the main dish (great
with some mashed potatoes!) or make up a batch at the beginning of the week and use it
throughout for lunches, which can be eaten alone or as a sandwich. It can even be added to a
tofu scramble for a hearty brunch!
Just like a meat loaf, a lentil loaf can be adapted to meet your personal tastes and use
whatever’s on hand in the kitchen. Add some chili powder and cumin for a more Southwestern
kick or add basil and oregano to make it more Italian.
Here’s a very simple way to do it…
Take 2 cups of water for 1 cup of lentils and boil until soft and most of liquid is gone
(around 20-30 minutes).
While boiling, make a “flax egg”, by combining 2 tbsp of flaxseeds to 4 tbsp of water. Let
sit until well bound together. Around 15-20 minutes.
Once lentils are done, place into a bowl and let them cool.
Mash lentils together with ½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce and the flax egg.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Form until a loaf and bake at 350F for around 40-50 minutes.
At the 20-minute mark, glaze with more BBQ sauce if desired.
As you master making the lentil loaf, you can experiment with adding veggies like celery,
carrots, onion or whatever else you like! Some people even add raisins if they like a
combination of sweet and savory.
Final Tip: You can try making homemade BBQ sauce sweetened with whole foods like medjool dates to avoid the processed sugar in the store-bought stuff.
What If You Have Trouble Digesting Beans/Pulses?
If you’re someone with a sensitive stomach, you may be worried about being able to digest
them properly. Many people are afraid to eat because they’re afraid of stomach pains and gas.
There’s a few things you can do to prevent this from happening…
If using dried beans, soak the beans before cooking overnight or for 24-48 hours.
Draining the water every 12 hours or so will help eliminate more of the resistant starch
that can give you stomach pains and gas.
You can rinse off canned beans to remove some of the excess resistant starches from
the outside, but they typically haven’t been soaked before canning, so using dried is the
better bet for eliminating gas.
But most importantly, eating beans more frequently is the best remedy here. As you
increase your bean intake, your stomach makes more of the bacteria it needs to break
down the resistant starches that otherwise cause gas and bloating.
If you have a lot of trouble eating beans, start small. Eat as little as 1 tsp and work your
way up to 1 tbsp and so on.
You may have also heard about “anti-nutrients” such as phytates that are found in beans and
pulses. Soaking beans for long periods of time can indeed denature and help break these down,
but just know that the verdict isn’t set on whether they are good or bad. Phytates have been
shown to come with their own set of benefits including reduction of colon cancer risk.
Again, a gradual increase in frequency is your best bet when it comes to eating more beans.
Soaking, rinsing, canned or un-canned can come down to your personal preference.
If you’ve only been using beans for burritos and chilis, it’s time to see their full potential. Beans
are a very inexpensive source of protein and fiber, and they can be used to make some
unexpected (and unexpectedly delicious) meals!