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5 Easy ways to add more beans to your diet

Shannon Clark has a Degree in Exercise Science and is a certified AFLCA personal trainer. She has been writing and helping others in the fitness industry for the last 9 years.

Beans are versatile, tasty, and pack a huge nutritional punch so it's well worth finding new ways to serve them!

Photo credit: Elena Schweitzer/iStock/360/Getty Images

If you’re on a mission to improve your nutritional intake, one food that you simply cannot overlook is beans. Far too many people think in terms of rice, oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads when it comes to their complex carbohydrate intake.

While these are all good sources and can be a part of a healthy diet plan, you must not overlook beans. The great thing about beans is that not only will they provide you with that complex source of carbohydrates that’s going to bring you high amounts of energy on a day-to-day basis, but in addition to that they’ll also pack in far more dietary fiber than all of the above-mentioned carbohydrate sources, and they will also provide some protein as well.

If you’re a vegetarian, combining beans with other types of foods is one of the best ways to go about making a complete protein source, which can be very helpful as this is a nutrient that most vegetarians do tend to fall short on.

Beans are incredibly filling, will help to lower your overall levels of cholesterol and will help with regularity as well. For those who have blood sugar sensitivity issues, they’re also perfect since they will keep blood glucose levels incredibly stable due to their high fiber and protein content, with zero sugar.

Furthermore, they’re also virtually fat-free (most varieties), so if you’re watching your dietary fat consumption, they’ll work well in this regard also.

The biggest reason many people are not adding more beans to their diet is that they simply don’t know how to prepare them with their meals. There are so many different varieties of beans: black beans, garbanzo beans, brown beans, kidney beans and so on that there’s no shortage of ideas that you can use if you get a bit creative.

Let’s go over some of the primary dishes that you can incorporate beans into so that you can spot the opportunity more often.


Soups

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There’s nothing more satisfying and filling like a hearty bowl of soup on a chilly evening. And, soup can be a complete meal when you add the right ingredients.

You’ll want to make sure that you do have a more solid source of protein in your soup such as chicken or shrimp, but then in addition to that, replace the pasta that you’d normally include with beans instead. White beans or black beans tend to work great with this and will work with any number of vegetables in the soup as well.

High volume, lower-calorie dishes like this are perfect for someone seeking weight loss, so make sure that you give it some consideration.

Prepare a big pot and then freeze individual serving sizes in the freezer for a fast meal on a busy weeknight.


Chilis

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The second way to add more beans to your diet is with chili. Chili is another overlooked dish that most people just don’t think about, but that’s great to prepare if you’re dieting.

You can get some lean protein in the chili by using ground turkey rather than ground beef and then add in your selection of different beans such as kidney.

Add diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and you’ll have a great, nutritionally-balanced dish that you can also freeze for later eating as well.

The nice thing about chili is that it works great in a slow cooker so you can simply put it on to cook in the morning and when you come home in the evening it’ll be ready and waiting for you.


Stews

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Stews are the next dish that you can incorporate beans with. Stews are slightly more popular in most households than chilis and make for a great dinner meal when you’re in a rush.

They too can be cooked right in the slow cooker or in the oven, so don’t involve a lot of intricate cooking processes where you need to be present.

Vegetables added to stews also tend to taste great as their flavor really comes out during the cooking process, so you won’t need to add much in terms of high-calorie or high-sugar sauces or condiments like you would with other dishes.

With the addition of beans in your stew, you won’t have to serve it with bread, which is the typical choice and a far less healthy one.


Salads

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Bean salad is the next dish to consider preparing when you want to incorporate this food into your diet plan. Cold bean salads work great as a source of fast energy before a workout session, or just mid-morning or mid-afternoon to get you through your day.

You can use a wide variety of bean variations together, along with whatever finely diced vegetables you’d prefer, and an olive-oil-based dressing.

The dressing will work great with the salad since it’ll add the healthy fat component that’s otherwise missing.

Get creative with your salads and seek out some herbs and spices to use as well, as these will add additional flavor without the calories.


Baked Goods

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Finally, don’t overlook the option of using beans in your baking. Sounds odd, right? But it isn’t. You can puree beans into many different baking recipes to add moisture so you don’t have to add butter or oil.

It’s a far better way to go about many different baking recipes as cakes and muffins will allow you to significantly reduce the fat content while adding far more fiber and complex carbohydrates.

So make sure that you are not overlooking this powerful food in your diet plan. It really does have so many health benefits to offer that you should not overlook, and will add a unique flavor to many of your recipes.

Many people have a bad impression of beans from their childhood where they were forced to eat their brown beans on their plate, but with so many different varieties to try, give them a go again as an adult. You may be surprised how much you enjoy them.

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