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What Do I Do With Beans?

Beans have bragging rights for being nutritious, delicious, easy to prepare, and affordable. They’re tasty in hot or cold dishes and can be the star of a meal or take on a supporting role as a side dish. We’re breaking down beans to help you inspire and encourage your participants to take advantage of this nutrient powerhouse. Read on for more information or jump right to the recipes.

Counseling Corner

Beans are a versatile ingredient and packed with nutrition. These nutrition superstars provide important nutrients, including those that are critical during pregnancy (like folate/folic acid), nutrients of public health concern (like fiberiron, and potassium), and other important nutrients (like proteinmagnesium, and even zinc). Visit the Eye on Nutrition series to learn more about these and other nutrients and peruse the Meal of the Month series to find other nutrient specific recipes.

There are so many types of beans to choose from. Some varieties include black, pinto, pink, mung, and garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), but there are many other varieties to choose from too!

Tips & Ideas to Share

All beans, canned or cooked from dried, are a great addition to a meal!

  • Meatless option: Beans are a great vegetarian protein source.
  • No-fuss recipe addition: Just toss cooked beans into your favorite soups, chilis, stews, salads, and tacos!
  • Add flavor: Pump up the flavor by adding herbs and spices to beans. Add seasonings anytime but adding towards the end of cooking time may make the dish the most flavorful.

Dried beans may look intimidating, but with a little planning they’re an easy meal addition. It’s as easy as sort, soak, cook and store!


What to know

  • Yield: One cup of dried beans will equal about 3 cups of beans once cooked.
  • Plan ahead: Since cooking dried beans takes time to soak and cook, make a batch of beans and use all week in tacos, soups, and on salads.



  • Sort: Start by sorting through dried beans and remove any pebbles that may have accidentally made it into the bag.
  • Soak: Dried beans require soaking time before cooking. MyPlate shares three soaking methods in this recipe for Cooked Beans:
    • Hot Soak: Hot soaking helps reduce intestinal gas. For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups of hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for up to 4 hours.
    • Quick Soak: For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour.
    • Overnight Soak: For each pound (2 cups) of dry beans, add 10 cups cold water and let soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  • Cook: Different types of beans have different cooking times, so be sure to read the package cooking directions to find the recommended cooking time.
  • Store: Dried beans have a long shelf life but browse the FoodKeeper App to find safe storage information for cooked beans. Storing beans in their cooking liquid will help prevent them from drying out.

Canned beans are the good kind of fast food because they’re already cooked, which is a great time-saver for participants. They’re convenient, ready-to-eat and can be served straight from the can (though rinsing and draining first is recommended) or quickly warmed in the microwave or on the stovetop.

  • Rinse and drain: Most recipes will recommend rinsing and draining beans before using, so be sure to follow recipe directions.
  • Reduce sodium: Opting for no-added-salt varieties is best, but rinsing and draining canned beans can be a heart-healthy way to reduce the sodium content of canned beans.
  • Store safe: Canned beans have a long shelf life but browse the FoodKeeper App to find safe storage information for opened canned beans.


Soups & Stews

Cozy White Bean and Spinach Soup

Three Sisters Stew

Black Bean & Lentil Chili


Side Dishes

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Garlic Hummus and Dippers

Salsa Pinto Beans

Refried Beans



Chickpea and Kale Salad

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Spicy BBQ Tofu & Black Bean Salad


Other Recipes

Easy Red Beans and Rice

Black Bean Burgers

Huevos Motuleños

Terrific Bean Taco

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