People often associate the vegan diet with hip foods such as avocados, almond milk, or chia seeds. But the real hero in any vegan’s store cupboard is more unassuming and easily underappreciated: the humble bean. Whether you’ve been vegan for a while and are looking for a kick of culinary inspiration or are just trying to eat vegan more often, here are ten reasons why your kitchen cupboard should never be without the magic ingredient of easy vegan recipes: beans.
As you likely already know, beans are packed with protein and one of the best plant-based sources. Soybeans have the most, with around 13g of protein per 100g of beans, closely followed by lentils with around 9g. Kidney beans, however, are one of the least protein-rich but still enough, offering approximately 5g. Adding beans to a couple of meals a day will pack in all the protein you need!
Many more nutritional benefits
Part of the reason the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating around 3 cups of beans a week is that they are also a great source of fibre and a plethora of vitamins and minerals (see below).
Beans, or legumes, are a rich source of minerals including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and B vitamins. Iron and B vitamins of which most are particularly important as they are difficult to get from a plant-based diet.
While we have already mentioned the minerals found in beans Folate is worth mentioning on its own. Folate is essential for your overall health as it helps the body make healthy red blood cells and prevent neural tube defects in a fetus during pregnancy!
Beans are super budget-friendly! Whether you buy them in cans or, even cheaper, dried, they cost only peanuts per meal and go far in cooking. Just make sure if you buy them dried that you check if the variety you have needs soaking and for how long, to avoid an upset stomach.
Beans last forever in the cupboard, either canned or dried. If you have already got some cooked and can’t use them all up at once, they freeze well too.
The earliest consumption of beans leads to some eastern cultures that date back thousands of years and many of them report the health benefits of doing so. Some beans were even found in the tombs of the kings of ancient Egypt which is some 4,000 years ago!
Beans fit in with every cuisine and can replace each other or meat in most recipes. Try replacing garbanzo beans with another type like falafel or blending beans with oil, lemon juice, garlic, and seasoning to make a delicious dip. Adding a can of beans to a one-pot meal, oven bake, salad, or curry is a quick and easy way to bulk it out and add extra nutrition and texture.
Reduced risk of cancer
While this is often a disputed issue some recent studies have shown that beans could reduce the risk of cancer and black beans could even slow the growth of colorectal cancer by preventing the cancer cells from multiplying!
There is a bean type and taste out there to suit most people’s desires. In fact, there are over 40,000 varieties of beans, but we humans only eat less than 1% of them!
It is always good to revisit those staple ingredients in vegan cooking. Take another look at their benefits and find delicious new ways to incorporate them into your cooking! If you know of any yourself why not leave a comment below and tell us all about it.