Updated: Mar 3
Plants are definitely having a moment. Actually, quite a big one due to the rise of veganism and plant-based living. I'm going to be exploring a lot of issues around this in my blog, but I'd like to start with one of the wonders of the plant-world...the humble bean.
If you have been following me on Instagram for a while, you’ll know I have a bit of a thing about beans - the pulse variety, not the green bean. Cannellini beans and butter beans are my personal favourites, but there are many different varieties to explore from kidney, black beans to borlotti and edamame. I love the taste of white beans, they are super filling, really versatile and pretty economical too!
Beans are a really healthy addition to your diet. Low in fat and salt and full of fibre and nutrients, such as folate, iron, zinc and magnesium. The fibre in beans is great for gut health, helping to keep us feeling fuller for longer and sustaining our energy levels. Importantly for plant-based eaters, beans are a great source of protein.
Beans take centre stage in the diets of people living in the Blue Zones. These are regions of the world where people enjoy a long, healthy life, with a high proportion of centenarians. Beans are key part of the diet in all five Blue Zones. In Costa Rica, for example, rice and beans are a common breakfast, followed by a burrito with beans for lunch.
If you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, then beans will most-likely be a common feature in your diet. If you are new to plant-based living, beans make an excellent option whilst making the transition. You can start quite simply by using less meat in your next casserole or chilli and adding in some beans… Here are some other tips.
How to get more beans in your diet:
Top Tip: Beans love spices and herbs so get creative and play around with flavours that you like!
Make them the star of the show with your own veggie chilli or stew: Many supermarkets stock cans of mixed beans or you can buy a few different ones and make up your own recipe.
Beans make a great addition to casseroles, soups and stews: Add a can of cannellini beans to your chicken casserole. It can also help to thicken up the sauce and add texture.
Butter beans also work well with a slow cooked roast lamb if you have lots of gravy. They go really soft and absorb lots of flavour.
Make your own home-made baked beans: This is my favourite. You can easily make this and freeze small portions to have at lunchtime. They make a great addition to a weekend brunch too.
Add them to a salad: Beans make a great addition to a salad. Black beans are lovely with sweetcorn and salsa as a Mexican side.
Smoky home-made baked beans
Makes 8 servings
2 red onions chopped
2 tins cannellini beans
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 can butter bean
2 large garlic cloves, sliced finely
2-3 heaped tsp smoked paprika
6 medium tomatoes
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper
Saute the red onion in the oil until soft, then add slices of garlic. Cook for a few minutes.
Add all the beans, paprika and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, stir in and add one can of water.
Slowly bring to the boil, stirring from time to time.
Add the maple syrup and season to taste.
Simmer for another 30 minutes to one hour until the sauce thickens.
Serve on some sourdough toast or as a side to a bigger meal. The beans above are served with herby avocado and sweet potato fritters.