Human Nutrition, Diet and Health > HNDH Blog > Posts > Dried Beans - Nutritious & Economical

One of the most nutritious and economical foods you can feed your family is dried beans.  Dried beans come in numerous varieties and are found throughout the world.  Some of the most popular types are Pinto, Kidney, Limas, Northern, Navy, Black, Red and Lentils.  Also dried beans can be eaten a variety of ways.  They can stand alone as a side dish, used in salads, casseroles, sandwiches, soups, dips​​​​utilized as a main dish as a meat substitute.

Dried beans provide many benefits.  They are low in cost, easy to store, no refrigeration or peeling is required and are convenient.  They are also packed with nutritional value.  They are an important source of protein and can be considered a complete protein if eaten during the day with rice, corn or even a tortilla.  Dried beans have a low glycemic index which has less impact on blood sugar levels.  They are high in fiber which gives a sense of fullness and reduces food cravings.  One half cup serving contain around 120 calories.  Dried beans are Heart Healthy.  They provide the foliate nutrient that helps protect again heart disease.  The fiber contained in the beans helps to lower cholesterol level with six grams of fiber per serving.  This also helps to lower the risk of some types of cancer.  Dried beans have no cholesterol and are virtually fat free and low in sodium unless they are added.

One complaint in eating driedbeans is that they have a linger affect.  To eliminate this discard soaking water and rinse beans thoroughly before cooking.  Also if an individual is unused to eating dried beans they should be gradually added to the diet.  This gives the body time to adjust to the added fiber.  Another suggestion is to drink plenty of water.  Also over-the-counter medications can be taken to break down gas producing substances in beans.

Preparing to Cook Dry Beans

- Pick through and discard discolored, shriveled beans and foreign matter.

- Wash beans well.

- Soak for around eight hours before cooking which dissolves starches.  The amount of water used should be three times the volume of the beans.

- Quick Soak – If you forgot to soak the bean but still want to include them in your menu, cover beans with water, bring to boil, turn off heat and cover.  Let stand covered for one hour.

- Test beans to see if soaked long enough.  Slice bean in half, if center is opaque beans need to be soaked longer.

- The larger the bean the longer it needs to be soaked.

-The longer the beans are soaked the faster they will cook but if over soaked beans may ferment, affecting flavor and are hard to digest.

Cooking Tips

- Cooking beans in a heavy metal pot is best.

- Most beans will cook in one to two hours.

- Simmer never boil or the beans might break apart and skins may separate.

- When beans come to a boil a foam usually forms on the top of the cooking liquid.  The foam is a water soluble protein released from the beans and will be absorbed back into the cooking liquid.  It is not necessary to remove the foam.

- Beans are best when cooked a day before but always refrigerate to prevent them from souring.

- It is best not to add salt or acidic ingredients like vinegar, tomatoes or juice when cooking beans.  This will slow the cooking process and they may never become tender.  Add salt and other ingredients when beans are tender.

- To retain shape of beans to be used in salads carefully shake pot rather than stirring near the end of the cooking process.

Hearty Bean Soup

½ pound dried beans (Lima, navy, pinto)

½ pound meaty ham shanks

1 ½ cups chicken broth (or 2 chicken bouillon cubes in 1 ½ cups hot water)

1-16 oz. canned tomatoes

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon paprika (optional)

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup water

Salt to taste

Sort beans and wash; cover with water, bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes.  Cover pan and let stand for one hour or overnight.  Drain and place ham, chicken broth, tomatoes, onion, water and seasoning in a large pot.  Add beans and bring to boil.  Turn heat to low; cover and simmer about 1 ½ hours.  Remove ham bone from soup and cut off lean meat into small pieces.  Return meat to soup and simmer until meat is well done.

Makes six cups


Bean Sausage

2 cups cooked dry beans (one cup of dry beans makes 2 ½ cups of cooked beans)

1 ½ cups bread crumbs

2 eggs

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 ½ teaspoons powdered sage

A little flour

Nonstick cooking spray

Cook dry beans, drain and mash.  Add bread crumbs to beans. Mix. Add eggs and milk to beans. Stir.  Add salt, pepper, and sage to beans.  Stir well.  Make bean mixture into patties.  Sprinkle a little flour on the patties.  This makes them brown better.  Heat cooking spray in frying pan.  Fry patties on medium heat.  Brown both sides.


Spicy Bean Cake

¼ cup margarine

2 eggs

1 cup plain flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup sugar

2 cups mashed, cooked pinto beans (takes almost 3 cups of cooked beans to make 2 cups of mashed beans)

2 cups diced apples

¾ cup raisins

¼ cup chopped nuts

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Cream margarine with sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in beans.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Add to creamed mixture, blending well.  Fold in apples, raisins, nuts and vanilla.  Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake in a 375 degree oven 45 to 50 minutes or until cake is done.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz. cream cheese

1 Tablespoon soft margarine

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

¼ cup chopped raisins

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon rum extract

Cream cheese and margarine.  Blend in powdered sugar, raisins and extracts.  Use to frost Spicy Bean Cake.


Cooking Recipes Book Author

5/26/2009 12:22 AM
Thank you for addressing this nutritious super-food.  If one has chosen a vegetarian diet, including green beans in the meal rotation on a daily basis is very beneficial.  Cooked beans can be included in fresh salads and in your favorite dip recipes.