Image Source/Getty Images
Beans, beans, beans
Canned goods—especially canned beans—are a pantry staple when stocking up for emergencies and public health crises like Covid-19. If you have entered panic buying mode (in preparation for an apocalypse), you probably have more cans than you know what to do with. Or, perhaps you’re bored of the same rice and beans recipe and want to step up your game with the beans you have on hand.
No matter what side you fall on, you can get ready to use those canned beans for whipping up soup, salsa, and even dessert. Plus, you can get a whole bunch of nutrition while you’re at it. Beans boast cholesterol-helping fibre, filling protein, and a plethora of health-helping vitamins and minerals.
As a registered dietitian, I’ve been cooking up lots of tasty meals with canned beans in my own kitchen. I asked my nutritionist colleagues for their ideas, too. So here’s how to make use of your canned beans stockpile with these nutritious recipes.
Courtesy Judy Barbe
White Bean Dip
During quarantine, store-bought dips may be hard to come by. So why not make your own? “A quick and easy dip for fresh vegetables and whole-grain crackers, I eat this for breakfast and lunch,” says Judy Barbe, RD, author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest. “It keeps a week in the fridge—if it lasts that long!” Plus, you get satiating protein and fibre from the cannellini beans. If you can’t find these beans, garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) should work just as well.
Makes 6 servings.
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, cilantro, or tarragon)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ lemon, zested and juiced
- Dash of red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until smooth or to your desired consistency.
Courtesy Nat & Cody Gantz
Root Vegetable and Bean Soup
When you think of cooking with canned beans, perhaps a delicious soup comes to mind. “Using canned beans saves me time, especially when making soups,” says Toby Amidor, RD, author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. “Canned beans are just as healthy as dried beans. Cooking with them means I can whip up a soup for my family in 20 to 30 minutes, instead of in a few hours.” In addition to providing protein-offering kidney beans, this soup provides lots of fibre-rich veggies.
Makes 4 servings.
- 1 packed cup baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- medium carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 medium parsnip, chopped
- 1 medium turnip, chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Stack the spinach leaves, roll them up, and then slice them into ribbons. Work in batches if needed.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, and turnip; and saute until the onion is translucent—about 4 minutes. Add the beans, and stir to combine. Add the vegetable broth, mirin, and bay leaves; and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high, and bring the liquid to a boil.
Then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the spinach ribbons and black pepper.
Courtesy Mandy Enright
Black Bean Burger
Missing the eating-out experience during quarantine? Make your own restaurant-quality veggie burgers. “This black bean burger is quick and easy to put together with just a few kitchen staples,” says Mandy Enright, RDN, a registered yoga teacher in Neptune, New Jersey. “The protein and fibre combo from the beans will keep you feeling full and satisfied. Even meat-eaters are fans of this burger, due to the texture and flavour. Top the burgers off with any items you have that you’re looking to use up, and enjoy.”
Makes 4 servings.
- 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans
- 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 2 tablespoons Peppadew peppers, coarsely chopped with seeds removed
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce, to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 whole-wheat buns or English muffins
- Optional toppings: cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onions
Drain but do not rinse the canned black beans. Place them in a bowl, and use a fork or potato masher to mash the beans. Keep mashing until the beans are mostly broken up but still have some whole beans visible. Add the breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, corn, peppers, egg, chili powder, salt, black pepper, and hot sauce. Stir until everything is combined, then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Form the bean mixture into patties slightly larger than the buns you’re using (the patties will not shrink when they cook). Allow to sit for another 5 minutes for the shape to set. Place the patties in the skillet, and cook them about 5 minutes on the first side. Flip them to the other side.
If using cheese, place on top of burgers and cover skillet with a lid to allow the cheese to melt. Cook another 5 minutes or until heated through. Prepare the buns as desired, and decorate with toppings of choice.
(Find out if it’s safe to order from restaurants while in quarantine.)
Courtesy Lindsey Pine
Homemade Healthy Refried Beans
While you’re at it with recreating favourite restaurant experiences, why not cook up a side of refried beans? This one is healthier than most restaurant versions. “Many of us have been craving more comfort foods during this quarantine time,” says Lindsey Pine, RDN, author of Mediterranean Diet Meal Prep Cookbook. “Warm, garlicky refried beans topped with cheese or avocado is my idea of comfort food. Luckily, it’s super quick and easy to make a healthful option using canned whole pinto beans, which are a fantastic heart-healthy food.”
Makes 3 servings.
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- Optional toppings: chopped cilantro, grated sharp cheddar, chopped onion, or diced avocado
Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and mash until pureed using a potato masher. Leave chunky, if desired. Heat beans in microwave or stovetop just before serving.
Photo Credit: California Walnuts
Walnut “Chorizo” Tacos with Pickled Vegetables
Create your own at-home taco night with an easy plant-based recipe. “I particularly like the mixture of protein-packed and fibre-rich black beans and walnuts, all of which can help with satiety and appetite control,” says Natalie Rizzo, RD, in New York City, and a nutrition partner with California Walnuts. “As a matter of fact, a [2017 study published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism] found that consuming walnuts may activate an area in the brain associated with controlling hunger and cravings, suggesting participants paid more attention to food choices after eating walnuts.” It’s important to note that The California Walnut Commission supported the study through a grant.
Makes 16 tacos.
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 8 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 medium jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon Ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon chipotle, ground
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 16 whole-wheat tortillas
- Olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
- Thinly sliced romaine lettuce, to taste
- Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste
- Lime wedges, as needed
Stir together lime juice, sugar, and sea salt in a small bowl. Stir in radish, jalapeno, and garlic slices and let stand for 30 minutes to pickle. Meanwhile, to prepare “chorizo” crumble, place walnuts and beans in a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, paprika, chili powder, oregano, salt, chipotle, cumin, and coriander to the food processor and pulse again until the mixture is finely chopped and resembles ground meat, stirring several times and moving the mixture from the bottom of the food processor bowl to the top to evenly mix.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a very large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add “chorizo” mixture to skillet, and cook for 10 minutes or until mixture is nicely browned and resembles ground meat, stirring frequently (may be prepared several days ahead and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator).
Brush each tortilla lightly with oil, or coat with cooking spray. Cook briefly on a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat to brown on both sides, keeping warm in foil until all tortillas are cooked. Remove pickled vegetables from liquid and discard garlic slices.
Fill each tortilla with equal amounts of “chorizo” and pickled vegetables. Garnish with lettuce and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
Courtesy EA Stewart
Easy Healthy Pasta with Crispy Rosemary Chickpeas
Have you ever added chickpeas to pasta? Well, now’s the time to try this tasty and nutritious combo: “If you’re searching for an easy healthy pasta recipe, this one is absolutely delicious,” says EA Stewart, RD, in San Diego. “Chickpeas provide an extra boost of fibre and protein to your meal, and the rest of the ingredients are easily swapped with whatever you have on hand. Swap fresh tomatoes with canned, fresh spinach with frozen, and fresh herbs with dried.”
Makes 5 servings.
- 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed, and dried
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 cups baby spinach lightly chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup lightly packed Italian parsley, lightly chopped
- 8 ounces gluten-free pasta
- 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350° F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans, then place them on a paper towel; pat them dry. Spread the garbanzo beans on the parchment paper, and drizzle 2 teaspoons of the olive oil on top. Toss them with clean hands, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Place in oven to bake for 20 minutes.
While garbanzo beans are baking, slice the tomatoes in half, and set aside. Lightly chop the spinach, and place in a large serving bowl. Chop the rosemary, and set aside. Lightly chop the fresh parsley, and set aside.
Remove the garbanzo beans from the oven after 20 minutes, and push them to half of the baking sheet. Place the tomatoes on the other half, and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Then return the baking dish to the hot oven, and cook for 10 minutes.
Heat a medium-to-large pot of water on the stove over high heat until boiling, then add the pasta and cook according to directions (usually 8-10 minutes for most gluten-free pasta). Carefully remove the hot baking sheet with the garbanzo beans and tomatoes after 10 minutes, and sprinkle fresh rosemary on top. Return to oven to cook for 10 more minutes.
When pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta water and add the pasta to the chopped spinach. Then, after garbanzo beans and tomatoes are finished cooking, add them to the pasta and spinach, along with the remaining olive oil, remaining salt, and the Parmesan. Toss well to combine ingredients. Serve pasta while warm, along with chopped parsley and fresh ground black pepper.
Courtesy Tracee Yablon Brenner
Sweet Potato and Pinto Bean Burrito
When it comes to DIY Mexican food, how about a healthier burrito? “During this coronavirus quarantine, it is important to eat nourishing food,” says Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN in New York City and a managing partner at Triad to Wellness, a site that promotes healthy living. “The beans are high in fibre and rich in protein and can be used as a meat substitute. The sweet potatoes have many health benefits. They are rich in fibre, as well as beta carotene. With this recipe, you can make a double batch of the mashed sweet potatoes for a side dish for another night.”
Makes 6 servings.
- 3-4 sweet potatoes (3 cups mashed), washed, peeled, and diced
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ginger, ground
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper jelly
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon coconut aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
- 6 tortillas, gluten-free if necessary
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a 4-quart saucepan, add 3-4 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Place the sweet potatoes in the steamer basket, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft. Drain. Place cooked sweet potatoes in a medium-size bowl, and mash them. Add the vanilla extract, ginger, cinnamon, orange juice, maple syrup, and jalapeno pepper jelly to the mashed sweet potatoes. Mix with a fork to combine, and set aside.
Wrap the tortillas in a sheet of aluminum foil. Put the tortillas in the oven for about 15 minutes, until warm. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and onions. Saute for about 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Add the chili powder and cumin; mix. Add the beans, water, and coconut aminos. Mash the beans with a wooden spoon and continue to cook for about 8-10 minutes.
To assemble the burrito: Lay a tortilla on a work surface. Fill the area just below the middle of the tortilla and about 1½ inches from either side with ½ cup of the sweet potato mixture and ½ to ¾ cup of the bean mixture in each tortilla. For each tortilla, fold in the sides then fold up the bottom end. Tuck the bottom flap close to the filling and roll forward to close the burrito. Slice diagonally in half.
Courtesy Abbie Gellman
Mandarin Orange Salad with Black Beans
Have you ever mixed black beans with citrus? It’s a scrumptious combo. “This recipe is packed with nutrients and uses a handful of items you likely already have in your pantry or should be easy to find,” says Abbie Gellman, RD, a chef in New York City. “It is an easy side dish, or you can add some cooked grains to make it a full meal.”
Makes 4 servings.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Pinch salt
- Pinch black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ cup mandarin oranges canned in their own juice, drained with juice set aside
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced julienne style
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, and juice from the mandarin oranges. Add onion, beans, and oranges. Mix in cilantro.
Courtesy Colleen Wysocki-Woods
Zesty Southwest Salsa
Whether you eat this salsa as a snack with tortilla chips or as a topping to a black bean burger, it’s super easy to put together. “This salsa offers a vegan protein source and provides veggies,” says Colleen Wysocki, RDN, in Capitola, California. “The salsa relies on only five ingredients and only takes five minutes to make. It’s perfect for when you’re tired of cooking.”
Makes 8 servings.
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-added-salt black beans
- 1 can no-added-salt corn
- ½ red onion
- 1 tomato
- Juice of 1 lime
Pour black beans and corn into a colander, and rinse well under cold running water. While the beans and corn are being rinsed, dice the onion and tomato. Combine the veggies into a bowl. Squeeze the juice from 1 lime over the veggies, and stir with a wooden spoon so everything in the bowl is exposed to the lime juice. Let the salsa marinate overnight for a zestier flavour.
If you like spice, you may opt to add a pinch of chili powder or cayenne.
Courtesy Sarah Gold Anzlovar
Wheat-berry Caprese Grain Bowl
This grain bowl features a combo of ingredients that may be new to you. However, “most of the ingredients can be found right in your pantry,” says Sarah Gold Anzlovar, RDN, in Medfield, Massachusetts. “It’s also super flexible, so you can use whatever varieties of grains and beans you have on hand and swap in different canned or frozen vegetables depending on what you have available.” See more canned foods nutritionists buy.
Makes 2 bowls.
- 1 cup dried wheat berries
- 1 cup canned cannellini or other beans
- ½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup quartered artichoke hearts
- 1-2 jarred roasted red peppers, sliced
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 6-8 Kalamata olives
- Fresh basil, chopped, to taste
- ½ cup fresh mozzarella, diced
- Olive oil for drizzling, to taste
- Juice of a lemon
- Balsamic glaze, to taste (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
Cook the wheat berries per package directions. Drain and rinse the beans. Chop the vegetables. Assemble the bowl, starting with the wheat berries and arugula; then top with vegetables, olives, chopped basil, and cheese. Dress by drizzling with olive oil and squeezing with fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of balsamic glaze (optional). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Photo Credit: Kelly Jones
Quick and easy white bean chili
If you’re a chili fan, you must make this easy recipe. “It’s packed with satiating protein and fibre from plant protein and veggies, plus plenty of flavour from dried herbs and spices,” says Kelly Jones, RD, a Philadelphia-based sports dietitian. “The vegetables used either have a long shelf life or come from frozen, making the recipe perfect for when you haven’t been to the store in a while.”
Makes 6 servings.
- 1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil
- 3-4 medium-large garlic cloves
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno, minced (optional)
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 large celery stalk, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced, or 4 ounces jarred roasted red, chopped
- ½ cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups frozen spinach
- ½ cup frozen corn
- 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅔ cup nutritional yeast
Heat oil over low-medium in a stockpot before adding garlic, onion, and jalapeno. After about 1 minute, add the carrot, celery, and bell pepper. Stir, cover, and let cook for about 3 minutes. Add the quinoa and broth. Stir and cover before bringing to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add beans, spinach, corn, chili powder, cumin, and oregano; stir, and let cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat, and stir in nutritional yeast before serving.
Courtesy Bethany Thomson
Brownie Batter Hummus
Dessert hummus? Yes, please. “This brownie batter hummus is creamy, chocolatey goodness,” says Bethany Thomson, RDN, an integrative and functional women’s health nutritionist in Smyrna, Tennessee. “It’s full of fibre and phytonutrients and is a perfectly wholesome way to satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your health. Plus, the recipe is simple enough for your 8-year-old to make (mine does) and uses the simple ingredients that you likely have on hand.”
Makes 8 servings.
- 1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
- 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
Add all ingredients to food processor and process until smooth, pausing occasionally to scrape down the side of the bowl. Refrigerate or enjoy immediately.
Next, check out more plant-based recipes to make in quarantine.