Make dry beans the star of your next dinnertime dish with these mouthwatering recipes

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FEATURE — You’ve seen the bags of dried beans sitting on the shelves of the grocery store, but have you ever tried cooking with them? It is easier than you would think; it just takes a little planning ahead of time. In this post, you’ll find information on the benefits of dry beans, plus some mouthwatering recipes to add to your menu plan.

Stock image | Photo by Valeriy_G/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

While canned beans are often a dinnertime hero, using dried beans is a great way to pinch a few more of those pennies. Dry beans are typically one-third the cost of canned beans per serving. Plus, using dry beans in place of canned ones allows you to cut out unwanted sodium. Decreasing sodium from your diet is especially good for those who are at risk of heart disease or struggle with high blood pressure.

There are a couple of ways to cook dried beans. The soaking time ranges from 1 hour to 8 hours, depending on the method you choose. For a full detailed blog on the different methods of cooking dried beans, go here.

Did you know the USDA recommends eating 3 cups of legumes/beans a week? This can be divided into half a cup a day. After learning about the benefits packed into beans, you won’t be surprised by that guideline. Below is a brief summary of what your body gets when you eat beans:

  • Protein – Protein is a basic and vital building block to nearly every aspect of our body. It aids our bones, muscles, hair, nails, skin and cartilage. It takes part in repairing our muscles and other tissues. Additionally, beans offer plant-based protein, which is known to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, especially heart disease.
  • Fiber – Fiber keeps bowels healthy and moving, helps balance blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol.
  • Iron – Iron is really helpful in keeping energy levels up. It is also helpful to our mental health.
  • Potassium – Promotes healthy blood pressure levels. It can protect us from the risk of stroke, kidney stones and osteoporosis.

And more! Dry beans contain copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin and vitamin B6. Many of these are commonly found to be deficient in humans.

I don’t know about you, but now I want to eat some beans. This Bean Burrito Bowl is a fun and delicious way to get beans in your diet.

Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

The day before you want to enjoy your burrito bowl, place half a pound of beans and cold water in a large container. The rule of thumb is 10 cups of water per pound. Since this recipe calls for half a pound, it should be roughly 5 cups of water. Cover the container with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate overnight.

On the day of your meal, start by sautéing your onions and spices. Add beans and enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Simmer for 1 hour. While this is simmering, you can put together your Elote (see below) and rice.

Once everything is cooked, it’s time to assemble your bowl! Start with a layer of rice, then add your beans. Sprinkle cheese on top and anything else that sounds good to you. I love mine with avocado, sour cream and salsa! The Elote on the side is the perfect addition to the meal!

Round out the meal with this savory side dish – Elote! Elote is the Spanish word for corn. This is a well-loved dish in Mexican cuisine. It is typically eaten on the cob with the “dressing” spread on the outside. But this recipe uses corn removed from the cob and tossed with the dressing. This makes it easier to serve to a group, but if you’re feeling traditional, go ahead and use fresh ears of corn!

Here are some more great resources and recipes for using beans:

Are you going to try cooking with dry beans? I hope so!

This article originally appeared Feb. 17, 2023 on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

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