Basic Recipe: Nutritious Beans


Here are some of the common legumes:(Clockwise from upper right): Adzuki beans, garbanzo beans, Pinto beans. black-eyed peas, black beans, navy beans, (center): lentil mix, split green peas.

Stretch your food dollars by using beans in meals. Large bags of dry beans are about $0.75 per pound at a restaurant supply warehouse. They are members of the legume family of vegetables and along with lentils and peas are used throughout the world as a basic ingredient  There are many reasons for cooking with beans:

  • They are a complete protein when beans are served with rice.
  • They are low in fat and packed with nutrients
  • Beans have lots of fiber for digestive health
  • Meals served with beans are filling and hearty.
  • Legumes can be used in many ways.

 Read more about different ways to use these legumes.


Dry beans have a hard outer covering and are usually soaked in water before cooking.  The easiest way is to follow these steps:

  1. Place beans in a sieve to pick out broken ones and debris .
  2. Rinse the beans and drain them
  3. Place beans in a pot, cover them with a double amount of water.
  4. Let them soak overnight or at least 6 hours

The Mayo clinic describes the common types of beans and several ways to soak beans. NOTE: Black-eyed peas and lentils do not need soaking.

Also note: Red kidney beans, even though packed with nutrients and fiber, contain toxins. For nutrient description see WF Foods website. To be sure they are safe to eat, most sources recommend they be boiled at least 15 minutes, remove the foam, then finish cooking on low heat. If using them in a slow cooker, boil them for 15 minutes before slow cooking.

To cook the beans:

Basic Boiled Bean recipe
Serves 6
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  1. 2 C pinto beans soaked in water as described previously.
  2. small piece of seaweed (1" X 1" Kombu)
  3. cold water as needed.
  1. 1. Drain beans and place in a heavy pot
  2. 2. Cover with 2" clean water and add a 1” piece of seaweed (kombu)
  3. 3. Over medium heat, bring mix to a gentle boil
  4. 4. Boil for two minutes. Skim off the foam (indigestible sugars) then cover and simmer ‘till desired softness. Add hot water if more is needed.
  5. Some beans will not soften if cooked with salt or vinegar.
  6. Each type of bean cooks differently and are used for different purposes. For salads, they can be softer. For soups, they can be firmer (or partially cooked) because they cook longer in the soup pot. 5. Lower heat to a slow simmer.
  1. Seaweed, when cooked with beans, adds important minerals.
  2. About Beans: For re-fried beans in tortillas, they can be very soft For eating in a shell, wrap or side dish they can be firmer.
  3. Some beans need 2 hrs. simmering time while most soften in 45 min. to an hour. Lentils can cook in 15 minutes and split peas in 1/2 hour.
  4. Keep notes for future reference
Adapted from $10 Meals for a family of six
Adapted from $10 Meals for a family of six
Family Meals Project