Beans, which are part of the legume family, are some of the healthiest foods in the world, and have been consumed by humans for thousands of years. They come in a wide range of shapes, colours, and flavours, all of which are recommended as part of a healthy diet.
Choosing the right bean for the right dish can be something of a headache due to the many varieties on offer at the shops, so use this simple guide to find one that’s best.
Also known as butter beans, these are some of the biggest beans at the shops, and are often canned alongside red kidney and black beans. Despite their large size, they tend to have a more subtle nutty flavour, meaning that they can easily be added to most dishes without altering the flavour. Cannellini beans are popular ingredients in soups, but they also work well in salads and stews.
Red Kidney Beans
One of the most available, red kidney beans are incredibly healthy, packed with nutrients like protein. These can be found both dry and canned and make for a great addition to chilli and curry. Unlike some other beans, red kidney is actually harmful if not prepared properly, which means soaking them for at least 8 hours and then cooking them for over ten minutes to denature the toxins found in them.
One of the smaller kinds of beans, mung beans are quite soft when cooked, and begin to break apart if boiled for long enough. They can be added to most soups, but they make a wonderful ingredient to put in a casserole or stir-fry. It’s become quite popular to sprout mung beans, which offer plenty of health benefits, but it’s important to remember that they can take on quite a strong smell once sprouted, enough that it’s easy to think that the spouts have actually turned bad.
A small and shiny bean, these are similar in many ways to Pinto beans in terms of their texture and flavour. They’re a good choice for those that want to cut down on the amount of carbohydrates they consume while simultaneously upping the protein. Black beans are commonly found in Mexican dishes, but they can be part of any vegetable or meat dish.
Also commonly called garbanzo beans, chickpeas are extremely popular in the Middle East, where they’re something of a national staple in many countries. They can be eaten straight once cooked for about an hour – plenty of time to watch a series or other entertainment online – and offer a unique and tasty flavour, but they’re much more likely to be found in their ground-up state, where they’re mixed with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and other herbs and spices to create the hummus.
Lentils are the superheroes of the food world and provide so much protein that they can safely replace most meats where protein is concerned. Often mixed in with soups, lentils come in many colours, ranging from red to black, are turn quite creamy when they’ve been cooked for long enough.