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Get Keen on Kidney Beans!

I’ve written previously about the basics of good nutrition and the importance of incorporating healthy plant foods into your menu plan. Adding beans (or legumes as they are often called) is a super way to do just that! They are an important source of plant proteins and one of the world's oldest cultivated crops, going back as far as 7,000 years in some parts of the world. Lentils, peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzos and navy beans are some you may be familiar with. And the one that’s always stood out for me as having an odd name is the KIDNEY bean! When I was young and learned there was a bean called kidney, I was a little grossed out. I mean, how could anyone name a bean after an internal organ? I asked my mom and she told me it was because the shape of the bean resembled an actual kidney, but she assured me the two were not the same. I found a picture of a kidney in an encyclopedia, lo and behold, those darn beans really were kidney shaped! Delicious in many dishes, kidney beans absorb the flavors of the cooking liquids, seasonings, vegetables and meats they are simmered with. They are delicious marinated in favorite dressings and sauces. Plus, they are nutritionally dense, inexpensive and versatile! Can’t beat that! Here are some good reasons to add some kidney beans to your bean routine:
  • Packed with quality plant proteins – good news for vegetarians! You get about 15 grams of protein with every cup of cooked kidney beans you eat.
  • Excellent source of dietary fiber – good news for your belly and your heart! Just a cup of beans a day will give you about 11 grams or about half the recommended amount you need.
  • They are an excellent source of folate, an important nutrient.
  • Like all beans, they are low fat and have no cholesterol.
  • Beans have nutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and copper.
That should convince you that it’s time to get keen on kidney beans! Here are my favorite ideas:
  • Add them to your leafy green salad.
  • Make them into a bean salad with chopped veggies, other beans or green beans if desired, and your favorite salad dressing. This Three-Bean Salad with Quinoa is delicious.
  • Add them to soups and stews.
  • Add them to a pot of chili. Here are some of ours: Beef and Bean Chili, Vegetarian Chipotle ChiliSpicy Corn and Chicken Chili and Bison Chili.
  • Turn them into a bean dip.
  • Use them along with or in place of other beans in your favorite bean recipes.
  • Toss them into hot cooked pasta or into a cold pasta salad.
  • Have you ever had a Shepherd’s Pie? This is a fun, filling vegetarian version calling for kidney beans.
  • Stuff them into roasted or raw red pepper halves.
  • Make a pita sandwich with avocado, kidney beans and any other favorite filling. Don’t forget to add spinach or arugula, or another dark leafy green!
  • Serve them hot over cooked whole grains.
  • Add them to baked beans.
  • Add them to whole grain pilafs.
  • Just eat ‘em! In a bowl as they are…a little tamari, maybe a little garlic…you get the picture!
If you are cooking dried kidney beans, be sure to soak them overnight, drain and rinse first. Make sure to cook them until completely tender and cooked through to eliminate the gastric distress-causing toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (Kidney Bean Lectin) that's present in raw and undercooked kidney beans. For more information, check out our guide to beans. Are you clever with kidney beans? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know!

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Joe @ Eden Kitchen says …

My all time favorite kidney bean recipe is this Vegetarian Chili for the Soul: http://edenkitchen.com/vegetarian-chili-for-the-soul/ . It's a wholesome, hearty Vegetarian Chili recipe. Full of grains and pulses such as pearled barley, bulgar wheat, kidney beans, and french green lentils.

Barbara says …

Beans have so many advantages nutritionally. I've found that as I regularly include beans in our diet, any intestinal distress has decreased markedly. So I try to eat them often! Thanks for the great suggestions for ways to get beans into the diet.

J. says …

Smash em up with some olive oil and/or chicken broth till they are creamy add cumin, salt and pepper. Roll up in a tortilla with some cheese and sliced tomato! YUM!

Cooking4carnivores says …

I love these red beauties in my vegetarian chili - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2010/11/baby-its-cold-outside.html

Molly says …

I just bought kidney beans today but wasn't sure what to do with them. I think I'm leaning towards the three bean salad with quinoa. Yum!

Scentsy says …

I always thought they were shaped like kidney's and called Kidney Beans because they were good for your kidneys. :) However on a tasteful side I like them in my green salads, mexican dishes and I really like the 3 bean quinoa salad. More than one legume in one dish is an extra bonus.

Donna says …

As a long time shopper at Whole Foods, I appreciate their continous support of our local communities. Buying local supports our emviornment and assures fressness to our tables. For this, I thank you Whole Foods!!

Paul says …

I add a can of 365 brand red kidney beans and black beans to my chicken tikka masala recipe, creating a masala/chili hybrid. One could also substitute the beans for the chicken for a vegetarian meal.

Joe says …

Growing up, we just called kidney beans, beans and if canolino beans were not available they would go into the Pasta Fazou. of course there are 100 ways to make pasta y fagioli, we used the salt pork version, and beans were a must for meatless Fridays in those days as well as fresh fish.

Melissa McAuliffe says …

ok I can eat any bean with seasoned brown rice....

son says …

what is the highest protein lentils i can buy

says …

@Son Lentils tend to not be a protein powerhouse. Although they are easily digestible and cost effective they are not the most bioavailable veggie protein. May I recommend Moong dal or French dupuy as great winter comfort foods? Happy lentil hunting!

tiffany says …

Beans to be keen about. stringbeansinc.etsy.com you have to see it to believe it.