For the Love of Beans

Being a preceptor for area internship programs is my way of giving back to the dietetics profession. Texas Woman’s University intern Lauren Nygard wrote a guest post during her rotation. Like Lauren, I love beans/legumes and have written several posts about them here and here.

Read on for Lauren’s terrific tips and how to incorporate them into your plant-based diet. (And check out her photo with my 4-legged office mates at the bottom.)

Enjoy! Neily


I’ve been on a bean kick lately! Black, garbanzo, white, green—you name it, I’ll eat it. At the beginning of high school, I wanted a change and decided to become a vegetarian. I spent my fair share of time searching for the “best” plant-based protein. Although I ended my vegetarian career after 5 years, I still find myself choosing meatless over meat-filled meals.

Love these little legumes

I wanted to share my favorite go-to recipe that is super versatile and works great for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. But before I give this simple 6-ingredient recipe, my reasons for loving these little legumes are:

  1. They are budget-friendly. Whether you buy them canned or dried in a bag, beans only cost a few bucks and last months in the pantry. I tend to buy canned beans for convenience purposes. Tip: Research shows draining and rinsing canned beans reduces sodium content by 41 percent.
  2. They’re a great source of plant-based protein. One cup of cooked beans provides about 15-17 grams of protein. Add a grain and a fat source and tada—a well-balanced meal!
  3. They are a high fiber food. On average, beans have 14 grams of fiber per one-cup serving. They provide the two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber reduces cholesterol, while insoluble fiber keeps digestion regular and prevents constipation. Plus, both types increase satiety, helping you feel fuller longer.
  4. They contain essential vitamins and minerals. Beans are rich in many micronutrients, which many Americans lack. For example, they’re good sources of folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, thiamin, and other B vitamins.
  5. They have health benefits. As I mentioned earlier, the soluble fiber reduces cholesterol decreasing risk for heart disease. Beans have also been shown to aid in blood sugar control of people with type 2 diabetes. A study conducted in 2012 found that increased consumption of legumes lowered HbA1C values, blood pressure, heart rate, and risk of coronary heart disease.

Versatility of beans

While these beans are amazing on their own, the best part about them is their versatility. While these beans are amazing on their own, I’d have to say the best part about them is their versatility. Here are a few options—use my Simple Black Bean Recipe below.

  • Add them to burritos, tacos, quesadillas, or enchiladas for a filling protein source.
  • Make soup by adding more vegetable broth.
  • Blend in a food processor to create a smooth and creamy bean dip. Serve with tortilla or corn chips.
  • Mash with a fork and use as a spread for tostadas or sandwiches.
  • Create a burrito bowl! Use rice and beans as the base, then top with avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream, and cheese.

Simple Black Bean Recipe


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup of vegetable broth
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional:  2 tablespoons chopped onion*


Heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients and heat for about 5-10 minutes, or until most of the vegetable broth is absorbed. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as necessary. Other great toppings: Cilantro, chipotle pepper, cheese, or sour cream

TWU intern, Great Dane foster, Neily

Lauren and Neily at the Federal Reserve Bank. Lauren with Great Dane foster Ozzy.

*If you want to add the onion, I recommend cooking it with the garlic.

Lauren Nygard | Texas Woman’s University Dietetic Intern | Texas A&M University Class of ’16



  1. Jenkins DJA, et al. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 2012;172(21):1653-1660.
  4. Duyff DL, Mount JR, Jones JB. Sodium reduction in canned beans after draining, rinsing. JFST 2011;9:106-112.

Image credits: Neily on Nutrition and

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach



  1. Mweru Gatimu

    I eat lot of beans and I am glad to learn that they contain a lot of essential vitamins and minerals. Since beans have to be boiled to make them soft enough to cook or prepare different types of dishes, does the boiling process take away much of the nutritional value? Does re-frying beans also take away any of the nutritional value?

    • Neily

      Mweru – heat will decrease the vitamin content and some minerals may get lost in the water when beans are boiled, but it is not too considerable. Then refrying on top of them already cooked you’ll lose a bit more. Nonetheless, beans are a terrific source of fiber and protein regardless how they are cooked. -Neily


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