Stories from Food and Nutrition

Black beans are one of the best plant-based, gut-healthy protein sources—here are 6 ways to use them

Allie Flinn

Allie FlinnApril 15, 2020

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Raise your hand if canned foods have recently become a staple in your cooking routine—because, same. But if you’re only using canned black beans in tacos and burritos, you’re missing out on both flavor and major nutrition benefits.

“Black beans are a wonderful food for supporting gut health,” says chef, nutritionist, and founder of Culinary Alchemy Serena Poon. Black beans are particularly rich in fiber (15 grams per serving!), specifically gut-healthy prebiotic fiber. “Prebiotics feed probiotics, which in turn help to keep your gut microbiome balanced,” Poon says. And a happy gut microbiome, in turn, has all kinds benefits for your immune system, digestion, and more.

So, how to make the most out of your black bean stockpile right now in order to max out on these benefits? Check out these six creative, healthy, delicious black bean recipe ideas for inspiration.

1. Healthy chicken and black bean tostadas

On the most recent episode of Cook With Us, we challenged cookbook author and writer Lesley Téllez to create a healthy Mexican meal…with a couple of stipulations. It had to be high in protein, couldn’t involve tacos or burritos, and it had to be made in 30 minutes. She whipped up these chicken tostadas. One of the main components is homemade refried black beans, which are surprisingly easy to make.

Watch the video to get the full recipe.

2. Black bean Buddha bowl

“I absolutely love Buddha bowls as they’re quick to make and offer a variety of nutrient dense options,” Poon says. This recipe from Minimalist Baker combines black beans with kale, brown rice, avocado, and a delicious tahini dressing.

3. Black bean burger

Poon is a big fan of DIY black bean burgers, which she says are filling, satisfying, and a great whole-foods alternative to more processed veggie burgers out there. Simply Veganista’s version uses quinoa and black beans to create a complete (and plant-based!) protein.

4. Chocolate black bean smoothie 

“I bet you’ve never considered adding black beans into your smoothie!” Poon says. Which, yeah, accurate. “They can be a delicious complement to anything chocolate, so why not add them as a protein boost to your next chocolate smoothie?” I’m convinced. But if you need a roadmap, this recipe from The Conscientious Eater will serve you well.

5. Black bean hummus

Bored of regular hummus? Try adding black beans into your rotation. “Black bean hummus is a great way to spruce up your dip game. I love using this as a party dip for veggies and for chips,” Poon says.

6. Spicy black bean and shiitake mushroom street tacos

Hungry for more Mexican-inspired black bean recipe ideas? Poon recommends using your black beans in tacos…but with a twist. “Black beans and mushrooms are a match made in vegan taco heaven,” Poon says. And this black bean recipe comes together in about 30 minutes—a total winner for weeknight cooking.

Chickpeas are also a superstar legume—here are seven creative ways to cook with them. And here are four delicious recipes you can make with a bag of frozen spinach

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