Producing meat in the quantity that Americans consume it is taxing on both animals and the environment and many have decided to cut down on their consumption. Moving meat to the side of your plate (or off of it altogether) is challenging when you fear that the inevitable hunger of cutting your protein intake will turn you into a raging savage. But trust in the bean —a fiber-filled protein party—to get you through the hard times and set you on a path of reducing your meat intake. We urge you to pick a meal, any meal, and put a bean on it.
Rising and shining to a bowl of steaming beans sounds like a nightmare. However, incorporating black beans into a Mexican-inspired breakfast burrito is the kind of fueling food dreams are made of. Try black beans in an egg omelet or opt for a well-spiced tofu scramble to add soy protein to the mix.
Bean salads aren’t always boring, especially when they’re transformed into a hearty bowl packed with steamed greens, quinoa, spiced-right veggies, and topped with avocado. Beans make for great burger patty fillers and for cold days, bean-based soups (such as homey minestrone) are filling lunch options. And don’t forget the green bean—while it might look like it belongs in the greens and not beans family, it’s a powerhouse of bean protein power. Fry up a big batch with Szechuan spices and call it a day.
Chickpeas are the kings of bean snacks. Hummus is a given but roasting them whole, spiced-up with cayenne, paprika, and salt, creates a crunchy, portable snack. Green cousin edamame also packs a strong snacking game. In shell or out, just a quick steam and a little salt is all this soybean needs. Many companies have taken a liking to the bean—to capitalize on the crossfit protein craze perhaps?—and everything from chips to energy bars now begins with a bean.
Meatless meatballs made with beans and walnuts, laid on a bed of noodles (or spiralized zucchini noodles called “zoodles” for you crafty types), topped with a zesty tomato-based sauce makes for an easy dinner you can make for five nights in a row (just freeze the meatballs and make a double batch of sauce.) Feel like impressing someone with your bean game? Make a spicy bean chili in the crockpot, a batch of jalapeño cornbread, and leave the beef for another day.
Bean-centric dessert can be done! The Japanese have been all about sweet adzuki beans in their deserts for eons and using black beans as a base for chocolate mousse or brownies is a creative way to sneak beans in places where they don’t normally belong.