Beans: Nutrition and Preparation

Red Beans

photo credit: cookbookman


In a perfect world we’d never have to wonder and scheme about how we can lower our grocery budget. But lately, we’ve been doing just that around our house. My husbands truck is eating all our grassfed beef. (figuratively – in reality it’s getting a new engine and a lot of other parts that quite honestly…I can’t remember) Sometimes we need to increase the amount of inexpensive, yet nutritious ‘fillers’ in our meals, one of which is beans.

I’ve always hated beans.

And I mean hated.

Just the thought of them made me gag.

But they can be sooooo good for you.

How good?

Benefits of Beans:

  • They are a greast source of fiber which helps prevent your blood sugar from rising to rapidly after a meal.
  • Kidney beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Just one cup of cooked kidney beans supplies 177.0% of the daily value for molybdenum. (source)
  • A good source of iron
  • One serving (1c) contains about 15 grams of protein
  • A great source of folate (folic acid) containing almost 230 mcgs per cup
  • High in omega-3 fatty acids (source – Nourishing Traditions) (from what I could find the amount could be anywhere between 200 and 1000 milligrams per serving)
  • CHEAP!
pinto beans

photo credit: nourishingcook

I knew all of this information. I made my kid eat them, I made them for my husband (though I wasn’t very good at it! Since I wouldn’t test them, they were either over or undercooked. Poor guy) but just couldn’t get myself to choke them down. But a couple of years ago, I finally got over myself and decided that if I could try organ meats at Wise Traditions, I should totally be able to try kidney beans right? And so it was that I made chili that very next day.


I made my chili with more meat than beans (essential for my texture issues when trying new things) so that I could kind of sneak them in here and there and not end up with a whole bite of just beans.

And I also made mashed potatoes.

For me, potatoes are my go-to food to hide new things.

So there I sat and ate my bowl of chili over mashed potatoes. And you know what? I lived to tell about it.

For me, this has opened a whole new world of cheaper cooking, as beans are both nutritious and cheap. I can toss them into so many dishes as fillers without compromising nutrition. Plus now I don’t have to make different dinners when I make chili or soup for my husband. 😉


photo credit" Kitchen Stewardship



How to Prepare Beans

Beans unfortunately can cause more harm than good when not prepared correctly. The phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors may cause mal-absorption of the nutrients in your food, essentially robbing your body of what it needs. Once a bean is properly prepared these enzyme inhibitors are greatly reduced, increasing not only digestibility, but also nutrient content.

Soaking and cooking beans is quite easy, you just need to think ahead – an important aspect of meal planning.

  1. Rinse beans and pick out any stones or debris.
  2. Place in a large bowl, you want it to be able to contain at least 3 times the amount of beans you put in.
  3. Add enough warm water to cover the beans, plus a couple of inches higher.
  4. Most importantly, add 1 Tbsp of whey or apple cider vinegar for every cup of beans you’re soaking. Allow to sit for 12-24 hours.
  5. After the beans have soaked for at least 12 hours, drain the water and rinse.
  6. Bring to a boil in a pot with twice the amount of water as beans and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Reduce to a simmer and cook until done. (depending on the bean – small beans take about an hour, large beans almost 2 hours) Add more water if necessary.
  7. Drain off any water remaining after they are fully cooked, season to taste or use in your recipe.

Recipes for Beans

One of the most popular recipe posts here at Naturally Knocked Up is the black bean brownies. They’re delicious, not overly sweet, and fairly nutritious as well. I also do a white chicken chili that we love as well as a basic beef chili as well, but that about sums up my official “recipes”.

Making beans taste good is essential for getting your family to eat and enjoy them though, which is why I’m glad my friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship has put out an e-book called “The Everything Beans Book”. She covers everything you’ll ever want to know about beans……and if I know Katie – even more!

*Why are they healthy?
*How do I cook with dry beans?
*How do I cook and store in bulk?
*What about picky eaters (the bean haters of the world)?
*How do I avoid gas?
*How do I get past the texture?
*And of course, 30 recipes from appetizer to dessert, all spotlighting the most frugal and nourishing food:  beans.

This recipe book covers simple soups and chilis to main dishes and her version of my black bean brownies. As a huge bonus for you all today, Katie is going to offer all of my readers 20% off her new e-book when you purchase it before Saturday night at midnight! Just use the code: KNOCKBEANS to reduce the normal price of $9.95 down to just $7.96.


*This post includes affiliate links, and I thank you for helping support this site if you decide to purchase Katie’s newest book. I’ve read it myself and enjoy the information and recipes!

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Sarah Bauer says:

    Donielle, I am so glad I found your blog. I have never met someone else who has the same texture issues I do! Beans aren’t one of my problems, but so many more of them are the same! Thanks for being honest! Maybe I’ll have the courage to try some of my “problem foods” here in the near future.

    BTW, I love beans, for just the reasons you stated above, but most of all, because they’re cheap!!!! Oh, and I found a way to use the nasty soybeans that I had purchased over 2 years ago to make my own soymilk for my oldest who has a caesin allergy (only in pasturized homogenized milk). I poured a bunch into a basin and my kids are going crazy playing with them! A perfect alternative for being outside in our wonderfully cold Michigan Winter!

  2. Lisa Imerman says:

    Good Job for going out of your comfort zone. My 5 year old has always been Mr. Picky and we don’t cook separate meals here, so if he wouldn’t eat what we were having (which was a lot of the time) I would just give him some lunchmeats (we get good quality without all the garbage in them at a smokehouse in Detroit, MI) or something left over from another meal or once in a great while scramble him and egg (I really didn’t want to cook separate for him, but I also need him to eat enough protein).

    I LOVE beans but of the ones that are a staple to me, Kidney are the least favorite. When I make Chili I use pinto and black beans. Just a different thing to maybe try!!

    Love your blog!!


  3. I’ve always loved beans, but organ meats? I *know* I should give them a try, but I just can’t get past the idea.

  4. I’m so glad you posted this. I love beans of all kinds, and have the most delicious, wonderful, and nourishing baked beans recipe, that I can’t make, because my husband HATES BEANS. He will eat them in chili, but that’s it. He won’t even eat refried beans or hummus, because he says “it just makes the texture worse!” Please post more ideas for “hiding” beans. Your blog is fantastic; I love it!

    donielle Reply:

    @Jenny, I must have your baked bean recipe. It’s something my husband wants me to make and I know my 3yo used to love back when I bought stuff out of cans! I plan on trying to use beans more – so recipes coming!

    Jenny Reply:

    @donielle, Donielle, I’ll email it to you! Blessings!

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    There’s a whole section in the eBook about hiding beans, particularly lentils, in lots of normal foods, as well as some recipes (like a pasta white sauce) where all the taste AND texture of beans disappears. I was totally like your husband until well into my 20s, so I can relate!!! :) Katie

  5. Since we live way down here in Louisiana, eating beans is a BIG part of our culture.. We eat red beans and rice usually three days a week and rotate that out every other week. I, of course, use a half of a pound of natural smoked Cajun sausage, just to flavor it, but usually just that.

  6. I’m using kidney bean this week too…making a dip for our care group. I think the ingredients are mashed up white kidney beans, garlic, a bit of oil and roasted peppers….or something like that. I had it at a friend’s house and it was really good! Serving with those rice crackers that I like so much.

  7. Fermented foods…. I can only bring myself to try water kefir. Can’t do the rest. Next on my list is sprouted flour. Something about “fermented” just seems weird to me…. By the way, do you know anything about kefir and yeast? Would the yeast in the kefir make yeast problems worse or would the probiotics make it better? Does anyone know?

  8. I hate beans but my husband loves them. So whenever possible — chili and soups, mostly — I mash them in a food processor first. He gets the taste of beans, I get a little taste (which isn’t so bad) but none of the texture (which is), and we both get the extra nutritional value. Worked really well in a turkey chili I improvised last week!

  9. I had an aversion to beans for years. I actually tested allergic to them when I was younger so I never bothered with them until just a year or so ago. I did the exact same thing as you: tossed a few in with a very meaty chili. I think I had rice under mine instead of potatoes, but either is possible. I still can’t do a bean salad or anything that is all that same texture. When I do red beans & rice I have to have a lot of rice & sausage in there. I think you know by now that I share your food texture issues, as do many people. Sensory systems are a grand thing, no?

  10. It baffles me still that so many people like beans. I like kidney beans because they’re big enough to bite in half and snack on. I just love the texture. :-)

    I found a website that talks about the sulfite-kidney bean reaction, and it goes on to say that people who are sensitive to sulfites (that’s me!) may be reacting due to a low molybdenum reserve. Hmmm…I have to research this more. I wonder it this is the case when the reaction is fairly immediate, too. It would be wonderful to have Costco trail mix back in my life. Sigh…

    Here’s the link:


  11. I have just put my first batch of beans to soak! It’s really much easier than I thought- I was intimidated before!

  12. I’m curious, though, about the nutrient leaching during soaking. Aren’t all the things beans are full of also water-soluble? Are the nutrient loads given the result of testing pre- or post-soak?

    donielle Reply:

    @Cecelia, You know, I’m not sure. The thing is, all beans have to be soaked before cooking, I just soak mine longer. :-)

    And nutrient values before cooking vs after cooking would make a big difference in many foods, and I’ve not heard whether they do the testing before or after.

    Good thoughts! I wish I had a lab so I could test it all out myself!

  13. What is the purpose of the apple cider vinegar when soaking the beans?

    donielle Reply:

    @Kala Rath, Some think that it helps to break down the enzymes that “preserve” the seed of the plant. (which is what a bean is) And by breaking that down, it’s easier to digest.