These cheap little legumes are high in fiber and a good source of plant-based protein—so why aren’t you eating more of them? We’ve got six ways to add them to your diet.
Kissairis Munoz 1 / 7
<p>For such a small, innocent-looking food, black beans really pack some serious nutrition. But what, exactly, makes this pantry staple such a star? For starters:</p>
<li>Black beans are a <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/topics/protein-foods">lean plant-based protein</a>, perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters alike. One serving (½ cup) has about 6 grams of protein, says Molly Morgan, RD, CDN, CSSD.</li>
<li>Black beans will also leave you feeling fuller longer, thanks to their 5 grams of protein per portion.</li>
<li>And don’t let the dark color throw you off, either — that means the beans are high in antioxidants, making them the best of the bean bunch, says Morgan.</li>
<p>When picking beans out in the store, skip the bagged variety, which are extremely time consuming, and stick to the pre-cooked type that come in a can. Just be sure to choose those with no added salt or preservatives, and give the beans a quick rinse to reduce sodium before serving. And stock up during sales: Canned beans have a long shelf life, making them a great option for a quick protein boost.</p>
<p>Are you ready to introduce these badass legumes into your diet? Check out our six easy ways to add them.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/protein-power-tofu"><st... also: Protein Power - 6 Ways to Eat Tofu>>></em></strong></a></p>
1. Thicken Soups
There’s nothing worse than a watery soup, so up the protein content and overall nutrition of your favorite recipe by using black beans as a thickener. Just puree 1 can of beans and add them into any soups or stews you think would taste better with a thicker texture. You’ll get an increased heartiness and creamier flavor — without the added calories of cream or butter.
2. Serve a Simple Dip
Having the guys over to watch the game? No need to stress. For an easy Mexican dip that makes a great protein-packed snack, just layer black beans with guacamole, tomatoes, chopped onions, and cilantro. Looking for something even simpler? Mix a can of black beans with premade salsa and canned corn. Serve either option with multigrain tortilla chips.
3. Make an Easy Side Dish
So you’re making chicken tonight…again. How about a new side? Heat oil in a pan and add several cloves of fresh, chopped garlic. Sautee the garlic for a minute, and then add in a can of black beans, cooking until beans are heated through. Next, mash with a potato masher, then add about 2 tablespoons of water (enough so that the beans are a spreadable consistency) and a pinch of salt. Get creative and toss in your favorite seasonings, too—cumin, chili powder, and cilantro all work well.
4. Grill a Black Bean Burger
Forget the processed veggie burgers in the frozen food aisle, because making your very own black bean burgers is a cinch. In a food processor or blender, pulse half a chopped onion and 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic until finely grated. Add in a can of black beans, 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, 2 teaspoons of fresh parsley, 1 egg, and a dash of red pepper flakes and pulse until combined. Put the mixture into a bowl and add a second can of black beans, ½ cup of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper; mix. Form patties and cook over an oiled grill for 6 minutes on each side, or bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes on each side.
5. Give Breakfast a Boost
For a breakfast that’ll keep you going for hours, mix black beans (1/4 can per serving) into your eggs—or serve them on the side. You can also add in tomatoes, onions, and avocado and serve it up with whole-grain toast, or you can wrap all in a tortilla for an easy on-the-go meal.
6. Add Them to Any Meal
The beauty of black beans is that they’re easy to mix into dishes you’re already making, increasing the protein and nutritional value with zero extra work. Add them to Mexican meals like tacos or burritos; sprinkle them into a salad (remember: they’re already cooked); let them simmer in your vegetable soup or chili; or add them into brown rice or quinoa during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Easy enough, right?