We are in the midst of soup season and I’m sure many of our family favorite soups call for some kind of meat as one of the main ingredients. We have been raised to think that we need meat to feel full but that is not true. Did you know, substituting beans for meat in your soup is a lot cheaper and healthier?


Beans are a plant protein that are fat and cholesterol free. They are a great source of fiber that helps control blood sugars and are cancer fighting. Eating beans is a powerful appetite suppressant for two reasons:

  1. The fiber in the beans is digested slower so it seems to “stick to your ribs.”
  2. And with the abundant amount of protein (15 grams per cup), your stomach releases hormones that send a message to your brain telling you that you are full! This form of protein also has less calories, so it is beneficial for those looking to lose weight.  


Your body produces roughly 3 to 4 times the amount of cholesterol you consume in a day. Since beans are a cholesterol free food, if you eat beans 4 or more times per week you could reduce your risk of heart disease by 22 percent. Plus, beans are composed of soluble fiber (like the fiber in oatmeal), that whisks cholesterol out of your gut before it can be absorbed.


Buying dried beans is the healthiest option since there can be excessive sodium in canned beans. Prepare the dried beans by soaking and cooking them in a crockpot. This way you are in control of your salt intake and can make enough to freeze leftover beans in smaller containers that can be readily available for your next recipe.


A favorite and easy way to make a quick meal is to heat up some pre-cooked rice and black beans, grate a small amount of cheese on top with romaine lettuce and tomatoes, then add your favorite salsa or guacamole. This quick meal is super healthy, high in protein and very satisfying!


I encourage you to google “bean recipes” and see what you find. For example, consider adding garbanzo beans to a salad, pinto or northern beans to soups, and/or black or pinto beans to your tacos instead of red meat. There are even recipes using beans in desserts such as brownies or cookies. Here is a simple recipe showing you it doesn’t have to be complicated to add beans to your diet:


Easy Black Bean Chili

2-15oz cans black beans, rinsed and rinsed

1-16oz jar roasted garlic salsa (or your favorite)

1 bunch of green onions chopped (white and pale green parts)

1-10oz pkg of super sweet frozen corn

½ c. chopped cilantro


  1. Combine beans, salsa and onions in a saucepan.  Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in corn, cilantro and salt to taste, and cook until heated through. Keep stirring.
  3. Serve hot and top with some shredded Monterey Jack cheese and minced sweet onions if desired.

309 Cal., 18 g. protein, 1g. fat, 60 g Carbs, 17g fiber, 336mg Sodium, 3g Sugar


Submitted by: Maureen Wilson, FoodShare Specialist

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