The health benefits of beans have been widely described. Beans are full of plant-based protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, adding a serving beans to your meal a few days a week can have a big impact on your health. But when it comes to cooking with beans, are canned beans or dried beans a better option? The answer to this depends on a few factors.
- Cost. When it comes to price, dried beans win out. Dried beans cost less per serving than canned. A one-pound bag of dried black beans via Fresh Direct costs $1.99, and will make 12 (½ cup) servings once cooked. Compare this to canned black beans, which is $1.39 for a 15.5 ounce can and provides 3.5 (½ cup) servings. Black Beans ($0.17 per serving). Canned Black Beans ($0.40 per serving). Canned beans are almost 2.5 times the cost of dried. However, compared to other sources of protein, both canned and dried beans are a low-cost food.
- Convenience. While dried beans cost much less than canned, it takes a bit more time and effort to cook them. Depending on the soaking and cooking method, dried beans will take anywhere from 3 to 24 hours to prepare, including sorting, rinsing, soaking, and cooking. With canned beans, it’s a simple as opening the can. The time savings may provide more of a value than the money you’ll save. With that said, you can cook large batches of dried beans and freeze for later use.
- Nutrition. Canned beans and cooked dried beans have essentially the same nutrition when it comes to calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The one difference is in sodium. A ½ cup serving of black beans cooked from dried beans will have only 20 milligrams of sodium, while a ½ cup serving of black beans canned with salt will have anywhere from 200 milligrams to 460 milligrams of sodium. Draining and rinsing canned beans will remove about 40 percent of the sodium; you can also buy no-salt-added or lower sodium versions of many canned beans.
- Beans are one of the most versatile foods and can be incorporated into a multitude of different dishes. Dried beans are best when beans are the star of the dish, since dry beans take on more flavor as they cook. For a more complex dish like a chili, soup, or burger, canned beans are a great addition. Canned varieties are also good to have on hand for a quick meal when you don’t have much time to cook. Try adding beans to eggs, pasta dishes, soups, and salads, or make a bean based dip. You can even use them to replace some of the meat in traditional dishes like lasagna, a meat sauce, or burgers.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of type or form, beans are a nutrient rich food that should be included as part of an overall healthy, balanced diet.
Slow Cooker Dried Beans
- 1 pound of dried beans
Rinse the dried beans under cool water. Remove any shriveled beans. Put beans in a large bowl and cover them with a few inches of cold water. Let sit overnight.
- Drain the beans and transfer to a slow cooker. Pour water over the beans to cover them by about two inches.
- Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Begin checking the beans after 5 hours, and remove from slow cooker once they are cooked to your liking. Store cooked beans in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Stovetop Dried Beans
- 1 pound of dried beans
- Rinse the dried beans under cool water. Remove any shriveled beans. Put beans in a large bowl and cover them with a few inches of cold water. Let sit overnight or at least 10 hours.
- Drain the beans and add to a dutch oven or heavy pot. Cover the beans with an inch of water and bring to a bowl over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to low and allow the beans to simmer gently. For firmer beans, leave the lid off; for softer beans keep the lid on.
- Simmer for one hour, then start to check for doneness. Depending on the type, size, and age of the bean, it can take anywhere from one to three hours. Stop cooking once beans are tender and cooked to your liking.
- Store cooked beans in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Bean Recipes to Try:
- Smoky Baked Beans
- Truffle Roasted Chickpeas from Kara Lydon at The Foodie Dietitian
- Beet White Bean Hummus from Sharon Palmer at the Plant Powered Blog
- Brussels Sprouts with Chili Black Beans from Stephanie McKercher at The Grateful Grazer
- Provencal Bean Salad from Sharon Palmer at the Plant Powered Blog
- Spicy Hummus Black Bean Burger from Kara Lydon at The Foodie Dietitian
- Fusilli with Fava Beans, Asparagus, Ricotta & Mint from Jessica Levinson at Nutritioulicious
- Spicy Mexican Quinoa Burrito Bowl from Natalie Rizzo at Nutrition a la Natalie
- Chickpea “Chicken” Salad from Lauren Blake at Whole Living Lauren
- No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge from Lauren Sharifi at Bite of Health Nutrition
- Gluten Free Chickpea Blondies from The Nutrition Twins
And don’t forget to check out the new Planted Power Bowls, full of plant-based protein!
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