One good thing that has come out of the rise in veganism is the long-overdue recognition being given to beans. That’s right, beans. They aren’t just for Mexican food anymore (although who are we kidding? Mexican food is life). Beans—or legumes if you want to be all scientific—are chock full of all sorts of healthy things, and thanks to adventurous food lovers, beans can now play a part in some of our everyday favorite eats, including dessert. And yes, chocolate is obviously involved.
1. They’re full of protein
Beans are most commonly known as a plant-based protein source. The legumes with the highest amount of protein are soybeans, packing almost 29 grams into a 1-cup serving. Most beans have between 15-17 grams of protein in a serving, and if you’re trying to replace meat in your meal, just have a little over one cup of legumes, be it lentils, black beans, or chickpeas. If you’re just looking for a healthy munchie, try these roasted chickpeas loaded with turmeric, which should basically be your new best friend.
2. They’re rich in fiber
Believe it or not, prunes are not your only option if you’re finding yourself, well, a little fiber-deprived. Not only does fiber keep your bowels in tip-top shape, but it can also help with weight loss and is overall pretty fantastic. It’s surprisingly easy to incorporate more fiber into your diet, and beans have very high concentrations of fiber, typically 12 to 19 grams per serving. Check out these other high-fiber foods to really amp up your fiber intake.
3. They’re cheap
Possibly the best thing legumes have going for them is how inexpensive they are. By replacing meat with beans you can save big on your grocery bill, and for the most savings consider buying them dry and cooking them yourself. It’s super easy but if you’re still not sure, try this simple Crock-Pot recipe.
By eating more beans, not only do we get lots of protein, fiber, and other important nutrients, but we also get to save some of that cash money (and who doesn’t want that?). If you’re in need of other cheap meal options, look no further.
4. They’re environmentally friendly
Sustainability is an increasingly important issue today, and beans yet again are a superstar in this arena. Legume crops are planted to help stop erosion, and they require much less water per gram of protein than meat products. So next time you’re at the store deciding between hamburger meat or a vegan burger like this one, do your part for the planet and pick the one with legumes.
5. They make killer brownies
To start off with a bang—a bang of chocolate decadence, that is—try making a batch of fudgey (albeit a little spongey) black bean brownies. These babies would be perfect for a post-workout snack thanks to the protein boost from the beans. Plus, dark chocolate has been shown to improve performance during exercise. Check out this study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition to learn more.
6. They’re responsible for peanut butter
Despite the misleading name, peanuts are, in fact, legumes. Peanuts also make one of the most delicious things known to man, peanut butter. It’s cheap, versatile, and tasty as all-get-out, which makes it the perfect college food. Slather some on one of those black bean brownies for a treat that’s the perfect combination of healthy and decadent. Plus, you can never go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter.
7. They make decadent cookies
Who doesn’t love a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven? It’s the essence of everything good in the world wrapped into one experience. For those of us who don’t eat grains, or maybe if you’re just looking for more of a protein-packed treat, these are a perfect option. Use chickpea flour for more of a traditional cookie, or cooked chickpeas for that chewy, melty feel. Really, it’s a win either way.
8. They’re our source of hummus and falafels
Apparently it’s no coincidence that two of the yummiest cuisines—Mexican and Middle Eastern—utilize beans as a main ingredient. Hummus and falafels, two staples in Middle Eastern food, are both traditionally made from chickpeas and are both insanely good. Try getting your daily bean fix from this super easy hummus or make a quick stop to your local Falafel King, although homemade is always better.
9. They brought us aquafaba a.k.a. fake egg whites
No, it’s not meringue. It’s meringue’s cool vegan cousin made with leftover bean water instead of egg whites. Slightly less glamorous, yes, but awesome nonetheless. This bean water, typically from chickpeas, is known as aquafaba and can do all the same things that egg whites can. What a time to be alive. If you feel like trying out these rainbow-colored bites of joy, here’s the recipe.