The power of beans, peas and lentils

Photo Credit: Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum

Dry beans, peas and lentils all come from the same family known as Pulses.  They are high in fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium and zinc.  These small powerhouses can be used as a protein source for vegetarians and vegans or for your “Meatless Monday” dish.  They are easy to prepare and delicious to eat! You can purchase them dried, canned or even frozen.   They are incredibly versatile and can be used as a main dish, side dish, dip or even in a dessert — black bean brownies, anyone?

Some common pulses include black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans.  Also included are chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), red and yellow lentils, black-eyed peas and green peas.  One half cup serving will provide approximately seven-nine grams of protein and six-eight grams of fiber.  Beans are also less expensive than beef.  A pound of lean ground beef will cost approximately $5.12.  A pound of pinto beans will cost $1.49.  It’s also good to note that a pound of meat will lose 1/4 of its weight where beans will increase its yield through the soaking process.  Pulses have a load of nutrients and are much less expensive than animal proteins.

Fiber is one of our most overlooked, but important nutrients as it helps slow our digestion, slow the rise in our blood sugar, lower cholesterol, feed our “good gut” bacteria and help with our elimination.  Gassy, you say? Soaking beans and then rinsing the water helps lower the effect as well as draining and rinsing canned beans.  You can decrease the “gassy” effect by soaking and rinsing, then draining the water.

They are easily grown and have a lower carbon footprint than other forms of protein.  They use less water to produce than animal forms of protein. When used in a meatless meal once a week, they can help the environment.

Try this extremely easy recipe for lunch or a side dish!  You may already have most or all these ingredients right now.  This is very adaptable, and items can be switched for what you have on-hand.

The easiest 3 sisters salad on earth!


15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz can of corn, drained and rinsed

1 small zucchini cut into bite sized pieces

1 small yellow squash cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup red onion for cold dish (yellow onion for warm dish) diced

2 t olive oil for warm dish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions to serve cold:

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together and top with your favorite dressing*,

Stir to coat and enjoy!

*you can top with one of these or make your own:

Italian dressing


Green chili salsa

Small can of ro-tel tomato with chili

Directions to serve warm:

Sautee onions and squash in olive oil until just tender, add remaining ingredients and continue to sautee until heated through.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

You can use any kind of bean, you can add avocado, cilantro, feta cheese or whatever sounds good to you! Be creative and enjoy!

Nutrition information for salad without dressing:  Serving size 1 cup; 95 Calories, 244 mg Sodium,          20 g Carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 5 g protein, 2 mg iron, 361 mg potassium. Serves 8-10.

To top