Cool beans: 5 bean recipes for your next summer barbecue

A bow has lime slices, quinoa, red onion, avocado an chickpeas in it. Also on the table is a green checkered napkin, a fork, a bottle of oil and a bowl of chickpeas.

Not everyone is a fan of beans—they get a bad reputation because they’re not the most glamorous food group and are associated with, um, flatulence.

But don’t dismiss them just yet! They’re an affordable, plant-based protein option that can help keep you full longer. Eating a healthy, plant-based diet can reduce your cancer risk—it’s worth it to diversify your protein sources and opt for some whole food, plant-based options.

Health benefits of beans

Beans are an excellent source of protein, folate (which keeps red blood cells healthy) and antioxidants. They are heart-healthy because they’re high in fiber and low in cholesterol. They can also reduce your risk of cancer because of their anti-inflammatory properties. For those with diabetes, beans can stabilize blood glucose levels. Finally, they reduce the risk of  fatty liver disease (linked to liver cancer) and keep your gut healthy.

How to make them delicious

With a mild taste, beans can go in just about any dish, and you can use the spices and sauces you love to add flavor. If you think you’ve tried every iteration of beans, check out these unique recipes that use them in ways you may not have tried before:

Black beans

This citrusy black bean and shrimp salad has black beans—but that doesn’t mean they’re the star. Unlike a chili or bean burrito recipe, this salad has other ingredients that balance out the black beans. Zesty marinated shrimp pairs with avocado, tomatoes and black beans for a flavorful and healthy salad.

Cannellini beans

Try this smarter spinach artichoke dip, which is a crowd-pleaser that sneaks in beans, Greek yogurt and spinach for a healthy snack. If texture is an issue for you, don’t worry—since this recipe calls for blending the cannellini beans, you probably won’t even notice them!

Pinto beans

Baked beans is a classic BBQ side dish, but the kind you get from a can can contain lots of sugar. Try making homemade baked beans in the oven for a more nutritious dish. The additions of chili flakes and balsamic vinegar add a more complex flavor that you can’t get from the canned version.

Navy beans

Fresh cherry tomatoes come together with garlic, spinach, thyme and navy beans in a unique spin on bruschetta. Serve on toasted or grilled bread brushed with olive oil for the perfect pre-barbecue appetizer. Unlike potato chips, this party snack has protein, making it a heartier option.

Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Add chickpeas, lemon zest and parsley to rice for additional protein, fiber and flavor in a simple side dish. Pro tip: Cook the rice in broth instead of water for added flavor. This is one of the easiest side dishes to pair with your favorite BBQed meal.

Barbecue healthier this summer

This summer and beyond, take your health into consideration by grilling smartly, limiting alcohol consumption and adding nutritious foods to your meals. And, if you were suspicious of beans before, give them a try—you may have just discovered your new favorite dish!

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