Food – The Beauty of Beans

“If we plan wisely, that which is most conducive to health can be secured in almost every land. The various preparations of rice, wheat, corn, and oats are sent abroad everywhere, also beans, peas, and lentils. These, with native or imported fruits, and the variety of vegetables that grow in each locality, give an opportunity to select a dietary that is complete without the use of flesh meats.” Counsels for the Church, 377.

Beans are one of the least expensive forms of protein. They are high in fiber and low in fat and come in a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. Beans can be enjoyed in every kind of dish from a dip or a salad to stews and soups to hearty main courses. In Asia, sweetened red beans are dessert—they are used to fill pastries and even make ice cream.

adzuki beans

These small, dark red beans are slightly sweet and creamy when cooked. They are the basis for sweet red bean paste used in Asian desserts.

black beans (turtle beans, frijoles negros)

Black beans are a staple of Latin America dishes. Their strong, earthy flavor and firm texture help them stand out in soups, salads and all sorts of side dishes.

cannellini beans (white kidney beans)

Mild-tasting meaty cannellinis are often used in minestrone soup and other Italian dishes.

chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

The versatile chickpea has an almost buttery flavor and is a nutritional powerhouse with over 80 nutrients, plus plenty of fiber and protein. Many classic vegetarian dishes, including hummus and falafel, are based on the versatile chickpea.

kidney beans

Kidney beans are full-flavored and retain their kidney shape even with long cooking times. They are usually the bean of choice for chili or cold salads. They come in dark red, light red, pink or white.


Lentils cook quickly and are often served puréed. The most common varieties are brown and red, but for a larger selection explore the many different kinds used in Indian or Middle Eastern cuisines.

lima beans (butter beans)

Pale green limas are starchy and satisfying. If you’ve had only canned, give them another chance. Their rich buttery flavor holds up better when they’re fresh or frozen.

pinto beans

Speckled beige beans with darker streaks, pintos are used for refried beans, chili and many Mexican recipes. Unfortunately their pretty markings—pinto means painted in Spanish—turn a dull pinkish beige after cooking.

white beans (Great Northern, navy beans)

These mild, meaty beans are favorites in casseroles, stews and soups.

The Vegetarian Bible, Publications International, Ltd., Lincolnwood, Illinois, 2011, 22.