As a Natural Chef and Nutrition Coach, I use nutrition guidance alongside cooking tips to help folks embed healthy, sustainable eating into their everyday lives.

Since I rarely eat meat, beans are one of my most cherished ingredients. But let’s face it, beans have a bad rap. Perceived ideas of embarrassing digestive disturbances are embedded into our modern culture, even though these humble yet mighty legumes have been a staple in kitchens around the globe for centuries.

I truly believe beans have the potential to turn our personal and planetary health around, so when I came across the Beans is How campaign I was instantly sold. I wax lyrical to clients, corporations and anyone who will listen, about the versatility, affordability, nutrition, and climate friendliness of beans, and just how easy they are to add to our diets.

However, there are some negative associations with beans and their after effects, especially in the UK where we don’t have a cultural history of beans in our diets (apart from baked beans on toast of course).

Read on as I challenge some common myths while sharing the best ways to cook these lovely legumes.

Myth #1: Beans Cause Digestive Issues 

While it’s true that beans contain lectins which can sometimes lead to flatulence, this only happens for a minority of people. Soaking your dried beans before cooking can help reduce the ill effects. Plus, gradually increasing your bean intake allows your digestive system to adapt. Embrace the magic of beans without fearing the aftermath!

Myth #2: Canned or Tinned Beans Are Less Nutritious


Contrary to popular belief, canned beans can be just as nutritious as their dried counterparts. In fact, the canning process may even enhance the bioavailability of certain nutrients. However, be mindful of the salt content in tinned beans.

Myth #3: Beans Are High in Calories


Beans are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Contrary to the misconception that they are high in calories, beans are a great ally in weight management because they are a complex carbohydrate and are digested more slowly than simple carbs. Their high fibre content also helps you feel fuller for longer. So, don’t shy away from beans if you’re watching your calorie intake—embrace them as a nutrient-dense addition to your meals.

Best Cooking Practices:

Soaking: Before cooking dried beans, soak them overnight to reduce cooking time and minimise the gas-producing compounds. If you’re short on time, a quick soak followed by a 10 minutes boil and then letting them sit for an hour can also be effective.

Rinsing: Whether using canned or soaked beans, always give them a thorough rinse. This not only reduces sodium levels but also helps eliminate some of the lectins.

Seasoning: Enhance the flavour of your beans with a variety of herbs and spices. Garlic, cumin, paprika and chilli can transform a simple dish into a culinary delight. 

Pairing: Combining beans with grains like brown rice, quinoa or wholewheat creates a complete protein, ensuring you get all essential amino acids. This makes for a nutritionally balanced and satisfying meal.

Buy pre-cooked: The simplest option is to buy pre-cooked beans in tins or cartons! These are high heat treated and cooked, removing the potential for poor digestion.

Boost your Bean Intake:

Let’s embrace the humble pulse! One idea I recommend to my clients involves simply adding them into your existing repertoire of meals (while reducing the meat). 

Try chickpeas in curries and soups, lentils in veggie stews and don’t forget the mighty pea as an addition to rice or grains to increase the nutrient and flavour profile of the dish!

Below are some bean-based meal ideas for every meal of the day.  

Bean-based brekkies: 

Beans lend themselves well to brunch affairs. Try a wholegrain Mexican wrap with black beans, peppers and feta cheese, or a one-pan egg, tomato and beans served up with some crusty sourdough. 

Lunchtime legumes:

Soups, salads, sandwiches – beans make lunch less boring! Try coronation chickpeas for a veggie take on the classic sandwich filling. Add legumes to any soup, bought or home cooked, to up the nutrients and make it way more satiating. Adding beans to salads or making your own dip to have on the side with some pitta breads are all easy to do (see ‘beans on the side’ below). 

Snack attacks:

For a savoury snack, roast some chickpeas with some spices and a little oil. 

Dinner delights:

Dahl darling! Dahl is a weekly staple in my house – add a fried egg on top to up the protein content or have it as a side dish with your curry! 

Chickpea, spinach and potato coconut curry with brown rice; Aubergine and lentil Mediterranean stew with bulgar wheat; Bean chilli bowl; Mushroom, lentil and rosemary ragu with wholewheat spaghetti; Butter bean and mushroom bourguignons – these are all regular occurrences in my kitchen and make great dinners, always with leftovers to save for a quick dinner another night. 

Sweet bean treat:

Think black bean chocolate brownies, chickpea peanut butter cookies or use lentil or chickpea based flours in place or addition to normal grain flours for baking. 

Beans on the side:

Mix kidney beans or peas into your rice, create a flavourful three-bean salad with sweetcorn, peppers and coriander or puree your pulses with your own take on the humble houmous. Get your food processor out and combine white beans with roasted spiced cauliflower, tahini and lemon.

Fear flatulence no more! Beans are a versatile, nutritious, and delicious addition to your diet. By debunking some common myths and adopting smart cooking practices, you can fully enjoy the benefits of beans without worrying about any ill effects. 

Remember, beans are not only mega nutritious, but they are great for our planet too. And they are super affordable. It really is a win-win situation. So, grab your apron, get cooking, and let the magic of beans unfold in your kitchen. 

And be sure to join us in ensuring more #beansonthemenu by taking a look at my recipes for Comforting mushroom and lentil ragu with wholewheat spaghetti and One pan egg, tomato and beans below.

See who’s putting #beansonthemenu