Nyssa wants you be in the know about BEANS!

The following guest blog post is from Nyssa Collins, the Garden Instructor for an OFL Adult Cooking class at the YWCA in Raleigh. Nyssa is a horticulture major at NCSU, and this is the second session of OFL classes she has taught. Now that our classes at the YWCA are half over, we’ve finally made it through the lesson and cooking with time at the end to sit down and eat together. It hasn’t been easy! We have a small class of about eight wonderful ladies, but it might as well be double; everyone has stories and questions. It turns out that other students have an answer, about just as often as we do, to questions like, “What do I do with my eggplant?” (That we sent with the students in their take-home bags the first week). Last Wednesday, as we ate roasted chicken and greens, I had a question for the group of my own: “Who here eats beans at least twice a week?” Nobody raised his or her hand. “Once a week?” A couple of brave volunteers.

My name is Nyssa Collins, and I am a devout believer in the church of beans. Nobody loves beans like I do. I eat beans three times a day, and then sweet bean dumplings for dessert. Every morning I have a big bowl of bean and vegetable soup, otherwise lunch feels about a million hours away.

Why do I love beans so much?

Beans are a nutritional power food: They are a slow burning carbohydrate that gives a lot of energy for a long time. Beans are the best singular source of cholesterol-lowering fiber – 15 GRAMS in a cup of cooked beans! (Remember, we need between 21 and 35 grams of fiber daily.) The fiber also keeps us full – if you’re trying to lose weight, fill up on bulky beans! They are an important source of trace minerals like potassium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Some beans, like lentils, are the closest plant source to a complete protein and can replace meat in some meals. Other beans need only be combined with a whole grain, dairy, or nut or seed in a meal to make a complete source of protein that our body can use. They are also naturally low in fat and a good source of quality calories.

Beans are very economical. (*Meaning cheap!) A pound of dried beans has about twelve 1/4 cup servings is usually under $3. Buy an even bigger bag or from a bulk bin and the unit price goes down. WAY down. Unlike most items in the center of the grocery store – the snack foods and cereals – beans don’t have a brand name and no one is trying to trick you into buying them. Beans are a staple of the grocery store for their own tried and true virtue.

It is easy to use beans in every day cooking and for every taste. Recipes are plentiful online and …don’t be afraid… in Vegetarian Cookbooks. (But keep in mind beans ARE for meat-eaters too!)

Here are a few of my favorite bean meals and snacks:

Soups – (I cook them all in my crock pot and the leftovers freeze really well.)

  • White Bean and Ground Goat soup with toasted bread
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato soup with sliced avocado, salsa, tortilla chips, and plain yogurt
  • Split Pea and Carrot soup
  • Veggie Chili-any mixed of beans, tomato sauce, barley, corn, squash, broccoli, etc
  • Miso Soup – Miso broth, a few noodles, tofu, and scallions


  • Tofu Salad- Tofu drained and mixed with a little real mayo, Cajun spices, and green apple chunks
  • Bean Pizza-Toast a tortilla, top with hummus or bean spread and cooked vegetables like mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, broiled eggplant, corn, or broccoli
  • Hummus Pita-with fresh, crunchy vegetables
  • Burritos and Tacos-Replace the meat with fat-free refried beans or whole beans

Salads and Appetizers

  • White Bean, Garlic, Avocado, Diced Bell Pepper, and Crab or Tuna
  • Mix beans or hummus with vinegar and a little oil for a salad dressing
  • Make your own hummus or bean dip, or enjoy a prepared one, with fresh vegetable sticks and whole grain crackers or chips
  • Roasted Chickpeas – Sprinkle with cumin OR chili powder and light sugar and put under the broiler, tossing often, until beans are dried and crunchy. This is a snack food that will fill you up! (Or mix into salads)


  • Shepherds Pie – Replace ground meat with lentils and layer on the root vegetables and mashed potatoes, topped with cheese
  • White Bean Pie – with caramelized onion and whole grain crust, or no crust!
  • Enchiladas or Enchilada casserole – roll up or layer beans, vegetables, cheese, tortillas, and enchilada sauce
  • Baked Beans – bake canned beans with honey (or try it with a little beer!)

Now you know all my bean secrets, so I hope you’ll think of me when you eat beans this week! Also post comments if you have your own great bean recipes or any delicious variations to mine!