We all know the importance of a balanced diet with lots of different foods – but when was the last time you saw beans on your plate outside of a Sunday fry-up?
Beyond the late-night snack of beans on toast, the jacket-potato-and-beans staple, or the way to sneak vegetables onto kids’ plates, beans (and not just the baked kind) are a fantastic source of key nutrients.
They come in more shapes, sizes and colours than most of us realise, making them a great way to add a bit of variety to dozens of dishes. Let the Birds Eye experts guide you through the best of beans…
Beans, beans; good for…protein!
We’re serious – there’s a high level of protein in beans, which is one of the body’s building blocks. We need protein to create new cells, which not only helps kids as they grow, but also helps us older beans maintain our bodies and repair damage.
Being high in protein, beans are a great option for vegans and vegetarians.
Other nutrients squirrelled away in beans can include iron, fibre and a number of vitamins and minerals (depending on which bean). And whether you’re a meat-eater or not, using beans can bring new flavours to a dish and help bring costs down – great for the bean-counters of the family!
Try adding or swapping in beans to a family favourite, or check out some of our best bean recipes for inspiration.
The Different Types of Beans
There are more than 40,000 different types of bean, most of which aren’t edible. Of the ones that are though, we’ve got our favourites:
This vibrant, folic acid rich bean tastes as fresh as it looks. You might not know it, but the grown-up version of this bean is the one in your fry-ups!
Queen bean for: Salads, sides and great fish dishes.
This deep purple chap is the best bean to eat with meat, but its smoky flavour when cooked is all its own.
Queen bean for: Chilli con carne (with or without meat!).
A colourful bean that doesn’t get enough recognition in cooking! It’s got all the fibre you’d expect of any self-respecting bean.
Queen bean for: Spicing up a family favourite, like spaghetti Bolognese (well, it is Italian).
The top bean of Italian cuisine, this meaty maestro is also packed full of fibre.
Queen bean for: Slow-cooked stews and as a meat substitute.
The small bean with big ambitions – it names calcium and iron amongst its benefits.
Queen bean for: Full-flavoured, spicy dishes – this bean can handle the heat!
Fry it, mash it, stick it in a stew…this versatile pulse (it’s part of our bean family) can do pretty much anything! Rich in protein, it forms the basis of a lot of vegetarian products – like these homemade veggie burgers – but is a winner in its own right too.
Queen bean for: Curries, soups and casseroles.
Why frozen beans?
We’ve been through all the options, and we know where we stand – frozen fits the bill! Not only does freezing vegetables help them last longer (which helps us all keep food waste down), it locks in nutrients, too – the best of both worlds. Freezing doesn’t need any preservatives, and frozen beans won’t degrade the way that fresh ones do.
Even better, our bean mixes have been around the block once already, so there’s no soaking needed. Simply take them straight from the freezer, pour, and then cook either in the microwave or by boiling them.
Bean there, done that? Brand new bean recipe inspiration
Give beans a chance and show us your best recipe!
If you’re stuck for inspiration, look no further than our hearty recipes page. Whether you’re looking to replace your meat or create a stunning side dish, Birds Eye helps you eat in full colour.