Easily Upgrade Your Dried Beans By Adding Some Flavorful Meats

Beans are a very healthy vegetable, packed with vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and protein. Most beans are also low in fat and sugar, making them a good choice for people who are trying to maintain a healthy weight or reduce their risk of heart disease. The recommended serving size for beans can vary depending on factors such as age, sex, body size, and activity level. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to the Bean Institute, recommend that adults consume 1 to 1.5 cups of beans per week as part of a healthy eating pattern.

In addition, people who are looking to reduce their intake of animal-based protein sources may choose to eat more beans as a plant-based alternative. If you are a meat-eater, though, and you want to add more beans to your diet, you can spruce up your next pot of beans with meat. There are many meats that can be added to beans to create delicious and flavorful dishes. 

Meats that pair well with beans

Beans are a great food to add to many dishes to make a whole meal, such as chili with beans or Cajun style red beans and rice, but you can add extra flavor to your side dishes of beans with meats. Create a smoky flavor and a crispy texture to a bean dish by adding bacon, while ham adds a rich and salty flavor to almost any type of bean. Want something a little spicier? Add a spicy sausage or chorizo! Ground beef is good for giving your beans a hearty flavor, and chicken adds a lighter flavor and more texture.

When adding meats to beans, it's important to consider the cooking time for the beans and the meat. For example, bacon can be cooked quickly, while pork shoulder may require a longer cooking time, so it's best to cook the meats, especially pork, before adding them to the beans so that you can ensure the meat is cooked all the way through. Additionally, meat that is cooked ahead of time will be more flavorful than meat that is cooked with the beans.  

Vegetarian bean add-ins

One of the best parts of beans, though, is that they are a high-protein vegetarian food regardless of meat add-ins. If you are trying to cut out meat from your diet, adding meat to beans will defeat that goal, but there are many ingredients that you can add to beans to enhance their flavor and nutritional value while keeping them vegetarian. For example, adding other vegetables to beans can add more color, flavor, and nutrients. Some good options include onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, and spinach. Adding grains, like rice, quinoa, or barley, to your beans can also make the dish more filling. Additionally, they can also provide additional fiber and protein.

Finally, don't forget the herbs and spices. Whether you are keeping your beans vegetarian, or if you are adding meat to your beans, herbs and spices add depth of flavor and can help reduce the need for added salt. Try cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano, thyme, and parsley to give your beans a little added flavor. Want to add some spice to your legumes? Add a few dashes of hot sauce and turn up the heat!