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Cooking with kidney beans

With an abundance of fibre and iron, these popular legumes are delicious in soups, spreads and mixed dishes.


Top 5 Ways to use kidney beans more often

1Mashed with potatoes

With a similar colour, texture and consistency, you can add mashed white kidney beans to potatoes for a boost of protein and fibre.

2Blended into a dip

White beans pair well with roasted red peppers, while red kidney beans are lovely with rosemary, garlic and sea salt.


3In chili

Most people think of chili as the perfect dish for kidney beans – and they are right. Their size, shape and mellow flavour are perfectly paired with tomato and chili powder.

4In a burrito

Mix kidney beans with a little salsa, fresh tomato, cheese and avocado, and roll into a whole grain tortilla.

5In bean salad

Yellow and green string beans and red kidney beans create a beautiful salad.


Enjoy kidney beans in these quick and easy dishes

Western chili

Perfect for a cold day, this stick-to-your-ribs chili is spicy, hearty and delicious.

See full recipe

Western Chili

Tofu can replace meat

In this satisfying chili, kidney beans provide the sustenance, and tofu is used to replace meat. Crumbled firm tofu perfectly mimics ground beef – even chili experts won’t notice the difference in the taste or texture! But you’ll know the secret – less saturated fat and cholesterol in this tasty version of chili!

Kidney beans are heart healthy

Like other legumes, kidney beans are very nutritious. They are high in protein and fibre, and are a good source of B-vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium. Combined, these nutrients support cardiovascular health.

Kidney beans are a source of both insoluble and soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps keep the digestive system running smoothly and prevent constipation. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds with cholesterol and carries it out of the body. For this reason, kidney beans – and all legumes – should be part of the diet if you have borderline-high cholesterol levels. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can help prevent heart disease.

Kidney beans' contribution to heart health lies not just in their fibre content, but also in the significant amounts of the minerals magnesium and potassium that these beans supply. They work together to help regulate blood pressure levels. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

These popular beans are named for their distinct kidney shape. They are especially good in simmered dishes like soups and stews, since they absorb the flavors the others foods they are cooked with. When paired with whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa, kidney beans provide high quality protein.


Mexican Rice

Mexican rice

Hot chili flakes and chili power make this dish spicy and full of flavour.

See full recipe


Slash the salt from canned goods

When buying canned tomatoes, corn or kidney beans, look for versions with no added salt. In canned foods, the salt is often used as a preservative rather than a flavour enhancer, and some canned beans can contain up to 1000 milligrams of salt per cup of beans (that’s a lot of salt!). Buy sodium-free canned goods, and add your own salt when preparing and serving. You’ll never add as much as what the can contained.

Use brown rice instead of white rice

To add in more heart-healthy fibre and essential vitamins and minerals, swap the white rice for nutritious brown rice. To keep the 15-minute cook time for the rice, look for a box of par-boiled brown rice, which cooks in 10-20 minutes.


Red or white kidney beans?

If a recipe doesn’t specify which colour kidney bean to buy, ask yourself these two questions:

1

Which colour will look best with the rest of the ingredients? In a thick chili, either will do, but in a salad or broth-based soup, it depends on the other vegetables being used (mostly red? Mostly white?)

2

Are health benefits the deciding factor? If so, choose red. Their darker colour means they carry more antioxidants than their lighter-coloured relatives.

Kidney beans and their cousins like pinto, navy and black beans all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru. Through trading, they eventually spread through South and Central America, Europe and through Africa and Asia. Today, the largest commercial producers of kidney beans are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and the United States.

Kidney beans are commonly available in two formats – dried beans or canned beans. Dry versions can be found in bulk bins, boxed or bagged. Look for beans without any cracks and with no evidence of moisture damage. Store dried kidney beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place for up to a year.

Canned kidney beans can be found in most grocery stores. Look for canned beans with no added salt. Cooked or open canned kidney beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days.


Here’s how to cook dried beans:

1

Spread them out and sort them, removing little stones or damaged beans.

2

Rinse under running water.

3

Presoak by placing beans in a saucepan with two to three cups of water per cup of beans. Boil the beans for two minutes, take pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours.

4

Drain the pre-soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.

5

Cook them on the stovetop. Add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for one-two hours until tender.

They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about half an hour to prepare.


Healthy bite

  • When cooking dried beans from scratch, do not add salt or acid (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.), until after the beans have been cooked. Adding them earlier will make the beans tough and increase the cooking time.
  • Adding 15 to 20 minutes of walking can be as easy as walking to work or taking a lunch time stroll with friends or colleagues.

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