When it comes to superfoods, you can’t do much better than kidney beans. These little legumes are bursting with vitamins and minerals, as well as being high in protein, fibre and antioxidants. It’s a powerful combination that provides a wealth of benefits.
Potassium and magnesium help to keep your blood pressure under control. Folic acid (B9) is an essential for expectant women or anyone trying to conceive. Fibre helps your body process cholesterol, maintaining your cardiovascular health. And vitamin C helps with all round health, keeping cells in tip top condition and the lurgy away.
Whether you buy them tinned or dried makes no difference, but it you do buy the dried variety beware. Uncooked kidney beans are poisonous, so ensure you prepare them carefully according to the packet instructions.
We’ve put together these three healthy but filling recipes that will go a long way towards your five a day, and which we hope will put a smile on your face and warm you up on those cold autumnal/winter nights. Enjoy them with good company – or a good boxset!
Chilli Con Carne
This dish is more versatile than you may have given it credit for. Depending on what base ingredients you work with, you can easily cater to both carnivores and vegetarians. The spices make for a warming mid-week meal – but a few extra side dishes can jazz it up to be a weekend winner for dinner with friends. Experiment with how much chilli powder and paprika you use, depending on how much heat you can handle. This dish freezes well, so you prepare a stash of healthy, homemade ready-meals.
A few squirts of olive oil spray
250g lean steak mince (you can substitute this with Quorn or extra chunky veggies such as courgettes or carrots for a vegetarian alternative)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 heaped tsp of chilli powder
2 heaped tsp of smoked paprika
1 heaped tsp of paprika
A dash of mushroom sauce (or Worcester sauce)
2 chilli peppers, deseeded and diced, optional
2 peppers, diced
3 celery sticks, diced
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of kidney beans, drained
1tbsp of tomato puree, optional
Brown rice or wholemeal wraps
Sour cream and/or guacamole, optional
Grated cheese, optional
- Set your hob to high and then heat the oil in a pan.Brown the mince or quorn mince and add the onion to soften. If you decide to go with the courgette and carrot veggie option, then add these at the same tie as the onion and cook until soft. You may need to add 1tbsp of olive oil so they don’t stick to the pan.
- Add the garlic, spices and mushroom sauce and give it a good stir so that the mince is coated. Feel free to add or subtract the spices according to your preference.
- Stir in the other diced vegetables and the kidney beans and then add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree (optional). Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook for 20-30 minutes. (Tip – you could make this in advance and instead of simmering on the hob, immediate transfer to a slow cooker for 6-8 hours on a medium heat. This is a particularly good idea if you are preparing ahead of a dinner party).
- Once all of the vegetables have softened and taken on the flavour of the spices, serve with brown rice or wholemeal wraps. Sour cream, guacamole, grated cheese and salsa make good sides if you want to push the boat out or impress your mates/date.
Tuscan Bean Soup
This hearty soup takes inspiration for a traditional Minestrone recipe. It’s lower in carbs than Minestrone but if you want to throw in some wholemeal pasta shapes – then go for it. If you do add pasta then cook it separately to get rid of any starchy residue and then stir into the soup when you’re ready to serve. Alternative a hunk of granary loaf will also complement this wholesome broth. If you’re not keen on chunky soups then you could blitz it in a blender to puree – but if you decide to go in that direction, then we recommend going pasta-free.
A few squirts of olive oil spray or 1tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1 large onion, diced,
2 sticks of celery diced
2 yellow or red peppers, diced
1litre chicken or vegetable stock
1-tbsp tomato puree
1 tin kidney beans, drained
1 tin borlotti beans
3 bay leaves
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a high heat and then add the carrot and potato. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly so that they are evenly cooked and do not stick to the pan.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until they have softened.
- Add the vegetable stock and tomato puree and stir well.
- Add the beans and bay leaves and reduce the heat on the hob to low heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If you are adding pasta to make this a more substantial meal, check the cooking instruction on the packet to check how long you will need to cook it for – probably 10-15 minutes.
- Once all of the vegetables have softened, the soup is ready to serve. Add your cooked pasta now if desired, or serve with a chunky loaf.
Squash & Kidney Bean Pilaff
This dish looks impressive – but it’s so easy to make. It’s packed with plenty of fibre and the butternut squash gives it a nice autumnal feel. You could even replace the squash with pumpkin if you want to get even more seasonal.
A few squirts of olive oil spray or 1tbsp olive oil
1 onion diced
Half a butternut squash, deseeded and diced
125g brown rice
500ml of vegetable stock
1tbs of curry powder
1tbsp of cumin
1/2 can of kidney beans, drained
Coriander, to garnish
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a high heat and then fry the onion and squash for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the brown rice, vegetable stock, curry powder and cumin and mix well. Reduce the heat to cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the kidney beans and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
- Serve in bowls, garnished with coriander.