ZeroPoint food spotlight: a closer look at beans and lentils

How to cook with pulses, plus over 30 recipes to get you started!
Published January 17, 2023

Filling, highly nutritious, and inexpensive, beans and lentils are so much more than just a basic pantry staple. Plus, on WeightWatchers they are a ZeroPoint food, meaning you don’t need to weigh, measure, or track them! Read on to discover the health benefits of pulses and some of our best tips for incorporating them into a wide variety of recipes.

Bean Fast Facts

  • Beans are considered pulses, an umbrella term that includes chickpeas, lentils, and dried peas in addition to beans.
  • Beans, dried peas, and lentils are all good sources of dietary fibre, protein, iron, and folate.
  • Lentils, white beans, edamame, and split peas are especially high in protein, with one cup of cooked pulses containing between 16 and 18 grams.
  • Canned beans and lentils are convenient, economical, and share the same nutritional profile as their dried counterparts.
  • Pulses have a low glycemic index, which means that blood sugar levels won’t spike after you eat them.
Add Beans to Soup, Stew, and Chili Recipes

A familiar foundation for soup and chili recipes, beans add texture and bulk to myriad recipes. For the recipes listed below, both canned and cooked-from-scratch beans can be used. If using dried beans, cook them in a separate pot of water, drain, and then add to the recipe. Not only do dried beans absorb a lot of water as they cook, but they might also not soften when simmered in liquid that contains tomatoes or other acidic ingredients.

Make a more satiating salad with beans

A can of beans, lentils, or chickpeas is all it takes to transform a basic salad into a filling meal. Beans are a robust salad ingredient and stay fresh for several days in the fridge, even when an acidic dressing has been added. To prevent watery salads, we recommend using canned beans that have been rinsed with cold water and then drained. We love using white or black beans in these recipes, which act as a blank canvas for any manner of salad ingredients and vinaigrettes.

Make your own veggie burgers with beans

Beans provide a familiar meaty mouthfeel to veggie burgers, falafel, and plant-based meatballs. Whether you take a minimalist approach to homemade veggie burgers or you like to add plenty of aromatics, beans will take on the flavour of any ingredient that comes their way. A food processor makes quick work of these recipes, just remember to scrape down the sides between pulses so that all of the ingredients are uniform in size. While these recipes are simple in terms of prep, remember that bean burgers and other vegetarian patties have a habit of breaking apart when moved around. To prevent breakage from happening, chill the formed burgers in the fridge for at least an hour and try to keep any movement during the cooking process to a minimum.

Start the day with beans for breakfast

From burritos to refried beans with eggs, beans play a starring role in the following breakfast recipes. Packed with fibre and a good source of protein, beans are a filling and nutritious way to begin the day. Canned refried beans are a game-changer and can pull a simple meal of eggs and salsa together in seconds. When purchasing refried beans, look for fat-free no sugar added varieties; use leftover canned refried beans within two days or freeze them for up to six months in a tightly sealed container or freezer bag.