All About Beans and Lentils

Easy tips to make the most of these ZeroPoint food.
Published January 10, 2018 | Updated November 3, 2022

The world of beans and lentils is huge and exciting. With countless varieties available in Canadian grocery and natural foods stores, farmers markets and CSA boxes have made heritage varietals available to the general public for the first time in years. As ZeroPoint foods, beans and lentils offer an impressive range of nutritional benefits. Very high in soluble fibre, the kind known for reducing LDL cholesterol (also know as “the bad stuff”) beans will keep you feeling fuller, longer. Beans and lentils are also high in vitamin B and contain plenty of important minerals such as iron, zinc, phosphorous, and folate.

Using dried beans

Dried beans are known for their superior taste and texture and for the fact that they’re incredibly cost effective to make. The other thing they’re known for: taking a long time to cook. While dried beans do require plenty of cooking time the process is almost entirely hands off, which means you can put them on the stovetop or in the slow cooker and go do something else. The trick to making amazing beans is soaking the beans in cold water overnight. Not only does this step shorten the cooking time, it also results in silkily soft beans. Drain the beans and place in a large stock pot with plenty of cold water to cover, waiting until the very end to add salt (beans cooked in salted water can turn out tough). Cook the beans for 45 minutes or up to 2 hours depending on the type of bean you’re using (lentils will cook fairly quickly while chickpeas can take upwards of 2 hours). Cooked beans can be kept in the fridge for several days before freezing in resealable bag for up to 3 months.

Make a delicious bean dip

Creamy and ultra-smooth, bean dips are endlessly customizable and come together in minutes with the help of a countertop blender, food processor or immersion blender. Begin with cooked or canned beans, plain nonfat yogurt, and a small drizzle of olive oil. Experiment with flavour combinations such as:

  • Chickpeas with cooked eggplant, tahini, raw garlic, lemon juice, and fresh parsley
  • White beans with roasted red peppers, capers, roasted garlic, and a swirl of tapenade
  • Black beans with steamed sweet potato, smoked paprika, orange zest, and juice
  • Green lentils with sautéed mushrooms, roasted shallots, crème fraiche, and fresh dill

0 Points vegetarian chili

Cooked dried or canned beans make a hearty base for a vegetarian chili that’s been made with other 0 Points foods. Take advantage of all the amazing vegetables included under the WeightWatchers® program, using old and new favourites such as:

  • Corn (roast in a hot oven for extra flavour)
  • Red or yellow onions
  • Peppers (sweet, poblano, serrano, and jalapeño)
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Canned roasted tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Celery

To make it a non-veggie chili, sauté 98% lean ground turkey or chicken breasts with a garlic and onion before adding the remaining vegetables.

Your questions about beans answered

 Why are beans and peas ZeroPoint foods? Beans and peas are pretty carb-heavy.

According to new dietary guidelines, healthy eating patterns include a variety of vegetables from all of the five vegetable subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and others. Because these foods have more naturally-occurring  fibre than other foods, and are filling and nutritious, we want to encourage you to eat them.

 If I buy canned chickpeas and roast them in the oven until they're dry. Is it still considered a ZeroPoint food?

No. When fruits and vegetables have been dried, their calories increase per ounce. Dried vegetables are also easier to overeat, which is why they're not included as a zero Points food. You’ll find the Points value of specific dried foods when you search for them in your digital tools.

Why is hummus not a ZeroPoint food?

Hummus is not a ZeroPoint food because it’s made with ingredients like olive oil and tahini, which have Points values.

Hummus/bean spreads made without oil and tahini ARE ZeroPoint foods.

When making a dip, spread, or mousse with ZeroPoint foods, you only have to track and count the ingredients that have a Points value. When ZeroPoint foods are in this form, we recommend being especially mindful that you're eating until satisfied and not stuffed, as they may be easier to overeat.

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