Beans and legumes are a great source of protein, rich in fiber, and B vitamins. They have a ton of health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels, and promoting healthy gut bacteria.

They also can be kept for years if stored properly and are great for a quick meal if you have them canned! If you have dried varieties, you need to plan to soak them ahead of time. Luckily, Whole Foods Market’s Guide to Beans helps to navigate cooking times.

Here are our favorite beans and recipes that you can use to bring out beans’ natural flavors or explore international flavors in your kitchen!

Make sure to include the kids in the learning process by downloading our Better Bites on Beans and Healthy Dips.

Garbanzo Beans

Also known as chickpeas, garbanzo beans are used all over the world in cuisines from the Mediterranean to India. One cup of these beans can provide 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber, and 71% of the daily recommended amount of folate.

Garbanzo beans are a staple ingredient in this Homemade Hummus recipe in our Healthy Teachers and Healthy Food Service Programs; you can also add a cup of roasted red peppers for some variety. This Tangy Bean Salad can even be wrapped using a pita or tortilla for a quick snack.

This Not-Tuna Salad is a family staple for us! Served on toast with tomato and pickle, you will be shocked at how similar the flavor is to the real thing.

Travel to India with this chef-inspired Chana Masala and Crazy Curry Bowl we created for schools in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America.

Black and Pinto Beans

Two favorite beans that sometimes can be interchanged are pinto and black beans. The pinto is a very popular bean in Mexico and is used whole, mashed and fried! The black bean, although very different in flavor, is sometimes used the same way in Mexican cooking, but is most popular in Central and South America.

Southwestern-inspired dishes like Black Bean and Roasted Corn Pasta Salad, Corn, Black Bean and Tomato Salad and the protein-rich Southwestern Couscous Salad are sure to keep the family happy with familiar flavors and textures. A couple of additional crowd-pleasing recipes include Layered Salad in a Jar and Black Bean Dip.

Cannellini Beans

Although they are a favorite in Italian cuisine, these wonderful white beans can be added to a variety of dishes, including pasta, puréed into a creamy dip or sauce, or atop a salad for extra protein.


Most people are familiar with edamame in the shell served at sushi restaurants and steamed with coarse salt, but did you know that edamame is a soybean that is harvested early? Soy is in all kinds of foods, including tofu, soy milk, and even flour. Edamame are excellent on a stir fry or in an easy bean salad.