To Bean or Not to Bean?

By September 25, 2018Nutrition Education

OFS staffer Katie Jackson, RDN, LD takes you more in-depth into the world of beans. What makes them essential to a healthy diet and provides an easy black bean enchilada soup recipe.

Beans: we’ve all heard of them and maybe even tried them, but have we ever investigated what makes beans an important part of a healthy diet? Before we dive into the benefits, let’s discuss where they stem from. Beans are considered a type of pulse, which are members of the legume family. Pulses are the edible seed inside bean pods; think: chickpeas, beans, lentils and split peas. These pulses are nutritional powerhouses, play an important role in overall health, and are affordable and environmentally friendly. What more could we want from our food?!

Nutritionally, these little guys are packed with nutrients. They are a great source of plant-based protein, providing up to 9 grams of protein per ½ cup serving. Also, they are low in sodium, and high in fiber, iron and potassium. These nutritious benefits contribute to overall health and chronic disease prevention. The protein and fiber content of pulses aid in keeping us full, which will assist in maintaining a healthy body weight. Fiber also has a role in controlling blood sugar levels, making these foods friendly for those with diabetes. Pulses are also great for heart health! They have shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

As if the nutritional and health benefits aren’t enough, pulses are also highly affordable and sustainable for the earth. In the U.S. a serving of pulses will cost approximately $0.10/serving. To put this into perspective, a serving of beef may cost roughly $1.49/serving. When feeding a family, these savings will add up fast! To top it all off, the earth likes pulses, too! They act as natural fertilizers to the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. They also require less water and can survive through droughts and harsh weather environments.

So, pulses are good for us, good for the earth AND affordable?! This is a grand slam. Let’s all try to eat 1 ½ cups pulses every week and we can start with this delicious and easy black bean enchilada soup recipe!

Black Bean Enchilada Soup


  • 2 t oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 14 oz can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 14.5 oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 4 oz can fire-roasted green chiles
  • 1 8 oz bag dried black beans
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted corn, drained
  • 32 oz chicken or vegetable broth
  • Optional toppings: cilantro, avocado, cheese, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream


  1. Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add chili powder and cumin and stir.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours or until black beans are soft. Season to taste and serve with desired toppings.

Recipe adapted from The Wicked Noodle found on

-Katie Jackson, RDN, LD
Operation Food Search

Leave a Reply