All About Dried Beans, Peas and Lentils

Dry beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils. Legumes have an assortment of shapes and colors depending on the variety. Some common legume varieties grown in Maine include Yellow Eye, Jacob’s Cattle, Pinto, Soldier, Navy, Black Turtle, and Cranberry beans. Although beans are an inexpensive plant protein, they are often avoided due to needing a long preparation time.

Dry beans, peas, and lentils are unique foods that fit in two MyPlate food groups. They can be considered a protein food or as part of the vegetable group. Cooked dry beans contain 100 to 130 calories per half-cup serving and are a nutritional powerhouse. Dry beans contain protein, carbohydrates, fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals such as iron. Dry beans are also very low in fat and naturally sodium and cholesterol-free.

Dry beans are a great source of dietary fiber. A one-half cup serving of cooked dry beans can contain 6 to 8 grams of fiber. Beans also contain soluble fiber that helps lower unhealthy blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. To reduce gas, add beans to your diet in small amounts (about ¼ cup at a time) so your body can adjust to the increase in fiber over time.

Most beans can be substituted for one another in recipes, but their cooking time may vary. Below are several types of beans and the types of meals and recipes that they are commonly used in.

Type of Bean Meals and Recipes
Black Beans Soups, stews, rice dishes, and Latin American cuisines.
Black-Eyed Peas Salads, casseroles, fritters, and Southern dishes.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) Casseroles, hummus, minestrone soup, and Spanish and Indian dishes.
Cranberry Beans Pasta dishes, soups, and stews
Great Northern Beans Baked beans, pasta dishes, and casseroles
Jacob’s Cattle Soups and stew
Kidney Beans (dark and light red) Stews, salads, chili, and rice dishes.
Lentils Soups, stews, salads, side dishes, and Indian dishes.
Lima Beans and Butter Beans Succotash, casseroles, soups, and salads.
Navy Beans Baked beans, pork, and beans, soups and stews
Pinto Beans Refried beans and Mexican dishes

Source: U.S. Dry Bean Council. Bean Varieties.


By Kate Yerxa, Extension Professor and EFNEP Coordinator