How to Turn a Can of Beans Into 6 Easy Dinners With 23 Grams of Protein or More

Keep these healthy bean-based dinner recipes in your back pocket for busy weeknights.
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If you have a can of beans in your cupboard, you've got the start of a scrumptious, salubrious supper.

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A great source of filling protein and gut-healthy fiber, beans will satiate your stomach for hours and provide the perfect foundation for a plant-based diet, Amy Gorin, RDN, a plant-based dietitian in the New York City area, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

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"Adding a simple half-cup serving of pulses to your weekly meals three times a week can not only help keep your weight in check but can also help improve your overall health," Gorin says.

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Plus, pulses are very versatile — you can enjoy beans in endless ways from salads to smoothies to purees and pizza toppings, she adds. So put those cans to good use with these healthy canned bean recipes perfect for when you need an easy weeknight meal.

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1. Stewed Cajun Turkey, Red Beans and Oats

Stewed Cajun turkey and red beans provide the bulk of protein in this savory oatmeal bowl.
  • Calories: 458
  • Protein: 30 grams

Between kidney beans and lean ground turkey, this Cajun-inspired oats bowl boasts an impressive 30 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber per serving (which is a hearty two cups).

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Gorin likes that this savory oatmeal is made with low-sodium broth (and no-salt added beans) to decrease the sodium content. But don't worry, this delicious dinner is still full of flavors. From Cajun seasoning to green chilies, these outstanding oats offer a spectrum of spices to liven up your nightly menu.

Get the Stewed Cajun Turkey, Red Beans and Oats recipe and nutrition info here.

2. White Bean and Veggie Soup

This white bean soup serves up a slew of vegetables.
  • Calories: 512
  • Protein: 23 grams

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Gorin loves this satiating soup recipe for its many plant-based ingredients — including white beans, veggies and walnuts — which provide 23 grams of muscle-building protein.

Indeed, eating more plant protein and fewer animal-based products is associated with longevity and reduced risk of all-cause death and heart disease, according to a July 2020 BMJ meta-analysis.

To slash the soup's sodium content, Gorin recommends using no-salt added canned beans. Alternatively, giving your beans a quick rinse before cooking helps to reduce salt, too.

Get the White Bean and Veggie Soup recipe and nutrition info here.

3. Portobello and White Bean Spinach Salad

This spinach salad is supremely satisfying thanks to high-protein white beans.
  • Calories: 564
  • Protein: 24 grams

Think a salad can't be satisfying? A combination of white beans and the super seed quinoa bulks up the protein content to a solid 24 grams for a robust dinner, Gorin says.

Meanwhile meaty mushrooms, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and red onions offer a font of gut-healthy fiber (16 grams per serving) and add to your daily recommended quota of vegetables, she says.

That's especially important since only one in 10 Americans meets the recommended amount of veggies, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. ICYMI, that's two and a half cups a day for women and three cups for men, per the USDA.

Get the Portobello and White Bean Spinach Salad recipe and nutrition info here.

4. Turkey and Cashew Salsa Chili

This healthy homemade chili provides plenty of protein from beans and ground turkey.
  • Calories: 424
  • Protein: 29 grams

Just fifteen minutes from prep to plate, this quick and convenient homemade chili combines kidney beans and lean ground turkey for a tasty, tummy-filling, high-protein dinner.

Chopped cashews add a satisfying crunch and enhance the nutrient profile with thiamin, magnesium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus and copper. For an even healthier bowl of chili, Gorin recommends using no-salt added canned kidney beans to decrease the sodium content.

Get the Turkey and Cashew Salsa Chili recipe and nutrition info here.

5. Quinoa 'Taco' Bowl

This taco bowl combines quinoa, beans and chicken breast for a high-powered, protein-packed meal.
  • Calories: 478
  • Protein: 36 grams

This colorful taco salad combines protein-packed quinoa, black beans and juicy chicken breast with a variety of veggies and satiating healthy fats (creamy avocado and black olives) for a delicious and nutritious nighttime meal.

Tossing out the traditional taco shell in favor of the complex carb quinoa not only adds a complete plant-based protein (and all your essential amino acids), but also way more fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Not to mention, this homemade taco bowl is lightyears better than the processed stuff served at fast food joints. Case in point: Taco Bell's Power Menu Bowl has triple the sodium and 10 fewer grams of protein.

Get the Quinoa 'Taco' Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.

6. Mexican Black Bean and Avocado Oatmeal

This twist on traditional rice and beans features whole grain oats.
  • Calories: 569
  • Protein: 24 grams

Old-fashioned rolled oats replace refined white rice in this healthier spin on traditional rice and beans. With this simple swap, you gain a whole lot of nutrients including several B vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, which supports healthy digestion, weight loss and is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, per the USDA.

While the sodium content is a bit high, Gorin likes that the recipe contains avocado, a source of potassium, which helps balance out the effects of sodium. She suggests using no-salt added black beans instead.

Get the Mexican Black Bean and Avocado Oatmeal recipe and nutrition info here.

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