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Legumes and beans should be eaten in moderation. Organic raw cacao powder, nibs or whole beans should be eaten in limited amounts. Dark chocolate (70% or above) should be eaten sparingly.

Food for thought...

  1. How often do you include legumes and beans in your diet?
  2. Have you ever tried incorporating legumes and beans in some of your favorite dishes?
  3. When purchasing canned items such as legumes and beans, why might you want to look for BPA-free cans?
  4. Have you ever tried putting cacao powder or nibs in your coffee, smoothies or other recipes for a delicious chocolate flavor?
  5. Dark chocolate versus milk chocolate - which is healthier? One typically has fewer sugars; less saturated fats, cholesterol, and carbs; and more antioxidants and fiber.
  6. When it comes to chocolate, would you consider switching over to the dark side?
  7. How do you distinguish higher quality chocolate versus lower quality? Have you ever checked the ingredients listed in different brands of chocolate?

The “No-No’s”: What should you steer clear of when it comes to legumes and beans?

  • Avoid canned beans and legumes that are high in sodium, have added oils or added sugars.
  • Avoid legumes and beans cooked in heavy amounts of oils or butters.
  • Avoid milk chocolate.
  • Avoid chocolate with ingredients such as cocoa butter equivalents (CBEs), vegetable or hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

So, what’s okay to eat when it comes to legumes and beans?

Legumes and beans

  • The legume or bean itself - raw or frozen.
  • When purchasing canned beans, look for ones canned in their own natural juices or waterBasically, the only ingredients should be the legume or bean, water and limited amounts of salt.
  • Legumes or beans sautéed or cooked in limited amounts of oil or butter. Refer to the Healthy Fats, Butters and Oils section for an approved list.

Cacao and dark chocolate

  • Raw cacao powder, nib, or whole bean. The benefits of cacao decrease significantly when sugar is added or the cacao is processed.
  • Dark chocolate with high cacao percentages (70% or above)
  • Dark chocolate should contain basic ingredients such as cacao beanscocoa powdermass or liquor, cocoa butter (no other fats), vanilla and less than 10 grams of sugar.

Some of our favorite FULLfood legumes and beans for you to try

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Fava beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Green beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentil beans
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Red beans

Where to find your legumes and beans

  • Check what legumes and beans are in season. When possible, eat local legumes and beans, often found at local farms, farmers’ markets and orchards.
  • Frozen legumes and beans are a great option when seasonal vegetables are not available.
  • Look for canned legumes and beans in BPA-free cans.

FULLfood facts and fun

  • Rinse canned beans before using them if you want to remove excess sodium found in many canned vegetables.
  • Beans and legumes are healthy, high-fiber foods, making them a great addition to your diet. They also contain a fair amount of carbs, so you'll want to watch your portions!
  • Freezing a chocolate bar and eating one small square after dinner is a great way to have dessert without throwing your entire diet off.

Substitutions that are considered FULLfoods

  • Substitute legumes and beans in meals such as soup, rather than using meat.

Tips and preparation

  • Salads: Beans are wonderful in salads. We often use them rather than nuts or croutons.
  • Stuffed peppers: Rather than using rice, use kidney or black beans in your stuffed peppers.
  • Most hot chocolate is filled to the gills with sugar, as well as some not-so-friendly ingredients. Rather than store-bought hot cocoa, try this simple recipe!
    • 1 ½ cups milk, heated
    • 2 teaspoons cacao powder
    • 2 teaspoons honey

Tips when eating out

  • Ask the server to have your beans and legumes prepared with minimal butter or oil.

Action Steps

  1. Add your favorite bean or legume to a dish this week, such as a salad or soup.
  2. If you are like most of us and enjoy eating chocolate, keep it to a minimum and make sure it is dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. Take inventory of the chocolate, if any, that you have in your kitchen and get rid of any “no-no” chocolate.
  3. Start using raw cacao powder or nibs in your coffee, smoothies and recipes for a delicious chocolate flavor.