Apr 04, 2019 / by Jon Bellis / No Comments

We recently wrote about the pros and cons of a vegan diet. One of the concerns with veganism is getting enough protein to support the body’s protein needs, including the maintenance of muscle tissue. A particular challenge is constructing meals which contain complete proteins containing all 9 essential amino acids.

One well known example of a vegan meal that contains complete proteins is beans on toast. Separately, beans and toast are each missing one essential amino acid. Together they are complete.

Baked beans are good hearty fodder. There’s plenty of protein, lots of fibre and they are slow to digest, keeping you full for longer. But check the label and you’ll see the third ingredient, after beans and tomatoes, is sugar, and at 2.4g of salt per can, they are very salty too. And if you check out their nutrient content on nutritiondata.self.com, you’ll see they are relatively low in nutrients considering they have beans and tomatoes in them.

Whenever you eat anything you have an opportunity to provide your body with goodness, with nutrients to nourish your body and help it thrive. Are baked beans good for you? They’re not bad compared to a lot of the other processed foods out there. Could you do better? Absolutely you could!

In this recipe we are ramping up the nutrients and the goodness on a family favourite and teaching you how to make baked beans from scratch. It’s baked beans, but not as we know it.

To make baked beans from scratch, you’re going to need

  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 cloves of crushed garlic as preferred
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin of butter beans
  • Tomato Puree for a more tomato-y taste if required.

The great thing about making baked beans from scratch is that you can add or take away ingredients to suit your taste. And for some of the ingredients there is a potential swap out: haricot beans for butter beans, passata for tinned tomatoes, leeks for…. well, whatever you like, pick a vegetable! The main thing is that you can make baked beans from scratch however you like, with probably the only required ingredients being tomatoes in some form and, of course, some sort of beans.

But we’re talking about this recipe so… here’s what to do

  • Place the diced onion, sliced leek and crushed garlic in a frying pan.
  • Pour in enough hot water to cover and cook until soft.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil.
  • Add the paprika and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the butterbeans and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Add tomato puree if required and simmer for another 2 minutes.

Voilà. Baked beans from scratch – easy-peasy, and there isn’t too much attention required so you can leave it and go and do something else between each visit back to the pan.

This set of ingredients will make two substantial portions or four smaller portions. Essentially, you’ve made enough to cover four pieces of toast, but it also goes well with pretty much anything. The entire pan contains:

  • 428 calories
  • 2.4g fat
  • 78g carbs
  • 23g protein
  • 14g fibre

So, you’d be getting 214 calories each from this dish if you split it between 2 people. How does this compare with popular brands? If you split a tin of commercial baked beans between two, you’d typically get 162 calories, less fibre, less protein, more salt, more sugar but less carbohydrate! But you’re also getting a much smaller portion – 430g for this recipe versus 208g for the commercial brands. Guess which one is going to fill you up for longer and provide more health-giving nutrients? If you wanted the same size portion of commercial baked beans – 430g – it would cost you 335 calories versus 214 for this recipe.

So which nutrients are you getting if you make baked beans from scratch? Good amounts of vitamins A, C, K and B6 plus niacin, folate, lutein and thiamine. But by far the most abundant nutrient in this dish is lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that may provide sun protection, have benefits for heart health and reduce the risk of some cancers. Interestingly, there is a lot more lycopene in tinned tomatoes and purees than there is in fresh tomatoes. Only some of these nutrients are present in commercial baked beans and only then in much smaller quantities.

So not only is this recipe quick, super tasty and filling, it’s also chock-full of health-giving nutrients. Go on, give your health a boost and make your baked beans from scratch.

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