Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy or cheap in today’s world. Finding the perfect balance between good taste, nutritious meals, your food budget and your current fitness goals means compromising more often than not. But what if I told you, you could cook a whole day worth of the best fitness food for just €2.50? Because after a lot of researching and testing, I found my personal MVP: Homemade baked beans.
Why Baked Beans?
Packed with essential nutrients, white beans offer a myriad of benefits for those looking to build or retain muscle. In addition, they are extremely cheap, healthy and need a little planning ahead but very little actual preparation time. Also, I have no problem, eating these almost daily or at any time of the day or night, as it’s also comfort food for me and I do this meal prep about once a week.
There are more reasons why homemade baked beans are a staple in my sports diet. But before we get into the details, here is my fool-proof recipe:
Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans
Soaking time: Overnight
Preparation time: 7 Minutes.
Cooking time: 3 hours.
- 500g dried white beans (e.g., cannellini beans, navy beans) – €0.99
- 1 small onion, chopped – €0.20
- 1 clove of garlic – €0.10
- 400ml of plain tomato sauce – €0.50
- 2 bouillon cubes or stock broth – €0.20
- 3 tablespoons of sugar or molasses – €0.10
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce – €0.15
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar – €0.05
- 1 teaspoon of mustard – €0.05
- 1 pinch of salt – €0.05
- 1 tablespoon of oil – €0.05
- 500ml water
Total cost: €2.44
How to cook baked beans:
- Rinse your dried white beans under cold water and put them in a large pot. Generously cover the beans with cold water and let them soak for about 12–20 hours.
- Drain the beans, rinse again, put aside.
- Add oil, chopped onion, whole garlic (can be removed later) and a pinch of sugar to your pot. Sauté on mid-heat for about 3–5 minutes until they become translucent, fragrant and caramelized.
- Put your beans back in the pot, cover with fresh cold water, add all other ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 3 hours on low heat until the beans are tender.
In the fridge, your beans will stay safe to eat for a maximum of 5–7 days. If you fill them in jars and then cook them in the jars for another 30 minutes, you can even make our own “canned” beans and preserve them for several months.
Other Baked Beans Variations
There are some minor variations to this recipe.
If you don’t like it, or you don’t have it at home, you can definitely get away without vinegar, mustard, garlic are somewhat optional. If you don’t have them, just add a little ketchup. It does a similar job of adding a little sour flavour. Worcestershire Sauce and broth are kind of essential to the original taste in my opinion, so I would recommend buying those.
If you want to make it the dish even healthier, make your own tomato sauce instead of using store-bought paste. Many chefs also prefer the classic way (hence baked beans) of cooking the beans first and bake them later in an oven pan with the other ingredients.
The reason I don’t use any of the variations above is that my goal is to be relatively cheap and quick. To copy the original taste of Heinz beans, you might get better results with those variations.
Either way, as you are able to control the sugar and salt content, your beans will undoubtedly be healthier and tastier than any industrially produced canned baked beans. Even with the generous amount of 3 full tablespoons (60 g) and adding the natural sugar from the tomato sauce (17 g) we only end up with a sugar content of about 3.5 %. That’s 3 times less than store-bought canned baked beans, just to put this into perspective.
Fitness And Health Benefits
- High Protein Content:
Protein is the cornerstone of muscle building and repair, making it an essential nutrient for fitness enthusiasts. Dried white beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, providing an abundance of amino acids necessary for muscle growth. 100 grams of cooked white beans provide approximately 22 grams of protein, which is comparable to many meat-based protein sources. Incorporating homemade baked beans into your meals can help you meet your daily protein needs and support muscle building and recovery. At the same time, they are high in fibre and minerals, making them much healthier to eat on a daily basis.
- Complex Carbohydrates for Sustained Energy:
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, and maintaining optimal energy levels during workouts is essential for muscle building. Dried white beans are rich in complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady release of energy over an extended period. This sustained energy helps fuel your workouts, allowing you to push harder and perform better. Unlike simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugars, complex carbohydrates in homemade baked beans contribute to stable blood sugar levels, promoting sustained endurance and preventing energy crashes.
- Fibre-Rich Goodness:
Fibre is often associated with digestive health, but its benefits extend far beyond that. Homemade baked beans, made from dried white beans, are an excellent source of dietary fibre. Fibre aids digestion, promotes satiety, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Moreover, the fibre content in homemade baked beans slows down the digestion process, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This steady release of energy helps avoid insulin fluctuations and supports a stable metabolism, making it easier to achieve and maintain an ideal body composition.
- Nutrient Powerhouse:
In addition to protein, complex carbohydrates, and fibre, homemade baked beans offer a plethora of essential nutrients. Dried white beans contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron. These nutrients play vital roles in muscle function, energy production, and overall well-being. By incorporating homemade baked beans into your diet, you can boost your nutrient intake, supporting optimal performance and recovery.
- Versatility and Customization:
One of the greatest advantages of homemade baked beans is their versatility. You can customize the recipe to suit your taste preferences and fitness goals. Add spices like cumin or paprika for an extra flavour kick, or toss in vegetables like bell peppers or onions for added nutrients. Moreover, you can control the amount of sodium and other additives, ensuring a wholesome and nutritious meal that aligns with your fitness objectives.
Why Are Beans So Great For Health And Fitness?
When it comes to building or maintaining muscle, a well-rounded diet is key. Homemade baked beans, made from dried white beans, offer a host of benefits for fitness enthusiasts. Packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, and essential nutrients, they provide the perfect balance for muscle development and recovery. By incorporating homemade baked beans into your fitness meal plan, you can fuel your workouts, support optimal performance, and achieve your fitness goals while enjoying a delicious and nutritious meal. So, embrace my take of this breakfast classic and start reaping the benefits of homemade baked beans today.