Can you name a dish that is actually known to cause heated discussions around the country? Not only does this dish cause quite the controversy, but it’s been stated as “embracing the highly individualistic traits of America’s heritage through its infinite varieties, highly personalized blending of ingredients and many adaptive uses.”

Any guesses to what dinner dish this statement could be referring to?

That’s right — chili.

Along with an assortment of different meats and spices, one ingredient often associated with chili is beans. Beans are a staple in many chili cook-of dishes along with being a key component in many vegan diets due to their high protein profile.

What Are Beans and Why Aren’t They Low Carb or Keto Friendly?

Beans are seeds that stem from the legume family. While some crops don’t require particular temperatures to grow, beans are specifically a summer crop. After being planted, beans take about 55 to 60 days to mature, with the beans inside the main bean pod turning from green to the mature color you see in the store.

When it comes to beans, there are several different types. Black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans are a few of the more popular beans heard of today. While they each have their differences, they all offer some serious health benefits.

For instance, black beans are abundant in key compounds such as folate, manganese, magnesium, thiamin, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium and zinc. However, when it comes to their carb count, they are a bit too high to be included in a low carb or keto diet. One cup of cooked black beans is a total of 227 calories including less than one gram of fat, 40 grams of carbs, 25 grams of net carbs, 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein.

Pinto beans provide several health benefits as well. They have the ability to help reduce heart disease, help fight diabetes and may even help to lower the risk of certain cancers. Originating from Brazil, these beans are extremely high in carbs. One cup of raw pinto beans contains 670 calories including 121 grams of carbs, 91 grams of net carbs, 30 grams of fiber, 41 grams of protein and only two grams of fat.

Like their fellow beans, kidney beans are another strong source of protein that unfortunately are too high in carb content to be considered low carb or keto friendly. A one cup serving of cooked kidney beans contains a total of 219 calories including less than one gram of fat, 40 grams of carbs, 24.5 grams of net  carbs, 16.5 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein.

4 Low Carb Substitutes for Beans

So maybe these few types of beans are loaded with carbs, don’t let that scare you away. There are plenty of low carb bean options as well as keto-friendly substitutes you can use instead. Some of these low carb substitutes to beans include:

  1. Eden black soybeans
  2. White kidney beans
  3. Sprouted soybeans
  4. Enoki mushrooms

#1: Eden Black Soybeans

Low Carb Bean Substitutes

Image: Eden Black Soybeans

Eden black soybeans are among one of the most popular beans for individuals following any kind of low carb diet. These soybeans are family-farmed and all organic, soaked overnight in purified water with no chemicals or artificial ingredients.

One serving (about a half a cup) makes up a total of 120 calories, including six grams of fat, eight grams of carbs, one gram of net carbs, seven grams of fiber and eleven grams of protein.

Yep, you read that correctly — only one gram of net carbs per serving.

Along with being low carb and keto friendly, these beans provide some key micronutrients. Some of the different vitamins and minerals these low carb beans provide include vitamin A, calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, folate and thiamin.

#2: White Kidney Beans

Low Carb Bean Substitutes

Image: White Kidney Beans

While regular kidney beans are rather high in carb count, white kidney beans are a different story. Originally from Central and South America, these beans are abundant in fiber, protein and numerous vitamins and minerals.

White kidney beans are rich in fiber as well as abundant in vitamin B1, vitamin B9 and several key minerals. One serving (about a half a cup) of these beans contains a total of 110 calories, half a gram of fat, twelve grams of net carbs and eight grams of protein. Twelve grams of net carbs per serving is a bit higher than some individuals following a low carb diet may be comfortable with. However, as long as your carb count for the rest of the day including the one serving of white kidney beans is below 20 to 50 grams, you should be able to maintain a ketogenic state without any worry.

#3: Beanless Refried Beans

Low Carb Bean Substitutes

Image: Beanless Refried Beans

If you’re still craving a low carb bean dish without actually consuming any beans, you’re in luck. There are several low carb dishes out there today can satiate that craving. One of these dishes includes a low carb beanless refried beans dish.

To create this dish you’ll need zucchini, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin powder, salt, black pepper, chia seeds, almond butter (or another organic nut butter), apple cider vinegar, oregano, chia seeds, beef tallow and you can top it off with a shredded cheese of your choice.

To make this low carb bean dish substitute, start off with melting some beef tallow in a an over medium heat. If you don’t have beef tallow, bacon grease is a great option as well. Add chopped up zucchini, garlic and onion to the pan and cook for about ten minutes. This should give the dish the same texture as cooked beans. Next, add the nut butter, chia seeds and oregano, along with any additional seasonings of your choice. Once cooked, take the pan off the heat and top with shredded cheese.

This dish in particular makes up a total of four servings. Each serving contains a total of 133 calories including around ten grams of fat, eiht grams of carbs, three and a half grams of net carbs and three grams of protein.

#4: Enoki Mushrooms

Low Carb Bean Substitutes

Image: Chicken and Enoki Mushroom Stir Fry

If you’re not looking for a whole dish to use but simply another low carb substitute that resembles the texture of cooked beans, mushrooms are a great option. While mushrooms give off a natural meaty, umami taste, they also have the ability to absorb many flavors along with providing a long list of health benefits.

The enoki mushroom resembles bean sprouts with it’s funky shape. Like beans, enoki mushrooms are available fresh and canned while being the perfect addition to soups and salads. One cup of these mushrooms contains a total of 24 calories including less than one gram of fat, five grams of carbs, about three grams of net carbs and almost two grams of protein. With only three grams of net carbs, these mushrooms are guaranteed to fit perfectly within the standards of your low carb or ketogenic diet. However, that’s not the only benefit of this low carb bean substitute.

Enoki mushrooms also provide a number of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B9 (folate).

While certain beans aren’t necessarily bad for you, they may be a bit too high in carb content for individuals following a low carb or ketogenic diet. With these satiating low carb alternatives, there’s no limit to the variety of different bean dishes you can make. Do yourself a favor and try one of these low carb bean substitutes today to feel satiated while getting all the key health benefits they provide.


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