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The marvellous benefits of baked beans and some quick lunch ideas

At school I was a strange child.

A strange child who always used to ask for "a plate of baked beans please," at the school canteen. I became well known to the school dinner ladies. They used to find it fascinating that I only ever wanted a plate of baked beans for lunch.

"Here she comes! " they would exclaim.

"It's the baked beans girl! "

They would do their utmost to tempt me to add more food to my plate, believing that it couldn't possibly be good for me to have just baked beans. Eventually they won me over and I progressed to eating the more typical children's meal of chicken nuggets, chips and beans.

In retrospect - despite the dinner-ladies' kind intentions - I was probably a lot better off with just my plate of baked beans. Baked beans are actually really good for you. They're packed full of fibre, iron, magnesium and protein, they're low in salt, sugar and fat, and they count as one of your five a day. In short, baked beans are the perfect candidate for a quick and easy, yet nutritious and healthy lunch.

Chips and chicken nuggets on the other hand, most definitely do not have many health benefits.

Chicken nuggets rarely contain much actual chicken. A typical chicken nugget contains around 40% - 50% of actual chicken. The rest of the nugget is made up of things like fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments. Personally, that's enough to put me off ever wanting to eat a 'chicken' nugget again.

Further reading:

If you'd like to find out more about just how much rubbish is in chicken nuggets the following articles are a good place to start: Not So Much Chicken in Chicken Nuggets and There’s Not Much Chicken in That Nugget.

I've always loved baked beans.

In my twenties I considered the idea of opening a baked beans gourmet restaurant. I eventually dismissed the idea, on account of the fact that I had no experience in the food service industry, and on account of the fact that it would probably be a very hard work, hands-on business to start up. I do think though, a gourmet baked beans restaurant would have a lot of potential as a business - so if you're a budding entrepreneur, please feel free to steal my idea and turn it into a reality - I will be sure to visit!

Baked Beans Quick Lunch Recipe Ideas

The wonderful thing about baked beans is their diversity - they can be eaten on their own - or they can be mixed with practically anything to create a quick lunch. The only limitation is your imagination. Here are some simple recipes to get you started.

1. Naked Baked Beans

First up is 'Naked Baked Beans.' This is a dish only for the true baked bean connoisseur. Those of us who wish to experience the warming and velvety texture of baked beans in it's purest form.  

For this dish, start by choosing your favourite brand of baked beans. They're all slightly different. Some slightly sweet, some slightly salty. Some with a firm bite, others soft and mushy. Once you have chosen your brand, simply pour the beans into a saucepan, gently heat, stirring occasionally, until the desired creaminess of texture is reached.

Next, take a plate and carefully pour the beans into the middle. Or, if you're bursting with artistic creativity which simply must be unleashed, spoon the beans out, carefully crafting a piece of artwork of your choosing. In the first example below I decided to make a picture of my name. In the second example I made a face. In the third example I attempted something a little more advanced and created a butterfly.

Finally, to make this a dish worthy of inclusion on any posh restaurant menu, add some garnish. In the examples below I've opted to keep things simple with a just a tiny dash of fresh parsley.

A helpful note:

Some people like to microwave their baked beans instead of heating them in a saucepan. Personally I think microwaved baked beans are massively inferior to baked beans heated in a saucepan.

Microwaving creates a hard baked bean in a watery tomato sauce. Baked beans heated in a saucepan are much softer and more silky in texture - with a richer, thicker and more creamy tomato sauce.

I'd strongly recommend cooking your baked beans in a saucepan!

2. Mediterranean Baked Beans

Next on the list we have 'Mediterranean Baked Beans.' I'm a big fan of Mediterranean vegetables. I love the warm, sweet crunchiness of lightly cooked peppers, onions, aubergines, cherry tomatoes and courgettes. So I thought, why not combine two of my favourite foods to create a highly nutritious and quick lunch.

To create this recipe, take a selection of Mediterranean vegetables of your own choosing. In this case I've gone for some red pepper, some yellow pepper, some red onion and a few cherry tomatoes.  Simply chop the vegetables, scatter them out on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with a scattering of salt and pepper. Bake for around 10 minutes - or until the vegetables are softening whilst still retaining a decent amount of 'crunch.'

Next, get a pot of baked beans simmering away in a saucepan. Add the vegetables to the saucepan of baked beans, perhaps saving a few vegetables for a side dish. Give everything a good stir.

Serve up your creation by ladling a generous dollop of your Mediterranean baked beans into a dish.


You may be worried about the extra salt and sugar content contained in tinned baked beans. It is something that initially concerned me. However, it turns out that whilst tinned baked beans do contain a small amount of added salt and sugar, the amount is negligible, and not enough to detract from the health benefits of baked beans.

3. Popeye Baked Beans

Third on the list is 'Popeye Baked Beans.' Eating these beans will make you really strong - there's no doubt about that. Perhaps they will also give you really big forearms, if this Popeye picture is anything to go by.

To make Popeye baked beans, follow the instructions above for naked baked beans, and during the final few seconds of cooking, stir some spinach into the beans, allowing it to wilt. The more spinach the better, as spinach contains loads of vitamins and minerals - my personal trainer is always telling me to eat spinach.


If you're a little low on energy and feeling like you need an extra carbs boost then all of the above recipes can be enhanced with the addition of toast. Add toast to 'Popeye baked beans' to create 'Popeye baked beans on toast.' Add toast to 'Mediterranean baked beans' to create 'Mediterranean baked beans on toast.' Finally, add toast to 'naked baked beans' to create 'baked beans on toast.'

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