CSU ARDEC experimental bean plots-1

Feature on Colorado State University’s SOURCE

I am beyond thrilled that beans finally seem to be having their moment! Plus, I am confident this moment will stay because everyone will realize beans are the perfect food – delicious, nutritious, great for the planet, and indeed the list goes on. Recently, I had the privilege of writing an article for Colorado State University News, SOURCE. You can read the article here or see it on SOURCE here.

Bean Appetit, it’s time for Colorado beans!

The next time someone asks you what you think of when you hear the word Colorado, move beyond the typical answers of mountains or wildlife and enthusiastically respond, “Beans!” You can then follow up your response with some fun trivia. For instance, we are one of the largest bean producers in the United States, with approximately 80% of our production being pinto beans. Then try quizzing them to name a couple other beans grown in Colorado (hint: black beans, Mayocoba beans, light red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and a few others).

Luckily, beans are finally having their moment in the spotlight, driven by factors such as the recent movement toward plant-based proteins and an increased desire for healthy, sustainable, shelf-stable foods. To add a rich source of fiber and protein to your diet and promote a thriving Colorado bean industry, now is the perfect time to explore fun, delicious, and healthy ways to eat more beans in 2022.

CSU ARDEC experimental bean plots-1
The experimental bean plots at ARDEC earlier this year (Summer 2021)

Colorado State University and Beans

Organizations like the Colorado Dry Bean Committee work to support growers in our state, advancing local food chains and sustainable agriculture. We also have a rich history at Colorado State University of bean research, with internationally-recognized professors such as Dr. Mark Brick and Dr. Henry Thompson delving into agronomic and health components of beans.

Dr. Henry Thompson making bean dip on the blender bike
Dr. Henry Thompson is the director of the Cancer Prevention Laboratory, and he and his team are currently investigating the impacts of bean intake on gut health. He joined Chelsea Didinger at the Larimer County Farmers’ Market to share information about beans with marketgoers and whip up bean dip on the blender bike.

Colorado State University Extension is also helping to expand bean research in other ways. Inspired by questions from Coloradoans about how to cook beans and more, the team is working to develop robust resources. Looking for another fun bean fact to share with a friend? Try this. It is not just baking that changes with elevation – as elevation increases, so does the time it takes to cook dry beans. Our recent tests in Leadville, Colorado assessed cooking times and methods at 10,000 feet compared to lower elevations. In the coming months, we will be sharing more cooking recommendations and health benefits with the public.

Colorado State University Extension’s 2022 Bean Calendar

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Ph.D. Candidate Chelsea Didinger’s research focuses on consumer-accessible cooking methods for dry beans and outreach to promote beans to the public. As part of her Ph.D. project, Didinger developed Bean Appetit!, a 2022 calendar full of ideas to inspire consumers in the kitchen. The calendar strives to showcase the versatility of beans, incorporating pasta, bean dip, bean salads, lentil curry, fudgy peppermint black bean brownies, and more. The calendar pages link directly to Colorado State University (CSU) Extension’s Food Smart Colorado website via a QR code so people can access recipes and other key information shared throughout the calendar. Dr. Marisa Bunning, Didinger’s co-advisor explains, “Most of our outreach materials are single-use educational resources, but a calendar provides monthly/seasonal information as well as being useful. Plus, Bean Appetit is very attractive and loaded with delicious bean recipes.”

2022 Bean Calendars

Looking for more news features?

I hope you enjoyed the article! Want to also see me on the screen, as opposed to only reading text? I was just one the news talking about black-eyed peas – you can check that out here!

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