You can’t beat beans for lean protein and superb fiber. But why stick with just kidney or black? These less-familiar types will jazz up your bean scene.

Black soybeans

Sweeter and easier to digest than yellow soybeans, these black beauties offer soy’s healthy isoflavones and unsaturated fats, plus antioxidant flavonoids. Try “kuromame,”a Japanese New Year’s dish: Soak dried black soybeans overnight, drain, boil 2–3 hours or until soft, and drain; season with soy sauce and maple syrup; simmer until nearly dry (use a cast-iron pan to achieve kuromame’s signature sheen).

Try: Eden Organic black soybeans (dry or canned)

Serve: Black Soybean Hummus

Anasazi beans

These ancient beans are named for the Native American cliff dwellers who cultivated them 1,500 years ago. Slightly sweet anasazi rehydrate to three times their size and cook faster than other beans, with fewer gas-producing effects. They pair well with spicy foods; substitute for pinto beans in chili, burritos, and casseroles.

Try: Arrowheard Mills organic dried anasazi beans 

Serve: Spicy Three Bean Ragout

Mung beans

Spherical mung beans are revered in Ayurvedic medicine for being “tri-doshic”—that is, healthy and balancing for all three doshas, or body types. Mung beans’ high starch content enables their transformation into gluten-free noodles, popular in India, Japan, and China.

Try: Eden Selected Mung Bean Pasta (Harusame)

Serve: Stir-Fried Mung Bean Noodles (Vegetarian/Vegan: omit Pork)

Black-eyed peas

Originating in China, these distinctive beans likely came to America from Africa and remain popular in Southern cooking, symbolizing good luck and prosperity (especially when served with collard greens, representing money). Farmers love black-eyed peas because they return nutrients, particularly nitrogen, to the soil.

Try: Amy's Brown Rice, Black-Eyed Peas & Veggie bowls 

Serve: Curried Pumpkin Dahl