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February Mystery Box: Black Beans

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February Mystery Box: Black Beans

Sometimes walking into your kitchen can feel like you’re the star of a cooking show. What can you make, in under an hour, using the ingredients you have on hand (because no one has time to run to the store at 5PM)? But your pantry may be a jumble of ingredients, so you have to get creative. Recipes not allowed.

To get you inspired for those last-minute pantry hunts, we’re starting a regular Mystery Box series. We’ll equip five Vegatopians with a staple pantry ingredient, and challenge them to come up with a simple, budget-friendly idea that uses less than 10 ingredients commonly found in your kitchen. For our first month we chose...(drum roll please!)...


These humble canned beans usually only get used in soups and stews, but as a high-fiber source of plant-based protein, they can actually be used in many different preparations. Beyond upgrading your salad or grain bowl, they can be used in many savory AND sweet dishes. (Yes, that’s right sweet. Scroll all the way down for a dessert that uses black beans)!

So, let’s get cooking.

Dish 1: Dip or Appetizer

Take black bean to the next level and make it a 4-layer high-protein vegan dip. Whether you need to keep your ravenous family from starving before the whole meal is on the table, or you’re looking for an excellent party dish, Jamieson McCormack’s  4 Layer Black Bean Dip is sure to please.

Dish 2: Burger or Sandwich

Plant-based burgers and sliders may sound intimidating at first, but they can be quite simple to make and very satisfying—no need to beef them up!  Whether you turn Senior Art Director Tara Doyle’s Cuban Black Bean Sliders into party appies or a full dinner with a small salad, your whole family will love these.

As Tara says, “Coming up with new recipes is often out of necessity. I will start with a recipe I like and start making tweaks to it, secretly adding more nutrient-dense foods that my son won’t detect or figuring out how to make it plant-based. I also get inspired by trying new restaurants, and trying to figure out how they made a dish.”

Dish 3: Main

To help organize her pantry raids, Vega Chef Chantal Denis treats her kitchen like she treats ours. “Take inventory of what you have and do a keyword recipe search on the internet (or on your favorite blogs). Use recipes as inspirations, not rule books! Don’t be afraid and wing it if you don’t have all of the ingredients and be adventurous in terms of what other ingredients you have on hand that could be added!” Start your adventure with her weeknight friendly main: Southwest Black Bean Casserole

Dish 4: Soup or Stew

Some dishes are worth shedding a couple tears over. Or at least onion-induced tears. Don’t worry, there’s a bottle of wine waiting for you at the end of Marketing Specialist Todd Al’s Black Bean Bourguignon

Dish 5: Dessert

Product Specialist Bridgette Clare, RHN gathers constant recipe inspiration so she can go into the kitchen prepared. “My inbox, Instagram and Twitter feed are filled with recipe inspirations and I usually have one culinary adventure book on my nightstand (Apron Anxiety is my most recent fave). On the daily I’m inspired by new, exiting recipes or seeing throwback classics. As a nutritionist I like to find ways to make recipes healthier but keep them tasting great. The struggle is real on that front and sometimes recipes take a few tweaks to get just right but trying is half the fun, right?

“When in doubt I add a pinch of sea salt or reach out to my friends for suggestions– knowing who to go to is key! Reach out to your baking guru Grandma, your spicy friend for your fave food blogger for tips on how to get your recipe just right.”

Don’t worry—her high-protein freezer fudge is Vega HQ tested and approved! Whip up Brownie Batter Freezer Fudge tonight.

What would you do with an extra can of black beans?


No matter what better means to you, Vega shares the knowledge, nutrition, and inspiration to support your quest to thrive.

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