This healthy black bean salad features flavors from the Caribbean. The recipe is packed with protein and has minimal added fat. Perfect for a side dish with any meal or for your next cookout!
When my family traveled to Puerto Rico, one of the highlights of the trip was chartering a small boat for a day with Caribe Bliss.
We got to visit Icacos, a small island with a gorgeous private beach.
Then, Ken, our captain, took us to his “secret spot” off the coast of Icacos near where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The water was very shallow so his spot is only accessible in small boats, and this is where he treated us to an amazing lunch.
One of my favorite parts of the lunch was his homemade bean salad.
It was so fresh, and different from any other bean salads I’ve enjoyed!
So of course, I asked him what was in it.
And the day after we got home, I went to work trying to recreate Ken’s three bean salad.
But with some tweaks to make it work within the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle as an E meal.
How I Created This Caribbean Black Bean Salad
One of the key parts of THM is “fuel separation.”
In a nutshell, when you enjoy healthy carbohydrates, keep fat to a minimum.
This simple trick allows your body to process the fuel more efficiently which reduces excess fuel that gets turned into fat cells!
Ken’s Puerto Rican bean salad had a fair amount of olive oil. When you combine all the carbs from the beans with a lot of fat from olive oil you get a “crossover” with Trim Healthy Mama.
Crossovers can still be on plan, but too many of them can lead to weight loss stalls and even weight gain.
So I worked to reduce the amount of added fat to just 5 grams per serving.
To add back a little more flavor, I increased the variety of beans in the recipe.
And I used two types of acid for more depth of flavor.
My version of Ken’s recipe is a delicious, healthy, THM-E side dish!
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More Ways to Serve a Healthy Bean Salad
I’ve always just had bean salads as a side dish, but this recipe got me thinking outside the box.
It makes a fairly large batch, so if you aren’t taking it to serve at a potluck or cookout you’ll be able to enjoy it throughout the week.
Bean salads are an amazing make ahead dish that is perfect for meal prepping!
The great thing is it actually gets even more delicious the longer it sits in the fridge.
The beans, peppers, and onion don’t break down quickly, so I’ve had it last for over a week.
All those fresh flavors soak into the beans.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s the perfect side dish with grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp. Just add a variety of grilled or raw veggies for a satisfying meal.
But this Puerto Rican bean salad is so tasty it can be the star of the meal instead of playing a supporting role!
My favorite is to take a bed of lettuce, top it with a cup of this bean salad, and then top it with some shredded rotisserie chicken (or leftover grilled meat).
You don’t even need to add dressing to the lettuce: the dressing from the salad does the trick.
This can also be a vegetarian meal. Combine the vegan bean salad with some brown rice or quinoa for a complete protein.
How about serving bean salad as a topping for your next taco bar?
Or another of my favorites, serve it with tortilla chips, celery sticks, and bell pepper chunks as a delicious appetizer!
If you live somewhere that gets hot during the summer, bean salad is an amazing dish to take to cookouts and barbecues. Since it doesn’t have mayonnaise or dairy ingredients, it holds up well in the heat.
It travels so well in a cooler, making it perfect for your next picnic, cookout, or camping trip.
Ingredients in a Puerto Rican Bean Salad Recipe
If you’re like me, most of the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe are staples in your pantry and fridge. You’ll need:
- Red Kidney Beans
- Great Northern Beans
- Pink Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Red Bell Pepper
- Red Onion
- Fresh Cilantro
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Lime Juice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- salt, black pepper, garlic powder
If you’re one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap, you can substitute fresh parsley, basil, dill, or even mint for a tasty alternative.
Health Benefits of Beans
If you’re looking to add more super foods to your diet, then this salad is for you!
Beans are a great source of protein, but their health benefits don’t stop there.
They’re also a great way to get more folate and antioxidants in your diet.
Studies show that including beans in your diet can improve heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, stabilize blood sugar, prevent diabetes and fatty liver, control appetite, and even improve gut health.
Oh, and they’re delicious with this light dressing!
Tips for Making This Healthy Bean Salad
Thanks to canned beans, this salad is so fast and easy to make.
You can substitute dried beans if you prefer. You’ll just need to soak them overnight according to the package directions to soften them up.
I like to dump all the cans of beans into a mesh colander all at once, and then rinse them all together until the water runs clear.
Let the beans continue to drain in your sink while you chop the red pepper, onion, and fresh cilantro.
The star of this salad is the beans.
This is why I recommend finely dicing the pepper and onion.
By chopping them into tinier pieces, it lets them mix in with the beans so you get all the flavors in each bite!
I like using the 2-cup measuring cup from this set to whisk together the dressing ingredients.
I’m always looking for ways to minimize the number of dirty dishes I create. LOL
So, rinse and drain the beans, chop the veggies, whisk together the dressing, and then mix it all together.
The first night I made this black bean salad recipe, we ate it just after I mixed it together and it was good.
I had it with my lunch the next day, and it was so. much. better!
So I really do recommend refrigerating this salad for at least four hours before you serve it.
It let’s the flavors of the dressing to soak into the beans.
I just know you’re gonna love this light, healthy low fat bean salad as much as my husband and I do!
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