Healthy home-made baked beans

Baked beans have become a staple in British households and are a firm favourite with children - who didn't have 'baked beans on toast' as a child for tea?

Baked beans have now found their way into the great British breakfast fry-up, even to the extent that if you holiday in countries such as Spain or Italy, they will provide baked beans at the breakfast buffet 'for the English'!

However, although beans are a healthy food in themselves containing fibre and minerals, supermarket baked beans are swimming in a sea of sugary sauce.  

Half a tin contains 9.8g of sugar.  Even the so-called 'Reduced Sugar and Salt' version contains 6.7g of sugars per half a tin.  Although I suspect that the amount of sugar added to baked beans has crept up over the years, we do need to ask ourselves if this traditional British staple is really a healthy option to offer our children?

I was really pleased to come across this low-sugar home-made version of baked beans - they may take a little more effort to make than opening a tin but you will get far more of the beneficial effects of this nutritious carbohydrate, along with the health-boosting effects of fresh onions, lycopene-rich tomatoes and super-healthy garlic.  Coconut sugar is low on the glycaemic index, so causes less of a blood sugar spike and rapid drop after consumption.


Serves 4

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp paprika
200ml (9fl oz) passata (Sieved italian tomatoes)
250ml (9 fl oz) water
1-2 tsp coconut sugar (to taste)
2 x 400g tins of haricot beans in water (with no added sugar or salt), well rinsed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Chilli flakes (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion slowly until soft and golden.
2. Add the garlic, paprika, passata, water and coconut sugar and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add the haricot beans and cook gently to reduce the sauce until it just coats the beans.
4. Add the Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkle of chilli flakes, if using.
5. You can add a splash of boiling water just before servingif the beans are looking a little dry.

Haricot beans (known as Navy beans in the US) are rich in folic acid, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium

Not only have they been shown to help lower cholesterol, they are also of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fibre content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. They are also a good source of potassium which is important for cardiovascular health.

N.B talking of fry-ups - a fry-up can be healthy if you fry in coconut oil or butter, and include some tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, healthy homemade baked beans and nutrient-packed eggs.  Even protein-rich sausages can be included if you find a quality organic high-meat version, and add some nitrate-free bacon which is sold by some meat and grocery delivery firms such as RIverford Organic.

Add a slice of sourdough or gluten-free toast and you have a lovely Sunday brunch!