Loving the BITE: A Bit of Island Flare with Black Beans & Mango


It’s snowing outside here (again), so it seems like a perfect time for a dinner with a little Island flair. Something to brighten up the view, for this snowy March day.

Even if it’s not dumping where you are, if it’s sunny and bright and warm, you’ll love this one. Black beans shine as this week’s highlighted ingredient.  For daily nutrition, not many foods top beans.  They are full of healthy nutrients and contain very few components, if any, that aren’t healthy.  And, while beans may not stand out to you as a specific food needed by cyclists, they simply promote health.  And, of course, healthy bodies ride better.

Recipe of the week:  Black Beans & Rice w/ Mango (Vegetarian)


  • 1 Cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 4 Cups cooked Black Beans (Or, 2- 15 oz cans rinsed and drained, preferably organic and bpa-free)
  • 1 Cup Onion, chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano, crushed
  • 1 – 2 Cups fresh mango, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1.5 Cup Water
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions: (prep: 10 minutes, cook: 20 minutes)

  1. Chop red pepper & onion.  Mince garlic.
  2. Heat olive oil on med heat; Add onion, pepper, and garlic.  Cook and Stir 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add beans, water, oregano, & crushed red pepper; bring to boiling.  Reduce heat, cover & simmer 10 minutes.  Salt to taste.
  4. Optionally, add in a cooked meat source such as chicken, and avocado slices.
  5. To serve, spoon bean mixture over quinoa, cauliflower rice, or brown rice in individual serving bowls.  Top with mango.

Yield:  6-8 servings

Why black beans?

It’s simple.  Beans are some of the healthiest foods in the world.  And black beans, specifically, offer some of the highest amounts of nutrients.  They provide fiber, protein, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and flavanoids without any of the unhealthy components that come along with many protein sources. Here are the details:

First, black beans provide special support for digestive tract health, and particularly our colon. The indigestible fraction (IF) in black beans is larger than the IF in lentils, chickpeas, or other beans. Research has shown the IF of black beans to be the perfect mix of substances for allowing bacteria in the colon to produce butyric acid. Cells lining the inside of the colon can use this butyric acid to fuel their many activities and keep the lower digestive tract functioning properly. By delivering a greater amount of IF to the colon, black beans are able to help support this lower part of our digestive tract.  Your digestive tract is the gateway of health – from foods to nutrients to your blood stream.  Don’t neglect it.

Next, there’s protein – and, as an athlete, you need it.  Every ½ cup of black beans provides approximately 8 grams of protein.  When combined with a high-protein grain-seed like quinoa, you’ve got a meals’ worth of vegetarian protein on your plate.  And, although this type of protein is not my first choice for “recovery” after training, it’s a perfect slow-acting protein for daily nutrition. What’s more, black beans offer a great carbohydrate-protein balance.

Thirdly, they are full of health-promoting phytonutrients, and they even contain more than was previous thought.  Recent research has recognized black beans as a strong contender in phytonutrient benefits – the outer coat is an outstanding source of three anthocyanin flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. These three anthocyanins are primarily responsible for the rich black color that we see on the bean surface. Kaempferol, quercetin, ferulic, sinapic, chlorogenic acid, and numerous triterpenoids are additional flavonoids provided by black beans. All of these flavonoids have well-demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection is especially important for our cardiovascular system. When our blood vessels are exposed to chronic and excessive risk of oxidative stress (damage by overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules) or inflammation, they are at heightened risk for disease development.

In fact, black beans come in first place among beans in terms of antioxidant activity.  Then, they contain about 10 times the amount of overall antioxidants in an equivalent serving size of oranges and similar to the amount found in an equivalent serving size of grapes, apples and cranberries.  Athletes can use high amounts of antioxidants.

What’s all this mean?  Decreased diabetes risk, decreased cardiovascular disease risk, reduced oxidative stress, reduced cancer risk (especially colon cancer), better digestion, and improved overall health.  Not bad.

If you’re intimidated by the soaking and cooking of beans, don’t be, it’s easy.  My favorite way to cook dried beans in the in the slow cooker.  First, place 1 pound beans in a bowl.  Fill with water (enough water to be double or triple the height of the beans in the bowl) and soak overnight.  Soaking beans increases the availability of the nutrients by reducing the amount of phytates and tannins – it also decreases some of the gas-producing substances.

Then, drain the beans and place them in a slow cooker.  Add about 10 cups of fresh water.  Cook on low 8-10 hours, or until tender.

Even if you’re not a bean-lover, it’s still a good idea to try to incorporate more into your diet whenever possible.  Black beans are versatile and add flavor and nutrition to Mexican Food dishes, Black Bean burgers, and more.  They can be the protein portion or the carbohydrate portion of your meal, or both.  Eat them in place of grains for a more satisfying and health-promoting side dish.

Fuel your body with healthy foods day to day, and you’ll put your body in the best position to become a better cyclist.

Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.

If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!

Enjoy Your Ride
Pin It

One Response to “ Loving the BITE: A Bit of Island Flare with Black Beans & Mango ”

  1. kmcclean on April 27, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Kelli – this sounds like an awesome recipe and I will be trying this tonight. Thanks !


    April 2024
    M T W T F S S


Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

Nutrition Tips