Traditional Foods


When Europeans came to North America, Native Americans had several varieties of beans and the same varieties are still grown and eaten today. Examples are pinto, navy, kidney and lima beans. Beans were eaten cooked or included in bread recipes. Beans are nutritious and provide protein, minerals, B vitamins and fiber to our plates. Along with corn and squash, beans are often referred to as the Three Sisters. Each is planted at a certain time and near each other to build on one another for best growth. As a part of the Three Sisters, beans provide nitrogen, an important nutrient, for the growth of corn and squash.


Beans are one of the earliest plants grown.

Beans are rich in fiber, protein, folate, iron and B vitamins.

Beans start out soft and sweet but turn hard and dry as they age.


Most beans can be dried and stored.

Dry beans are best stored out of air and away from light.

Beans stored in food-grade plastic bags have a shelf life of 1 year or more.


All dried beans should soak in water to be rehydrated. Every 1 cup of dried beans needs 3 cups of water. After soaking for 6-8 hours, rinse beans in clean water before cooking.

To cook beans, cover with water and simmer for 2-4 hours until beans are tender.

Buy canned beans that have no added salt, spices or fat. Also, drain and rinse canned beans before use.

Adapted from

Park, S., Hongu, N., & Daily, J. W. (2016). Native American foods: History, culture, and influence on modern diets. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 3(3), 171-177. doi: 10.1016/j.jef.2016.08.001 and

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