Whenever I tell someone that I eat a lot of beans, I get a look of puzzlement in response, like they are thinking, "how can this be?" I am sure they are envisioning me opening up a can of beans and just digging in. Most of the time, it is followed by this question, "how do you eat them?"
To people who were raised on meat and potato stock with the obligatory side of vegetable or fruit (and I was one of those people), the only culinary bean experience consists of chili and baked beans. I know a lot of people who would like to incorporate more beans into their diet in an attempt to eat more vegetarian while still maintaining protein levels, however, they just don't have the resources on hand or are just overwhelmed and don't know where to start. Beans are also CHEAP source of protein--a very attractive attribute in economically stressful times--which is one reason why this former, poor graduate student started exploiting them. I literally jump on any vegetarian bean recipe I find.
Bean patties are very cliche. They are only surpassed by chili as "obvious ways to eat beans." That being said, I have a number of bean patty recipes (all very different) that I enjoy. They tend to be very easy and are great to make in the summer when you don't want to cook over the stove for very long. One of my favorite bean patty recipes is: Cuban black bean patties with pineapple rice. I love it. And I always make the rice to go with it.
I used to only like black beans and garbanzo beans. These days, I have branched out to include all beans in my diet. One of my newer loves is black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas are great in hoppin' john but also in this Greek salad which is a lot easier to make than hoppin' john and is vegetarian. Now that summer is on the brink, it is a great recipe to have on one's arsenal. I don't add the lettuce, making it more of a pasta salad than a green salad.
I am by no means an authority on vegetarianism (which I don't follow) or bean consumption. All I know is that I like beans, and I try to find new ways of incorporating them into my diet. I am always on the lookout for good recipes, so if you know of any, please share!