Mixed Bean Glow Bowl by Virginia Willis

Mixed Bean Glow Bowl

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Mixed Bean Glow Bowl by Virginia Willis


Mixed Bean Glow Bowl sounds a lot sassier than Three Bean Salad, doesn’t it? Retro Three Bean Salads are often a soggy bowl of limp, canned snap beans swimming in a semi-pungent sugary dressing. It’s far more lunchroom than luminating. So, what the heck is a glow bowl? It’s a bowl loaded with good and good-for-you beans, herbs, nuts, seeds, and colorful veggies.

Glow bowls are filling and bursting with flavor! They’re what I call “hidden healthy” — good you don’t even know it. And, you can feel virtuous even if you have a second helping. Read on for the recipe for my Mixed Bean Glow Bowl with Herb Yogurt Dressing and Peanut Dukkah.

Mixed Bean Glow Bowl by Virginia Willis

Healthy Glow

Canned green beans are a part of my childhood. My grandfather always had an enormous garden with rows upon rows of green beans. He and my grandmother would process the harvest in mason jars for the family to enjoy throughout the year. While I love crisp, fresh green beans undoubtedly there’s a special place in my heart and stomach for old-fashioned canned beans slow-cooked with bacon. Nonetheless, I am not a big fan for use a salad.

Enter canned beans. Beans have been shown to have an important role in preventing illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. They are a low-fat source of protein, with high fiber content and low glycemic index. And they contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. The former helps to decrease blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels; the latter helps with digestion and gut regularity. Think of it as an inner glow!

While I prefer cooking with dried beans, having a few cans of beans in the pantry is always a great idea. Not only do they make a tasty, hearty, and nutritious Mixed Bean Glow Bowl, but they are also easy on the pocketbook, too. I find that being supplied with good and healthy ingredients allows me to more easily cook good and healthy dishes.

Peanut Dukkah


What is Dukkah?

Dukkah is a Middle Eastern spice blend. Spices, seeds, and nuts are ground to a coarse powder. The flavor of dukkah varies depending on the types of nuts and spices in your blend, but dukkah should always have a crunchy texture. Many different kinds of nuts may be used including the more traditional almonds and hazelnuts. Dukkah is not typically spicy hot but warm with fragrant spices and buttery rich from the chopped toasted nuts and seeds. Seeds and nuts are highly nutritious with fiber, protein, and healthy fats. This version is stream-lined a bit as I am using pre-ground spices. Dukkah is fantastic as a topping for vegetables and salads. Health benefits aside, you’ll want to sprinkle over just about everything! Make a batch and store it in the fridge.

Peanuts are a go-to in my kitchen.  Foods with a lot of protein can help you feel full with fewer calories. And among nuts, peanuts are second only to almonds when it comes to protein. According to WebMD, studies have shown that people who include a moderate amount of peanuts in their diet will not gain weight from peanuts. In fact, peanuts could help them lose weight! And, peanuts help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.


Glow Bowl Virginia Willis

How to Make Healthy Homemade Creamy Salad Dressing

Yes, it can be done. And it can be done better and cheaper than what you can buy. My Herb Yogurt Dressing is a modernized Green Goddess that eliminates the oil, uses reduced-fat mayo, and contains a heaping dollop of yogurt for creaminess.

Salad dressings are one of the most expensive items in the grocery store. Think about it, my favorite bottle of store-bought dressing is Bolthouse Farms® Classic Ranch Yogurt Dressing at $4 for 12 ounces. Granted, I do love having a bottle of store-bought dressing at the ready because I don’t always have the time or energy to make it from scratch. However,  that works out to be $42.67 a GALLON for Ranch Dressing. And you thought gas was expensive!

shiitake bacon

Shiitake Bacon

Nope, this isn’t bacon. But it is salty, smoky, and crunchy like crisply fried bacon — and the name gets people’s attention. It’s a great plant-based swap. You’ll notice I didn’t use the word replacement or substitute. Really, what could replace bacon? Instead of considering this shiitake bacon an inferior replacement by default simply because it’s more healthy and vegan isn’t really fair to real bacon or shiitake bacon. Shiitake bacon stands on its own!

Point it Out!

Recently I demonstrated this recipe at the Georgia Food + Wine Festival. It was a great success. I love it and hope you do, too! Thanks so much for reading! For those of you new to the blog, this recipe has a few more components than most of my posts — but that is because I was “cheffing it up.” 😉

In terms of WW points if you are a follower of the points program, according to my plan,  the beans, vegetables, and shiitake bacon are 2 points per serving if you use the full amount of oil in the beans. The dressing comes in at about 1 point a tablespoon. Finally, the dukkah is about 1 point a tablespoon, too. This all equals about 4 points a serving! Yay us!

Bon Appétit, Y’all

Virginia Willis


chef virginia willis on cover or woman's worldPS. For those of you that missed it, I was featured in Woman’s World Magazine last week! Thrilled to share my health journey and weight loss story with so many people.

I have one thing to say, “If a post-menopausal French-trained Southern chef can lose 65# and keep it off then you can, too!

It’s been AMAZING to hear from SO many of you!! Thank you so much for your support!  I am more than happy to be your cheerleader! My health journey has changed my life so much for the better. If you had told me I would feel this good, I would not have believed you.

Last little bit — don’t get overwhelmed and quit before you start. 😉 OF COURSE, YOU WILL BE OVERWHELMED. It’s okay. You can do it!




Mixed Bean Glow Bowl by Virginia Willis

Multi-Bean & "Shiitake Bacon" Glow Bowl with Herb Yogurt Dressing and Toasted Georgia Peanut Dukkah

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Salad
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: bean salad
Servings: 4


  • 3 cans of different colored low sodium beans rinsed and drained
  • 3 or so small sweet peppers, sliced
  • 1 carrot grated or ½ cup matchsticks
  • 1 celery, diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Snipped herbs, for garnish
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Herb Yogurt Dressing, see recipe
  • Shiitake bacon, see recipe
  • Georgia Peanut Dukkah, see recipe


  • Combine the beans, peppers, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, oil, and parsley. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. To serve, swipe the bottom of the bowl with the Herb Yogurt Dressing. Top with the Multi-Bean Salad. Sprinkle over some of the Shiitake Bacon and Georgia Peanut Dukkah. Serve immediately.

Herb Yogurt Dressing

Prep Time5 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy salad dressing, salad dressing, yogurt dressing
Servings: 4


  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain 0% Icelandic yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 green onion, end trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • In the jar of a blender or in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovy filets, mustard, green onion, garlic, mint, tarragon, chives, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Process a bit, then to get the mixture really going, add the vinegar. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the jar or bowl, as necessary. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Shiitake Bacon

Makes 2 cups “bacon”


  • 16 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  • Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking sheet. Scatter the mushrooms on the prepared sheet. Spritz with nonstick spray then season with smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 40 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Georgia Peanut Dukkah


  • 1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds


  • Toast the peanuts, coriander, cumin, and sesame seeds in a dry skillet, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Season heartily with salt and pepper.



If you try this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #virginiawillis on Instagram.

Heads up! I am not a doctor, RD, or health professional noam I an official WW ambassador or representative. I am simply sharing what works for me. Thanks for reading!

If you are interested in hosting me for a speaking engagement, event, cooking class, or a book signing, let me know! Send an email to jona@virginiawillis.com and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links and I may make a commission if you use my affiliate link to buy the product.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication is prohibited. All photos and content are copyright protected. If you wish to republish this recipe, please link back to this recipe on virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much!

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Please note that this post may contain affiliate links.

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Sue

    You mention “Swipe the bowl with … dressing.” How much dressing do I use to “swipe the bowl?” Thanks!

  2. Anonymous

    Walked by the magazine rack at Kroger this week, and there you were up there with all of the Hollywood and music folks! Congratulations again! We miss you in West Lafayette, IN.!

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