Beans 101: Why & How to Eat Them
My husband is Cuban so I have the pure luck of having my Mother-in-Law, Silvia regularly bring us the most delicious Garbanzo, Black and White Beans in her own special Sofrito Sauce. She makes them from dried beans in the Pressure Cooker, the one kitchen appliance that still scares me a little.
In addition to being such a traditional part of Cuban cuisine, beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around.
They are packed with tons of fiber, as well as plenty of iron and protein. They are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. And they go with everything! Rice, Pasta, Salad, as a Hummus, Black Bean Dip and I have even made many brownie batches with Black Beans as the base. You can eat them cold or hot, even toasted and served like croutons.
I always have several cans on hand to whip up hummus, add in tacos, salads, soups or even a stand alone 3-Bean Salad (which is always a great dish to bring to a BBQ or Potluck).
And to address the biggest complaint about beans-the gas. The more of them you eat, the less issues you should have with them. And drink lots of water, since they are high in fiber, this helps you digest them better. Fiber helps you stay full and lose weight, naturally.
What To Do With Beans
Here are some ideas to get you going:
· Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots, red peppers) with a vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.
· Blend cooked beans with tomatoes, onions, and your favorite seasonings to create a bean soup.
· Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite beans.
· Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favorite seasonings for a delish dip.
· Include 1/3 cup of beans with your other favorite toppings next time you make stuffed baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
· Add 1/4 cup pureed beans to your favorite pancake, waffle, muffin, or cake recipe. You’ll be surprised at how moist and springy baked goods are when baked with beans.
How to Cook Beans
· Be sure to wash and clean the beans first.
· Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking (hint: cut a bean in half; if the center is still opaque, keep soaking).
· After soaking, rinse, fill pot with fresh water, bring to a boil, then skim off the foam.
· To aid digestion, add kombu, bay leaf, cumin, anise, or fennel to the water
· Cover and simmer for the suggested time.
· Remember: Only add salt at the end of cooking (about 10 minutes before the beans are done) or it will interfere with the cooking process.
· Quick tips: For speedier prep, boil dried beans for 5 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours. Or use canned beans instead (some people find them even easier to digest!). Be sure to avoid canned beans with added salt or preservatives and rinse thoroughly once removed from the can.
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