Beans for health, beans for taste, beans for food security, beans for convenience, beans for ease, beans for budget Learn more about beneficial beans.
enry David Thoreau, in his famous book Walden said “I was determined to know beans.” How about you, how well do you know beans? Creamy cannellinis, meaty garbanzos, melt-in-your-mouth flageolets, tender pintos, sparkling black beans, and so many more – beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around.
There are numerous reasons why beans are prevalent in many culinary cultures around the globe. In addition to their great taste, they are packed with tons of fiber, as well as plenty of iron and protein. They are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are low in calories, inexpensive, taste great and help boost your libido! (see The 30 Best Libido-Boosting Foods from Rodale Wellness). Beans have a long shelf life and are particularly well suited to be made in large quantities. They also keep for a long time refrigerated or frozen. As a non-animal source of protein, they embody sustainability and environmental responsibility: perfect for those of us who try to adopt a “climaterian” diet and stay healthy! Plus, studies have found beans lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. As Dan Buettner the author of Blue Zones Solutions wrote “eating beans of every variety – soy, lentil, black and fava – is fundamental to a healthy life”.
So, are you ready to give beans another chance?
What To Do With Beans
Many people avoid beans because they just don’t know what to do with them. If you are one of them, keep reading:
- Toss beans (a single type or different types) and diced vegetables (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 delicious bean soup.
- Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite bean. Done!
- Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favorite seasonings. Et voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread.
- Mix chickpeas with tahini, lemon juice, cold water, garlic and spices (cumin, paprika) to make luxurious hummus.
- Add 1/4 cup pureed beans to your favorite pancake, muffin, or cake recipe. You’ll be surprised at how moist and springy baked goods are when baked with beans; and your family and friends won’t be able to tell.
If you’re new to cooking with dry beans, try these tips for delicious and well-cooked beans.
- Wash and clean the beans first.
- Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking (hint: cut a bean in half, and if the center is still opaque, keep soaking them).
- After soaking, rinse the beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the beans, bring to another boil and skim off the foam.
- Cover and simmer for the suggested time.
- To aid digestion, add kombu, bay leaf, cumin, anise or fennel to the water.
- 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 preparation, boil dried beans for 5 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours.
- If you decide to use canned beans instead (some people find them even easier to digest!), be sure that the cans are BPA-free and without preservatives. Rinse thoroughly once removed from the can.