How Well Do You Know Beans?

Beans 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. Plus, studies have found them to lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Who could ask for a more perfect food?

Creamy cannellini, meaty garbanzos, sweet adzuki, tender pintos, and so many more—beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around. The sweeter the bean, such as black-eyed, adzuki, lentils, and mung, the easier it is to digest. Beans like lima, navy and soybeans tend to be harder to digest because of a complex sugar called oligosaccharides which need an enzyme call alpha galactosidase that humans do not produce to properly break them down.

Recipe Ideas for Beans

Many people avoid beans because they just don’t know what to do with them.

  • Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots, red peppers) with vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.
  • Blend cooked beans with tomatoes, onions, and your favorite seasonings to create a yummy bean soup.
  • Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite bean.
  • Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favorite seasonings. Voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread.
  • 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.

If you’re new to cooking with dried beans, try these tips for delicious and well-cooked beans.

  • Be sure to wash and clean the dried 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. Also buy cans that are BPA Free. Bisphenol A is found in the hard plastic bottles and cans many people use every day. It can

I’ve included a recipe for Italian White Bean Soup in a nother post, one of my favorite soup recipes.  It’s so tasty and easy to make; perfect for this time of year.