Beans are a fantastic, nutrient-dense, protein-packed plant food that offer tons of fiber, B vitamins,iron, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. They are low in calories and have been found to lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
I think a lot of people are intimidated by cooking beans, possibly because they don’t know how. Up until recently, actually, I had been using canned beans. It wasn’t until I started soaking (non-canned) beans properly, which was quite simple to do, that I noticed my body could easily digest beans, where as normally I feel like crap after eating 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 (about 4-6 cups), 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.
Kombu is a type of dried seaweed. Add a small piece while cooking your beans to improve digestibility.
Cooking with Beans
Need ideas of how to use beans? Try any of the following:
-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.
Here’s what I made…
After soaking black beans overnight, I decided to use the beans for a Mexican shrimp bowl. At least that’s what I’m calling it. Feel free to pick and choose your favorite ingredients, but here’s what I used to cook for two people:
-shrimp (about 12)
-4 garlic gloves, minced
-1/2 onion, diced
-fresh, dried chilies, minced (if you like your food spicy)
-2 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
-optional: rice or polenta cubes, red cabbage
To prepare this dish I soaked the black beans over night and then cooked them in 6 cups water with a strip of kombu for an hour.
-Heat large pan with olive oil. When hot, add onions and garlic and cook for two minutes. Lightly salt.
-Add shrimp, chilis, salt, and pepper. If cooking pre-made polenta, toss in polenta cubes. Cook for about five minutes or until shrimp are cooked.
-Layer red cabbage and beans on the bottom of a bowl. Add the shrimp, onions, and polenta on top. Slice up some avocado and serve!