I’ve been getting better about eating my beans about once a week or more. This is now quite important for me as I have scaled way back on meats, especially red meat. I need my protein! This is, after all, what beans (ie legumes or pulses) are all about. Tons of protein in a small package (not to mention lots of B vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and much more good stuff depending on the actual bean – some even have omega-3 or 6 fatty acids). But, I really had to work on my bean skills as I was not a regular bean-eater and certainly not a regular bean-preparer-from-scratch. What’s that you say? You thought beans came in a can, ready to go and easy as pie? Well they didn’t always and they shouldn’t now. At least, not if you want:
- the most nutritional benefit from your beans
- to eat fresh food
- to avoid BPAs from that can of yours, as well as avoiding extra salt or whatever else might be in there
- to avoid embarrassing gastric problems
- to save money (dry beans cost far less than canned)
- be more environmentally friendly (less waste)
For me, the unwanted gas and BPA thing was huge. I can’t stand the thought of eating fake estrogen, can you? Gross… I have enough issues without adding more hormones to the mix! For more information on that, go here.
So anyway – beans – any kind of el cheapo bagged bean may be easily prepared for cooking and eating. Once prepared, beans also do tend to keep for a while in the fridge this wayso you are not really sacrificing that by making them “from scratch.” So, wondering why we don’t make beans this way anymore? Me too— it’s super easy.
- Get some dry beans! So many to choose from! Pinto, black, white, kidney, fava, chick pea
- Scoop out 2 cups and dump them into a pot
- Cover the beans with some warm water (at least a couple inches over the beans). *Exceptions: When soaking black beans, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the water and mix in. When soaking chickpeas, use 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and soak for 24 hours.
- Wait 12-24 hours. You may want to check and be sure your beans haven’t expanded and used up all their water periodically. Add more if needed.
- Drain beans, rinse.
- Dump them back into the pot and cover them with water again. Be sure your pot is big enough to let the beans move around while cooking.
- Bring water to a boil
- Skim off any foamy scum that rises after it starts bubbling
- Lower temperature to a simmer, cover and set your timer for about 45 minutes to check for doneness. Cooking time may range between 45 minutes to 4 hours or maybe even longer (?) (esp. in case of chickpeas). This is the only tricky part. Cooking time varies depending on the type of bean and how long you have soaked them. You will have to practice a bit here! In my experience, 2 hours is usually about average.
I have also had to practice ways of incorporating beans. One possible idea is to use black beans anywhere you might use ground beef, or incorporate black beans into a meal, using some beans and some ground beef. Then there are traditional south of the border meals. I find black beans to be very versatile. They are good as a bean salad or on salads with corn chips, mixed into salsa, even guacamole (why not?), good in an Indian/Asian stir fry fusion of cabbage, onion, red peppers, curry, cumin, red pepper flakes, shredded carrots, etc. and served with rice. They are good with other beans or mixed up in a skillet with diced tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, garlic and some ground beef/venison/ turkey. Add some chopped cilantro, sour cream, tortillas, salsa … yum! For some real fun, check out this Black Bean Brownie recipe (great for gluten-free, sugar free cooking)!
You can blend your white beans into a tasty dip with lime and garlic. Or use them in a simple rustic Italian soup with hambone broth, tomato sauce, pasta and oregano.
And chick peas (garbanzos) are very versatile as well, used in many Middle Eastern dishes. Delicious with tomatoes, or blended with tahini, lemon juice and garlic to make homemade hummus! Also good in salads.
I am still working on loving kidney beans — right now, I am only using them in chili. (Be careful! well-soaked kidney beans do NOT need to cook for 2 hours! MUSH!) My next project will be to make baked beans from scratch….what kinds of bean
These are just a few ideas.
Look below for many others and to learn more. Just substitute your soaked and cooked beans wherever a recipe calls for canned.