Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cooking Beans from Scratch!

Beans are a fabulous and filling source of good nutrition that are both good for your body and your budget.  Dried beans are incredibly inexpensive and can be used in a variety of dishes, from bean soup to bean burgers.  And I know, nothing will replace a real beef burger but think of bean burgers as another type of meal rather than an inferior substitute.

Beans claim to fame is the amazing amount of fiber packed into one tiny package.  One half cup of black beans contains 7.5 grams of fiber, far outstripping any other food, except perhaps lentils.  The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25-35 grams per day and just a cup of beans can get you most of the way there!

Everyone talks about fiber, but why should we care?  Well, fiber fills us up and keeps us full longer, making for a more satisfying meal.  Fiber can also prevent your blood sugar from rising too rapidly after a meal and soluble fiber can actually help lower cholesterol!

Fiber isn’t the only contribution that beans make to a healthy diet.  As with any plant food, beans contain lots of vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6 and magnesium!

Now, most people purchase canned beans and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that but if you would like to save a buck, cooking your own dried beans is the way to go.  What about gas you say?.  Gas is caused by the bacteria in the gut digesting insoluble fiber, which keeps the gut healthy and strong but a byproduct is CO2.  To reduce the amount of gas produced when eating beans, one way is to reduce the amount of insoluble fiber the bacteria has access to.
Soaking your beans and then rinsing them helps remove some of the oligosaccharides (indigestible fiber) and cooking beans with kombu seaweed helps soften the beans, leading to a further reduction in indigestible fibers and therefore gas.  Never, ever cook your beans with salt or acid like tomato or vinegar or they won’t soften properly.

Black Beans Cooked from Scratch

This recipe works well with any big beans such as pinto, chickpea, navy, kidney or great northern.

Cover beans with twice as much water as beans.  If you have three cups of beans, use six cups of water.  Let stand for eight hours or overnight.  Strain and rinse beans thoroughly under cold running water.

Cook beans in three times as much water as beans.  If you started with three cups of dried beans, cook in nine cups of water.  Add half a stick of kombu or approximately three inches.  Bring beans to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer 1-2 hours.  Beans are done when you can easily crush them with a fork.

You can use your cooked bean immediately, store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or store for up to 6 months in the freezer.  It is often helpful to cook a massive batch of beans and then freeze them in usable 2-4 cup portions.

Most of all, enjoy!

1 comment: