It’s all about beans! (and cooking tips)


black beans web

I was determined to know beans. – Henry David Thoreau, The Bean-Field

How about you? How well do you know beans?

Creamy cannellinis, meaty chickpeas, sweet adzuki, tender flageolet, and so many more – beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around.

Consider this: Beans are packed with tons of fibre, as well as plenty of iron and protein. They are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients (nutrients found only in plant foods) and low in calories.

Plus, studies have found them to lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

 

What To Do With Beans

Many people avoid beans because they just don’t know what to do with them. Are you one of them? Keep reading:

Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots, red peppers) with vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.

Blend beans with tomatoes, onions, and your favorite seasonings to create a yummy bean soup.

Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favourite bean.

Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favourite seasonings. Voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread.

Include 1/3 cup of beans with your other favourite 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 beans, first of all you need to know that you can buy them in their dried raw form, or in pre-cooked in tins. We’ll take a look now at a few facts and preparation tips:

 

Dried Beans

  • Must be washed and cleaned and soaked for approximately 8-12 hours before cooking (hint: cut a bean in half; if the center is still opaque, keep soaking). Here’s a link to a website that has a more detailed guide to soaking times.
  • 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.
  • Only add salt at the end of cooking (about 10 minutes before the beans are done) or it will interfere with the cooking process.
  • For speedier prep, boil dried beans for 5 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours.
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    Tinned Beans (and I’m not talking Heinz here!)

  • Nutritionally, dried beans are slightly superior but there’s not a huge difference.
  • Tinned beans are far easier to use, especially as you don’t need to think about your meal in advance to use them.
  • In fact some people find them easier to digest so you may find that they suit you better anyway.
  • They are already cooked so can be eaten cold from the tin or gently reheated.
  • Check for added ingredients – avoid those with added preservatives. If they are preserved in salty water, be sure to thoroughly wash the beans, discarding the water, to eliminate as much of the salt as possible.
  • Another concern is the BPA found in tins (the epoxy resin that creates the plastic lining inside a metal tin), which is linked to an increase risk of a number of health conditions including cancer.
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    So to conclude, ideally prepare and cook dried beans whenever possible but keep tinned varieties on hand for when time is not on your side.

     

    Some beans are harder to find than others here in France, especially in mainstream supermarkets but most bio shops have a great selection.

     

    kicking hummus 800x258

    Click here for my super easy Kicking Hummus recipe using chickpeas!

    Are you new to beans? Has this inspired you to try some? Or if you use them regularly, what are your favourites? Please let me know in the comments below.

     

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