Thursday, April 3, 2008

Beans 101

Beans are full of protein, fiber and antioxidants. And they are cheap! You can make 12 cups of heatlhy filling food for about $1--even cheaper when you buy in bulk. No wonder people around the world are eating legumes as a staple of their diet. So if you are trying to eat healthy, and not blow your budget, legumes are a really great resource.

I love black beans. I learned to appreciate them on my Mexican Adventures. So when I went away to college, and was donating plasma to buy groceries, I bought some, and tried cooking them. I soaked the beans all night. Then I cooked them all day. It was a pain. I don't like things that take all day to cook. Mostly because I don't think that far ahead when deciding what to have for dinner.

So I learned a quick way to cook black beans. It takes 1 hr 45 minutes from start to finish. Not bad. I make a big batch of black beans, and I freeze a bunch. Cheaper than the canned beans, and they are not slimy. Plus they have the yummy spices.

Generally, I don't measure anything when I cook beans. I just throw a bunch of beans in a bunch of water and I bring it all to a boil. But, I know that it drives some people crazy not to have exact measurements. So I measured yesterday.

1--4 cups of black beans, add water to cover the beans by about 4 inches (I like to have LOTS of water when I am cooking beans, because nothing stinks as bad as burned beans, except maybe burned broccoli.)

2--Bring to a boil, then boil for 15 minutes

3--Drain the water and rinse the beans. I do this because a friend told me it helps reduce gas. :)
Just an FYI, your body produces an enzyme to digest fiber, and when you start eating a lot more fiber, your body needs a little time to start producing that enzyme. So the result is gas. But it shouldn't take long for your body to adjust the enzyme production.

4--Add lots more water--I probably cover the beans by about 8 inches of water. Bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until beans are splitting, or as soft as you'd like. It took about an hour and 15 minutes for mine.

5--Drain the water--I leave some of the water. I drain to below the beanline though. If you want a bean soup, just drain less water out. Take one or two cups of beans out, blend it up in the blender, then put it back in the beans for a creamy texture.

1 T salt
2 T cumin
1 T ground chili powder

7--Then I mix it all up again, let it stand for about an hour until cool. Then I divide it into containers for freezing and eating.

4 cups dry beans makes about 12 cups cooked beans. 1 cup cooked beans contains 227 calories, 15 g fiber, 15 g protein, 1 g fat.

My kids LOVE beans. It is an especially easy finger food for young babies. We call Simone "beaner" cause she goes crazy when she sees them, and it is pretty cute to see her covered in them. Black beans are nice and soft and small enough not to be a choking hazard.

There are lots of different types of beans. Here are a few that I have experience withand keep on hand:

Adzuki beans are very small red beans, and they have a great antioxidant content. Adzuki beans are used a lot in Asia. If you've had bean dessert, it was probably made with Adzuki beans.
Black beans are also high in antioxidants. These are used a lot in Latin American Cuisine.
Kidney beans are a great finger food. My sister opens a can of them, rinses the beans of the slime, then puts them in a baggy and her dairy allergic son eats them as a snack. They are great on salads!
Mung beans are small green beans that are easy to sprout.
Pinto beans are common in mexican food and are what refried beans are generally made of. They are also used to make baked beans.
Great Northern beans are white beans and are delicious in soups and can be ground into flour to use as a thickener. I have a delicious cream of broccoli soup recipe with ground great northern beans.

Beans are also great for food storage. They last a long time. Costco has big bags of Pinto beans for about $12. 330 servings in those bags comes out to about 3.5 cents per cup. That is as cheap as it gets!

I love to put about a cup of beans in a bowl and add cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cilantro, onion and lime. Hmm. Very quick and tasty. You can put them in burritos. Blend it into a dip or spread. Add beans to your quesadillas for more nutrition and fewer calories.


lisapow said...

Love beans!!! Seriously such a great way to eat healthy and if you are trying to lose weight. Fiber is so important to help you stay full and not be hungry. So I am a huge BEAN fan. Of course, I never know how to cook them - SO THANKS!!!
Ha ha. I remember the plasma donating!!! Good times as poor students ;)

Keri said...

You have converted me! I love beans but never cook them myself. I totally should. I will try it out and let you know how it goes over!

workout mommy said...

you make it sounds so easy! I am going to try it though, thanks!

Amanda said...

I am so glad I found your blog! I'm going to try this.

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