Monday, July 18, 2011

Beware of the Beans!

     People tend to steer clear from beans as they have a bad rap for causing a few side effects... we'll leave those unmentioned! However, beans can be a vegetarian, vegan, and non-vegetarian's best friend as long as they are soaked and cooked properly to avoid those disturbing side effects.
     When using the proper methods to create a side dish or a main dish with beans, you will surely be left feeling pleasantly satisfied! Canned beans are not cooked using these methods, therefore all of the gases remain in the beans. I encourage you to start from scratch and enjoy the process of making your beans at home!
Green Split Peas
The smaller the bean, the easier it is to digest.

         Beautiful beans:
  • High in protein, iron, and fiber.
  • No cholesterol, trace amount of fat.
  • Contains soluble and insoluble fiber & provides bio-available calcium.
  • Oligosaccharides are the complex carbohydrates in the beans that are difficult for digestive enzymes to break up - the bacteria in the gut is the cause of the gas as it tries to digest the oligosaccharides. Gas can be released before consumption by following the steps below. 
Beans 101
  • Sort & Wash - remove stones or dried out beans.
  • Rinse beans 3-4 times, scrubbing the outer skins.
  • Soak beans in filtered water for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Discard soaking water and fill pot with enough water to cover the beans by one inch for cooking.
  • Improve the digestibility of your beans by adding Epazote, a bay leaf, Kombu, Ginger, Turmeric, or Fennel, during the cooking process.
  • Cook the beans uncovered for 15-20 minutes - skim off all the foam. Cover for remaining cooking time.
  • Add cold water to the beans as they soak up water (this also enhances the flavor of the beans).
  • Cook beans with root/round vegetables, season well, and add spicy falvors (garlic, black pepper) to further improve the digestibility.
  • Chew well!
     This may seem like it's a long, drawn out process, but it really isn't! Once you get the hang of it, cooking beans will become second nature to you. You'll never want to buy a can of beans again!

     Let's start simple with some good ol' fashioned refried beans (minus the lard):

Refried Pinto Beans
1 cup pinto beans, soaked
2 tsp dried or fresh epazote
2-3 Tbsp oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic
Variations: cilantro, chilies, cumin, shoyu, scallions
Put beans in a pot, cover with water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove any foam, and then add epazote or bay leaf. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered; until they’re partially tender (30-45 minutes). After about 40 minutes, add 1 tsp salt, and then continue cooking until they’re soft. Drain reserving the broth.
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-heat - Add onion and cook until nicely browned – 8-10 minutes. Add garlic during the last few minutes. Add the beans, onion/garlic mixture, and broth as needed to a food processor and blend until desired consistency has been reached. Return to skillet to remain warm. Taste for salt.
Delicious when served with homemade corn tortillas and guacamole!

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