Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tip: Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit...

While picking up my loot from Central Bean, they gave me a great flier from the US Dry Bean Council (in the shape of a large bean, no less!) which had some great facts about beans. Not only can we get beans locally in Washington, they are actually a fantastic meat substitute. Check it out:
  • A 1/2-cup serving of beans contains key nutrients, including protein, folate, manganese, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and iron.
  • Beans are cholesterol and fat-free.
  • A diet including beans may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Beans are comparable to meat when it comes to protein.
  • One cup of beans has about 12 grams of fiber - about half of a woman's daily intake (meat has none)
  • Beans are high in phytochemicals, compounds only found in vegetables. These antioxidants incapacitate cell damaging free radicals. 
  • White beans contain 19 grams of protein per cup.

Since beginning this eating locally experiment, I've discovered preparation is the key to survival. With dried beans, you not only need to soak beans before using them, you also need to cook them before adding them to any recipe. (Trust me on this, I had a tragic hummus experiment that resulted in a near dead blender).

While it can be time consuming preparing beans, there are some short cuts I've stumbled upon:

 1 ) Quick Soak Beans
(1 cup of dried beans is more than enough for a dinner for four, and 1 cup of dried garbanzos is perfect for a weeks supply of hummus)
In a large pot, add 3 cups of water to each cup of beans. Bring to a boil, and cook at medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for one hour. RINSE. 

Little known fact: Most of the compounds that cause flatulence are found in the soaking water. Beans are much more digestible if you rinse them after soaking.

2 ) Cook
Add enough fresh water to cover the beans, and simmer them until tender, approx. 1-2 hours.

Again, this may seem time consuming, but this is something you can do ahead! If you do a big pot of beans for quick use throughout the week, you can FREEZE them and use for quick meals later.

We tend to make enough for a week and refrigerate them in a tupperware. I then make one batch of hummus for sandwiches, and one batch for a quick vegetarian stir-fry later in the week.


  1. I really really do need to add more beans to our diet. We get so lazy and everything needs to get quickly from the freezer to the table. I like the idea of doing them ahead and keeping them refrigerated. You can also can the beans after you get them through the first soak. I used to do that years ago and it was so nice to be able to take them off the shelf and have them ready to eat.

  2. I think I need your hummus recipe... I tried it once, with ho-hum results. And I never thought to put it on sandwiches! Great idea!!

  3. And maybe some of your other favorite bean recipes... Maybe that will nudge me from my bean laziness - I have to admit, I generally crack open a can....:)

  4. I plan on doing the freezing thing this weekend, so I'll be sure to have a follow up on how that turns out. Tina, I think the trick is garlic and cumin, and using good oil. I'll send a recipe to you! And as for the beans, I use them in quick stir-fry's for an added fiber and protein source. Also in soups and stews...just a cup here and a cup there to get the good stuff added in. :)