Beans, beans, the musical fruit the more you eat…. well you know how the rest of that song goes! I remember my four brothers (and my dad!) singing that to no end every time we had beans at our house growing up. Beans sometimes get a bad reputation for giving people gas or making them bloated. No wonder people make up funny songs about them! But beans are also a nutritional powerhouse of protein, fiber, and very little fat. Now that I am a vegan, I eat a TON of beans – I LOVE beans, and I wanted to share some of my “bean love” and tips with with you!
You can’t go wrong with canned beans. They are quick and easy and you can whip up something yummy in a heartbeat. See my black bean dip recipe for super quick way to try canned beans. With any canned beans, make sure you rinse, rinse, and rinse again. Rinse until the water turns clear – all that “white stuff” floating around is gas-inducing and you don’t want it!
Dried beans are REALLY cheap, and, while cooking them can be tricky at times, I have a few tips to help you make them perfect!
1. SOAK – nearly every bean can benefit from soaking. Soak them as long as possible – 6 hours at least. I soak mine overnight. I know this takes pre-planning and sometimes I have to kick myself for forgetting to soak my beans the night before. But trust me, this is a crucial step and if you forget or can’t commit to a long soaking time, I suggest reverting to canned beans for your dinner. After you soak the dried beans, drain and rinse them well before adding cooking water. Cooking times vary by bean, but I love to use my crock pot for cooking beans – that way I can put them on early and forget about them.
2. KOMBU – Kombu is a seaweed that is available at health food stores. It is pictured above, and while it may seem pricey to buy a package, one package will last you a long time. Put a 2″ piece of it in with your beans while they cook and even while they soak. It will not only add vitamins and minerals to your beans but it makes the beans easier to digest. Bay leaves work well too – you can even put both in there, but kombu really does the trick! Just know that as the beans cook the kombu will swell up and looks kind funky but you DON’T have to eat it – just take it out before you season the beans, which brings me to my third tip….
3. SEASONING – don’t season your beans (even with salt) until near the end of the cooking time. If you add salt too early it will harden the beans and they won’t cook to softness.
Once the beans are cooked you can do so many things with them. My family loves pinto beans and we have bean burritos frequently. I can’t get enough of black beans and I put them in a quinoa salad, add them to green salads, etc.
I urge you to give beans a chance. Try my tips and let me know how they work for you. And, let me know how you like to eat them. Here’s to beans!