Cooking With Beans
By Crystal Miller
Beans are one of the main food staples of our home. I serve bean
based meals to my family 2 to 3 times weekly. Beans are a very high quality,
nutritious, budget friendly food for your family. They are a good source of
soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower cholesterol. Beans in general, are good
sources of things like, folate, potassium, iron, manganese, copper and zinc.
They are low in fat and when combined with grains or a little meat they amply
supply your diet with its needed protein.
One of the main drawbacks that people complain about is that
beans cause gas. If you are not use to beans in your diet, your body has more
trouble digesting them. So the good news is that the more you eat beans, the
easier it will be for your body to digest them and you will find that gas
problems will greatly diminish. If you don't eat a lot of beans at all then I
would suggest that you slowly start adding them to your regular menus. Begin by
serving them once a week and then more often as time goes on. Basically you need
to have them as part of your regular diet in order to build up natural good
intestinal flora that enables you to digest them.
If you are new to cooking beans or have had less than
satisfactory results in cooking beans then here are a few tips to help. To begin
with I never bother with soaking beans. I don't even do the fast soak, the one
where you boil the beans for 2 minutes and then turn off heat, cover pan and let
them sit for 1 hour. I simply put my beans in a large pot and cover with the
appropriate amount of water, add salt and cook. I think that the soaking does
help cut down the cooking time, but I have never found that the soaking helps
with anything else. The other thing that I "always" do is add salt to my beans
right at the beginning. I have read in many places that salt will prevent your
beans from cooking. I have never experienced this. When I salt the beans ahead
of time I find that the beans are very flavorful and the bean broth is
delicious. Another important tip to remember when cooking beans is that foods
high in acid such as tomatoes will cause your beans not to cook. Make sure high
acid foods are added `after' the beans are cooked and soft.
Basic Bean Cooking Directions
1 cup dry beans, any variety
4 cups water
1 t. salt
Put all ingredients into a cooking pot and bring to a boil.
Cover and turn heat down to somewhere between medium and low. You want the boil
to continue, just not to fast. Simmer beans for about 2 to 3 hours or until soft
and completely cooked. Don't let the beans run out of water so check them now
and again and add more water if needed. This recipe may be multiplied many times
depending on how many beans you need. You can freeze cooked beans in 2 cup
portions to use in any recipe that calls for a can of beans. This is very handy
to have on hand and much more inexpensive than buying canned beans.
Here is one of my family's favorite budget friendly bean meals.
Crystal Miller Serves 8 to 10
1 lb hamburger
4 to 5 cups cooked beans, we like to use black beans
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1/2 cups ketchup, fruit sweetened if possible
2T Worcestershire sauce
1 6oz. can tomato paste
3/4 cup water
2 to 3T apple cider vinegar, according to taste
3T Sucanat or Brown Sugar
1t dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Brown hamburger with onions and green pepper. Add cooked beans.
In a small bowl mix remaining ingredients. Add to hamburger bean mixture and
simmer long enough to get everything hot and blend flavors.