Beans, what’s not to love? Black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, string beans…so much variety. All offer protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Beans are a good source of folate, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. The high fiber in beans helps to lower cholesterol and prevent blood sugar spikes. The rich amounts of antioxidants, folate, vitamin B6, and magnesium all contribute to improving heart health (plus putting your doughnut down wouldn’t hurt) Beans have also been associated with offering a protective defense against cancer.
So why don’t we love beans? Gurgle gurgle……Often beans are associated with digestive discomfort. Beans, nuts, and grains are basically all types of seeds. If you know anything about seeds, you know that they need near perfect conditions to sprout. Here’s a hint- birds help us to spread seeds………seeds survive the digestion process in order to grow in new places where the conditions are right. The seed protects itself with phytic acid, found in the outer hull of the seed. Phytic acid allows the seed to keep it’s own nutrients on lock down. It binds to other important nutrients in the intestinal tract (calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium) making them unavailable. Phytic acid contains enzyme inhibitors to discourage digestion- effectively stopping the enzymes our body uses to break down food.
How do we break down the seeds to improve the mineral absorption and enzyme activity in our digestive tracts ? It’s actually easier then you think….Soak your beans! (The same goes for nuts and seeds, but that’s another story.) This will allow us to absorb all the rich nutrients powers. Magical! 😉
By soaking, you’re “watering” your seed, telling it that it’s ok to disarm the chemical defense and start to grow – this is when the nutrients will be released for you to enjoy! While you do need to prep ahead, prepping takes no time.
How to prep your dried beans:
- Spread dried beans out and remove any stones or questionable looking beans. Rinse beans to remove dirt.
- Add beans to a bowl or large ball jar.
- Cover with water (I used filtered, warm or room temp)
- Add an acid like vinegar or lemon juice – about 1 tablespoon per cup of water- I just eyeball it.
- Cover and place in a warm, dark place – on the kitchen counter, on top of the refrigerator, etc.
- Soak overnight (you can soak beans up to 48 hours, but change the water at least once)
- Drain and rinse before cooking.
So what about canned beans? Sure, they’re convenient and they’re “soaked,” right? I’m not sure where the stigma came from, but dried beans really don’t take very long to cook- if you can boil water, you can cook dried beans. Dried beans are more budget friendly and you get to decide how to prep them. If you’re just beginning to get in the kitchen to start cooking fresh meals, or you simply forgot to soak/cook your beans and you are running very short on time, yes, you can have a pass. However, canned beans are not actually soaked, and they’re most likely preserved in their phytic acid containing juices (so never forget to at least rinse). Not to mention the BPA lined container and additives. If you are going to grab a can, I’d recommend looking for Eden Organic, as they offer a BPA free liner and many of their beans are cooked with Kombu.
Kombu?? Yes! It’s a sea vegetable that, when cooked with beans, absorbs compounds that cause gas, while adding additional nutrients. You can grab Kombu from the aisle with the Asian groceries, or at a local health food store.
Just a few more tips. After your dried beans are prepped, they’ll cook quite a bit faster. Add a strip of Kombu and let it work it’s magic while they’re cooking. Discard Kombu after cooking and drain your beans. Cooked beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Once cool, you can also place 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked beans in freezer bags and store for up to 6 months – pulling them out as you need them – just like canned, minus the junk, much less expensive, better for the Earth, and way more digestible.
Still have other concerns about your digestive system and beans? Try adzuki beans, as these tend to be more digestible from the start.
Now what to do with your delicious & nutritious beans? My Three Bean Chili recipe is a great way to incorporate a meatless meal into your week without the traditional carnivore even noticing. Plus, it’s versatile, so feel free to swap vegetables with what you have. Enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, large dice
- 3 medium carrots, half mooned
- 5 baby bella mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
- 1 tablespoon sea salt, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped cauliflower
- ½ small butternut squash, peeled, ½ inch cubes
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ cups dry sprouted quinoa**, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste*
- 6 cups filtered water
- ½ cup cooked kidney beans
- ½ cup cooked black beans
- ½ cup cooked navy beans
- 5 leaves dinosaur kale, de-stemmed and chopped
- sea salt and fresh pepper, to taste
- For garnish: 1 ripe avocado, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, raw cheddar cheese, shredded or sprinkle of nutritional yeast
- Heat a large stock on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil.
- Add onion, carrot, and mushroom. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Allow to sauté undisturbed for 3-5 minutes or until onion begins to turn translucent and edges begin to brown.
- Add garlic. Sauté an additional 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Adding one at a time- sprinkle with salt and add additional oil as pan gets dry, combine, and sauté for 1-2 minutes before adding next: add cauliflower, squash, and celery. This method helps to build flavor.
- Combine spices in a small bowl. Add spice mixture to sauté, stir to coat. Cook 2-3 more minutes, or until fragrant.
- Mix in quinoa and tomato paste. Add water, making sure you have enough to cover all produce by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked and squash is tender.
- Add beans and kale. Simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Serve warm, garnishing with your choice of toppings.
**I used TruRoots organic sprouted quinoa trio
***Don't have all the beans I listed: Use 1½ - 2 cups of any bean of your choice.