Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit...

I've been noticing my cabinet (or rather my sorry excuse for a pantry) has been thinning out since we've started eliminating processed foods from our life.  Those three little shelves used to be stuffed to the brim with Cheese-its, Goldfish, tons of pasta, canned veggies, canned soups, canned beans, canned fruit, instant rice, instant <cringe> mashed potatoes, microwave popcorn, and a whole number of other pre-packaged snacky foods with claims of being "low fat" or "only 90 calories."  

I did not really cook a lot with beans but when I did, I ALWAYS used canned beans.  Up until 3 weeks ago I had never even thought of using dry beans.  All that work and time?  No way - I wanted it NOW.  But I have learned a fantastic little kept secret.  Dry beans are NOT that difficult to make, they taste better, AND they are not full of - well who knows what, right?!  An excellent source of protein and fiber, a diet rich in beans can actually help you reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as improve diabetic blood glucose control.  Preventive medicine in a tiny little bean.  Yes please!  

Of course you can still benefit from using canned beans so don't let that stop you from eating them.   But if you have never tried them from their dry state, give it a go.  Here are a few ways to do so.  

Method 1
Place the beans in a container that has a lid.  Pour cold water over them until the are submerged and then cover.  Let sit overnight.  (I left mine in the refrigerator until I needed them the next day for my recipe.)  You might need to add more water before you go to bed.  This method does not cook them.  The beans are ready to be cooked the next day. This is the longest method but yields the best results while keeping the nutrition benefits high.

Method 2
The "quick" method.  This works great for me.  Preheat your oven to 250.  Place the beans is either a dutch oven (on my wish list) or a regular pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil for about 3 minutes.  If using a dutch oven, transfer them directly to the preheated oven.  Otherwise, transfer the beans to an oven safe dish with a lid.  Let them bake for 75 minutes.  After the initial 75 minutes add water if needed and check every 15 minutes until you have your desired consistency.  Mine usually take about 90 minutes total.

Now what? Of course you can use your beans on their own like black beans or pinto beans on taco night or throw some in a salad.  Or you can get a little fancy.  Are you ready?  Lets make some bean recipes!  Click on the links below the pictures for the recipes.

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