Let’s face it. Beans get a bad rap. If they aren’t being blamed for bloat, they’re being called a cheap food selection (as if that’s really a bad thing). But I’m here to tell you there are a lot of good reasons to add beans to your menu, and I, for one, count them among my list of favorite foods to eat. They’re a good staple to have in your pantry, and yes, they are inexpensive. Most importantly, though, they’re nutritious, filling, delicious, and versatile enough to act as a side dish or your main course.
Beans: Good for Your Heart
The first thing I want you to remember is that beans are healthy for you. What other food offers you a significant amount of proteins and a bunch of vitamins and minerals while also being high in fiber and low in fat? On average, a half-cup of cooked beans is going to yield you about 8 grams of protein yet only cost you about 115 calories. Then there’s the fact that they contain lignans, which may help prevent a slew of problems. There are also the flavonoids, which are thought to lower cancer and heart disease risk. They even provide plant sterol esters, which can help lower your cholesterol. Convinced yet? I know I am.
Beating the Bloat
Now, I won’t lie to you. Beans can cause a bit of bloat. This is because they contain a type of sugar called oligosaccharides. The body can’t break these sugars down until they get to your large intestine, where the bacteria there does the job, producing the byproduct of extra…err…wind. In most cases, eating a serving of beans isn’t going to cause a major gassy issue (and there are plenty of other foods that contain oligosaccharides—broccoli, grains, cabbage, etc.), but if it causes significant issues for you, go ahead and try an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase. Sold under the brand name Beano, this enzyme sees to it that oligosaccharides get broken down before they hit your intestine, so you don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable bloat.
Types of Dry Beans
You have plenty of options when it comes to cooking dry beans. Some of the most frequently used types are Azuki, which are commonly used in Asian cuisine; baby limas, which are great in soups and stews; and black-eyed peas, which can be used like baby limas or even included in salads. Then there are garbanzo beans (chick peas), which you probably know best for their use in hummus and salads, and Great Northern beans, which while commonly used to prepare bean salad, bean dip, and even baked beans, are also great in casseroles and pasta dishes.
Black beans? Go ahead and use them in your favorite chili recipe or treat yourself to a black bean burger. You might be surprised at how tasty they can be. If you want to be a little daring, I say give black bean brownies a go, and be sure to let me know what you think. Don’t forget about habas, which are also called broad or fava beans. They can be used in stews, marinated, or even added to salads. They even play the starring role in some types of pureed soups.
Here are Nino’s, we’re proud to offer you 20 different varieties of dried beans, including Brown Lentils, Adzuki, Black, Black-Eyed Peas, Habas and Garbanzo. I hope you’ll give each one a try and I won’t leave you hanging on cooking them, either. Here are a few recipes sure to make a bean lover out of you:
Black Bean Soup With Smoked Ham
Zesty Broccoslaw With Corn Beans
Mexican Chayote Squash Bean Salad
Chinese Eggplant With Peppers and Black Bean Sauce
How to Rehydrate Beans
Dried beans typically need to be rehydrated before you cook them. Here’s what I do:
- Sort through the beans to make sure no small stones, twigs, or other debris end up as part of your meal.
- Rinse them thoroughly with cool water. Use a colander, but pick up handfuls to rinse in your fingers and get rid of any dirt clumps you see.
- Place the rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover them with a couple of inches of water. Even if you have a small amount of beans, you need a bowl big enough to handle the volume when your beans expand.
- Stick the bowl in the refrigerator and let them soak for about 4 hours (up to 24) or until they’re about twice the size they were dry.
- Drain the beans and toss the water you soaked them in. Give them another rinse, and they’re ready to use.
I know you’re probably thinking it’s quicker to use canned beans, but keep in mind that you’re sacrificing taste and texture when you use canned, not to mention adding in a bunch of unnecessary sodium. If you’re pressed for time, cover your beans in boiling water and they’ll rehydrate in about half the time. Honestly, this step is pretty easy and doesn’t take up much of your time.
The recipes above are a good place to start, but here’s a quick how-to if you just want to know the basics of how to cook beans.
- Place your soaked, rinsed beans in a pot and cover them with about an inch of water.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour before you check to see if they’re done. Typically, you’ll need about one to three hours, depending on the beans.
- Add salt when your beans are just getting tender.
- Remove from the heat when they are the tenderness and creaminess you enjoy.
In addition to the recipes above here is a link to our bean guide: Nino’s Delicious Guide to Beans.
Stop into Nino’s today to grab some dried beans and try out one of our tasty recipes.