Today we’re going to take another look at beans and all of the GREAT things that you can do with them. I’m so enamored with the bounty of bean possibilities that I’ve set out the past 6 months to ensure that I have several hundred pounds of a variety of beans as well as an assortment of more than 40 different kinds of beans that I can grow which will provide me with endless possibilities of this staple thanks to my ability to acquire organic, non-hybrid, non-gmo beans.
(I’m not sure that we’ll be able to buy non-gmo beans commercially for much longer given the predatory nature of Monsanto and the politicians and judges who are willing to play ball with them.)
My first exposure to using beans in a non-traditional sense was at a preparedness fair in which a delicious brownie was served that had beans as a part of the ingredients. Yup, it sounded crazy to me too when I heard about it, but it was the first brownie I ever tasted that actually satisfied me instead of making me feel like I needed to consume 5 more. It was a beautiful balance between cake-like and creamy. I was hooked.
When I attended my last half of high school in Ohio, I lived with my father and step-mother. They had always tried to provide us with healthier food options than I would normally experience. One of my favorite after-school snacks that I ever had was fresh 100% whole wheat bread, spread with a delicious bean paste and topped with a little bit of cheddar cheese. I’d put it in the oven for just a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and then enjoy an ever perfect mouthful of this creamy, garlic concoction. It gave me the fuel I needed to pull some late night theater rehearsals or homework and it always seemed to satiate my appetite.
Having struggled with fibromyalgia over the past couple of years, I’ve looked at a myriad of ways to eliminate more gluten foods from my household in ways that didn’t drive me bonkers. Beans, bean flour, bean paste, bean flakes, dehydrated beans, bean sprouts, etc. have been a God-send in that pursuit. I’ve discovered that beans not only have abundant nutritional values, but they have a wide application that are very attractive in the kitchen—even a kitchen like mine which strives to create scrumptious dishes with a dash of gourmet flair. If you’ve got a blender, a sprouter, flaker, or a pressure cooker then you’ll never have to live with the typical stereotypes about beans taking forever to enjoy. And you won’t have to cover them up in sugary sweet syrups to enjoy either. You’ll discover a VERY affordable way to add quality nutrients that are readily absorbable in most bodies.
When I make up a quick batch of bean flour it typically is headed into a favorite soup recipe as it cooks in less than 5 minutes and provides a rich, creamy background without diluting the carefully structured layers of flavors. I don’t need to rinse and soak and rinse and soak when I cook them in my pressure cooker and they’re done in less than 20 minutes packed full of flavor. I’ve discovered mixing different varieties of beans to be the “secret ingredient” of many of my formerly “blah” recipes. For those who are plagued by all kinds of food allergies such as dairy or gluten, you’ll find that beans can be a fabulous substitute while also being the secret ingredient to the perfect cupcake that is neither too light nor too heavy. The addition of beans to a dish, whether it be in the form of whole, cracked, flour, or paste will be your culinary hero.
In terms of running a household with a year’s supply of pantry ingredients at any one time, you’ll find that beans are very tolerant of neglect—though I suspect that after you discover the myriad of ways they can be used, you might stop treating them so poorly. *grin* While you may traditionally think of them as a savory food item, it won’t take you long to discover that they also cross over into tasty breakfast dishes as well as desserts worthy of gift-giving and blue ribbons. Second only to wheat, they are the least expensive form of protein that I’ve found and contain as much as 50% more protein than your more traditional protein sources and with lower fat and calories. Combined with nuts, seeds, or quality grains such as brown rice or quinoa they create a perfect high-fiber protein with a great supply of vital amino acids. Compare the average cost as less than 50 cents a pound vs. the skyrocketing prices of beef today at $4.00 per pound minimum—beans should become your new best friend—FAST! They typically will at least double in volume when converted from dried to cook with most of the species actually tripling in volume. Cheap, nutritious, good for you, delicious and a powerful secret weapon in the kitchen--what more could you ask for, right?
Lest you think I’m completely blinded by love and thus unaware of the downside of beans allow me to at least share with you a few cautions in using beans. It is true that the longer your beans are exposed to oxygen the longer they will need to cook. And like all foods, the longer they sit the lower their nutritional values will be. However, I do have methods which I use to counteract those bugaboos. (Of course I do. You wouldn’t expect anything else from me, would you?) In order to maintain nutritional quality I purchase my beans whole and then make my own flour and such. Once you’ve made a whole food into flour you’ve created the fastest way to lose nutrients. Secondly, even though the older they get the longer they need to cook, a pressure cooker and some baking soda can certainly offset that cook time dramatically. I will frequently store my specialty beans in ½ gallon mason jars and then use the Foodsaver jar attachment to extract the oxygen from the jars. This also preserves the nutrients for as long as I store them that way. I would strongly caution you in using soybeans however. They are the ONLY bean that don’t make their way into my home regularly as finding non GMO soy is very difficult nowadays—and almost impossible due to the legal lying that’s permitted by the USDA and soybeans are an estrogen mimicker which leads to nearly every disease of the female reproductive system today. (See “The Estrogen Alternative” by Dr. Judy Gerstung).
You can purchase a great selection of bean sprouts through Five Star Preparedness and I highly recommend the bean flour from Azure Standard. (WARNING: Do not purchase any bean flour products which contain canola oil unless you WANT to ruin all of the health benefits of your beans.) I’d also look for whole beans for sale at your local grocery stores, Costco, and Sam’s Club as well as from your local grocery stores. I also love going to the Hispanic grocery stores when I stand bedazzled by all of the beautiful bean selections that I find there. (Yup, I hear angels singing that single perfect pitch note when I find my beans!) This particular website http://www.zursunbeans.com/beans/ causes me to drool worse than I do when I walk into a DSW store. (That’s shoes for those of you who don’t know—beautiful designer shoes at rock bottom clearance prices!)
Some of my favorite beans are garbanzo, pinto, black, navy, adzuki, Anasazi, black eye, pink, Calypso, Black Turtle, Great Northern, lima, red lentils, split peas, mung, and of course kidney. But I have yet to find a bean that I didn’t like—well, except for that bean that’s called “rice”—It tasted just fine but it sure did confuse me when I was organizing everything. *grin* Seriously, it’s called Brown Rice Bean aka Fawn (and there’s also a White Rice Bean); and it does look really pretty in a rice dish just like you’d expect a contrasting rice color to look.
The person I consider to be the God Father of beans is actually the God Mother—Rita Bingham. That woman has done more with beans than Gallagher has ever done with melons! I’ve enjoyed taking what Rita’s books have taught me and add that splash of sassy, enchanting, or spicy seasonings. I highly recommend her book called “Country Beans”. Some of my very favorite recipes that I make regularly in my home involve BEANS or bean flour. (Unfortunately, Rita began writing her books before discovering the poisonous nature of canola oil, but you can just substitute coconut oil or applesauce for most oil requirements in her recipes.
Now of course if I mention eating beans there’s going to be some silly person asking about flatulence. The truth of the matter is, if you got your body accustomed to eating beans you wouldn’t have a flatulence problem. Soaking the beans will help with that issue as will a fabulous blend of essential oils I use called Digest from Be Young Essential Oils or Coriander Essential Oil from the same company. Both are the European medicinal quality and can be purchased at Five Star Preparedness. (Europe and the U.K. USE essential oils as a part of their medical industry, the U.S. on the other hand discourages losing profits to something that they can’t patent. If you stick with this caliber of essential oils you’ll never need to rely on any of those silly made up certification gimmicks that a lot of essential oils companies use in the U.S.)
O.K So are you up for trying a recipe using bean flour?? This is one of my favorites from Rita’s book “Country Beans” but with a few of my tweaks to the recipe.
Spicy Pinto Cupcakes
2 ½ t. baking powder
1 ¼ c. honey
1 t. salt
½ t. allspice
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. cloves
¾ c. water
1 T. molasses*
1 t. orange zest
Beat 2 minutes and then add:
3 large eggs
¼ c. water
1 T. dry milk powder
¾ c. mashed pinto beans
Beat for 2 more minutes.
Cool to the touch.
* (I love using the molasses powder from Five Star Preparedness)