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Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit

We were all in elementary school once, so I’m sure we’ve all heard that ubiquitous rhyme about these mighty legumes. The thing is, beans are a pretty amazing food, whether you’re vegan or not! They’re full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

So is it possible to incorporate more beans into your diet without falling victim to that old schoolyard limerick? Of course! Here are a couple of tips to get you started, and some recipes to help you eat more of this magical “fruit” without being so musical.

Beans are rich in fiber, and for the uninitiated, that can cause some…er….uncomfortable side effects. For folks used to the Standard American Diet – dairy, meat, processed flour – suddenly adding a high fiber food is quite a shock to the system! Even if you eat a more healthy diet than the S.A.D., it might be a little rough on your insides.

The key here is moderation, at least at first. Don’t try a heaping bowl of black bean soup for dinner or a gigantic helping of three bean chili. Start slowly, and work your way towards a full-on beany meal. Put 1/4c of beans on top of your salad or add a small amount to a soup or stew. As you get used to the extra fiber, you’ll want to up your intake gradually so your body can get acclimated.

Another trick, which I learned from a college friend, is to thoroughly rinse your canned beans before using them. This is really a good idea regardless, since it helps eliminate a lot of the salt. I’m not sure what it is about this, but it definitely made a difference for me. I couldn’t find any data linking dietary salt intake to gas, but salt does cause water retention and bloating, along with a slough of other health problems.

So are you ready to give beans another shot? We’ve got a bunch of beany recipes for ya!

What about you guys? Do you have any favorite bean recipes you’d like to share?

Image Credits:
Black Beans. Creative Commons photo by adobemac
Tacos. Photo by Sharon Troy

7 comments
  1. Adam

    I make a really simple vegan recipe this time of year using black beans. I basically sautee bok choy in a touch of peanut oil and not-chicken broth and then in a separate pan i cook leeks over some peanut oil. i combine the 2 items, thrown on some black beans, and it’s really delicious.

    i love your site, btw.

    Adam

  2. William Furr

    Beans are great! And thanks for the tips.

    I would add, however, the dried beans are an incredible deal for the nutrients you get in them. The added soak and cook time over canned beans is really minimal in the amount of work it takes. You can even let them go overnight in a crockpot or slow cooker for really low maintenance.

    Dried beans are easier on your wallet (1/3 the cost of canned beans, which are already much cheaper than meat and dairy!) and the environment too. Less resources go into producing and transporting them, compared to the canned beans.

    http://cookforgood.com/basic_beans_recipe.html

    Even canned beans, tho, are a step up from the S.A.D., as you astutely point out.

  3. Becky Striepe

    Adam – That sounds absolutely delicious! I’ll have to try that out.

    William – Great point. And you’re so right…soaking overnight or using the slow cooker really takes the hassle out of using dried beans. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Bonnie

    A friend told me that if you thoroughly rinse your dried beans after they’ve soaked, it will help with the gas, too. I haven’t tried it. I know dried beans can save a lot of money, but I rarely plan ahead enough to make dishes with them.

    Rob and I have figured out that we might have to give up lentils. No amount of Bean-o seems to help. :(

  5. Becky

    Oh no! But lentils are so delicious! Does it make a difference if you eat something that contains lentils vs something that’s totally lentil-based?

  6. Eat Drink Better » Blog Archive » Black Bean Quesadillas: My Favorite Summer Meal, Ever.

    […] First and foremost, pre-cook your corn and black beans. The corn should be boiled on the cob for 5 minutes or so. Take it out of the water to cool and slice the kernels off the corn. The beans take a long time to cook. You must first soak them overnight to soften them. They should then be cooked in a large pot and covered with 2 inches of water. Bring them to a boil and simmer for 60-90 minutes, or until tender. You will find your beans delicious and nutritious. […]

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