Today’s Transformation Tuesdays is all about a very CHEAP AND EFFECTIVE way to increase your nutrition and stay fuller longer. What way is this? EAT BEANS! More accurately, eat “legumes” or “pulses” which includes peas, lentils, and some nuts. Beans work together with small amounts of whole grains, dairy, and meat to form “complete proteins” that make a low-cost meal plan very filling.
Beans/Legumes contain the following benefits:
- B vitamins
- Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
The following legumes are easily incorporated into many dishes (I use them all and I have included suggested dishes to put them in):
- Black Beans: delicious chili, homemade veggie burgers
- Garbanzo Beans: stews and soups
- Lentils: dosas, soups, and salads
- Pinto Beans: home-made refried beans
- Navy Beans: home-made baked-beans.
- Black eyed peas: sides and soups
For a comprehensive discussion on beans, instructions for cooking and many delicious recipes, I recommend spending the $8 or so on Kitchen Stewardship’s eBook, The Everything Beans Book, which is also available on the Kindle through Amazon.com. To get the PDF version, click on the image below:
Preparation to maximize nutrition is surprisingly simple, but DO NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BAG. Here is a better way:
- Prepare 2 lbs at a time. Rinse beans thoroughly in a colander and pick out “dud” beans and dirt.
- Cover beans in a large stock pot with filtered water (no fluoride or chlorine DPBs) that has been heated on the stove until comfortably hot to touch (not boiling). The beans should be covered with water 4 times their depth in the pot; the pot should have a few inches of room for the water level to rise as the beans expand without it spilling over. Cover the pot and set it out of the way.
- Let the beans soak, covered for 24-48 hours; beans that are newly harvested require less soak time than beans that have been stored for a long time. Ideally, beans should be consumed within 4-6 months of harvesting. Old beans are difficult to soak and cook.
- Drain off soak water and rinse beans in a colander.
- In the case of Kidney and Lima beans (see “CAUTION” below), put beans back in the stock pot and add sufficient filtered water to cover to twice the volume of the beans; place on the stove top and bring to a boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and rinse as in step 4.
- Put the beans and fresh, filtered water (or chicken stock, or combination of the two)–enough to cover the beans to twice their volume in a large Crockpot and cook on “LOW” for approximately 8 hours (depending on the soak time and freshness of the beans).
- Scoop out beans or strain them over a bowl so you can retain the cooking water.
- When the beans have cooled, store in sandwich bags: 2 cups of beans per bag. Lay them flat and store in the ‘fridge if you are going to use them in 2-3 days, or place bags in a freezer bag and store in the freezer if you are going to use them after 3 days.
- The bean cooking water is filled with nutrients and can be used in lieu of chicken stock. For added nutrition, simmer bean cooking water with a quartered onion, two chopped carrots, two sticks of celery with leaves on, and 6 cloves of garlic for one hour. Remove the vegetables and discard (or save them for home-made soups). Treat the Bean Broth as stock and store the same.
In case you are worried about flatulence, it is the soak water that contains most of the flatulence-inducing chemicals (that’s why we discard it); the cooking water contains some, but it isn’t worth throwing it away your you’ll lose the nutrition. The slow cooking helps to break down the sugars in the bean that are difficult to digest. The more often you eat beans, the less flatulence you will experience; your body will produce more of the enzymes necessary to break down the sugars. Make sure to eat beans with dairy, a little meat (only a few ounces per serving), and/or whole grains (non-degerminated cornmeal or whole wheat) to maximize nutrition.
There are four beans that require caution:
- FAVA BEANS: Fava beans can cause Hemolytic Anemia in people with mutations of the G6PD (Glucose-6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase) gene. Like Fragile X Syndrome, it is a mutation of the X-chromosome so affects men most adversely. It is estimated that 1 in 10 African-American males have a G6PD gene mutation; anyone of Mediterranean, African, or Asian descent should avoid consuming Fava beans or being exposed to the pollen of the Fava bean plant (a genetics test would be required to ensure you have no such heritage hidden in your family history). It is also worth noting that survivors of Malaria should also be concerned: G6PD gene mutations prevent Malaria from penetrating red blood cells. [Personal note: This goes to show that contrary to the General Theory of Evolution (GTE), gene mutations do not pose universal advantages; while one benefit is obtained (resistance to malaria), an equally great danger is posed (hemolytic anemia). A similar situation to this is sickle-cell anemia, which affects the same population group as G6PD gene mutations do, although it has no direct bearing on Fava Bean consumption.] Therefore, it is best for everyone to avoid Fava beans entirely.
- SOY BEANS: Soy beans contain a high amount of phytic acid which prevents absorption of its vitamins and minerals. The acid actually binds itself to helpful minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc) so they cannot be absorbed and are eliminated from the body. Soy beans also inhibit the digestive system’s enzyme activity (particularly trypsin), causing significant digestive complications. Soy products also contain phytochemicals (daidsen, genistein, and isoflavone) that prevent your thyroid from functioning properly. Even though soybeans contain a complete protein, it lacks the full amino acid complement to make it viable as a sole source of protein. Due to the complications already noted, soybeans are largely ANTI-nutritive. The only way to consume soy products safely is if they have been fermented. Cooking alone is not sufficient to remove the dangers soy beans present to our overall health.
- KIDNEY and LIMA BEANS: Kidney and Lima Beans are last on the list because they are actually very good for you…but there is ONE thing that cannot be forgotten. Whatever else you do to them, they must be rigorously boiled for 10-15 minutes. Kidney, Lima and Soy beans contain lectins which bind to your intestines and prevent you from absorbing your food; they also cause blood cells to bind together. The lectins–working in combination with the protease inhibitors also in these beans–cause a gastric distress that can send you to the emergency room with food poisoning symptoms. The good news is that vigorous boiling destroys these harmful chemicals, so kidney and lima beans that have been prepared properly should be safe and nutritious. Even so, if you are a forgetful person (!) it may be better to avoid them. It only takes eating a couple undercooked beans to cause serious problems.
I hope you found this Transformation Tuesdays post informative and useful. If you know of anyone who would be interested in saving money on their grocery bill by incorporating legumes, please share using one of the many features below. Thanks!