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My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

27 Mar 2014

Cooking dried beans


Beans are an excellent and inexpensive source of protein and substitute for animal protein. We love them, but they don’t always love us. If they aren’t prepared and cooked properly, they can cause gas, bloating and cramping.  
Beans are hard to digest for three reasons:
1. Oligosaccharides. Humans do not produce the enzyme, alpha-galactosidase, that is needed to properly break down this short carbohydrate chain. (By the way, the product Beano and some digestive enzymes are specifically designed to break down the oligosaccharides in beans.)
2. Beans also contain phytic acid, an ‘anti-nutrient’ which can block your body’s absorption of some minerals.
3. Beans contain a lot of fiber. A lot, as in 8 or 9 grams per half-cup serving. If your body isn’t accustomed to ingesting that much fiber in one meal, you will likely be ‘hearing’ from your lunch soon after eating it.
To counter these problems, some preparation and especially time are required to cook dried beans. 
Without question, canned beans are super-convenient and dried are… well, a labour of love. But they don’t have to be. Follow these easy steps for cooking – and more importantly, freezing beans – and you’ll have them stocked and ready to go for making dips, chili, casserole, soups, quesadillas, minestrone, salads and more!  
Time-Saver! Take a significant short-cut by soaking and pre-cooking at least 3 types of beans at the same time. Kidney beans, black beans and chick peas are my staples, and I like to have them on hand and meal-ready.
1.    Sort and discard any stones or discoloured beans. You don’t want to find any pebbles in your black bean soup!
2.    Rinse beans in cold water.
3.    Now you have 2 options:
a.    Soak beans in warm, salted water (about one teaspoon of salt for each pound of beans to keep the beans from hardening) for at least 48 hours. Change the water at least 3 times a day. Pour it down the drain – don’t try to re-use it in other recipes, and definitely don’t water your plants with it. It will kill them!
b.    Cook beans right away. If you skip the pre-soak step and go directly to cooking beans, wait until they’re cooked about half-way before adding salt. 

If you will not be using the beans for a meal right away, when they are about half-cooked, pull them off the stove, drain, cool and freeze in glass or plastic containers until they are needed.

To cook beans, place them into a large pot and cover with about 2 inches of water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer. Stir occasionally and add more liquid if needed. Cook until the beans are tender and easily mashed with a fork. The cooking time varies based on the type of bean. Use this chart as a reference:  
Dry measure 1 cup (250 ml)
Water
Cooking Time
Yield
Adzuki
3 cups
45 minutes
3 cups
Black beans
3 cups
1.5 hours
3 cups
Chickpeas (Garbanzo)
4 cups
3 hours
2½ cups
Kidney or pinto beans
3 cups
2 hours
2 cups
Lentils, split peas
3 cups
35-45 minutes
2¼ cups
Navy beans
3 cups
2.5 hours
2 cups
Soybeans
4 cups
3.5 hours
3 cups

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