Just because the little bite sized superheroes might leave a bit of a scented side-effect doesn’t mean a person should throw these babies out with the bathwater. Of course, to throw out the COOKING water will cut down vastly on the old gas. You lose a bit of minerals that way, but it will help you out at the beginning stages of romance. Another trick to cutting down on the farts is to cut off a 2 square inch hunk of kombu seaweed and cook it with the beans. Now, if I’m making beans as the main course and not cooking them off as an ingredient in a stew, I really like to save the pot liquor, so I go with the kombu. I think the liquid has a ton of flavor and I often cook my beans with a bunch of goods in the broth itself. Some people also swear by the herb Epazote as a cooking enzyme aid.
But let’s get past the farting, shall we?
In general, the darker the bean, the more antioxidants the suckers have to guard your cells against attack. Black beans, adzuki, Anasazi, kidney beans, and red beans all do a great job as warriors of this order. Beans are also a great source of fiber, which keeps everything moving in our digestive systems. Keeping up with digestive health impacts the entire body from mood to energy level. Beans prevent constipation, keep the path clear for a steady production of Serotonin in the gut, and improve the steadiness of blood sugar levels (especially important for those suffering from diabetes). A diet rich in fiber also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the system (LDL). This keeps our hearts safer as we age, cutting down on the fat gathering in our vessels and making it easier for us to maintain a health blood pressure for delivering nutrients throughout our bodies.
And that’s not all: Beans contain chemicals called isoflavones that have been rumored to reduce the risk of heart disease, ease the myriad symptoms of menopause and improve the strength of your bones.
PLUS, beans are a powerhouse source of vegetarian protein. Sometimes you’ll hear someone scoff at a bean, bad mouthing it for being an incomplete protein, but that’s where ancient food wisdom comes in. Beans have been served with rice in so many cultures FOREVER: bowls of rice with adzuki beans all over Asia, basmati and mung beans, red beans and rice in South America and on and on. We humans have done a pretty good job historically of being able to hear what our bodies have wanted. Then industrial chemicals came along and kind blew static into the conversation. When we made choices to combine different beans and rices over the years, what we did scientifically was to join two different proteins to create a perfect one. The essential amino acids that either dish lacks alone, come together as a perfect team.
From Flickr user monkeycat62
I do my best to always use dried beans. I am somewhat obsessed with Rancho Gordo beans in particular. Not so much because I’m an irritating foodie, although I certainly have my moments, but more out of urges stemming from my Libra rising. Easily swayed and emotionally moved by physical beauty, this ends up working out way better for me in the kitchen than it ever did in the world of dating. The Heirloom beans from this outfit are such a gorgeous array of colors and shapes, it’s easy to see how artists were drawn make portraits from them. Anyhow, I either soak them overnight rendering a quicker cooking time, or if I have all day I actually love to do a long slow cook to infuse them with flavor. Canned beans tend to fall apart and also they, well, come in cans generally lined with toxic BPA. Eden brand organics DO NOT use that lining so I do keep a couple cans of that on hand for quick situations.
So, how about a nice recipe? You can mess with it until the Super Bowl and perfect your own version to do a healthy dazzle for your guests.
Spicy 3 Bean Stew
1c kidney beans 1 large yellow onion
1c pinto beans 1 sweet potato
1c giant lima beans 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced ½ t cinnamon
2T olive oil 4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, diced 1t ground chipotle
1T ground cumin 1T dried oregano
2 in hunk of kombu handful fresh cilantro
5c vegetable broth salt to taste
1t chile powder (New Mexico if you can find it) 1 splash cider vinegar
2 lbs self-canned tomatoes from this summer OR 20 oz + 14oz Eden brand cans stewed tomatoes (BPA free cans)
Rinse and soak all your beans the night before. Start your beans cooking in water with the kombu about an hour before everything else in the pot happens. Skim any foam from the top.
Meanwhile, get a heavy bottomed pot, and sauté your chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add your bell pepper, carrots and all your spices and let everything cook for about ten or fifteen minutes. Add your cider vinegar to soften and stew it all. Add in your tomatoes, your cubed sweet potato. Strain your beans and dump in to the veggies with your vegetable stock. Cook everything in the pot, covered for about another hour and taste as you go. Salt to taste as you go. If the stew is too spicy or too thick, go ahead and add in more vegetable broth.
Top with diced fresh cilantro and enjoy. Other toppings: shredded cheese, a dollop of crème fraiche, apple chutney, sour cream, diced scallions, arugula pesto.