History of Beans
From the royal tombs of ancient Egypt to the Old Testament cultivation, preparation, and consumption of beans are recognized. In some Eastern cultures, legumes were a basic dietary staple that can be traced back more than 20,000 years. The lima and pinto bean were cultivated for the first time in the very earliest Mexican and Peruvian civilizations more than 5,000 years ago, being popular in both the Aztec and Inca cultures.
The United States is by far the world leader in dry bean production. Each year, U.S. farmers plant from 1.5 to 1.7 million acres of edible dry beans. And while Americans are the chief consumers of these beans, 40 percent are shipped to international markets in more than 100 different countries around the globe.
How do beans fit into your healthy diet? Beans are often thought of as a side dish; however, they make excellent meat-free entrees. You don't have to be vegetarian to reap the benefits of legumes—start slowly, eating beans instead of meat twice a week.
Before eating legumes, there are few things to know:
Dried Beans are not complete proteins
Beans alone are not complete proteins, but combined with a grain are as complete as a meal. So it is important to eat beans with other grain products.
Legumes may cause intestinal discomfort
You can minimize this effect by changing the soaking water several times when you prepare dried beans, or switching to canned beans. When canned, some of the gas-producing substances are eliminated. Be sure to rinse the beans well to wash off excess salt. Another option is BeanoTM, which contains an enzyme that breaks down gas-producing substances in the beans.
Eating legumes means, drinking more fluids
As you include more beans into your meals, it's important to drink adequate fluids and exercise regularly so that your gastrointestinal system can handle the increased dietary fiber.
So, which bean to choose from? There are hundreds of varieties of beans. Try one of these:
|Adzuki Beans are small, with a vivid red color, solid flavor and texture. Originally from Asia, its name means "little bean" in Japanese. Its red colouring - red being the most important colour in Eastern celebrations - means that it is greatly used in festive or special meals.|
|Large Lima Bean are large and flat with a greenish-white color. It has a buttery flavor and creamy texture. This bean is named after Lima, Peru, and is extremely popular in the Americas, both in its natural state and dried.|
|Pink Beans have beautiful pink color and is very popular in the countries of the Caribbean. Pink beans are of medium size (similar to the Great Northern and the Pinto) and have a refined texture and delicate flavor.|
|Green Baby Lima Beans come from Peru and are very popular in the Americas. The baby variety is much loved in Japan for making desserts from bean paste known as "an." These are medium-sized flat beans with a greenish white color, buttery flavor, and creamy texture.|
|Small Red Beans are particularly popular in the Caribbean region, where they are normally eaten with rice. Dark red in color, small red beans are also smoother in taste and texture than the dark red kidney bean.|
|Dark Red Kidney Beans are large and kidney-shaped with a deep glossy red color. They have a solid flavor and texture. These beans are produced mainly in the northern U.S.A. and owes its popularity in America and Europe to its large size, bright color and solid texture.|
|Black Beans are sweet tasting with an almost mushroom-like flavor and soft floury texture. These beans are medium sized, oval, with a matt black color. They are the most popular beans in the Costa Rica and Cuba.|
|Light Red Kidney Beans have a solid texture and flavor. They are characterized by their large, kidney-shape with a pink color. This bean is popular in the Caribbean region as well as in Portugal and Spain for its similarity to the canela bean.|
|Navy Beans are small, white and oval with a refined texture and delicate flavor. These are the beans used for the famous Boston and English baked beans. Because their skin and fine texture do not break up on cooking. These beans were named for their part of the U.S. Navy diet during the second half of the 19th Century.|
|Cranberry Beans are known for their creamy texture with a flavor similar to chestnuts. Cranberry beans are rounded with red specks, which disappear on cooking. These beans are a favorite in northern Italy and Spain. You can find them fresh in their pods in Autumn. They also freeze well.|
|Black-eyed Beans have a scented aroma, creamy texture and distinctive flavor. These beans are characterized by their kidney shaped, white skin with a small black eye and very fine wrinkles. Originally from Africa, it is one of the most widely dispersed beans in the world. Black-eyed peas are really a type of pea, which gives it its distinctive flavor and rapid cooking potential, with no pre-soaking needed.|
|Pinto Beans are the most widely produced bean in the United States and is one of the most popular in the Americas. It also contains the most fiber of all beans. Characteristically known by their medium size oval shape, with speckled reddish brown over a pale pink base and solid texture and flavor.|
|Great Northern Beans are a North American bean, which is popular in France for making cassoulet (a white bean casserole) and in the whole Mediterranean where many beans of a similar appearance are cultivated. These beans have a delicate flavor, thin skin, and are flat, kidney shaped, medium-sized white beans.|
|Garbanzo Beans or chickpeas are the most widely consumed legume in the world. Originating in the Middle East, they have a firm texture with a flavor somewhere between chestnuts and walnuts. Garbanzo beans are usually pale yellow in color. In India there are red, black, and brown chickpeas.|
Nutrient Profiles for 1/2 Cup Dry Beans Cooked Without Salt
With so many bean varieties to choose from, you'll now need to learn how to cook them. There are two steps to cooking beans: soaking and cooking. Soaking beans allows the dried beans to absorb water, which begins to dissolve the starches that cause intestinal discomfort. While beans are soaking they are also double to tripling in their size. Cooking the beans makes them edible and digestible.
Ready to soak and cook some beans?
Note: Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas do not need to be soaked. Pick through the beans, discarding any discolored or shriveled beans or any foreign matter. Rinse well.
There are four ways to soak beans, depending on how far in advance you plan and how much time you have, you can decide which method of soaking will work best for you.
Traditional Slow Soak: In a stockpot, cover 1 pound dried beans with 10 cups water. Cover and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans.
Hot Soak: In a stockpot, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil. Remove from the heat; cover tightly and set aside at room temperature 2-3 hours. Drain and rinse the beans.
Quick Soak: In a stockpot, bring 10 cups water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried beans and return to a boil; let boil 2-3 minutes. Cover and set aside at room temperature 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.
Gas-Free Soak: In a stockpot, place 1 pound of beans in 10 or more cups of boiling water; boil for 2-3 minutes, cover and set aside overnight. The next day approximately 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars will have dissolved into the soaking water. Drain, and then rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking them.
This is one of the quickest ways to cook beans. After you've soaked 1/2 pound of beans, place them in a 4-quart pressure cooker with 4 cups water. Cook at 15 pounds pressure following the manufacturer's directions for the type of legume you are cooking.
Bean Cooking Tips
Do not add salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or juice, this will slow the cooking process. Instead, add these ingredients when the beans are just tender.
Cooking times vary with the types of beans used but also may vary with their age.
Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork. Always test a few beans in case they have not cooked evenly
Soaking, cooking, tips, and times provided by California Dry Bean Board.
Three Bean Soup
Source: Produce for Better Health
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, cut up, low sodium
3 cup water
1 tsp chili powder
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) black eyed peas, drained
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 onion, medium, chopped
1½ tsp garlic, chopped
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp basil, dried
1 cup zucchini or celery, chopped
Combine first 13 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Stir in vegetables and simmer, covered for 10 minutes more.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 172, Protein 9g, Fat 1g, Calories From Fat 7%, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 31g, Fiber 8g, Sodium 365mg.
New Orleans Red Beans
Each serving equals 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables
Source: Produce for Better Health
1 lb dry red beans
2 quarts water
1½ cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
4 bay leaves
1 cup chopped sweet green pepper
3 Tbsp chopped garlic
3 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1 tsp black pepper
Pick through beans to remove bad beans; rinse thoroughly. In a 5-quart pot, combine beans, water, onion, celery, and bay leaves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and cook over low heat for about 1½ hours or until beans are tender. Stir and mash beans against side of pan. Add green pepper, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Cook, uncovered, over low heat until creamy, about 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Serve over hot, cooked brown rice, if desired.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 220, Protein 15g, Fat 0g, Calories From Fat 2%, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 41g, Fiber 16g, Sodium 39mg.
Vegetarian Black Bean Tacos with Chipotle Chile Salsa
Serves 4 (2 tacos each)
Each serving equals 3/4 cup of fruit or vegetables
Source: Frieda's, Inc./ Official 5 A Day recipe
Chipotle Chili Salsa:
1½ cup diced tomatoes
½ cup chopped red or sweet onion
2 Tbsp lime juice
3 dried Chipotle chilies, reconstituted, drained and minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
11 ounces (uncooked weight) black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped zucchini or yellow summer squash
½ cup shredded low fat Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
1 cup diced tomatoes
1½ cups shredded lettuce
8 tortillas warmed
For tacos: place black beans in a medium saucepan with water and cover. Stir in remaining minced Chipotle chiles and garlic. Cook beans according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, stir together tomatoes, zucchini and bell pepper. Arrange warm black beans, tomato mixture, lettuce and cheese in separate serving bowls. For each serving, take two flour tortillas; sprinkle each with lettuce; Spoon on black beans, tomato zucchini mixture and cheese. Top with salsa and cilantro as desired.
For salsa: combine tomatoes, half the Chipotle chiles, onion, cilantro and lime juice in a medium bowl; set aside to allow flavors to blend (cover and chill if preparing more than 30 minutes ahead).
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 440, Protein 24g, Fat 5g, Calories From Fat 10%, Cholesterol 8mg, Carbohydrates 76g, Fiber 12g, Sodium 166mg.
Candied Orange Beans
Each serving equals 3/4 cup of fruit or vegetables
Source: Produce for Better Health
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup honey
1 tsp grated orange rind
4 cups cooked large lima beans, drained
Ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg to taste. In a large skillet, melt butter; stir in honey and orange peel. Add beans; cook and stir gently until glazed. Serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 140, Protein 6g, Fat 1g, From Fat7%, Cholesterol 5mg, Carbohydrates 26g, Fiber 5g, Sodium 40mg.
Black Beans with Corn and Tomatoes
Each serving equals 1 cup of fruit or vegetables
Source: National Cancer Institute
1 15-ounce can low-sodium, no fat added black beans
1 cup cut tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp chili powder
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 clove garlic, pureed or roasted
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or more to taste
Drain and rinse beans. In a bowl, combine beans, corn, tomatoes and garlic. Add parsley, pepper and chili powder. Combine and serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 111, Protein 6g, Fat 1g, Calories From Fat 4%, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 27g, Fiber 7g, Sodium 233mg.
Science of Chocolate