• Glenn Wilson
    I love beans. I love ham and beans. I love baked beans on toast. I love charro beans. I love smoked turkey and beans. I love pasta and beans. I love wieners and beans. I love bacon and beans. And I especially like when those bean dishes are made, from scratch, with dried beans.
    Beans. In Mexico they’re one of the “three sisters”. Along with corn and squash, they’ve satisfied most of Mexico’s hunger for centuries. And, though rice has moved in on the sisters in the last few decades, beans are still an all-important food in my adopted country. In “Nuestro Mero Mole”, probably the best thing ever written about the history of Mexican cuisine, Jesus Flores y Escalante says that, in Mexico, you can find beans somewhere in 70% of all dishes.
    Don Day: There were beans, beans, as big as…

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  • Calvin Burr
    I love beans too....but, without the animal ingredients. We eat some kind of bean or legume nearly every day. This week is lentil week. But, most of the time we make a pot of mixed beans...pintos, black, red, soy, and maybe a few others all mixed together. Often, I'll smash them up into a thick, chunky paste something akin to refritos and use them to butter tortillas before filling them with other ingredients like aguacate, nopalitos, pico de gallo, etc. I call this bean paste and refritos"Mexican Butter" o "Mantequilla Mexicana"...my wife laughs and says I'm crazy. Changing up the dominant bean in each batch provides variety of nutrition and avoids boredom...also, sometimes we make them using a lot of cumin, other times epazote, and for a change of pace Indian spices can be interesting.

    Garbanzos cooked by themselves are another favorite we enjoy from time to time, and we use them in a number of ways....soups, hummus, salads, etc.

    Another one that I learned about as a child is lupini beans...they are flat and similar in appearance to lima beans, and are notorious for having the highest protein content of any legume (they are actually in the pea group). But, they take a long time to prepare. It's not a lot of work, but after the first soaking and boiling they have to be soaked for about a week, changing the water once or twice every day... a mild brine is used on the last couple of days. Otherwise, they are inedible due to a high alkaloid content that makes them intensely bitter...if someone is stubborn enough to eat them without the soaking, they would probably become very sick. But after proper preparation, they are delicious and uniquely satisfying in a similar way as eating eggs can be. As as child, I grew up in a town heavily populated by Italians...and kids would often go into "beer joints" to buy a soda or a bag of chips. Sometimes, they would have a bowl of lupini beans on the bar for the patrons...you have to take one, put the little spot on the bean's edge between your lips, and squeeze the bean out of its skin into your mouth. The skins are usually discarded.

    Researchers have designated the areas around the globe where people enjoy the longest average lifespans and the low incidence of chronic ailments and other diseases as "Blue Zones". Even though these areas are far apart and populated by diverse races and cultures, the one common trait they all share is that they eat legumes on a daily or regular basis as their primary source of protein.
  • Glenn Wilson
    Beans are probably my favorite food. I have been cooking dry beans for years. For me, one of the big advantages is total control over the ingredients: no salt, no animal products and no oil.

    Yes, beans are a great source of protein but, unknown to many, so are almost all vegetables. See Vegetables have plenty of protein, and they're complete proteins as well.

    More on Blue Zones, Longevity and Legumes
    If you look at the so-called blue zone areas, the areas around the world with the greatest longevity, the most people that live over a hundred, the one thing that all those areas share is legumes, actually, they eat bean-rich diets, and so we’re talking about the Okinawan Japanese, who are getting soy beans in the diet, or blue zone in Loma Linda, California, they’re all eating beans as an important component of their diet. People see beans as boring and nobody wants to talk about encouraging people to eat beans, but they’re so healthy, and they’re so versatile, so inexpensive. The top beans that I recommend are black beans. The darker, the more nutrients they pack. So you wanna have black beans on a regular basis, and you can have that as a black bean burger, you can have that in a burrito, in a wrap. Make a large batch, four to six cups of beans on a Sunday, just put ’em on your counter, plug it in, cook it, and then eat off of that for the rest of the week. You can make two to three different types of beans on a Sunday.Prescription: Nutrition Episode 3 – Spilling the Beans by Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
  • Cecilia Almes
    Love all this information!! I'm looking for a clay bean pot to use on the stove top. Any suggestions on where I can find one that is no lead and not heavily decorated? Thanks for any suggestions!
  • Calvin Burr

    Dr. Greger is great...he provides lots of valuable information on food and nutrition with his short, pithy videos on his YouTube channel NutritionFacts.org . And, his daily dozen is a great guide for people just learning about diet and nutrition and who want a simple checklist to show them what they need to eat on a daily basis.

    No clue about clay pots, but I'll describe how I cook beans in a pressure cooker. Usually, after picking through and washing the beans, they are soaked for 16 or more hours in a brine. Then, they go in a stainless steel flour/sugar canister that I discovered would fit nicely inside my deep pressure cooker. I originally did this because of problems with some batches of beans burning on the bottom in the pressure cooker because there is no opportunity to stir them. My pressure cooker came with an accessory for canning to elevate the jars off of the bottom, so I use it to elevate my bean canister. After adding the soaked beans, water to cover, and all the chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices I plan to use, the canister is inserted in the pressure cooker, Then, water is added to the pressure cooker until it rises up around the canister close to the level of the bean mixture in the canister. They cook at full pressure for an hour, and then sit until the pressure drops. After opening the pressure cooker, the insert containing the cooked beans is removed, and its top is put on. Once it cools down, the beans go in the refrigerator and supply us for at least a week. The pressure cooker never gets dirty...I only need to dry it off. Every once in a long while, the mineral deposits that accumulate in the bottom of the pressure cooker need to be cleaned off with white vinegar. Otherwise, the only thing that needs to be washed is the canister after the beans are used up.
    A lot of people advise against salting beans until after they are cooked by claiming that the salt prevents the beans from becoming soft, and I used to believe that advice too. But, after researching what a lot of people say about the best way to cook dry beans, I became convinced that soaking in brine before cooking is one of the best ways to cook them. I put about +/- 2-1/2 full cups of washed dry beans in a half gallon, Pyrex mixing bowl, fill with water up close to the top, add 2 teaspoons of salt, stir to dissolve the salt, and then place a plate on top. The beans soak in that for 16 yo 24 hours. They then get drained and rinsed before cooking, and no other salt is needed. After the beans are fully cooked, they are nice and soft, but still maintain their shape without disintegrating. Since the soaking brine is discarded and the beans are then rinsed, beans prepared this way should be fairly low in salt content. One source of information warned that soaking in brine is not the same as adding salt to the beans as they cook which might cause problems with the beans not cooking properly. Also, acidic ingredients are more likely to prevent the beans from becoming soft.
  • Cecilia Almes
    Thanks for the great information. I appreciate it.
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