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back to the basics: beans beans beans

Posted Jan 24 2012 6:00pm

I feel like beans get a really bad rep. While growing up, kids (and adults alike) have so many nasty jokes about beans which really makes people develop a negative connotation associated with them. I, for one, love beans – and always have! As a vegetarian, beans are incredibly essential to a balanced diet. They are full of vitamins and nutrients many people lose once going vegetarian.

The great thing about beans is if you don’t like one variety, that doesn’t mean you won’t like them all. They are sort of like the “meat” of a vegetarian diet. Just as an example, if you are a meat eater and don’t enjoy pork, that doesn’t mean you won’t like chicken! In the same way, if you don’t enjoy kidney beans, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans).

The thing I love about beans i how nutritionally dense they are – so full of protein and fiber! You can’t beat that. I put together a quick chart with some of my favorite beans showing you just how awesome the stats are!

Bean

Picture

Protein (per 1/2 cup)

Fiber (per 1/2 cup)

Black Beans

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7.5 grams

7.5 grams

Kidney Beans

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6.5 grams

7.5 grams

Cannellini Beans**

clip_image006

9.5 grams

8 grams

Garbanzo Beans

clip_image008

6 grams

7.5 grams

Pinto Beans

clip_image012

9 grams

9 grams

Lentils

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8 grams

9 grams

**Cannellini or any kind of white bean variety is awesome for making any sort of vegan “cream” sauces!

I tend to buy canned beans, which when I actually type that, it makes no sense – dry beans are SO cost effective! Cooking dry beans is insanely easy; it just requires a little planning on your part! The directions are mainly the same for all types of beans, once you get the method down, you’ll be a bean makin’ machine!

When cooking dry beans, they tend to double and sometimes triple in size! For example, if you are cooking 1 cup of dry beans, you’ll end up with roughly 2-3 cups of cooked beans.

  1. Soak desired amount of beans in a bowl with enough water to allow the beans to double in size. Make sure you give your beans enough room to grow! Beans should be soaked for 8-12 * hours (or overnight).
  2. Rinse beans off and place in a pot of new water (again covering the beans with enough water to allow the beans to plump up even more while cooking).
  3. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and cover.
  4. Cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours**, checking for tenderness.

*Lentils do not require soaking, but you can soak if desired.
**Soybeans require more cook time – around 3-4 hours.

Canned beans are far easier – and quicker too! Open, drain, rinse, and voila! You’re ready for business!

I had the hardest time choosing recipes to feature that include beans – I use them for everything! Side dishes, pasta dishes, veggie burger, in a cold salad – the possibilities are endless! Here are a few of my favorite bean recipes I have made:

June 4, 2011 025

February 23, 2011 023

November 30, 2011 014

August 4, 2011 005

May 31, 2011 005

For more on the back to the basics series, feel free to visit these links:

Question: What is your favorite type of bean or recipe that uses beans?

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