Part of my presentation and cooking demonstration at Kaiser in Santa Rosa mid-May was about beans. I used some wonderful beans from RanchoGordo called Cellini which is a large white runner bean. They are "meaty" and delicious but take a while to cook. I was happy to have used the pressure cooker, and they still took 10 minutes after being presoaked. Yet they were delicious. Now, about soaking. Someone asked me about whether or not you need to soak beans. I answered that when you soak beans and you then dispense of the water, you get rid of some of the indigestible carbohydrates which can cause gas. The best way to presoak is to put 3 inches of water above the beans, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Pour off the water, and then cook. If you add a piece of kombu seaweed, it may help make the beans easier to digest. And even if the seaweed doesn't do that, it will add important minerals that you need to get daily.
The other way to make beans more digestible is to eat them more often. Yes, that's what I said -- EAT BEANS MORE OFTEN. If you eat small amounts of beans every day, your body will likely adjust to the fiber in the beans. The key is to not eat a large portion of beans at once, if you don't eat them regularly. The indigestible carbohydrates may end up fermenting in your intestine, causing flatulence. This may not be a problem for you but possibly for the people around you. It is a natural occurrence but you can lessen the effects.
Another way to make beans more digestible is by sprouting them before cooking them. You can do this by soaking the beans in a glass jar overnight. Then drain, place a piece of cheesecloth on top of the jar, turn it over and put it in a bowl in a dark place and rinse the beans twice a day. When they have sprouted a little tail, which takes a day or two, then the beans are ready to eat or cook.
I also want to address the myth of beans being fattening. I was sitting across from an older friend who told me, "Beans are fattening." He said this while he was eating roast beef and I was eating pasta with pesto. I said, "This pasta is fattening. Beans are not." I am often amazed at what people think about food and what will make you fat.
Of course, if you eat too many beans you might gain weight. But that's not what I'm contemplating today.