This week in the Cook from Scratch rewind I explore the health benefits of beans and Carol Taylor will then use them as ingredients in dishes to please the whole family.
Beans can be tricky so Carol has been working away in the kitchen to give you some fool proof recipes to try so that you can include this very nutrient dense food.
Mention the fact that you are an ardent bean lover and people automatically give you a wide berth. Unfortunately this very nutritious food group has developed a rather anti-social reputation over the years but prepared and cooked correctly beans can overcome their wind producing properties.
History of the Bean
There is evidence going back nearly 12,000 years that peas were part of the staple diet in certain cultures and certainly natives of Peru and Mexico were cultivating beans as a crop 9,000 years ago. It is likely that they were one of the first crops to be planted when man ceased to be nomadic and settled into communities.
There are many types of bean used as a staple food in different cultures around the world including Black beans, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Navy Beans and Soybeans. In Asia where consumption of soybean products is very high it is regarded as one of the best preventative medicines that you can eat.
What are the main health benefits of beans.
For anyone suffering high cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart disease, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Diverticulitis, colon cancer, diabetes or iron deficiency, beans are definitely on the healing foods list. One of the main health benefits of eating beans is their high fibre content.
Although fibre is not exactly up there on everyone’s favourite foods list it is extremely important to our overall health. Fibre is carbohydrate that cannot be digested and there are two types, water-soluble and water insoluble. Primarily water-soluble fibre comes from oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, fruit and legumes that include peas, lentils and beans. The insoluble fibre is mainly found in wholegrains, wheat bran, seeds, root vegetables, cucumbers, courgettes, celery and tomatoes.
Fibre acts like a vacuum cleaner, travelling through the blood stream and intestines collecting cholesterol plaque, toxins, waste products from normal bodily functions and anything else that should not be there.
Provided you do not pile high fat sauces and butter onto this group of foods they can be a very healthy aid to weight loss as fibre has no calories and the foods containing it are generally low in fat and high in nutrients.
Other healthy elements in beans.
Beans are packed with nutrients as well as fibre including Vitamin B1 (thiamin) copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and tryptophan. The combination of nutrients will help boost your immune system, balance blood sugar levels, lower your risk of heart disease and help protect you against cancer.
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and for a healthy nervous system. Every cell in the body requires this vitamin to form the fuel the body runs on, ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).
Copper is an essential trace mineral needed to absorb and utilise iron and also assist in the production of collagen.
Folate is a B Vitamin essential for cell replication and growth. It is needed for our nervous system and heart health as folate helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood, a leading contributory factor in heart disease.
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium as does the correct balance of calcium in the body.
Iron is an integral part of the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood, which is why a deficiency can cause fatigue and ill health.
Manganese boosts energy and the immune system and molybdenum another trace mineral helps detox the body of sulphites a commonly used preservative in processed food and one that many people have a sensitivity to.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is critical in the manufacture of serotonin a neurotransmitter that affects our mental wellbeing.
Preparing beans to avoid the wind factor.
If you are not used to fibre then you need to introduce it into your diet over a period of days. This guideline applies to eating beans as people who eat them regularly seem to have less of a problem. There are a number of guidelines to ensure that you receive all of the benefits and none of the more anti-social side effects.
- 1. Soak your dried beans for at least 6 hours before cooking. Change the water several times.
- 2. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with cold unsalted water usually 3 to 6 times the amount of beans. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Drain the beans after 30 minutes and replace the water. Bring back to the boil and then simmer.
- 3. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface of the water.
- 4. When the beans have softened add some salt, as this will bring out there flavour. If you add salt at the beginning of cooking it can make the beans tougher. If you are on a low sodium diet then be careful about how much salt you add or use and alternative.
- 5. When the beans are cooked you can prepare in a number of ways. Include in brown rice dishes; stir-fry with a little olive oil, seasonings and favourite spices.
- 6. A lovely way to eat beans is in a casserole with tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, carrots, potatoes, celery and vegetable stock.
- 7. Make your own baked beans with homemade tomato sauce and serve on jacket potatoes or on toast.
- 8. You can blend with other ingredients and make hamburgers, meatloaves and pates.
Now it is time to hand you over to the cooking expert who has created some wonderful ways to include beans regularly in your diet. Here’s Carol………
Full of Beans by Carol Taylor
Beans are such a versatile legume…it is the name used for the seeds of several plants that includes beans, peas and lentils and they are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available and if you have perused Sally’s writing before you got to my recipes you will know just how beneficial to our health and wellbeing they are.
Sally has even included a little tip which may make the air surrounding you be a little less sulphuric…ha ha…Methinks we have all been on the receiving end of that one!
Here in Thailand beans are included in most Thai diets and come in many guises some I had never seen or heard of before living here and have now come to love and one which is very aptly called the Stink Bean grew on me as after eating these your urine will smell very much like the smell you get after consuming asparagus.
Firstly my time in the kitchen over the last few days has been fraught to say the very least and also hilarious….My first effort at making Baked Beans ended in a culinary disaster…and I forgot to take pictures but trust me the pot was encrusted with burnt beans and the smell invaded everything…My other half who was left in charge while I went to the hairdressers…Big Mistake… went on the defensive…
When he managed to get his nose out of his book (why) after all those years of not reading anything did I encourage him to read??? He had a simple task og keeping an eye on the pot of beans… As soon as I walked in I could smell the burning. The answer to my “ Could you not smell the burning?” Was.. and I quote “I thought that was a cooking smell “
Those who know me don’t very often see me stunned into silence…..I was just speechless …If the volcano had erupted it would still be spewing forth…lol
As these beans have very little cooking juice they need constant stirring and watching (and folks) let me tell you I have made the mistakes so you will not…. See how good I am to you!
I set the timer on my phone to go off every 5 minutes… My office is in my bedroom and up 2 flights of a marble staircase… I forgot how quick I could get down and up to reset the timer and at my age…I was impressed and so was little Lily who turned it into a game…I got 2 hours of up and down the stairs which was good exercise …I felt invigorated..truly… I knew if I burnt these beans I would never ever live it down.
They were ok…took ages to soften and so next time I hope they will be just perfect and not take so long to cook so I have slightly rewritten the recipe…. And next time I make these baked beans I will not only pre-soak them but will be pre-cooking them in water before adding the ingredients…You live and learn don’t you???
Firstly, cover the beans with water and soak the beans overnight. Secondly cover the beans with fresh water and cook for at least 2 hours until they are nearly soft it will depend on the age of the beans as apparently the ones you buy of of the supermarket shelves can be years old so it is best to buy online or from a health food store as they have a bigger turnover and the beans are likely to be somewhat younger.
Now we can add our tomatoes and seasonings and cook for a further 2 hours or until soft.
- 250 gm Navy Beans or haricot beans
- 200 gm passata or good chopped tomatoes
- 20 ml Apple cider vinegar
- 10 ml Soy sauce
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme or other herbs
- A dash of olive oil
- Salt to season (Don’t) add salt until near the end of the cooking time.
This was my basic bean recipe and I have also included underneath a few ideas for variations.
In an oven proof dish mix all the ingredients except for the salt together and pour over your pre soaked and pre- cooked beans. Cover with the lid and cook at 175C for about 2 hours or until soft. Don’t forget to stir occasionally and add water if required.
Oh! And a little cooking tip…
Never throw away the liquid you pre- cook your beans in it makes an idea base for soups.
Now for a few ideas for some additions to your basic bean mix…
Apple-Cheddar Baked Beans: Core and cut up 1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith) and stir it into the bean mixture before baking. Sprinkle the beans with 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked cheddar cheese after baking.
Hawaiian Baked Beans: Stir one 8-ounce can pineapple titbits, undrained, into the bean mixture before baking. Bake the beans uncovered for the last 10 minutes.
Apricot Baked Beans: Substitute apricot preserves for the honey, and stir 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots into the bean mixture before baking.
Maple-Pecan Baked Beans: Substitute maple syrup for the honey. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans over the bean mixture before serving.
Another great idea for beans is a lovely mixed bean salad with my favourite feta cheese.
Mix black beans, kidney beans and great northern beans, dice some fresh tomatoes with green chilli peppers, feta cheese, red onion, Greek seasoning, and 2 cloves of garlic finely diced in a bowl. Whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a separate bowl; pour over the bean mixture. Toss to coat.
This is lovely served with some grilled fish, a nice chicken breast cooked in garlic butter or a piece of medium rare steak.
This can be whipped up in minutes with ingredients you probably have in your fridge or store cupboard.
Ideal when you really don’t want to cook.
My home-made Tahini is now made and in the fridge. Click the link below for the recipe.
- 3tbsp Tahini Paste
- I can of chick peas or you can use soaked dried, cooked chickpeas.
- 2tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
- 2tbsp Olive Oil,
- 1 clove Garlic,
- 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
- ½ -1 tsp salt
- Combine your tahini paste with the lemon juice and blitz. Add olive oil, cumin, salt and garlic and blitz. Add half the drained can of chick peas and blitz 1-2 minutes.
- Add other half of Chick peas and blitz again for 1-2 minutes.
- Put in suitable container or serving bowl drizzle with 1 tbsp Olive Oil and sprinkle with Paprika.
- Voila it’s now ready to eat with Sliced pitta bread or cut up vegetables of your choice.
- This will keep up to 1 week in the fridge.
This lovely fluted edged little bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), Is also known as the Goa bean, asparagus pea, four-angled bean, four-cornered bean, Manila bean, Mauritius bean, and winged pea.
Winged bean is nutrient rich, and all parts of the plant are edible. Leaves can be eaten like spinach, flowers can be used in salads, tubers can be eaten raw or cooked, and seeds can be used in similar ways as the soybean.
All you need is Wing beans, garlic, a small chilli chopped( optional) and some seasoning sauce I use Oyster sauce….Which I believe is available worldwide now in Asian stores.
Chop your wing beans in ½ inch pieces on the diagonal; chop your garlic and chilli if used.
Add a little coconut oil to a pan quickly stir fry the garlic and chilli add the beans and stir fry 1-2 minutes add 1-2 tbsp oyster sauce and stir fry for another minute and viola a lovely little dish which I eat for a quick lunch with some steamed rice or it can be served as an accompaniment to a main meal.
This recipe is for one of the most popular beans in Thailand called the Stink Bean it is often eaten raw with a spicy dip and also stir fried with prawns , chicken or Pork.
- 400 grams shrimp (you can also make this recipe with chicken or pork)
- 2 – 3 heaping tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 1 cup of shelled stink beans (I used 6 pods, and you can use more or less)
- ½ tsp shrimp paste
- ½ tbsp oyster sauce
- ½ tbsp sugar (This is the Thai way, but I use less or none)
- 6 – 8 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tbsp oil for frying
- Prepare the shrimp by taking off the head and peeling the shell, and then devein them. If you want to prepare your shrimp Thai style, peel the body, but leave the tail on.
- Stink beans grow in a long twisted hard pods, so the first thing to do is peel the stink beans out of the outer shell. The skin is quite tough so it’s easiest to take a sharp knife and slice the bean, almost in half first. Then peel back the skin and remove the stink bean inside. You’ll also see an inner, beige colored skin that coats the stink beans, and you want to remove that too.
- Go through all the pods and remove all the stink beans – this will probably take a few minutes.
- Put your wok or frying pan on a medium heat and add about 2 tbsp of oil. I normally like to use less oil when I stir fry Thai food, but with this stink bean curry recipe, you really need to add some oil so the curry paste gets nice and fragrant when frying and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When your oil is sizzling hot, add in the curry paste, first start with 2 tbsp. – you can always come back and add more later if it’s not flavourful enough. Then add about ½ tsp of shrimp paste.
- Stir fry the curry paste, working it into the oil, and scraping it off the bottom of the pan. Immediately you should start to smell those beautiful chillies, the lemongrass and the turmeric. Keep stir frying for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, making sure the paste doesn’t burn, but is nice and fragrant.
- Add the shrimp, and stir fry continuously for about 30 seconds. The shrimp should pretty quickly start to turn from transparent to pink orange in colour. If the curry paste starts to get dry, you can toss in a splash of water, and that should give you some liquid to work with as well as a little extra sauce.
- Then toss in the stink beans, and stir fry for about another 30 seconds or so. You want to keep stirring hard so the curry paste doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Season with ½ tbsp of oyster sauce and ½ tbsp of sugar (the normal Thai way is to use sugar, so I showed it this way in the recipe, BUT, when I cook it myself I normally omit the sugar or use just a tiny bit – so up to you how much sugar you want to add).
- Again, if your stink beans ( goong pad sataw) get dry, add another splash of water, and then stir fry for just another minute.
- The final step is to take 6 – 8 kaffir lime leaves, and tear them off the stems directly into the curry. When you tear the kaffir lime leaves, it will release their flavour. Stir fry for just 10 seconds, and then turn off the heat.
- Immediately put it onto a serving plate, and you’re ready to start eating.
Serve with some steamed rice…
Lastly we have a ..Chilli Con Carne of which there are many variations. Most of which I think are a generic chilli as a proper Mexican chilli is normally chunks of beef and no tomatoes and actually bears little resemblance to the Chilli Con Carne we know and love…
- 500 gm lean minced Beef ( I use pork) as I can’t get minced beef here.
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 red or yellow pepper chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped2 inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
- 1-3 heaped tsp hot chilli powder (or 1 level tbsp if you only have mild)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 beef stock cube or 1 pt of fresh made beef or vegetable stock
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp dried marjoram
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 410g can red kidney beans, drained
- Put the olive oil in a large pan and heat add the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, bay leaves and cook for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.I like to add my cumin seeds with the onions as it brings out their full flavour and we love cumin.
- Add the minced meat and cook , stirring until nicely browned.Add the tomatoes, stock, peppers and tomato puree stirring in well and bring to a soft simmer.
- Add the paprika, marjoram and sugar. Cook for 20 minutes now this is where I taste and add more chilli and usually more cumin seeds and then add the drained kidney beans and cook for a further 30 minutes.
- Serve with steamed rice and sour cream dusted with a little smoked paprika.
I hope you enjoyed these bean recipes and I would like to thank Sally once again for allowing me to add my recipes to her wonderful posts on the health benefits of the food we eat.
As always I am so grateful to Carol for the time and effort that she puts into preparing these recipes, including misunderstandings with her assistant! She is a treasure.
You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE
Connect to Carol via her blog: https://carolcooks2.com/
Thank you for dropping in today and if you have any questions for either of us then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments. Your feedback is always welcome.
Please feel free to share thanks Sally