Beans are a wonderful way to add high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet. They are high in iron, B vitamins and fiber (click here to see how fiber can help you lose weight), and are versatile enough that you and your kids may never tire of them. As the weather gets cooler, bean dishes are great ways to warm up a nice fall dinner and add some protein to simple weeknight meals. They’re also very inexpensive, making for a filling, totally healthy cheap dinner for the family.
Despite common belief, beans are very easy to cook. If you’ve never cooked beans before, here are some tips:
1. Check beans for rocks and shriveled or broken beans, then rinse.
2. Soak for six hours or overnight, with water covering 4 inches higher than the beans. Small and medium-size beans may require less soaking—four hours. If you’ve forgotten to presoak the beans or don’t have time, you can bring them to a boil in ample water to cover. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let stand for one hour.
3. Drain and rinse the beans, discarding the soaking water. Always discard any loose skins before cooking, as this will increase digestibility.
4. Place the beans in a heavy pot and add 3 to 4 cups fresh water.
5. Bring to a full boil and skim off the foam.
6. Add a small piece of kombu (seaweed) and a few bay leaves or garlic cloves for flavor and better digestibility.
7. Cover, lower the temperature and simmer for the suggested time. Check beans 30 minutes before the minimum cooking time. Beans are done when the middle is soft and easy to squeeze.
8. About 10 minutes before the end of cooking time, add 1 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt.
9. Cook until beans are tender.
Here’s an easy guide to cooking beans:
1 cup dry beans – cooking time
- adzuki: 45-60 minutes
- anasazi: 60-90 minutes
- black (turtle): 60-90 minutes
- black-eyed peas: 60 minutes
- cannellini: 90-120 minutes
- chickpeas: 120-180 minutes
- cranberry: 60-90 minutes
- fava: 60-90 minutes
- great northern: 90-120 minutes
- kidney: 60-90 minutes
- lentils*: 30-45 minutes
- lima beans: 60-90 minutes
- mung: 60 minutes
- navy: 60-90 minutes
- pinto: 90 minutes
- split peas: 45-60 minutes
*do not require soaking
All times are approximate. Cooking lengths depend on how strong the heat is and how hard the water is. A general rule is that small beans cook for approximately 30 minutes, medium beans cook for approximately 60 minutes, and large beans cook for approximately 90 minutes. Be sure to taste the beans to see if they are fully cooked and tender.
Sheri Oppenheimer is a health coach at Sweetgrass Spa in Little 5 Points and the Founder of The 100 Women Project. To schedule a FREE health makeover session with her ($125 value), call (404) 522-3223 or email Sheri at email@example.com.