Beans, Beans, Good for the Heart!

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Before trying a whole food plant based diet, I only ate beans in chili. I swore that I didn’t really like beans, because, well, you know, they make you….

Guess what?? I found out that I love beans! And they are staple in my diet now! They are full of fiber, protein, and are delicious!

And they are so cheap!

A can of beans cost 68 cents (for generic), or 98 cents for brand name. Although a can of beans is great in a pinch, I’m trying to eat foods where the list of ingredients is basically what the item is. So if I grab pasta, I want the ingredient to say, “Whole Wheat Pasta”, and hopefully that will be the only ingredient listed. I’m making it my goal to eat foods with as few ingredients as possible.

A can of garbanzo beans, for instance, has ‘prepared chick peas, water, calcium chloride (firming agent), disodium EDTA (added to promote color retention. It also may contain traces of milk, eggs, wheat, and soy.’ 

A bag of dried garbanzo beans has ‘chick peas’.

From a whole food standpoint, the dried beans win. From a frugality standpoint, dried beans win. You pay more up front, as a bag of beans can run anywhere from $1-$1.50, but you have many ‘cans’ of beans within that bag.

I wondered how inconvenienced I’d be if I actually made dried beans. Quite honestly the idea of making them scared me. I made them once for a chili and I really messed them up. I don’t know if I didn’t soak them enough or what, but from then on out, I’ve stuck to cans.

But, if I’m eating beans more regularly, I want to be wise with my money. So I bought bags of beans yesterday, mainly, light red kidney beans, for a chili I plan to make on Friday.

I learned that a half cup of dried beans is approximate to a 15 oz can of beans, which is helpful because many recipes call for a 15 oz can of beans. A half cup of dried beans will expand to be about 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans, which is also useful information to have in case your recipe does call for dried beans and not canned.

So I set out 1 cup of dried kidney beans last night. I rinsed them, and I actually found a rock in them! After rinsing in a colander until the water ran clear, (and picking out rocks), I put them in a bowl and covered them with twice as much water. Then I left them alone.

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I set out 1 cup of dried kidney beans, because, altho the recipe only calls for 15 oz. of beans, I plan to freeze the other 15 oz. Apparently, beans freeze well, and having some beans frozen will be great in a pinch.

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After taking a cup of dried beans out of the 16 oz bag of beans, I still have a little more than half a bag left!! 

After soaking the beans for at 8-36 hours, drain and rinse them well. Add them to a pot of water (a large pot), and cover them again with twice as much water. Bring the beans to a boil, then, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for an hour or two until your beans are done. The cooking time may vary, depending on the length of your soak, the hardness of your water, and the age and size of your beans. After cooking, drain and rinse.

I plan on having the beans for dinner on Friday night, so I plan on cooking the beans Thursday evening or Friday morning. That way, I can ensure that they are done in time to add to my pot of chili.

Is it inconvenient? It does take more preparation and planning. Setting out a bowl of beans to soak is quick enough to do, and if you have a couple of days where you are home and not busy, you can make up ‘cans’ of beans to freeze and have ready when you need them. Actually the soaking can be done overnight, or while you are at work or out for the day. The actual cooking time, at least an hour, but could be two or three hours, you would need to be home to tend to the beans. But that’s ok, pop in a couple DVDs, get comfortable, and let the beans cook!

From a financial standpoint, dry beans win as well. I bought a bag of dried chick peas for $1.38 for a one pound bag. Out of that one pound bag, I was able to make 5 ‘cans’ of beans. A can of beans is 68 cents each, so in the end, I saved $2.02 by going dry. Which isn’t a huge savings, but add that to other bags of beans and other savings, and, it adds up!

Canned beans are definitely more convenient, and are great in a pinch or if you don’t eat beans often. But, I did learn that you should always drain and rinse your canned beans well, to get off any excess sodium that is on the beans. I have tried that and the dishes I’ve made with the canned, rinsed beans were very delicious!

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