Beans :: The Magical Fruit

The more you eat, the more you toot fluffer!  Sorry … couldn’t resist.  Did I mention that I live with Levi Howard? Although this catchy saying may not attract you to eat beans, you really should consider including them a larger part of your diet.  Beans are low in fat, high in protein and full of fiber and antioxidants.  They cost next to nothing (especially if you buy in bulk) and they can be worked into meals in so many different ways.

Obviously, we have jumped on the bandwagon.  We make a weekly batch of pintos to take for lunch.  Rice is the perfect accompaniment to beans because together they form a perfect protein.  The two together contain all of the amino acids that a person needs.  Let’s face it though … just rice and beans can get old really fast.  So I’ll list some other ideas below of ways you can mix up some recipes to include this wonderful food, that is beans.

I was curious about what pintos looked like as they grow.  Mainly because I’m obsessed with getting a garden started, especially after receiving this wonderful book (thanks Bran!) as a housewarming gift!  I can’t wait to start composting and planning out our garden for next Spring. Just look at that cute pod.  

Since this is a weekly process at our home, I thought our process of cooking the pintos would be useful for those of you interested. We utilize the crockpot.. It’s so easy and the beans come out perfect every time. The first step is to wash and sort the beans. Sometimes you will find a rock or two in the batch you’re making, so it’s best to take the beans in your hand to inspect for unwanted pieces before tossing them into the colander to wash. After rinsing the beans, put them in the crockpot (or a stock pot if you prefer). At this point, you have two options depending on how much time you have. To soak, or not to soak. Soaking the beans in water overnight speeds up the cooking process. By speeding it up, I mean cutting the time in half. If you choose to soak, make sure the beans are completely covered in water with around 4 inches of extra water on top because the beans will expand. Half-soaked half-dried beans are no bueno. We normally don’t soak because I normally start them in the morning and they are done by dinnertime in the crockpot.

After rinsing, put the sorted beans into your pot of choice.

At this point you can add whatever spices or extra vegetables suit your fancy. I normally add some chopped onion and a chicken builloin for good measure. Chopped jalepeño and garlic are also known to make it in the pot.

After adding these extras, give the beans a good dose of salt. This not only aids in the cooking process, but allows the salt to soak into the beans instead of just the broth (if you add it after cooking). Add water to the pot until the beans and extras are covered plus around 4 inches, as mentioned above.

Place the lid on the pot and let those babies simmer. If you are cooking in a crockpot, it’s best to turn the crock on high for an hour or so and then down to low for 6 – 7 hours. On the stove, I would recommend soaking the beans ahead of time so that your cooking time is 2 – 3 hours. It’s important to turn the beans down after boiling for around 30 minutes because you don’t want them to turn to mush.

To spice your recipes up, these are some of our go-to bean-inclusive meals.

Rice & Beans : Cook your rice (preferably brown = more fiber) according to the instructions, then season with dried/fresh cilantro, olive oil and garlic salt. Perfect. Protein. Diced chicken on top is pretty tasty too. Add some BBQ sauce for a twist.

Refried Beans : Purée beans in the food processor until smooth, then add a little olive oil and water to increase the liquidity. You can add some chopped jalapeño or garlic to spice the beans up here as well. Serve with enchiladas or make a bean and cheese taco on a flour tortilla.

Texas Caviar : Mix the pintos with cooked black beans and garbanzos. Add canned/steamed corn, chopped tomato, avocado, onion, fresh cilantro and jalapeño. Mix well and season with garlic salt and lime juice. Serve with taco salad or chips.



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