Chef Eric Stein, MS RD CCE

Wellness Chef | Registered Dietitian
Certified Culinary Educator

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Bean, Beans, The Musical Fruit...

Posted: April 7, 2012 8:20 PM

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Did you know that beans are high in fiber and protein, and low in fat? Beans are delicious and nutritious, but the consequence of eating them can sometimes be embarrassing. With all the healthful, and not to mention delicious benefits beans possess, there has to be a secret to being able to consume them without the uncomfortable gas.

Beans contain a high amount of fiber, a nutrient that is essential in our diet yet can't be digested. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it? We need a nutrient that our body can't even use. Well that's where biochemistry comes in. The fiber found in beans is called an oligosaccharide, a form of sugar. Unfortunately our bodies don't have the enzyme necessary to break it down, which causes uncomfortable gas and bloating. This is similar to the absence of the enzyme to digest milk in people who are lactose intolerant.

Not to fear, you can enjoy beans and reduce bloating by following just a few easy steps when preparing them. There are two methods of preparing beans, the traditional soaking method and the quick soaking method.

Traditional Soak
1. Start by thoroughly rinsing your dry beans.
2. Soak beans in water overnight or until they double in size.
(About 8x as much water as beans)
3. Strain the beans from the water and rinse them in a colander.
4. Place them in a medium pot and cover with fresh water.
5. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer the beans until tender, about 75 minutes.

Quick Soak
1. Start by thoroughly rinsing your dry beans.
2. Place the beans in a pot and cover with cold water.
(About 8x as much water as beans)
3. Turn heat to high and allow water to come to a boil.
4. Boil 10 minutes and then turn the heat off and cover pan with a lid.
5. Allow beans to soak for an hour and then strain them from the pot.
6. Rinse the beans and return them to the pot and cover with fresh cold water.
7. Place pan over high heat bring to boil.
8. Reduce heat and simmer the beans until tender, about 45 minutes.

Be sure not to add salt during the soaking or cooking process as it makes the skin tough and prevents the beans from cooking properly. If you are pressed for time, canned beans can be used as well. Be sure to rinse the beans when you remove them from the can. Rinsing will wash away excess salt, and some of the indigestible sugars discussed above.

Now that you know more about beans, it's time to start eating them more often. It has been shown eating more beans is another way to help your body become more adjusted to digesting them.

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