Beans, beans, the magical food…
Fall is the perfect time of year for beans! They work perfectly in a chili and one of my favorite things about them is that you can make them in a slow cooker so you can literally start them in the morning and forget about them all day!.
Even better than how easy they are to prepare is how healthy they are. Rich in vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins as well as being loaded with soluble fiber so don’t be afraid to mix it up and try different varieties- you might be surprised at which one is your favorite! Aim to eat a variety of beans at least twice a week.
To make sure you’re getting the most from your beans you have to take the time to prepare them properly. Soaking them overnight, or for at least 8 hours not only helps decrease cooking time but also helps increase digestibility. First rinse your beans thoroughly and cover them with fresh water- make sure the water is about two inches over the beans. Adding a one-inch piece of seaweed such as Kombu to the soaking water will further increase digestibility and reduce gas-producing properties.
Once your beans have soaked discard the soaking water, rinse them with fresh water and then add them to your pot of water with any aromatics you like and add back the piece of seaweed and hold off on the salt since it can make the beans contract and make them hard and unappetizing. Cooking the beans with seaweed will add extra nutrients such as iodine, which is missing in so many peoples diet and is vital to good health.
If you’re cooking on the stovetop (or even the slow cooker) when your water begins to boil and your beans start cooking you will notice some foam forming at the top- make sure to skim it off since that foam can make you gassy if you eat it! Once the beans are very close to being fully cooked, or once they are fully cooked then go ahead and add some high quality sea salt to your taste. Adding salt too soon in the cooking process will make the beans contract and harden which is not delicious so be patient and wait until the end. Different beans have different cooking times so make sure to double check the cooking time for your specific bean.
Once they’re done I like to take a few beans, some of the cooking water and any pieces of seaweed I can fish out and puree them in the blender. Once that is done I add the rest of the beans to it, a little olive oil and finish seasoning them with some finely chopped red onions and garlic. If you want to change it up you can even puree the whole thing and try a delicious bean dip. Enjoy!