When you are a vegan or vegetarian, beans are one of the most important components of the diet. They provide a source of protein, fiber, calcium, folate, potassium and iron. Studies have even shown them to help lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar, protect against colon and breast cancer and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
The following is the second part of our basic vegan cooking, providing you with the essential tools you need to start on a plant-based diet.
Soaking beans and legumes is highly recommended because it shortens their cooking time, increases their digestibility (decrease flatulence) and has shown to get rid of some of the phytates and tannins that can lower nutrient availability. All dry beans and legumes except lentils, mung beans, and split peas should be soaked before cooking. To soak, cover washed beans with four times their volume of water in a bowl or pot and choose a soaking method.
1. Normal Soaking Method: Take bowl of beans and water and cover. Let the beans soak for 8-10 hours. (I usually just let them soak overnight).
* If it is hot outside the soaking beans can ferment so please place in the refrigerator while soaking.
2. Quick Soak Method: Take the pot of water and beans and boil. Once the water is boiling, cover and let it sit until you are ready to cook them.
Drain the beans in a colander and wash thoroughly. Place beans into a large pot and cover with about double the amount of fresh water as beans. Refer to the cooking chart for exact water amounts. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. If any foam develops while simmering, skim off the top. Let the beans cook until tender. Drain beans in colander and serve.
* Salt can disrupt the cooking time so do not add any until beans are cooked.
Cooking Reference Chart:
|Bean (1 cup dry)||Cups Water||Cook Time||Cups Yield|
|Anasazi||2.5-3||45-55 min||2 1/4|
|Black Beans||4||1-1.5 hrs||2 1/4|
|Black-eyed Peas||3||1 hr||2|
|Cranberry Bean||3||40-45 min||3|
|Fava Beans||3||40-50 min||1 2/3|
|Garbanzo (chick pea)||4||1-3 hrs||2|
|Great Northern Bean||3.5||1.5 hrs||2 2/3|
|Green Spiit Peas||4||45 mins||2|
|Yellow Split Peas||4||1-1.5 hrs||2|
|Green Peas whole||6||1-2 hrs||2|
|Kidney Beans||3||1 hr||1 1/4|
|Lentils, Brown||2 1/4||45 min-1 hr||2 1/4|
|Lentils, Green||2||30-45 min||2|
|Lentils, Red||3||20-30 min||2-2.5|
|Lima Beans, Large||4||45 min-1 hr||2|
|Lima Beans, Small||4||50-60 min||3|
|Mung Beans||2.5||1 hr||2|
|Navy Beans||3||45-60 min||2 2/3|
|Pink Beans||3||50-60 min||2 3/4|
|Pinto Beans||3||1-1.5 hrs||2 2/3|
Beans are extremely versatile as they can take on the taste of many other spices and flavors. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use them:
– Serve on a baked potato with salsa and guacamole
– Puree in a blender and toss with bread crumbs, cooked vegetables and spices for a vegetarian burger
– Toss with fresh cooked vegetables, add salt, nutritional flakes, and brown rice vinegar
– Vegetarian Chili
– Black Bean Mole Soup