A couple of weeks ago, I taught a class on cooking with beans. I have taught this class many times, and I absolutely love cooking with beans and eating them! Each time I teach this class I learn something new, and of course learn so many new recipes. It is actually kind of fun. I love experimenting with beans to find new ways to use them. Tonight I made a really yummy gravy, and instead of thickening it with corn starch or flour, I used bean flour. It worked out great! I had to whisk it a little bit more, because it tended to leave the tiny little dumplings on the top of the gravy look – but my whisk took care of that. The gravy was delicious and nutritious!
|Black Bean Brownies|
Anyways, I was prepping for this class, and the day before the class I had a very strong AHA moment. I was reviewing some of the things that I could do with beans, their value, their versatility, and their ease of storing, when all of a sudden I had the biggest AHA moment that I have ever felt with beans.
I totally understood why we are counseled to store beans for long term food storage. It totally makes sense to me. I mean I always knew that they were good to store, but I learned even more why!
Beans are the all around healthy food for pretty much every purpose. Here are some of the things that we can do with them.
- Beans can replace proteins in our meals, and by combining them with another form of protein, they make up a complete protein that is usable by our bodies, and has way less fats than other forms of proteins. They can be mashed, fried, baked, roasted, toasted, or made into salad. The possibilities are endless.
- Beans can be ground into flour and used in baking by replacing portions or all of the wheat flour with bean flour, depending on what you are baking. This offers a much more nutritious way to baking for those fussy eaters who need that nutrition. Flour can also be used in gravies (like I did tonight), sauces, dips, and pretty much any type of cooking that you need to thicken. The only thing about cooking with bean flour in your baking, you will need to add more of your leavening agent like yeast or baking powder, because the bean flour is much heavier than wheat flour. It doesn’t have a natural gluten to help things stick together so remember than when substituting it in baking as well.
- Beans can also be used in baking by mashing up cooked beans and using them to replace the fats, either partial or all, in baking. If you are replacing oil, you can blend up the beans with enough
Black Bean Tortillas
water to make them oil like consistency. If replacing shortening, mash them up to resemble this texture. To start with this I would experiment with various recipes until you get the hang of it. Maybe start by replacing half and half beans and fats. You will be making yummy food and it will still be nutritious. They will never even know it is good for them. This one is extremely important to our food storage, because whenever there is food shortage problems, and especially during the famine over in Europe some time ago, if you do the research, the thing they were crying out for the most was fats to use in their cooking and baking. Beans can provide the needed fats for the baking portion! Yes it really will work! Applesauce can also replace some of the fats in your baking – but that is another post!
- Beans when sprouted, increase their nutritional value exponentially. They offer so many vitamins and minerals that they could offer a complete meal, pretty much all on their own. Sprouting them, use them in soups, salads, or any other meals. All they really need to do is sprout to contain these vitamins. If you use mung beans to sprout and get the same sort of sprouts that you can buy in the stores, it will help you to get healthy, lose weight and alkalize your body. If you sprout regular beans, then dry them, and then use them in flours, baking, and cooking, you will still gain all of the nutrition. What a complete power packed source of food by sprouting.
- Storing beans can be done indefinitely if proper conditions are provided. If they are kept dry and cool, they will last for many years, far longer than you or I will live. Excavating the pyramids in Egypt, they found beans that had been stored for thousands of years, and guess what? They were still as good as if they were first grown. Keep them dry, and clean, and they will last forever.
- Finally, but not the least by any means, they are so inexpensive to buy, and easy to use once you get used to them. You can pick them up pretty much anywhere, but the place where I purchase them, which is probably the cheapest for the types they sell, is the LDS Church Cannery. The LDS church has many of these canneries scattered throughout North America, and they will sell to anyone. Search one out and see what they have to offer for beans.
My AHA moment – We are counseled to store beans for our long term food storage program, and I understand why. They are an amazing food group / food groups, all wrapped up in one. Why wouldn’t we want to eat them, and store them, and learn to cook with them?
What are your thoughts on beans? I would love to hear them, and would really love to try out your favorite recipes. Please share them with me!