How many of you remember the children’s rhyme about beans? You know the one that claims the more you eat the better you feel. I remember when I was a child living in a neighborhood in Northern California, we skipped down the street singing this tune. I’ve since come to really appreciate the health benefits of beans, even lima beans when cooked from scratch.
In this blog post, http://yumuniverse.com/how-tosday-soaking-and-cooking-legumes/, Heather Crosby of Yum Universe describes how to prepare legumes and why it is important to use the real deal whenever possible rather than from a can. I love the way she outlines yields and cooking time in this blog entry. She also adds the hint of using kombu, a sea vegetable to assist in digestibility and add in trace minerals.
When considering the health of our planet here are 6 facts related to beef and climate change provided by the World Resource Institute in April of this year. This blog post is written by Richard Waite, Tim Searchinger and Janet Ranganathan. They are all experts on the topic and committed to education related to building a sustainable food future. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/04/6-pressing-questions-about-beef-and-climate-change-answered .
So let’s consider what happens for our own health and that of the planet if we substitute beans for animal proteins, beef in particular. Raising and feeding beef negatively impacts natural resources and increases greenhouse gas as outlined in this Climate Central article: https://www.climatecentral.org/news/studies-link-red-meat-and-climate-change-20264 reducing beef consumption seems a reasonable way we can contribute to reducing our risk for irreversible climate disasters. In several places in the world individuals and institutions are eliminating beef altogether https://people.com/human-interest/uk-university-goldsmiths-banned-beef-climate-change/ . Here we find legumes coming in to fill the protein gap.
Beyond this beans are just plain good for you and offer a very good source of protein and nutrients that is easily digested for most people. They contain important phytonutrients which only come from plant based foods. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to eat them either. My rule of thumb for carnivoures goes something likes this…replace red meat with red beans at least once weekly for optimal digestion of proteins. The American Heart Association agrees that beans are preferable to animal proteins for heart health. For some people who suffer from digestive issues such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease eating beans can be challenging. I have worked with people to safely add in beans to their diet even with these conditions. For most of us beans are a welcome and healthy addition to our protein intake.
There is a wonderful assortment of legumes available on the market today. You can find them in bulk at many small markets and even some of the larger scale grocery stores have added bulk bins so you can grab good quality, organic non-GMO dried beans. Beans and Legumes provide soluble fiber and are packed with nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They are a pretty versatile food that can be prepared in a wide range of dishes from around the world. I must say since I’ve replaced red meat with beans and bean products such as tofu and tempeh my energy and weight have both markedly improved, and my grocery bill is lower!
I’m going to share a favorite snack I make with adzuki beans which I learned when working at The Kushi Institute. It is a sweet bean from japan that is described by many foodies as a super food along with chickpeas, lentils and black beans all of which I eat regularly. This high energy snack is both delicious and nutritious!
Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)
For the adzuki balls:
• 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
• 3/4 cup pecans
• 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
• 1/4 cup cocoa
• 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
• 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)
For the topping:
You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out.
• 1 cup of selected topping
• 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)
Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.
In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)
Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.
And for a little homage to beans:
Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!
it’s bean time!
Yes, we’ve got beans:
Fresh beans, green beans,
Long, wiggly lean beans,
Handfuls, pocketfuls, bags, bowls, tureenfuls!
Beans for lunch and beans for tea,
And beans for nibbles in between!
Beans for brunch – and midnight munch! –
More beans than you have ever seen!
Beans for neighbours, colleagues, friends –
and more beans ready to pick at weekends!
Beans for the freezer: squeeze a few more
Into the drawer ’til you can’t shut the door!
Beans for November, December, next year,
For springtime, next summer… when more will appear.
Yes, more beans, galore beans, bore beans, oh dear!
How about sprouts for a change of scene?
“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates