Tips to Enjoy Beans on The Menu

Q: Hello! What’s on the menu please?
A: It’s BEANS Sir!

Beans porridge is one of my favorite meals and I’m well experienced in thinking up recipes for enjoying it more….You know?…tried it with cassava flakes (drinking garri), succulent baked breads (any good brand), pap (ogi), custard, I enjoy beans most with quaker oats and powdered milk.
I recently stumbled upon these excitingly tasty bean recipes and some tips on eating beans, thought you are going to like them. Don’t hesitate to try them out.

Top 10 Tips for Cooking Dry Beans

1. To cook soaked beans, add fresh cold water to fully cover beans, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, if you wish. Adding oil prevents foaming and boiling over. Foam also can be skimmed off during cooking. Simmer the beans until they are tender.

2. Cook only one kind of bean at a time if possible. Different types and ages of beans have different cooking times, so avoid cooking different types of beans together at the same time.

3. Maintain water at a gentle simmer (not rapid boil) during cooking to prevent split skins.

4. Do not add baking soda to beans at any time. This will make the beans more tender but destroys the B vitamin thiamine and also may impact the flavor negatively.

5. Stir beans occasionally to prevent sticking during cooking.

6. Keep beans covered with water during the cooking process. Add cold water periodically during cooking to ensure beans are covered.

7. Check beans for “doneness” before eating. When cooked properly, beans should be tender but not mushy. Skins still should be intact, but the bean can be mashed easily between two fingers or with a fork.

8. Drain beans immediately after they have reached desired texture to prevent overcooking.

9. To add flavor after beans have finished cooking, try adding a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil immediately before serving rather than adding high-fat ingredients (such as bacon) during cooking.
(See “Flavor-boosting Tips” below)

10. To cook beans quickly, try a pressure cooker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This allows beans to cook in half the time and eliminates the need for soaking.

However, this does not give the beans much time to absorb flavors from other ingredients. Therefore, use a pressure cooker when beans are needed quickly or to be used as a part of another flavorful dish.

Note: Hard water (naturally high in minerals) may affect cooking time/softening of beans. Distilled or softened water may result in a better end product.

Flavor-boosting Tips

Beans tend to absorb the flavors of the ingredients with which they are cooked. To enjoy beans ensure that these added foods only increase flavor and do not hinder texture development. Follow these tips when adding each of these ingredients to beans to make them delicious and nutritious:

– Acid: Adding sources of acid is a great way to increase the depth of flavor in bean dishes. Add foods such as lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, chili sauce, ketchup, molasses or wine after beans have been cooked fully. These acidic foods can prevent beans from becoming tender and lengthen cooking time if they are added too soon.

– Onions: Adding onions also can increase the depth of flavor in beans. Add onions any time during the cooking process, but for a stronger onion flavor, add during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

– Herbs and spices: Add oregano, thyme, garlic, parsley or any other herbs/spices any time during cooking. However, keep in mind that flavors of herbs and spices tend to diminish the longer they are cooked.

– Salt: Add when the beans are almost tender because salt tends to toughen beans. Remember to use minimal amounts of salt to limit the sodium content of beans.

Gas-reducing Tips

Consumption of nutrient-rich beans could decrease the risk for several chronic diseases; however, some people may be hesitant to increase beans in their diet due to the fear of intestinal gas and stomach discomfort, including increased flatulence. Certain nondigestible carbohydrates, termed oligosaccharides, are responsible. Some researchers have reported that flatulence associated with bean intake may be exaggerated, and individuals vary in their response to increased fiber intake. Researchers suggest discarding the soaking and cooking water to remove some of these nondigestible carbohydrates.

Try these tips to reduce the occurrence of intestinal gas when eating beans:

– Increase beans in your diet slowly. For example, you may start by eating 2 to 4 tablespoons of beans per day, and gradually increase each day.

– Drink more water each day as you eat more beans (or other fiber-containing foods).

– Use the hot soak method when preparing dry beans. The longer beans soak, the more you will reduce the amounts of the gas-producing compounds.

– Change the water several times when soaking dry beans, and discard this water when soaking is completed. Many of the gas-causing carbohydrates are released into this soaking water.

– Rinse canned beans without sauce (such as kidney, navy, Great Northern) before eating or using in recipes.

– Consider using a gas-reducing enzyme tablet*. These tablets are available over the counter in many pharmacies.

We hope these tips gets you enjoying beans. Eat beans!

*Before use of any drug, speak with your medical doctor/physician

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