Cooking Legumes (Beans, peas, and lentils)

August 31, 2009

Cooking Legumes (Beans, peas, and lentils)

Soak & soften - To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, all large size beans should be presoaked. There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan & add two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

1- boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours. (my personal favorite – seems to shorten cooking time)

2- soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. Before cooking the beans, always drain the soaking liquid and rinse beans with clean water


No matter HOW you cook them – Do not add any salt or acid foods to your beans until they are softened.

Cooking in a crockpot or slow cooker allows YOU to do something else without worry while your dinner is prepared. This is what I call – “unattended cooking” and i cannot say it enough – in these modern times with multi-tasking, tired moms & family cooks – if you want to eat simple home cooked meals made in a jiffy – you should get familiar with, fall in love with – and marry – a slow cooker!!!! Ok, I don’t sleep with it, but just about everything else to love is in this little cute kitchen tool. The cooking times listed below are for those who haven’t yet met this wonderful appliance…which, yes – it takes your beans longer in a crock pot – to soften & be ready to add into soups, dips, tostadas, casseroles, salads, southern cookin’, and the multitudes of protein uses that beans can enviously offer you. The benefit is no more burned beans, your brain can forget about that pot on the stove, you can just do anything at all instead!!!

Oh – yes, the time for slow cooker beans is about 4 hours on high, and about 6-8 hours on low…check them after this to see if they are soft.

Oh, and we could talk about solar cooking, but that is an advanced technique – to be saved for another day…a sunny day :)


(1 cup dried)

Stove Top

Pressure Cooker

Herbal Combinations

tried & true







Adzuki bean

(Aduki bean)


1-1/2 hrs


45 min

Coriander, cumin, ginger

Black bean


2-1/2 hrs


1-1/4 hrs

Coriander, cumin, ginger, sage, thyme, oregano



1 hr


20 min

Coriander, cumin, ginger, sage, thyme, oregano, dill, Basil, , mint, garlic

Green split peas


1 hr


20 min

Dill, basil

Whole peas


3 hrs


1 hr

Chive, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

Pinto-Kidney bean


2-3 hrs


1 hr

Coriander, cumin, ginger, sage, thyme, oregano, fennel, cumin

Garbanzo bean


4-5 hrs


2-3 hrs

Dill, basil, mint, garlic

Limas & Black eyed pea


1 hr


35 min

Coriander, cumin, ginger, sage, thyme, oregano, fennel, cumin

Mung bean


1 hr


20 min

Coriander, cumin, ginger

Yellow or black soybean


4-6 hrs


2 hrs

(table of cooking times source: Healing with whole foods, Paul Pitchford)

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All About Black Beans

August 31, 2009

Black beans

Beans are a very inexpensive form of good protein, & they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world. With a rich flavor, black beans have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking. Black beans are my favorite legume, right next to peanut butter. A stash of cooked beans in my fridge offers me lots of menu choices for the week, and is a great way to save time, money and get health benefits for my whole family.

Save money! About 15 cents per serving…Replace expensive red meat in your menus while enjoying the health & rich taste of black beans.

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Black beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods. And, when you get your protein from black beans, you also get the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of quality soluble fiber. A cup of black beans will provide you with 15.2 grams of protein (30.5% of daily protein requirement), plus 74.8% of the daily value for fiber. All this for a cost of about 15 cents, only 227 calories with virtually no fat. (vs a 2oz hamburger meat serving cost more than $.50)

Health Benefits – Protein, Fiber - Reduces Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer

Black beans are a very good source of dietary & cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes. In addition to lowering cholesterol, black beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans a great choice for anyone with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, black beans provide high quality protein.

Antioxidants -When researchers analyzed different types of beans, they found that, the darker the bean’s seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity. Gram for gram, black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity, followed in descending order by red, brown, yellow, and white beans. Overall, the level of antioxidants found in black beans in this study is approximately 10 times that found in an equivalent amount of oranges, and comparable to that found in an equivalent amount of grapes or cranberries.

Fiber - A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as black beans, helps prevent heart disease. Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat black beans. A cup of black beans will provide you with 30.1% of the DV for magnesium.

Cancer Fighter - A study published in Food Chemistry and Toxicology suggests not only that black beans may help protect against cancer, but that whole foods naturally contain an array of compounds that work together for our benefit.

How to Select and Store

Whether purchasing black beans in bulk or in packaged containers, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are whole and not cracked.

Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place, they will keep up to 12 months or many years. They dry over time and become harder to cook. If you purchase black beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked black beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days in a covered container.

How to Prepare Cooked Black Beans:

1- Check & Wash - Before washing black beans, spread them out on a light colored plate or cooking surface to check for, and remove, small stones, debris or damaged beans. After this process, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.

2- Soak & soften - To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, black beans should be presoaked. There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan & add two to three cups of water per

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1- boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours.

2- soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. Before cooking the beans, always drain the soaking liquid and rinse beans with clean water.

3- Cook - To cook the beans, you can cook them on the stovetop, in a crock pot, solar oven or use a pressure cooker. For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, you can skim it off during the simmering process. Black beans generally take about one and one-half hours to become tender using this method. They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare. Crock pot cooking will require 4-6 hours at low heat. I generally add veggies & seasonings after they are soft and then cook until done. Regardless of cooking method, do not add any salt or seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been softened since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.

Nutritional Profile

Black beans are low in fat, high in protein & are a good source of dietary fiber and folate, manganese, protein, magnesium, thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus, molybdenum and iron. A one cup serving of cooked black beans provides about one third of a day’s protein requirement. (vs 2oz meat cost $.50)

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

~ Stuffed baked potato or topping.

~ Black bean soup or chili

~ Refried bean replacements in burritos or other Mexican dishes.

~ Cuban inspired meal of black beans and rice.

~ Layered Dip – In a serving bowl, layer black beans, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, diced onions and cilantro to make a delicious layered dip.

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Cooking 101 – A series of Local Food Classes

August 31, 2009

Local Cooking – Fresh, Fast & Easy on the Budget

Class I – August 15th – Introduction to simple foods & basic cooking – quick notes

~Busy people / saving time …fit cooking into your lifestyle, yet – offer your body what it deserves…

~Money concerns – Eat well & yet spend less money. Log your purchases; note the cost of junk food…is organic food more expensive? Shop around the edges of the store. The temptation of fast food: fridge or take-out.

Vegetable costs vary: Red Pepper in winter @ $3 vs Cabbage (1/4 head) @ $.25

Feed your family for $1.50 a meal with staples & garden produce. This is healthy & basic.

Cost in time & money….for a family meal for 4 people…

Fast Food vs PIZZA vs Home Cooked vs Healthy Meal

15 min 30 min 25 min 25 min

$15 $17 $8-10 $6

(2 adult & (Large pizza, (Spaghetti, salad (Beans & rice,

2 child meals) large soda) garlic bread, milk) stir fry veggies)

~Eating healthful foods. What is the cost of good health vs disease, or aging with chronic health problems…can we prove that food has any bearing on this? How to choose food that is healthful. Place priority on food expenses above luxuries- ipod, cell phones, designer clothing.


It does not take a lot of research and education to understand the basics of healthy eating.

The primary staples of a healthy vegetable based diet are whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies, and nuts and seeds. Dairy, meat and other concentrated foods are best eaten as additions around this core of nutrient rich & simple vegetable staples. This makes sense in many ways – it is cheaper to eat a vegetable based diet, it uses less energy and less water to grow vegetable based foods, and studies prove that your health will benefit from a simple “staple” based diet. One good way to judge is to look at your plate…see that the meal contains 25 percent whole grains, 25 percent high protein plant sources like tofu, beans, etc, 25 percent cooked veggies and healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and 25 percent fresh raw veggies, fruit or salad. If you can’t do this every meal, try balancing these factors in your day, at least.

TRADITIONAL DIETS ~ Food is Medicine ~ You are what You eat ~

Traditional and successfully healthy cultures have a similar core of food choices, and they also eat some source of fermented foods on a daily basis. While not truly vegetarian, their meat choices are not a dietary focal point. Meat & dairy are typically a healthy part of ancient traditional diet, and yet they are expensive in many ways – it takes more water (1) & energy to grow these food sources. Their uses were occasional & small quantity…

***Special mention: corn syrup is now in almost everything – contributing to epidemic of obesity, diabetes…child generation emerging now at risk…

~ Food Security – Emergency foods – what to store & how much – simple grain and bean storage ( refer FOOD STORAGE flyer)

- Know how to make good use of what you have – in the fridge, pantry or garden

~ Eating local & in Season- gardening & food storage – fresh tastes better & easily available. (who has a friend with too many zucchini or summer squash? (steamed squash recipe today) – anticipation of each season’s special harvest, when the crops are coming in and food is at its best; economics of buying local– money circulates 3x vs buying in a chain ($ leaves town)

þ EAT FRESH – Shop more often, eat it up while fresh, the Europeans know this secret to good food. A cupboard stocked full of colorful and expensive boxes & bags filled with long ingredient lists, or a huge refrigerator filled with spoiling food does not offer money savings or good health. Another tip - If you have ever seen it advertised, don’t buy it!

þ LOCAL PRODUCED FOODS – Locally grown foods taste better & are easily available. Your local economy benefits from every dollar you spend in town.

WHY BUY LOCAL (& Organic)?

Eating is a pleasure, one of life’s best! Eat well for the best reason of all…For the Joy of it! Food is tastier when grown to full ripeness, anticipated through the year and finally – eaten in season.

And ‘eat local’ also for these benefits…

Celebrate the Wholeness of living systems, from grower to cook to eater…notice & appreciate Nature & Humans in sustainable cooperation as you buy from those who are taking care for our future.

1- Protect local farms & farmland (farmland that is in use is not readily going to become our next suburb).

2- Protect Global Natural resources, (reduce reliance on fuels & trucking)

3- Preserve & enhance Local environment;(building healthy soil reduces water need, reduces toxic runoff into streams)

4- Build local health by reducing health problems created by Agricultural pesticide &

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chemical use (not good for either ag. workers or the eaters) & other food processing carcinogens found in chemically treated crops & foods – fast foods, processed foods, and chemically altered foods.

5- Preserve the gene pool & maintain genetic seed & crop diversity in this time of seed patents & reduced commercial seed varieties.

6- Simplify your life, and eliminate most “FOOD SAFETY” Concerns

7- Keep your Local Economy Strong & Strengthen Community – Food systems require a full support network, and those multiple jobs will be locally sourced as each farm & supplier creates a number of other jobs in its web.

And remember –

This is not a call for a limitation in your diet, but rather – an invitation to enhance the local character of your cuisine, and ensure a future for agriculture in your community.

þ BUY IN SEASON – Learn to enjoy the anticipation of each season’s special harvest, when the crops are coming in and food is at its best.


What a pleasure …the anticipation of each season’s special harvest. Taste and diversity of the season’s offerings will vary all year long, and from year to year! The healthy vegetable based diet thrives on seasonal foods combined with staples of grains, beans & seeds, with some quality local dairy & meat additions.

SPRING – At winter’s end we long for the beginning of freshly picked herbs, vegetables and fruits. Asparagus, spinach, wild & garden salad greens, & strawberries begin to mix with the final stored foods of winter. Steamed greens, early salads, bowls of fresh strawberries with local cream or yogurt are eagerly awaited treats. Mix some young dandelion greens or flowers into your salad for a spring cleanse.

SUMMER – The bounty of nature peaks as summer builds – more variety, more fresh food of all kinds shows up in the Farmer’s Market , farm stands, & your own garden space…tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, melons, peaches, berries & cherries, and much much more add to the great diversity of taste this season gives us. Grilled veggies & salads abound. Gazpacho soup is summer’s healthy fast food (and liver cleanse) – make it in a blender, drink it from a cup…

AUTUMN – “Winter Keeper Foods” are harvested now… Fruits fall from the trees (apples will keep all winter), cruciferous veggies (kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage) are ready, as are squashes and root crops (beets, carrots, potatoes). Spinach & lettuce appear again after the heat of summer subsides. There is still more than enough tomatoes, zucchini & eggplant too! No wonder “Harvest” Festivals and Thanksgiving Dinners are traditionally held in the fall.

Busy cooks are preserving, drying, freezing and storing the wonderful autumn variety of foods for winter, just as are the local squirrels and bees.

Sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented foods are healthful ways to preserve this abundance.

WINTER – Winter foods are warming & full of the needed calories to give us health in cold weather. Harvested in fall, and stored throughout winter they will provide vitamins and minerals to sustain us until the spring. Nourishing soups and baked or roasted naturally sweet vegetables (carrots, beets, squash) can satisfy our cravings for fresh fruit & desserts. Preserved foods from the yearlong harvest bring lots of variety and interest to a winter meal. Winter is the time to rest and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

þ EAT FRESH – Shop more often, eat it up while fresh, the Europeans know this secret to good food. A cupboard stocked full of colorful and expensive boxes & bags filled with long ingredient lists, or a huge refrigerator filled with spoiling food does not offer money savings or good health. Another tip - If you have ever seen it advertised, don’t buy it!

~Gradual Change – little bit at a time, baby steps, try again several times with kids; 10% rule

More on Changing your Food Choices –

1- Food represents more than just chemistry & nutrition – it is the emotional content of your early life, habits, memories, current needs to supply coping mechanisms, changing habits requires behavior modification and several common sense rules:

Motive – ask yourself why are you doing this?

Moderation – in changing habits

Pace- of change is individual – perhaps one meal a day or one day a week you can

work it fully, note new tastes- may take a few tries

Positive Reward for Partial Results

Buddy system

2- Words in daily use – sweet, rich, honey, “Apple of my eye” are terms of praise & represent our food values, and are so deeply pervasive we do not notice their effect on our choices

Strategy to change diet-

1- Actual current diet – use your shopping lists, look in fridge & cupboards, trash can – to see what you are actually eating. Be honest, and note where you might begin – best to build on things you are already doing well, rather than a punishment campaign of abstinence or elimination.

2- Learn basics, find recipes, take a class, cook with an accomplished friend

3- Being out - When your kitchen isn’t handy – deal with the outside world food choices – it is easier to control food choices & make change in your own kitchen, harder to go out for dinner, esp at a friend s house…also watch for low blood sugar “junk grabs” or other daily habits

4- Food choices- what to eat on a regular basis for better health

Meat, Caffeine, sugar, processed foods vs. Beans & Grains, vegetables, fruit

5- ShoppingShop Smart

  • Keep a List of staples
  • Category by Store layout (type)
  • Shop fresh & Frozen last
  • Same store – familiar & faster
  • Avoid Rush Times
  • Buy in bulk, shop less often


Demonstration: On to the Food Itself

Kitchen tools and equipment

~ Workspace Layout- prep area near stove, de-clutter counters, most often used tools nearby (on wall?), need more surfaces? (a pulled out drawer becomes a surface)

idea: Keep salt in 2 places, etc

~ Basic kitchen tools and equipment for simple staple cooking: medium pot with tight lid, steamer, crock pot, pressure cooker, stir fry pan/wok, rice cooker, etc

Note –NO aluminum – let’s use steel, ceramic, glass instead…

Cooking Techniques:

~Timing of a meal – start with items with longest cook times, do other prep while it is going…

~Unattended cooking is our goal here

~ Menu Tips: Easy, Variety, Make Ahead or Leftovers, Cold Foods, Unattended Cooking, Double Up ( make 2x for another recipe), Stock up on Staples for more last minute choice

~ Prep like a Pro

1- Review Plan > Recipe-ingredients, equipment, sequence, substitutions

2- Gather Ingredients

3- Combine Tasks ( chop everything at once, boil in same pot – I sequence, bake together or in sequence)

4- Eyeball quantity rather than measure (not for baking)

5- Get helpers – make it fun

6- Clean as You go – have a compost/scrap bowl near cutting board, hot soapy water in sink, etc

Prevent Waste – use it up – use salsa up in other dishes, experiment with sauces, use scraps to make a broth (save in fridge for 3 days, then boil out – strain off)

Double Duty Dinners – BEE Clever, Double Duty cooking offers a head start on the next day’s meals (make extra baked chicken, use it for tacos, casseroles, then finally soup etc)

“Transform YOUR Leftovers”

1-Beans – How to soak & rinse to reduce gas; Crock Pot technique (refer to my post – ‘Black Beans’)

(grains and beans are very inexpensive and are staple foods around the world. They offer nutritious wholeness that our bodies have been accustomed to for thousands of years. With slow cookers they can be started in the morning and have good food ready to eat after work.) Multiple uses for cooked beans;

- How to store them (Refrigerator & Freezer: jars & bags, plastic & glass, recycled, etc)


~Whole Grains –brown & white rice, there are differences in nutrition & cooking needs ( see my post on RICE)

Stove Top (brown rice – start cooking 45 minutes before dinner)

Rice cooker (white rice – start cooking 20 minutes before dinner)

RECIPE: Greek Rice w/ stock, butter & lemon (see below)

**Cracked Grain Cereal – Next time we will – discuss the mill & blender for grinding grain – sift to separate flour & cracked grain

**Grain & Veggie salads – a simple mix & marinade of…

- Condiments: oil, something sour (lemon, lime, orange, vinegars) salt, seasonings

- Cracked Triticale or rice– soaked or steamed; as a sub for “Bulghur” in taboulli recipes, etc (leftover from dinner)

- Chopped Vegetables in season, leftover steamed veggies, salsa, ]

3-Vegetables – Seasonal – why fresh vegetables? Preparation ideas: raw, salads, stir fry, sautéed, baked, broiled, grilled, or steamed

~Fill & Start steamer going on flame before you chop veg to save time

~Blend a soup, adding ingredients in random order, cooked or raw for a change!

LUNCH MENU: Bean dip with raw veg-zucchini or cuke slices, Greek (white) rice (rice cooker), Stove top brown rice, (mention- use leftovers for salads or stir fry or…)

Gazpacho soup & steamed zucchini?

COST of today’s LUNCH: (all vegan except the Greek Rice) Cost: per person – $1.50 – 2.50

Rice (2.5c/#@$1; 1-2 portions in .5c=1.5c cooked = $.20 each)

Beans (2.5c/#@$1; 1-2 portions in .5c=1.5c cooked = $.20 each)

Vegetables (vary greatly: about $.25 to 1.50)

Sauces, Dressing & Condiments: $.25/chicken broth, $.12/lemon,

$.04/Butter, $.05/Olive oil, $.04/Salsa

BUDDY SYSTEM – for one week…help yourself learn to cook, try new foods….

Find a classmate or friend who wants to make change, think of each other in several ways-

- Do a “meal share”…take turns cooking for each other’s families – take a day off from cooking & get fed!!!

- Support the change, be available when either of you forgets the plan, needs backup with willpower or information, even kitchen tools can be shared

- Be an honest feedback for each other’s recipes & cooking innovations

- What else?


Black Bean Dip – basic & low fat – serves 3-4

2 cups cooked beans, salted, any added herbs or soft veggies are ok

Add 2T Olive Oil & blend with stick blender in a small bowl. Add salsa to taste (1/4 c?)

Serve with sliced seasonal vegetables



Rice Cooker* White Rice Recipe

Greek Rice – serves 3-4

2 Rice Cooker measures (1 ½ cup) – white rice, washed 3x & drain in a strainer

1 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth

½ lemon, squeezed into cooker (or ½ salt preserved lemon – do not add more salt)

2 T butter

¼ t Salt (optional – or to taste)

*Can be made on stove top: bring to boil, turn pan off when in full boil, and let rest for 20 minutes (do not open lid) Serve .



Gazpacho Soup

Annie’s Raw Gazpacho Cleanse – serves 3-4

When tomatoes & cucumbers are thick on the vine, try this chilled soup

- A perfect meal in a glass and a liver cleanse too!

Wash & cut up 2 medium tomatoes, and a medium peeled cucumber, place in blender. Add about 3Tb of olive oil, a pinch of salt, 3 or more cloves of peeled garlic (to taste) and water or broth to cover over ½ of the vegetables.

Blend until it no longer “knocks around”. Refrigerate for awhile.

Serve with a thin slice of tomato, cuke or basil leaf on top.

Or- for chunky style, chop everything up fine instead of using a blender



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