Friday, March 9, 2012

Who's Afraid of Soaking Beans?



A few couple months ago I assigned Cooking Homework. November’s homework was to start slow cooking. I did and use our slow cooker every weekend. I don’t love chopping onions with my morning coffee but a few minutes of work and you have chili, soup or a delicious stew waiting for you. Last month, I vowed to embrace my neglected juicer and to break out unused cookbooks.  I’ve definitely juiced more this month. I would encourage fellow juicers reading this to consider using parsnips, papaya is good too, oh and young coconuts. I’m happy to talk juicing because I didn’t cook anything from Healthy Hedonist or Appetite for Reduction. Nada.

I read something over at Verging on Serious that may explain my partial failure. Cameo wrote a great post on making changes and listed these facts from a video series she watched:
Adoption of one new habit at a time- 85% chance of success
Adoption of two new habits at once- 35% chance of success
Adopting of three new habits at once- 10% chance of success.

In my assignment I did something I urge clients not to, I tried to do too much at once thus I’m in the 65% failure faction. So this month, there’s only one assignment I’m throwing out there, beansBeans would probably make my list of the top 10 healthiest foods; I love Mexican-inspired dishes, bean dips and bean salads. I’m not fond of canned foods so I’ve been using the Fig Food boxed beans. I really should soak and cook my own beans (less packaging, less salt, less expensive) but I don’t. It could be that I lived on black beans and brown rice in college and when I say lived on I mean it.  As scarring as this repetitive eating was the reason I don’t soak beans is really that I’m too lazy. You may have sniffed out that I use lentils and split peas often; they are lazy person’s legumes (no soaking required).

I decided it was time to change my ways reading about bean soaking on More than Cereal. Adele jokes that she used to think of soaking beans as only something a “special” type of person does. However, like other commonly circumvented cooking chores, it’s really not that involved. I did it at 18, in college, and I assure you I wasn’t capable of doing much else at the time.

If you’re contemplating beak soakage, here’s what you do:
Initiate the process the night before (or morning) you plan to cook beans.  Put beans in a large pot, under a few inches of water, and refrigerate. Remove any floating beans as this indicates they’re old. No senior beans allowed. Drain the water (important as you are draining out gassiness), cover with fresh water and cook. I love this slideshow from Serious Eats. Adele and S.E.. concur that cooked beans can be frozen for later use. Love that.

So we have good odds, an 85% chance of soaking success, are you with me? If you’re sitting back a smug soaker, I’m sure there’s something else you been putting off.  What's something you buy that you can make at home or DIY? You have until April.

37 comments:

  1. Great post, Lauren.

    Forming good habits makes eating well automatic.

    Quick trick for forgetful bean wannabe cooks: put the beans in a pot, get the pot (covered) to a boil and remove from heat. Leave to soak in the warm water. Your beans will soften as if soaked overnight within an hour or two and be suitable for further cooking.

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  2. So you're a quick soaker Ayala? I will test out.

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  3. Great timing! I have a bag of navy beans sitting on the counter to do something with so I can make white chicken chili today. Last night I was surfing the web to see how to get started. And of course there are so many opposite theories out there. I do everything else - make bread, use my own broth, make my own apple butter but it is the beans that I get stumped on. I love the idea of freezing them to use for future use instead of canned. In the past, the beans I have cooked have been a little too crunchy. Off to tackle my beans - thanks for the morning motivation!

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    1. Karin- crunchy I would say not enough soaking (6 hours I think needed unless you do quick soak method Ayala suggested) or not long enough cooking. See how it goes, love navy beans (though not navy at all). I don't make my own stock either (or bread) but I'm sticking with tunnel vision and beans for March.

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  4. Lentils really ARE the lazy person's legume. Which is probably why I cook with them all the time. Good luck with the bean soaking!

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    1. Wait Stephanie, are you staying lazy or signing on to soak? Unclear.

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  5. Its sooooooo easy! =) I started with chickpeas last year but haven't made the leap to black beans for some reason -- time to change that!!! <3

    Happy Friday Lauren! mwah!

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    1. funny I think soaking chickpeas less common. OK let's see some black bean action this month from you.

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  6. I always soak them in warm water with a little whey or lemon juice or vinegar (Sally Fallon style) on the counter, not in the fridge. And I always make lots to freeze, so I can always have beans at the ready (my son is a bean freak!).

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    1. Whey, so interesting. I like fridge in case beans are neglected, wouldn't want them out too long- no? Fermentation? Of course your son is a bean freak, he probably soaks more beans than I do. Other than brownies any creative bean ideas for me Justine?

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    2. Yeah, the acid and warm water are supposed to mitigate the phytic acid (http://nourishedkitchen.com/soaking-grains-nuts-legumes/)

      I don't know that I have many unusual uses for beans, other than my flourless chocolate cupcakes made from chickpeas. My son's favorite way to eat beans is just drizzled with some EVOO and a pinch of salt! We do lots of chilis, too...

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  7. I'm the only one eating beans at my house, so I usually just use the canned beans or Randall's in a jar.

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    1. Soaking is worth it even for you, freeze then and then no cans, c'mon Caron all for one and one for beans?

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    2. I might give it a try. Frozen beans don't sound so great. But they must work since everyone says they freeze theirs.

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    3. Caron, all of my cooking is cooking for one - probably the reason i use to use canned so much. But the truth is, even when the beans are just for you, it isn't that hard, and the benefits are great. Give it a try - i promise it is not as scary as one would think.

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  8. THANK YOU! I appreciate the shout out. We are often on a similar wave-length because this past Sunday I SOAKED BEANS! It had been on my list of things to try (I usually buy Eden Organic BPA free canned beans but they are spendy and...canned). I used a recipe from a friend of mine at www.littleeater.com for her Black Bean Chili (though we doubled the recipe and it turned into more of a soup). The flavors are amazing. I highly recommend the recipe (or at the very least the addition of Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and hot mustard powder!) I've been eating beans for days now, so I am a little beaned out...but I am also no longer afraid of the soaking. It was painless. And so much more cost effective and environmentally friendly.

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    1. where did my reply go, I made chili yesterday too, with chipotles so there's definitely some nan-noo nan-noo similarity thing happening.

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  9. Great post, Lauren. My mom used to soak beans...they were always delicious.

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    1. wow ayala, I totally didn't have a bean-soaking mother. She cooked a lot but that wasn't something she did. And did it carry over, do you soak beans now too?

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    2. I have to confess my husband cooks them and he does soak them :)

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  10. I soak beans on my counter. I also soak lentils - a shorter time though, and nuts (to make nut milk). I am going to start soaking my grains too. I read that it improves digestion and access to nutrients (cannot remember exactly but it has to do with enzyme inhibitors and also phytate and lectins).
    It quickly became a habit, each morning I soak something.... more pleasant than chopping onion with your morning coffee. :)
    Talking about soaking/fermenting, I am going to get water kefir grains this weekend. I am so excited!

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    1. You may be right natalie, soaking or chopping- soaking wins.

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  11. I'll soak with you! Actually, consistently soaking & cooking my own beans has been on my list forever...

    And I really like the reminder to change one thing at a time!

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    1. So glad andrea, "I'll stop the world and soak with you" ha. That song popped into my head.

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  12. Ok. I can't tell you how long I've waited for someone to challenge me to this. Like you, I'm just LAZY about soaking beans! I USUALLY pre=plan my meals but since moving/starting a new job, my hubby and I eat foods on a whim most nights. Canned beans it is! 1. I had never heard of boxed beans and 2. I used Eden organic which I HEARD doesn't have any BPA? So I didn't feel as bad. However, I would LOVE to soak my own bc it's SO much cheaper and healthier! Thanks for the inspiration! i've been enjoying beans on my salads lately so now I just need to soak/cook them!

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    1. Eden is better than most canned but what you get from soaking 1 pound of beans is astounding. Can you tell I soaked this weekend?

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  13. I love this homework assignment Lauren! I don't think I've soaked beans since I was in school working on my nutrition degree...I think there was a project in my food science class where I was forced to do this. Soaking beans has been on my list for a long time now, so thanks for the nudge to do this! BTW-I am a 50 % success for last months homework! I didn't use a long lost appliance, but I did make something out of a neglected cookbook which I am going to post this weekend :-). Floaters=Senior Beans?? I never knew!

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    1. Well done EA, at least one of us used the cookbooks. Yes, forego the floaters for sure.

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  14. So funny—last week I challenged myself to finally start soaking beans instead of buying canned. After soaking and cooking them, I ended up with some delicious black beans. I told myself that this weekend I'd pick a recipe for my slow cooker to try this month. I get nervous about leaving it on when I'm not home, but I know that's the whole damn point! Baby steps.

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  15. Goody two shoes you did your homework early. Now, we have to get you over the slow cooker phobia. Does knowing I once left mine on, by mistake, for a day and nothing burned down help you? Maybe that's your homework for this month.

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  16. I made some great navy bean soup with dried beans. I soaked them during the day and made the soup at night. I cook slowly so I had a dinner while the soup simmered for a couple of hours. Gotta love the Le Creusets!

    Part of my homework is to use my new Le Creuset pans more often. so i've been making lots of stews and soups.

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    1. Pearl, how are you? May Le cruset read this and send you a present. you're such a fan. I, like you, soaked by day and cooked by night. rewarding.

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  17. Great post! I don't ever soak beans but I really should try.
    I am like you and use the lazy person's legumes. ;)

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    1. swanky, non-lazy dietitian perhaps?

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  18. I rinse my beans and put them in my slowcooker on low when I leave for work. I will do up a huge batch for quick weeknight dinners or my black bean brownies. They are as soft as canned beans and if I am making chilli or anything in the slowcooker with beans, I just toss in dried ones and they are always cooked great.

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  19. Hi Lauren, I'm doing well. I am thinking of juicing to prepare for spring/summer. I bought a citrus juicer for all the grapefruit I couldn't eat fast enough. It's been great.

    so I'm researching juicers now :)

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  20. Have beans at home soaking now!!

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