Beans a staple cuisine around the world has humble beginnings and offer endless possibilities for your family. Hop on the bean wagon and let us explore the potential of beans.
Some of the common beans we know well are lima beans, great northern beans, black beans, navy beans and white beans. There are so many other varieties of legumes that most of us do not consider when cooking with beans.
The benefits of eating beans a few times a week are numerous.
- High in fiber
- Reduce the risk of colon cancer
- High in antioxidants
- Lots of healthy protein
- B vitamins
- Iron, Copper, Potassium, Zinc and Selenium
- May decrease risk of diabetes
- Beans fill you up and you eat less
- Decrease risk of heart disease
If those reasons are not enough to get you on the bean wagon consider this. They are an inexpensive way to feed your family and decrease your grocery bill. Beans can be prepared in advance and frozen to use another day.
Explore a few heirloom varieties of beans to increase your enjoyment.
Anasazi Beans – cultivated by Native American’s. The name Anasazi comes from the Navajo word “ancient ones.” There is a story about the first settlers finding these beans growing wild and cultivating them. This Anasazi bean is white with a maroon pattern. They have a flavorful, sweet taste and are easier to digest and cause less gas. Substitute for pinto beans in any recipe.
Dapple Grey – these heirloom beans are bright white with gray markings resembling the marking of a Dapple Gray horse. This bean has really good texture and tomato compliments its flavor, so it’s well suited for a vegetarian chili. Ideal for soups as well.
Christmas Lima – this bean is a variation on the traditional lima bean and originally from Peru. It is burgundy speckled and meaty with a chestnut flavor that is bold. Try strong flavors such as curry. This bean is the star as a main dish mixed with sauteed mushrooms, garlic and butter. Do not forget the cornbread.
Cranberry – this favorite is most common in Mediterranean cuisine. The bean is a medium to large tan or hazelnut-colored splashed or streaked with red, magenta, or black and has a sweet velvety texture. It is used in Italian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Greek cuisine. Toss these beans with olive oil and fresh parsley. Great with buttered toasted Italian or French bread.
Trout – also known as Jacob’s cattle bean has a plump kidney shape and is maroon and ivory in color. It has a rich and nutty flavor and stands up to lots of seasonings, making it a great bean for soups and stew.
Tongues of Fire – pale green in color with attractive, vibrant red streaking. Popular in South America. Tongues of Fire beans are not spicy hot unless you make them so. It has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor and a good, creamy texture. Serve with spices in soups, stews and bean salads.
Add a few of these spices and herbs to flavor up any bean recipe. Coriander, cumin, bay leaf, garlic, sea-salt, pepper, savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, ginger, cayenne pepper, fennel, turmeric and sage. Also add onions, bell pepper and celery. I add two or three spices of whatever I have on hand or what I have growing fresh in my herb garden. I get some delightful and delicious surprises.
If you are daring you can add smoke bacon, smoke neck bones, andouille sausage or smoked ham hocks. Well, now you see my southern cooking coming out.
To reduce being gassy from beans eat them frequently and soak them for (8) hours overnight. Drain and add fresh Kangen® water and cook.
You can find these beans at your local market, food co-op or order online. You can also try growing from seed in your garden. It may be fun to try in pots as well. Great projects for your children because beans grow rather fast.
Try mashing your beans to a paste and using as a dip for your vegetables. Add left over beans to your salads, Add to soups as a thickener instead of potatoes. Serve over rice as a main dish. Hop on the bean wagon and let your imagination soar.
If you have some ideas for beans or some good recipes, please share.