Heirloom Organic Black Turtle Beans
Dried beans can be incredibly rewarding when prepared correctly and with ease, but require advanced preparation. For my black beans, I soaked them in water for 6 hours in advance; you could also do it overnight if you wish. I sautéed fennel, onion and garlic with olive oil. When tender, I added the beans and soaking liquid. Once boiled, I simmered the beans until soft. Half way through the cooking, I added more garlic, cilantro and salt. The beans were finished with additional salt and cilantro.
Depending on the amount of beans you are cooking, the cooking time varies. For my pot of beans, I used 2 cups dried beans and 6 cups water. Cooking time was longer than expected, at around 3 hours. I wanted to wait for the beans to be perfectly tender, yet still slightly firm to the bite. I also wanted the liquid to thicken and create a nice rich broth to eat with the beans. The beans will only get better with age, so it definitely helps to plan in advance if you want to add some fiber filled, protein packed morsels into your meal. These beans not only can be eaten alone as a filling side or main, but can also be made into chili, soup or can be refried/twice cooked.
It is well known that beans are an economical protein and that a little goes a long way, especially if you are buying dried and in bulk. If you do not have the time, energy, or the ability to plan in advance, canned beans are still a great way to add protein and fiber to your diet. A few negatives of canned beans are that they have additional sodium, so it is always good to drain and rinse your beans before you use them. Additionally, the canned variety has slightly fewer nutrients than dried beans.
Besides being a fan of the taste, texture and flexibility of legumes, I am also a fan of the wonderful components that beans possess. Beans are so versatile that they can be considered a member of both the vegetable group and the meat/poultry/fish group on the food pyramid and can serve as a hearty vegetarian substitution of protein. Legumes are high in protein, iron, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They consist of complex carbohydrates, are fat free (depending on cooking prep) and help reduce the risk of heart disease.
With all this constant talk about fiber, what does fiber really do for you? Besides getting things flowing and going, fiber is an essential component of the diet. The two types of fiber that exist are soluble and insoluble. They are found in fruit, whole grains, oats, legumes, seeds and vegetables. Fiber can increase satiety, since fibrous foods take longer to digest than refined and less fibrous foods, so they are beneficial for weight control. Fiber also assists in lowering blood pressure, regulates BMs, and may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Although extremely beneficial and most of the times delicious, it should be advised not to go on fiber overload, especially if you are planning on being a decent distance from a acceptable and comfortable “relief center”.