“Beans beans good for the heart, the more you eat, the more you fart” – so the song goes. For us though beans have given us so much more than just farts (there were plenty of those at first) I’m not just talking beans either but legumes in general which means lentils, chickpeas and of course beans! It’s hard to believe just how much joy I get from the humble bean, but there you go and I don’t care what you think!
Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for beans, unfortunately. When we had family over in May, my MIL’s partner had real issues adjusting to what we were now eating, the beans in particular.
One morning I was in the shower and he really needed the bathroom, I mean really needed the bathroom, and not just for a wee either! My husband gave me a rundown of their conversation and when I went outside and saw him washing out the bucket he had managed to locate, (and the surrounding area because he’d somehow managed to miss most of the bucket!) I realised just how unused to beans he was!
So, you can imagine he wasn’t thrilled when bean, after bean, after chickpea, after lentil appeared on the dinner plates! #sorrynotsorry
I won’t have a bad thing said about beans because they’ve helped me out so much in trying to eat less meat, add more fibre and colour to our dinners and stop us from starving at the same time.
I only used to eat the Heinz variety of beans served on toast obviously, but when we moved to Spain and discovered that if you did by some miracle manage to buy a tin of baked beans they would come in at 85 cents! So we hardly ever ate beans for the longest time. I then discovered this posh beans on toast recipe which gave us a bit of comfort when we wanted a taste of home!
But that is about as far as it went where beans were concerned and they always came out of a jar!
The Spanish use a lot of beans and chickpeas and lentils, they form the basis of the Mediterranean diet along with loads of fresh fruit and veggies and olive oil. Ask anybody in the village what they are making for lunch on any given day and they will usually say ‘lentejas’ (lentils) I always wondered what they actually did with them though, imagining a bowl full of lentils and little else. Cooking with legumes has always been a mystery; it just wasn’t part of my English cooking repertoire.
But here I am almost three months since my husband came home from hospital and I am absolutely thrilled about soaking beans, cooking beans and eating beans, (I have chickpeas bubbling away on the stove right now.) I do sometimes worry that I may have become a little bit obsessed and feel real regret when I realise I’ve forgotten to soak my beans for the next day.
It’s all Dr Rupy Aujla’s fault! My friend recommended his book and I’ve never looked back. I found his website, The Doctor’s Kitchen and the subsequent ‘huevos rancheros’ recipe with black beans. I’d never had a black bean before in my life. Oh, how I have been missing out! Reading the book led me to learn why beans or legumes in general, are so good for healthy eating and more importantly, what to do with them!
I’ve discovered lots of great recipes which are cheap and easy as long as you remember to soak your beans the night before, which in the beginning I often didn’t. It is quite important to soak the legumes even tiny lentils which may seem a bit pointless given they cook quickly. But, according to Dr Rupy Aujla’s book ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen: Supercharge your health with 100 delicious everyday recipes’
“Soaking lentils removes ‘anti-nutrients’ that are chemicals which bind to minerals. Without proper soaking, legumes can adversely affect the absorption of minerals like zinc and magnesium, plus the anti-nutrient chemicals themselves can irritate the gut lining.”
I have no idea what an anti-nutrient is but glad that soaking gets rid of them!
I’ve since discovered that soaking beans and lentils also means they ferment a little which makes them easier to digest and means less farting! Hurrah!
How are beans good for the heart?
We were advised by the doctors to eat less meat and try and eat more plants to help reduce cholesterol because my husband’s high cholesterol contributed to his stroke. So as well as lots of fruit and veggies, we were told to eat more beans and lentils. Basically, beans and legumes are high in fibre and minerals and they’re a good source of protein without the saturated fat you get in meat. And, according to this article, “eating one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can significantly reduce our so-called “bad cholesterol” and therefore the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
I remember my Dad eating beans on toast just before he went to get his cholesterol checked, now I kind of understand the reasoning behind that. But, as with most things you can’t just eat beans on a random Tuesday once a month and expect to reap the benefits, of which there are lots.
Other benefits of beans and legumes
- They are protein-packed which helps to keep us fuller for longer.
- They convert slowly into blood glucose which means you don’t get a sugar spike and later, crash. They are rich in antioxidant polyphenols which protect our cells from free-radical attack (I have no idea what that means either)
- They are cheap, easy to store and go well with all sorts of different flavours and textures which is great because I chuck them in everything!
How I have been using beans and other legumes
I feel I have to explain that the reason I often refer to beans as black beans, red beans, white beans green beans, and Sean Bean (not really, just checking you’re paying attention) is that that’s about all the variety we have here – yes, even in the ‘big supermarket’ I could look online for exotics such as pinto and adzuki beans, mung beans, red and puy lentils, but I don’t.
We did have fabes beans/fava beans? (a large white runner bean) once in a traditional Fabada Asturiana which was amazing but probably the most unhealthy thing you can eat. I remember needing a long walk and a lie down afterwards!
One of the very first meals with beans I made was white beans (out of a jar) with green beans, asparagus, broccoli, onion, garlic, peas and spinach. All sautéed together with a wee bit of chilli. It was delicious and I make it often, varying the veggies depending on what I have in the fridge and what is in season. Sometimes I will serve it with rice and if we’re feeling really flash some chicken.
I often make a lentil chilli with kidney beans, I use black beans in salads and my favourite huevos rancheros recipe. I love a chickpea sandwich and of course hummus with veggies for dipping.
Beans and pulses are great for bulking up dishes such as stews, soups and salads. I made posh beans on toast with leftover broccoli the other day it was amazing so really you can combine them with almost anything and the result will (usually) be pretty good.
While we don’t obviously eat beans for every meal, I mean that would be crazy, we have gone from eating beans about once every couple of months to almost every day – six times a week easily.
It hasn’t been too difficult once I got the hang of remembering to soak them in the evening. I tend to soak and cook three or four at a time then keep them in the fridge once cooked.
We don’t walk around farting and I’m sure they are helping my shorts feel less tight than they have in ages.
So, yes indeed, ‘beans, beans good for the heart’ but so much more!
Has this bean helpful? Let me know what your bean story is.