Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Soaking and Cooking Dried Beans/Legumes

If you've always used canned beans/legumes, or even if you are just starting to consider adding these meat alternatives to your diet - you may not know what to do with the dried varieties. Dried beans/legumes are a great budget friendly, shelf stable vegetarian protein. Beans/legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber. Canned items can be high in salt/sodium which is part of the reason I first tried dried beans/legumes.

I found a good guide on the site The Veggie Table which I have followed to learn about different soaking times and how to cook the beans once they've been rehydrated. I don't often soak overnight because I often use the beans/legumes to create supper. Instead I soak them while I work all day so they are ready when I need them that evening. I do test them throughout the cooking time until they reach the consistency I want. I use my rice cooker to get my brown rice done while I chop and saute a variety of vegetables, then I mix everything together in a skillet and season accordingly. I'm not a vegetarian, but I like having variety and moderation in my diet and dried beans/legumes allow me to do that!

If you're not sure where to start, the Mayo Clinic has a list of some beans/legumes and their common uses.

Steph Wheler