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Week of April 23, 2011

Bean Basics

For such tiny things, beans offer some pretty big health benefits. Not only are they high in protein, fiber, calcium, potassium and iron, but beans can also lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer, and protect against ulcers. And best of all, they are fairly inexpensive.

When you use dried bean, you'll usually have more choices than the canned offerings. You will also have control on how much salt and what other spices or seasonings are used.

SOAKING METHODS:

Full Soak

  • Rinse beans in cold water, picking out any shrunken ones as well as pebbles or grass (beans are very much a product of the earth and even the highest-quality brands may have dust and little rocks in them).
  • Place in a pot with at least three cups of water for every cup of beans--refrigerate overnight.
  • Discard any beans that float to the top; these are most likely hollow or in some way bad.

Quick Soak:

  • Rinse and pick through beans, then place them in a pot with enough cold water to cover them by two inches.
  • Bring to a boil, cap the pot with a snug-fitting lid, remove from the heat and let sit for one hour.
  • You can either keep the cooking water and proceed with your recipe, or you can drain the beans and start again with fresh water.

Note: The exception to the soaking rule is lentils. These are so small that they don't need to be soaked at all. Just rinse and cover with plenty of water, then simmer for about half and hour.

When you're ready to cook the soaked beans, drain them, and cover them with fresh water.

  • Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Check periodically and keep enough water in the pot so beans are always under at least ¼ inch of liquid.
  • Once soaked, beans will take between one and two hours to cook, depending on their size.

COOK'S NOTE: If you want to use dry beans in a recipe that calls for canned, keep in mind that most dry beans will triple in volume when fully cooked. And if you're using black beans, navy beans, split peas, or garbanzos, they will nearly quadruple in size.

Week of April 14, 2011

How to Cook Quinoa

Week of April 7, 2011

Tips on How to Use Slow Cookers

 


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