Cook'n with Pillsbury
Cook'n with Pillsbury™


Cook'n with Pillsbury
Cook'n & Grill'n


This is absolutely the best program I've come across... Once you get into it, it is so easy to use... I especially like the grocery list...saves me time and energy...

Suzie Graves

• Current Issue
• Newsletter Archive


• Contact Info

Order today and
SAVE 10%! Click here to find out how.

Volume II
April 29, 2003

Beans--Glorious Beans!


Gassing Up

Bean Promotion

Bean Storage

Bean Prep and Cooking

Cooking Time

Flavor Additions

Novel Bean Inspirations

Bean Conversions

Gassing Up
Versatile, flavorful, nutrient-packed beans--glorious beans! Have you given them a try lately? Oh, I know, you're skittish, right? You fear unpleasant side effects from these fat-free, fiber and protein-packed marvels. In high school, for a pot-luck banquet, my friend told us his mom would be bringing her special recipe of delicious baked beans. What made them so special? Josh blushed and giggled as he told us that his Mom knew how to make the beans especially gassy. The night of the banquet, we passed by those tempting beans, but laughed as we saw classmates and their parents loading up!

Putting two and two together, if Josh's mom knew how to retain the gassing properties of beans, then there must be a way to minimize those feared effects. The secret is in the water. First, beans need to be pre-soaked. Presoaking not only shortens cooking time, retaining more of the nutrients in the bean, but it also begins the breakdown of some of those indigestible sugars that cause gas. After soaking, drain the water (and the indigestible sugars) from the beans and pour fresh cold water over them to continue cooking until tender. Finally, discard the cooking water, too, to eliminate more culprit sugars. Using the quick-soak method also reduces gas. For specific soaking instructions, click here to
Bean Prep and Cooking.

In addition to soaking and draining, many people develop a tolerance for beans when they incorporate them into their diets regularly. This "training-effect" is more likely to take place if you start out slow. Try the less-gassy legumes first, like lentils (which don't need to be presoaked, by the way), lima beans, and split peas. Dish up small servings initially for GI tract adjustment; then, after a few weeks, increase your portions.

One last solution to winning in the gas game--buy an enzyme preparation, such as Beano®. Add a few drops onto the first spoonful of a potentially offending meal, and the enzymes will go to work in your intestines to break down those troublesome sugars.

Bean Promotion
With gas concerns behind you, I'm going to make a plug for beans in the nutrition area. As a registered dietitian, I've learned that there's no such thing as a miracle food, one that provides all the nutrients needed in one serving. However, in my assessment, beans come pretty close. First, they provide energy in the form of carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates pair up with whopping amounts of fiber (ranging from 4-9 grams per half-cup serving), a much needed component in Western diets. Fiber can lower cholesterol, keep the gut functioning smoothly, and can help control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.

With as much protein (7 grams) in a 1/2 cup of beans as in an ounce of meat, legumes can provide many tasty options for meatless meals. Be aware, though, that beans do not contain all the essential amino acids, like meat does, needed for protein-building. Beans lack the amino acid methionine. Overcome this shortage by serving beans with meat, eggs, cheese, or grain products such as corn, rice, and wheat. All of these do contain methionine, and when paired with beans, will complete the set of essential amino acids.

Beans tout grand doses of vitamins and minerals, too, such as calcium, iron, potassium, and B vitamins, but they do not harbor vitamins A, C, or B12. This simply drives the point home that variety is the key to good nutrition, not eating just one food type.

Be bean conscious! Eat them frequently, as your system allows. Top salads with chilled beans, use them as a meat extender in recipes (for example, use half ground beef and half cooked beans), serve bean soups (chili, black bean, calico-bean, bean-n-bacon), baked beans and hot dogs, red beans and rice, tofu (made from soybeans) as a meat replacement or extender. Look for bean dishes on the menus of your favorite restaurants. Beans work for breakfast (Bean-n-Berry Smoothie), lunch, dinner, and believe it or not, even dessert. Ever tried Pinto Bean Fudge or Mock Pecan Pie? For once, you'll feel guilt-free when dessert is served!

Breakfast Bean-n-Berry Smoothie
1 can (15 ounces) navy beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 cups orange juice
2 cups quartered strawberries
1 to 3 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 to 8 ice cubes

Process all ingredients, except ice cubes, in blender until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend until smooth. Serve in glasses. May make 1to 2 days in advance and stored in refrigerator, covered. The drink will thicken in the refrigerator, so stir in orange juice or cold water for desired consistency. If frozen strawberries are used, ice cubes will not be needed.

Pinto Bean Fudge
Makes 28 2-inch squares

1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts

Puree beans in blender or food processor with butter until smooth; transfer to a bowl.
Add cocoa, powdered sugar and vanilla; beat 3 minutes until thoroughly mixed. Stir in nuts.
Spread mixture evenly in a 9 x 13-inch pan.

Mock Pecan Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 heaping cup of mashed Pinto Beans *
9 inch, unbaked pie shell

Beat butter until creamy; add sugar, brown sugar and beaten eggs, beating well after each addition.
Add pinto beans and blend well. Pour into 9 inch, unbaked pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes, then at 350 degrees F. for an additional 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Bean Storage
While beans are best used within 12 months of purchase, I've known people who are still using beans they've stored for 13 years. Keep the beans in airtight containers, in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Fresh beans (used within 12 months) will cook easily to a tender state. Beans stored longer than a year may require additional cooking time to tenderize and they may not become tender.

Cooked beans can be stored in covered containers in the refrigerator for 3 days. They freeze really well, however, so cooking a large batch to freeze will ensure you always have cooked beans on hand to inspire your cooking. To freeze, place in airtight containers. Cover with some of the cooking water, optional, label and freeze for up to 6 months.

Bean Prep and Cooking
Soaking and Cooking. To speed up cooking and retain nutrients, beans need to "relax" in a water bath! Before soaking, sort through dried beans to remove any debris and rinse to remove dust. Cover the beans with cold water (3 parts water to 1 part beans) and soak overnight or for 12 hours. Drain, cover with cold water again, and simmer until tender (see chart below). Using cold water increases the chances of keeping the bean skins intact until they are tender. Cooking them slowly over low heat (gentle boil), and stirring them as little as possible, also keeps the skins intact.

Many cooks prefer to quick-soak the beans using the boiling water method. Cover the beans with cold water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, let stand one to four hours, and then drain, cover with cold water again, and simmer until tender.

Pressure Cooker. Beans can also be cooked in a pressure cooker with or without soaking. However, some feel beans cooked this way lose some of the flavor they are famous for. Follow the manufacturer's instructions or the general instructions below.

Soak beans per instructions above. Drain, rinse. Fill pressure cooker with beans, no more than 1/3 full to allow for expansion. Cover with water and 1 tablespoon of oil to reduce foaming. Cover and cook at 10 pounds pressure for 10-20 minutes. Cooking time depends upon size of bean.

For unsoaked beans, wash and sort beans before placing them in pressure cooker. Use 1 part beans to 3 parts water, but don't fill cooker over 1/3 full. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Cover; cook at 15 pounds pressure for 30 minutes (small beans) to 40 minutes (large beans).

Crock Pot. A crock pot also comes in handy for cooking beans. After the initial soaking period, cover with water and cook on low for 6-8 hours or overnight for plain beans, or follow the recipe instructions for bean dishes crock pot style. A more specific method requires boiling the unsoaked beans in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water, cover the beans with 6 cups water to 2 cups beans in the crock pot and cook on low for 12 hours.

Cooking Time
Cooking times will vary depending upon the type of bean, its age, the hardness of the water, and any additions made to the water. But the following guide can give you an idea of when first to check the bean's tenderness to prevent overcooking:

Type of Bean
Black-eyed peas
Great Northern

Limas, baby
Cook Time
1 to 1-1/2 hrs
1 to 1-1/2 hrs
2 to 2-1/2 hrs
1 to 1-1/2 hrs
1-1/2 to 2 hrs
30-35 min. (no presoak)
1 to 1-1/2 hrs
Type of Bean
Navy (white)
Split peas
Cook Time
1 to 1-1/2 hrs
1-1/2 to 2 hrs
1-1/2 to 2 hrs
1-1/2 to 2 hrs
3 to 3-1/2 hrs
35-45 min. (no presoak)

Flavor Additions
You must use wisdom when adding flavorings to beans, mostly because salt and acidic ingredients keep the beans from tenderizing. It's best to add these ingredients (salt, tomatoes, vinegar, catsup, citrus juices, or lemon zest) near the end of the cooking period, when the beans are almost tender. Adding other ingredients, like herbs, onions, celery leaves, a ham bone or chicken carcass can flavor the beans from the beginning of the cooking process without increasing the cooking time. Stud an onion with cloves; toss in rosemary, bay, sage, savory, thyme, cumin, or garlic, depending on the recipe the beans will be used in. Beans are sweet in nature, and acidic ingredients complement them nicely. Bitter salad greens, mustard-based dressings, horseradish sauces, as well as the acidic ingredients mentioned above, really pair nicely with beans in the pot or on the plate.

Novel Bean Inspirations
The versatility of beans makes them artful. Use them in non-traditional ways with these fun ideas.

Bean Flour. If you've stored beans for some time and they just won't tenderize when you cook them, put them to another use: grind them into flour in a wheat grinder. Use the bean flour to thicken soups, gravies, or stews. Toss it into homemade bread to turn out tenderly textured loaves. If the beans are really old, the flour may taste bitter. Test a little in soup or with your finger. Expect a strong bean flavor, but if it's bitter, you'll just have to toss it.

Bean Puree. Not only can you use beans whole in soups, casseroles, desserts, or salads, but you can also blend them up into a puree that can be a fat replacement in baked goods, like in the Marvelous Muffins recipe found in
Cook'n Lite & Healthy. It can also be used as a spread for bread. Typically white beans are used; simply add your favorite herbs (rosemary paired with sautéed garlic and minced onion) to white bean puree, heat to blend flavors, and spread the warm puree over toasted bread. Seasoned bean puree, using your choice of bean, can also be a topping for potatoes, noodles, or rice. You can pool the puree on a plate, as a garnishing touch, for fish or steak set atop the bean sauce. The puree can be used as a base for soups, sauces, salad dressings, and gravies, too. Can you see how opportunity abounds for creative chef using the simple bean?

To make a bean puree, overcook soaked beans until very tender and mushy. Drain off the cooking liquid, reserving some, and put one cup of beans and 1/4 cup reserved liquid into a blender. Puree on a medium speed until smooth. Scrape the sides of the container occasionally to blend and puree the beans evenly.

Marvelous Muffins (from Cook'n Lite & Healthy)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey or 2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce lightly sweetened
1 cup white beans, pureed

In a mixing bowl combine flour, oats, soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. In a separate bowl combine egg whites, milk, oil, honey, applesauce, and pureed beans. Add all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moist, allowing batter to be lumpy. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups. Fill 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans and serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

**Purchase canned white beans and finely purée them in your blender. The consistency should be like thick wall-paper paste or creamed shortening and sugar. If the consistency is too thick, add 1 to 3 tablespoons of water or liquid left over from the beans.

Zucchini: Prepare as in key recipe (Marvelous Muffins), except add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves to flour mixture. Then fold 3/4 cup finely-chopped zucchini pieces into finished batter.

Date: Prepare as in key recipe (Marvelous Muffins), except fold 2/3 cup chopped dates into muffin batter.

Cranberry: Prepare as in key recipe (Marvelous Muffins), except combine 1 cup coarsely-chopped cranberries and 2 tablespoons sugar; fold into muffin batter.

Corn: Prepare as in key recipe (Marvelous Muffins), except delete the oatmeal and reduce the whole-wheat flour to 1 cup. Add 3/4 cup cornmeal to flour mixture. Do not use paper baking cups. Generously spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.

Pumpkin: Prepare as in key recipe (Marvelous Muffins), except add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves to flour mixture. Then add 1/2 cup canned pumpkin to egg mixture. Do not use paper baking cups. Generously spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.

Bean Conversions
To assist in cooking beans and substituting dried beans for canned beans, the following conversions are offered.

         * DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions!
Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

"Oh, won't you cumin?"
Lean tortillas
Homemade low-fat refried beans
Diner's guide to mexican menus
LIVE VOTE: Would you like a HomeCook'n WEEKLY?
HomeCook'n Cover Page

Also Available At:

Affiliate Program | Privacy Policy | Other Resources | Contact Us

© 2007 DVO Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Sales: 1-888-462-6656
Powered by