Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, and contain essential minerals like calcium and magnesium. They’re also high in fiber, and help cleanse your colon as you digest them. And beans are an alkaline food, helping to balance out a diet that’s rich in animal proteins, alcohol, and coffee. They can also be economical if you take a few minutes to prepare them ahead.
Delicious, Yes: But What About The Bloat?
Beans can produce gas and bloating, and even when you soak them before cooking (an easy technique to neutralize the gassy effect), many of my clients still find that beans are not their Nutritional Style.
Sometimes difficult to digest, beans are a carbohydrate and can affect your blood sugar. For some people beans can create bloat and water retention, and even make it hard to lose weight. If you are struggling with sugar issues, or find it difficult to lose weight, you might want to avoid beans for two weeks and see how you feel.
If you do want to eat your beans, and you know that they suit your Nutritional Style, try to avoid pre-cooked, canned beans that line your grocery store shelves. These beans are often non-organic, and the canning process adds preservatives and toxins.
Best Technique: Soak Or Simmer Your Beans
Preparing beans properly, by soaking them over night and then cooking in a slow cooker or simmering on the stove is cheaper and much tastier. Get creative, and experiment with various types of beans and legumes.
These are the staples I always keep in my bean cupboard, ready to go whenever my family is ready for a hearty meal:
1. Adzuki beans are small, red, and known for being high in fiber and virtually fat free. They contain magnesium, potassium, and other rich minerals. These beans are perfect for adding to any salad or soup. Soak dried adzuki beans for at least 8 hours (overnight is easiest).
2. Fava beans are actually a pea, and native to Northern Africa. A staple in the Mediterranean diet, fava beans are delicious steamed and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, added to a risotto or pasta, or sauteed to make the most of their creamy texture.
3. Red Kidney beans offer high amounts of the trace mineral molybdenum, an enzyme that helps to detoxify your body of sulfites. They’re also an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, helping to sweep your colon clean. Cooked kidney beans create an easy dip or spread by blending them with garlic, spices and a little bit of olive oil.
4. Cannellini beans are popular in Italian cuisine, and widely used in pasta e fagioli soup (that was my Dad’s favorite). Creamy in flavor, they are thin skinned and seem therefore to digest more easily than other, tougher skinned beans. They’re also delicious with kale or chard in a soup stock with garlic, or as a stir fry with DLG’s (dark leafy greens). Or check out this delicious tomato and coconut soup.
5. Chickpeas claim high levels of calcium and magnesium, which are very beneficial for your bones. The main ingredient in traditional hummus, chickpeas are a protein-packed source of fiber too. Try a classic fresh hummus, or mix it up with this delicious kale and chickpea salad from guest blogger, Elizabeth Rider.
So, tell us. Are beans your Nutritional Style? Do they sustain your energy and allow you to power through your day, or do you bloat after eating a dish?
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