Every well stocked pantry should have beans. They are versatile and yummy. They are high in protein, easy to add to a variety of meals, and kids tend to really like them – at least my kids do.
I try to have black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas (garbanzo) beans on hand at all times. I am extremely concerned about chemicals leaching from packaging. So, I buy dried beans (instead of precooked, canned ones), grains, or rice and I immediately transfer them to glass jars. But keeping my pantry stocked with beans that are ready to go means that I have to make them in bulk. After each batch – I freeze them into smaller servings to use in the future. Freezing beans can them a bit mushy – so I slightly undercook them to avoid this.
I soak all my beans the same way. The main reason to soak beans is break down some of the polysaccharides that can contribute to “social distress.”
Before I go to bed, I put the beans in a big bowl with lots of water and a little bit of whey (about 1 tbl). I just skim the whey off my yogurt. You can use lemon juice instead (you just want something slightly acidic). You want the beans to soak for at least 12-24 hrs. If you following, Nourishing Traditions, you’ll want to soak the beans until they just start to sprout (changing the water daily) – taking about 1-2 days.
Black Beans and Kidney Beans
When I cook up black beans and kidney beans – I often am lazy and combine them when cooking, since I use them in so many of the same recipes. I use tomato sauce and chicken broth as the liquid (1/2 and 1/2). This way, they have additional flavor. I rinse my soaked beans, add them to the slow cooker, and add enough liquid that the beans are covered by at least 3″ of liquid. Then I cook on high for 6 hrs, usually while I’m at work.
I usually take a portion of them (keep them in the crock pot) and turn them immediately into chili – just add some more tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder (at least 1 tbl, but to taste), a dash of hot sauce (or a chili pepper), and some stewed meat. Turn the crock pot back onto high for at least 6 hrs.
I save the rest of the beans by freezing them into small serving size portions. I have a great silicon tray that freezes 4oz cubes. After they are frozen, I stick them in zip lock bags for future use: nachos, tacos, and a plethora of easy to make Mexican dishes.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are great for salads and hummus. We eat A LOT of hummus. My kids love to dip and hummus is a great option. Chickpeas are very high in protein, which is great because my kids are not huge meat eaters.
Hummus is extremely easy to make. I use a hand held mixer, like the Braun, and do everything in a mason jar (make sure that the hand held mixer fits in the mouth of the jar). I fill the jar about 1/2-3/4 full of chickpeas – using a little of the liquid that I made the chickpeas in (I freeze the chickpeas in a little of the original cooking liquid and let them defrost in the jar). I throw a spoonful of tahini sauce in (this is to taste, so you may want to start off with a little less. I also know a mom that uses peanut butter instead with great success). I squeeze a 1/2 a lemon in (again to taste, if it’s a small lemon – you may need to use the entire thing). Add a clove of garlic, a dash of paprika and a dash of chili pepper. I pour olive oil in the jar – just to below covering the beans. Then I puree. If it’s too thick, I add a little olive oil. I also add salt (use more salt than you think – about a tsp at least). Hummus is extremely easy. You do everything to taste. If it gets to runny – just add more chickpeas. If it’s too thick – add more olive oil or even water (chicken broth is also great). If you like it a bit more tangy – add lemon. If it’s too bland, add more tahini.
If you’re one that really needs a recipe – Here’s a Hummus Recipe that seems pretty good.
My kids also really like chickpeas with veggies. I’ve mentioned before that I do keep bags of frozen mixed veggies in the freezer at all times. This is really great when I’m pressed for time, but want to make sure they eat veggies. I get an organic mix of carrots, peas, corn, and green beans. My daughter LOVES when I mix the chickpeas with veggies and add a little salt, pepper, and seasonings (I use a mixed spice blend called Herby from Frontier). My kids would eat this as is, but add a little pasta or rice and some cheese and you have a simple one pot meal.
It took me years to finally start cooking beans (instead of just buying the cans), but it’s easy, tastes better, and takes very little effort. It also saves tons of money. I know canned beans are cheap, but dried beans are cheaper! Give it a try.