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With the Paleo craze trending at the moment, it’s understandable to see that beans aren’t quite getting the attention they used to.  However, I find them to be a deliciously nutritious part of our diet, they help to maintain digestive health, lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels thanks to their protein and fibre and, in some cases, their iron content.

I also find regularly consuming beans is a great way to reduce my meat intake. They clearly do the trick, as my three boys don’t complain when they are served up beans instead of steak.  My cooking is either that good or they’re frightened of their mother/wife!

Either way, I’m here to spill the beans on why they are actually so good for you.

Firstly it’s important to note beans must always be prepared and cooked properly as they contain high levels of lectins, which can cause health problems and unpleasant side effects. However, when boiled long enough, beans lose their toxicity and become a real superfood, probably the most budget-friendly way to consume a whole host of great nutrients too.

How to Prepare Your Dried Beans

Chickpea Bowl

Clean ’em: Be sure to wash and clean the beans first.

Soak ’em: Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking – I usually do this overnight (hint: cut a bean in half; if the centre is still opaque, keep soaking). I add a bit of ACV in the water to help the process.

Rinse ’em: After soaking, rinse, fill a pot with fresh water, bring to a boil, and then skim off the foam.

Rinse ’em: After soaking, rinse, fill a pot with fresh water, bring to a boil, and then skim off the foam.

Spice ’em: To aid digestion, add kombu, bay leaf, cumin, anise, or fennel to the water.

Simmer ’em: Cover and simmer for the suggested time. Check out this handy bean cooking chart for times, conventional and pressure cooker times.

Remember: Only add salt at the end of cooking (about 10 minutes before the beans are done) or it will interfere with the cooking process.

Shortcut

Home Made Baked Bean Ingredients

However, if you’re short on time I do buy tinned organic beans in BPA free tins. Just be sure to avoid canned beans with added salt or preservatives and rinse thoroughly once removed from the can and you’re good to go.

So to entice you, here is a quick rundown of some of the best-known beans around and how they can improve on your health.

Adzuki Beans

Adzuki Beans

Why are they awesome? Great for heart health thanks to their potassium and magnesium levels, which are good for regulating blood pressure and improving blood flow.  High in essential B vitamins – necessary for cellular energy production that fuels metabolism. Also good for liver cleansing.

How to use them: Create yummy patties with cooked adzuki beans, combined with rice, onion, garlic, fresh herbs and egg and shallow fry.  Add to soups, stews and casseroles for extra fibre, protein and flavours.

Add some adzuki bean spaghetti to your next order!

Black Beans

Black-Turtle-Beans

Why are they awesome? Promotes blood health due to their very high iron levels, which is essential for carrying oxygen in our blood cells and for the production of haemoglobin.  Also a good source of fibre to cleanse and protect the colon.

How to use them: Enjoy in salads with vegetables and fruit high in vitamin C, such as oranges or spinach.  Eating pulses with vitamin-C-rich foods increases iron absorption, as the type of iron found in plants is harder to absorb than iron found in meat. Enjoy them in Mexican dishes such as black beans salsa, enchiladas and chilli.

Add some to your next order!

Butter Beans

Home Made Baked Beans

Why are they awesome? A quality source of potassium, iron, copper, manganese and soluble fibre – all essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and digestive tract.  Also great for building and repairing muscle tissue in the body.

How to use them: A great alternative to chickpeas for a butterbean hummus. Its mild and creamy taste is also a lovely addition to a salad.

Add some to your next order!

Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

Why are they awesome? Great for bone health, thanks to being rich in manganese, which helps build bones as well as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.  Also, they help regulate appetite and reduce food cravings.

How to use them: Hummus anyone?  Aside from the obvious, chickpeas are great in casseroles and stews as well as salads and even cookies! Starting with dried chickpeas is also the best way to make falafel. Check out Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe.

Add some to your next order, canned or dried!

Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans

Why are they awesome? A lovely bean to add to your diet to improve digestion and bowel regularity thanks to both its soluble and insoluble fibre.  Also high in blood building iron, phosphorus and vitamin K, suggesting these beans have an anti-cancer effect.

How to use them: Cooked rice and kidney beans make a complete protein meal. Enjoy with sautéed chopped onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes and season with chili powder, coriander, thyme, salt and pepper.  Perfect replacement for flour in baked goods such as cakes!

Add some to your next order, canned or dried!

Lentils

Greek Lentil Salad

Why are they awesome? Lentils of all types are great for cardiovascular health thanks to their extremely high levels of molybdenum and iron.  Lentils are also rich in vitamin B1, which helps regulate the nervous system and maintain a steady heartbeat.

How to use them: Sprouting lentils increases their levels of amino acids creating food that is a complete protein in its own right.

Add some to your next order!

Mung Beans

Mung Bean Dahl

Why are they awesome? Green mung beans have long been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to keep the body running smoothly due to their detoxifying properties and anti-inflammatory benefits. In addition, they help lower cholesterol and can help lower blood pressure.

How to use them: A staple of Chinese cooking, they can be added to any stir-fry and salad. In Indian cookery, mung beans are soaked and blended with spices, fresh chilli and coriander to make savoury pancakes.

Add some to your next order!

So whether you enjoy adzuki beans, black beans, butter beans, chickpeas, lentils or mung beans, beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around. Check out the full range of TWC’s beans and pulses and enjoy!

Ready to start cooking up some beans at home? Try these bean-alicious recipes!

Sneaky Beans Super Sweet & Gooey Lunchbox Cake

Super Versatile Home Made Baked Beans

Gluten Free Mexican Pork and Black Bean Pie

Protein Packed Greek Lentil Salad

Lentil Chilli Sin Carne Recipe

Chocolate Bean Pudding for Breakfast

Find more delicious, nutritious recipes, healthy eating articles, courses and classes on Sharon’s website, Deliciously Allergy Free.




About The Author

Sharon Selby

Sharon Selby’s popular blog ‘Deliciously Allergy Free’ proves that life after ‘dairy and gluten’ is not only possible, but is seriously easy and delicious. Specialising in allergy-friendly living, she runs classes and online courses teaching families how to cook nutritious, tasty meals while being on a restricted diet. Her passion came from being able to reverse her son’s multiple food allergies, intolerances and eczema by the time he was 18 months old. Sharon loves sharing that good health begins in the kitchen and with a nutritious diet families will thrive.

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