Tag Archives: Cooking

White Bean Gravy

White Bean Gravy with Sage and Thyme

With less fat and plenty of fiber, white bean gravy is a rich, savory, and nutritious option for your Thanksgiving table.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried)
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (more as needed for consistency)
  • ½ cup white flour
  • 1 15-ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

White Bean Gravy

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion until tender.
    -> Add the garlic, thyme. and sage. Saute another two minutes.
  2. While onions are cooking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Stir the bean puree into the onions and bring to a low boil.
  4. Reduce heat and cook until thickened. Add more vegetable broth if a thinner consistency is desired.

Broccoli and Cranberry Bean Salad with Yogurt Dressing

The flavors of this salad improve when it sits in the refrigerator overnight, making it a perfect vegetarian side dish to prepare in advance for Thanksgiving dinner.

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked cranberry beans (or substitute pinto beans)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 3/4 cup halved grapes
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 5 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all salad ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  2. Stir together the yogurt dressing ingredients.
  3. Pour dressing over the salad.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Adapted from The Wimpy Vegetarian

Bean and Tomato Cupcakes

Baked Bean and Tomato Cupcakes

Adding beans to baked goods may not make them completely guilt-free, but it’s a fun way to boost fiber intake and even give desserts a little bit of extra protein. This recipe for Baked Bean and Tomato Cupcakes with Tomato Cream Cheese Frosting is one of the more unusual bean-laden sweets we’ve come across but it’s good enough to have won first prize in a Tomato Fest cooking contest according to the website cupcakeproject.com. This makes 12 cupcakes.

For the cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans drained and mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cup cake pan with paper liners.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Mix in mashed beans and vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. Add dry mixture to wet mixture. Do not over mix.
  5. Stir in diced tomatoes.
  6. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when pressed lightly.
For the frosting

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter room temperature
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Mix butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add more or less to make it as stiff as you like.
  3. Mix in the tomato paste and vanilla extract.
Apples

Baked Beans with Apples

October is National Apple Month, and why not take your love for fresh crisp apples beyond pie. Apples lend both tart and sweet aspects to bean dishes. Chop any type of apple and add it to your favorite baked bean recipe or try this easy one-dish baked casserole.

Ingredients

  • 2 15-ounce cans baked beans (vegetarian or with pork)
  • 1 medium granny smith apple, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all the ingredients and place in a greased casserole dish. Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and bake for 30 minutes or until dish is thick and bubbling.


The Not So Humble Beginnings of Cowboy Caviar

First served at the Houston Country Club on New Year’s Eve in the early 1940s, this bean salad was dubbed “Texas Caviar” in a humorous comparison to true caviar. Today it’s more commonly known as Cowboy Caviar and it’s a popular dish to serve as at picnics and tailgate parties, often with tortilla chips. And the recipe is so forgiving that you can pull this together for a party with whatever you have on hand.

To make Cowboy Caviar, combine one can each of drained black beans, pinto beans, and corn. Add chopped tomatoes, chopped sweet onions and avocado cubes. Dress with oil and vinegar or bottled Italian dressing along with salt and pepper to taste.

Three-Ingredient Curried Beans with Cauliflower

Dinner really can be both fast and fabulous. Even with just three ingredients, this curry has the complex flavors of a meal cooked from scratch.

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 1 15-ounce can of red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 jar curry simmer sauce

Directions

  1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and steam until just tender.
  2. Combine with the beans and curry sauce in a large skillet.
  3. Cover and simmer until heated through.
  4. Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!


White Bean Salad

Roasted Greek Beans with Tomatoes

Long periods of religious fasting in Greek culture meant that meat-free meals were often on the menu for more than half the year. In many of those meals, protein-rich beans played a central role. Large white beans paired with tomatoes remains a classic of Greek cuisine. Deceptively simple with its handful of ingredients, this dish is packed with all the best flavors of Mediterranean cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large white beans, like Great Northerns
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 2 onions thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Soak the beans for at least eight hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans, cover with fresh water and simmer until soft, about 45 minutes.
  4. While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions until soft. Add the garlic and saute for one minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and parsley and stir to combine.
  6. Drain the beans and add to the tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes.
  7. Serve with feta cheese, warm bread, and a salad for a classic Greek meal.

Rice and Beans are Classic Comfort Food

September is National Rice Month and nothing goes quite so well with rice as beans. According to Consumer Reports, rice with beans is one of the healthiest dishes you can eat. A cup of the classic combo provides 12 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber – even if you choose white rice. And while white rice contains quickly-digested carbs that can cause spikes in blood glucose levels, pairing it with beans slows carbohydrate digestion to a healthier rate.

To make your favorite rice and beans dish even healthier, aim for two-thirds beans and one-third rice instead of the usual half-and-half combination. You’ll get even more protein and fiber that way.

Source: https://www.consumerreports.org/healthy-eating/is-rice-and-beans-good-for-you/




French-style Beans Start with Mirepoix

Mirepoix (pronounced “meer pwah”) is a deceptively simple way to add rich flavor to any type of beans. A combination of sautéed onions, carrots, and celery, it serves as a foundation for a variety of dishes in French cuisine. Traditional mirepoix uses two parts onion to one part each of carrots and celery, but these measurements don’t have to be exact.

Chop the vegetables finely and then sauté in olive oil or butter over very low heat. Cooking the vegetables slowly brings out their sweetness. Once the vegetables are softened, simply add them to any kind of cooked beans along with salt and pepper and any herbs you wish. Mirepoix freezes well, too, so you can always have it on hand.

Not Just for Pasta: Pesto and Beans

Although it’s used most often with pasta, pesto is perfect with beans for a main dish that is packed with protein, fiber, and the best flavors of Mediterranean cuisine. Stir a few tablespoons of pesto into canned or freshly cooked beans and serve with a tossed salad and crusty bread for a fast summer meal.

This pesto recipe from Bon Appetit used pine nuts, which are traditional in Italian pesto, but you can substitute walnuts if you like.

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/best-pesto

 

 

Beans in Favorite Family Recipes

It’s easy enough to find recipes for any dish you could possibly want in cookbooks, magazines, and on the internet, but nothing beats tried-and-true family favorites. One of our readers sent us this recipe that she’s been making for close to 20 years. She says her family has never tired of it.

Bell Pepper Salad with Cannellini Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bell pepper, yellow, orange or red
  • 4 slices precooked bacon
  • 1 can cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup cooked peas
  • 3 tablespoons snipped dill weed
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian salad dressing (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Discard bell pepper stem end, seeds and inner membranes, cut bell pepper into pieces and set aside.
  2. Microwave bacon and break into piece.
  3. Combine peppers, bacon, beans, peas, dill weed, feta cheese, cilantro, salt and pepper to taste in mixing bowl and toss to mix well.  Add Italian salad dressing (optional).

Easy Beans for Summer Picnics

While it’s true that nothing is quite so easy as opening a can of baked beans, it takes just 10 minutes of hands-on preparation to make your own. Try these barbecued beans for your next picnic or cook-out.

Easy Barbecued Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish and baked covered for one hour.

 

Kidney Bean Burgers on the Grill

Make room on your backyard grill for heart-healthy veggie burgers made from kidney beans, oats and mushrooms. To cook these outdoors, use a grilling basket or perforated aluminum foil lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/kidney-bean-burger-with-mushrooms-recipe-3378616

White Beans with Herbes de Provence

As the Mediterranean heartland of France, Provence is famous for its climate, scenery, culture and lavender fields. With a sweet fragrance and slightly citrusy flavor, this herb figures prominently in the cuisine of the region. It’s an essential ingredient in the mix known as herbes de Provence which is used to make this classic, authentic White Beans Provencal.  This recipe, which also includes potatoes, is a hearty main dish. You can double the amount of beans and leave the potatoes out if you prefer.

Note: This recipe does not include guidelines for how to cook dry beans. If you need instructions, click here for the Four-Step Method or here for Pressure Cooker guidelines.

https://food52.com/recipes/7756-white-beans-with-herbes-de-provence

Bean Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Hot summer days call for simple suppers with refreshing flavors like lemon and mint. Keep a jar of this homemade dressing in your refrigerator and plenty of canned beans on hand and you’ll always be able to create a fast summer meal in minutes.

Combine a can of rinsed beans with chopped scallions, carrots and celery. You can also add cooked grains like quinoa or barley if you like. Then dress to taste with mint vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette combine the following ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Beans are Front and Center in Mediterranean Diets

When it comes to Mediterranean-style meals, most people think of vegetables sautéed in olive oil, broiled fish, and maybe a glass of red wine. But protein-rich plant foods like beans figure prominently in Mediterranean cuisine. They may be the main ingredient in soups and stews or play a supporting role in salads and pasta dishes. Try these three approaches to featuring beans in Mediterranean meals:

  • Simmer white beans with fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, and Italian herbs for a rustic main dish with Sicilian roots.
  • Toss cooked pasta with kidney beans, olive oil and herbs for a quick picnic dish.
  • Open and rinse a can of beans and add to a green salad for a warm weather meal when you don’t feel like cooking. 

Restaurant-style Copycat Black Bean Burgers

With fiber-rich, protein-packed beans as their base, there is a reason that Chili’s iconic black bean burger is listed as the “guiltless” option on their menu. If you’re a fan of these tasty burgers, you can make them at home for a weekend barbecue or fast weeknight supper. This copycat recipe suggests frying the burgers in a small amount of vegetable oil, but you can also place the burgers in a grilling basket and cook them over the grill.

https://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_14/2012/OCT/37672.html

Snack on Homemade Crunchy Roasted Beans

Roasted beans make a crunchy, healthy inexpensive snack or topping for salad. And they’re easy to make at home. Large, firm types like pinto or kidney beans work best. Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of beans. Toss them in a bowl with one tablespoon of olive oil and ½ to ¾ teaspoons of favorite spices like chili powder and garlic powder plus a sprinkle of salt. Transfer the beans to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until they are dry and crisp, about 30 minutes.

Beans and Asparagus: Flavors of Spring

April is prime asparagus season and this vegetable pairs beautifully with beans in this easy dish.

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed

¼ teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can white beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (more to taste)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or basil

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Bring ½ inch water to a boil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus, cover, and cook for three minutes or until tender. Drain and remove to a platter.

Drain the cooking water from the skillet. Add the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook for three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Stir in the beans and lemon juice and cook until heated through, about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the bean mixture over the asparagus and sprinkle with the fresh herbs.

Lobio, a Healthy Taste of the Caucasus

Lobio is a traditional food of the country of Georgia, in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Made from heart healthy kidney beans and walnuts, it’s served at any meal of the day, including breakfast.  Depending on the amount of liquid you use, lobio can be made as a thick stew or a a paté to spread on bread. This recipe uses canned beans, but you can substitute beans cooked from scratch if you prefer. Click here for the recipe

https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/abkhazia-walnut-lobio-463681

Creamy Soups with Pureed Beans

For your next pot of soup, create a rich, creamy texture without all the fat by stirring in a can of pureed white beans. This trick can work with any soup you’d like to add a creamy texture, such as potato, tomato, squash, or lentil. When the soup is done, drain and rinse a can of white beans and blend in a food processor or blender. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ¼ cup of water to the pureed beans. Stir into the soup and heat through.

Beans with Spring Greens

Early American settlers were firm believers in the value of spring greens to purify the blood, stimulate digestion, improve rheumatism, and cure scurvy. They may have been right about that last benefit since these greens are a good source of vitamin C. After a long winter of preserved foods, wild and cultivated green vegetables were a welcome sign of a more nutritious and varied diet.

These early greens are still a delicious and healthful way to celebrate spring. This recipe for pink beans with spring greens uses a combination of whichever greens are available in your local store right now. https://www.vegkitchen.com/pink-beans-with-spring-greens/

Super 7-Layer Bean Dip

No game day party is complete without a big platter of 7-Layer Bean Dip. With beans at the base, it’s deceptively healthy, and for busy party planners, it’s a welcome make-ahead dish.

Ingredients
2 15-ounce cans refried beans (black or pinto)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups guacamole
8 ounces low-fat or regular sour cream
¾ cup salsa
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
1 cup sliced black olives
¼ cup sliced green onions
Plenty of tortilla chips for dipping

Directions
In a mixing bowl, combine the refried beans with the chili powder, cumin and garlic.
Spread the beans in a single layer in a 9 x 13 pan or on a platter.
Top with a layer of guacamole.
Spread the sour cream evenly over the guacamole.
Spoon dollops of salsa on top.
Sprinkle with cheese, olives and green onion.

If making ahead, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Serve with tortilla chips.

White Bean Salad with Pomegranate

Some of the best fruits are in season during the coldest part of the year, and January is the month to enjoy pomegranates. Their “seeds,” (which are actually little juice containing sacs called arials) add a punch of flavor to savory bean salads like this one from Bon Appetit magazine. Look for fresh whole pomegranates in the produce section or for packages of pomegranate arials to save time.

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/white-bean-salad-pomegranate-parsley

Make Ahead Beans and Greens Quesadillas for Fast Meals

You may not have time to make dinner every night. Set aside an hour to make a big batch of these Make Ahead Beans and Greens Quesadillas adapted from https://www.holleygrainger.com/make-ahead-beans-and-greens-quesadillas/.  This recipe makes 10 quesadillas which can be frozen and reheated for fast meals. Double the recipe if you want to make sure you always have quesadillas on hand.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons oil

2 cups frozen corn, defrosted

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

3 cups cooked black or pinto beans, or two 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained

3 cups chopped fresh kale (or 2 cups frozen kale that has been defrosted with water squeezed out)

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

10 corn or flour tortillas

 

Directions

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add corn, bell pepper and onion. Cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add beans, kale, chili powder, paprika and cumin, and sauté 2 minutes or until kale wilts. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel. Spoon ½ cup filling on one side of each tortilla and fold in half. Add 2 tortillas to the skillet and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes per side or until browned and crispy and cheese has melted. Repeat until all quesadillas have been cooked.

To freeze, let the quesadillas cool in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once cool, wrap individually in foil and place in a zip lock bag or other airtight container.

To reheat, remove quesadilla from wrapping and heat on medium-low in a warm skillet for about 5 minutes per side or until crispy and center is no longer frozen.

Beans for Holiday Gifts

Bean soup mix in a jar makes a perfect hand-crafted (in minutes) hostess gift. Choose a variety of beans and arrange them in layers in a glass jar, alternating layers of different-colored beans. Tuck a packet of herbs or spices on top of the beans and decorate and attach a card with instructions for making the soup. This recipe, adapted from Family Circle magazine uses eight different types of beans with beautiful contrasting colors, and for something a little different, a curry spice mix.

 

Layer in a jar:

½ cup kidney beans
½ cup cranberry beans*
½ cup pink beans
½ cup black beans
½ cup navy beans
½ cup pinto beans
½ cup small red beans
½ cup great northern beans

*If cranberry beans aren’t available in your area, substitute one of the other varieties of beans in this layer.

Mix together in a small plastic or cellophane bag:

2 teaspoons chicken or vegetable bouillon granules
2 teaspoons dried minced onions
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions for cooking:

Rinse beans and place in a large pot. Cover with water and soak overnight. Drain beans and return to pot. Add 6 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 1 ½  hours. Add two 14 ½ ounce cans of diced tomatoes and the seasoning mix. Simmer an additional hour or until beans are tender.

Apple Bean Salad

Sweetness and crunch make this salad an appealing way to get kids, or anyone else, to eat more beans. Since it’s fast to make and doesn’t require any cooking, this dish is a good choice for holiday potlucks.

2 medium apples, cored and cut into cubes

¼ cup chopped onion

¼ cup chopped celery

1 15-ounce can kidney or pinto beans, drained

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey or any liquid sweetener

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine the apples, onion, celery and beans in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sweetener and mustard. Pour over the apple and bean mixture.

Should You Soak Beans Before Cooking?

Soaking beans has its advantages. It speeds up the cooking time and produces tender cooked beans that are less likely to split during cooking. The advantage to skipping the soaking step, however, is that the longer cooking period produces a rich, savory broth. You can skip the addition of vegetable or chicken broth when you cook your unsoaked beans from scratch, especially to make soup. This recipe for black bean soup from Bon Appetit specifically calls for unsoaked beans to create a soup with the best savory flavor: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/basically-black-bean-soup

Aromatics for Beans

Take your beans to the next level with the addition of aromatic vegetables and herbs. Even if you plan to use beans in a recipe, cooking them with aromatics first means you’ll start with beans that have a rich, robust essence rather than flavor that is flat. Whether you’re cooking the beans in a slow-cooker, pressure cooker, or on the stove, add a whole, quartered onion, a few cloves of garlic, and a sprig or two of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme or a bay leaf. When the beans are done, fish the vegetables and herbs out; they’ve already done their job in flavoring the beans and their broth. To make it easier, tie the herbs with kitchen string or stuff then into a tea infuser. You can also tie the vegetables and herbs into a cheesecloth bag and then remove everything at once.

Beans for Halloween

Make room on the buffet table at your Halloween party for healthful (and spooky) beans with graveyard-style layered-bean dip. It’s a fun and easy project to encourage kids to enjoy beans. Use canned refried black beans to create layers of beans, guacamole, salsa, and chopped lettuce in single serving plastic cups. Using flat bread or pizza dough, cut out gravestone-shaped dippers with Halloween cookie cutters or a knife. Brush the dough with oil, bake and use an edible pen (find them in the cake decorating section of the grocery store) to write RIP on the dippers after they are baked. This video gives a quick tutorial on creating this fun and nutritious holiday dish.

Graveyard Taco Cups

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Beans for Autumn

It’s the official flavor and scent of autumn: pumpkin spice, and it’s everywhere these days. As the season takes hold, customers line up for pumpkin spice lattes, muffins, milkshakes, and donuts. Pumpkin spice isn’t just for treats, though. Slow-cooked beans flavored with allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg will fill your kitchen with all the scents of these cold-weather comfort foods but in a dish packed with protein and fiber. This recipe takes a shortcut by using pumpkin pie spice blend.

https://www.kitchentreaty.com/slow-cooker-pumpkin-baked-beans/

 

Pair Beans with Cool Weather Vegetables for Autumn-Inspired Dishes

As summer gardens begin to fade, fall brings its own bounty of colorful, nutrient-rich winter squash. A stew of squash, beans and cold-weather greens like kale is a perfect way to welcome the season. Use any type of winter squash you like in this recipe. An American heirloom like Blue Hubbard is especially good.

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/winter-squash-stew-white-beans-and-kale

Sofrito for a Flavorful Bean Base

You’ll always be a step ahead with homemade bean soups and stews if you keep a stash of sofrito in the freezer. This flavorful and traditional Spanish sauce is made from fresh vegetables, most often garlic, onions, peppers, and tomatoes, all sautéed in olive oil. Freeze sofrito in zip lock bags or ice cube trays and then use throughout the winter as a base for bean soups and stews.

Here is an easy recipe for sofrito, although you should feel free to adjust ingredient amounts depending on what you have on hand.

2 pounds tomatoes

2 large onions

2 to 3 red bell peppers

6 cloves garlic

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely chop the tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic. Pulse in a food processor in batches to finely chop the ingredients. Heat the olive oil over low heat and add the vegetables. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes until thick. Let cool and then freeze for up to six months.

Best Black Bean Soup

Native to the Americas, black beans have been used to make the soup that has long been a staple of the cuisine of southern Mexico and the Caribbean. The beans produce a thick rich broth with its own satisfying flavor which means that traditional recipes usually call for a simple mix of ingredients, usually chopped onions, celery and peppers plus dried spices. The addition of red wine in this recipe from the Seattle Times adds even more depth of flavor.

www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/how-to-make-the-best-black-bean-soup/

Beans Plus Vegetables for A Nutrient-Packed Crowd-Pleasing Dip

Bean Bites subscriber Kellie Hewitt shared her blueprint for creating a bean spread that is not only packed with good nutrition, but also easy to prepare and always popular. It’s also a good way to use up garden produce.

To make this dip, blend together in a food processor 1 can of drained, rinsed white beans, 2 cloves of garlic, and one chopped onion. Add a handful or so of fresh spinach and flavor with salt to taste and any favorite fresh herbs. Blend until smooth. Serve on toasted bread with sliced tomatoes or use as a dip for pita wedges or raw vegetables.

 

Protein-Packed Pesto

Summer gardens and roadside stands are bursting with basil in late summer which means it is pesto season. Pesto on pasta is the tradition, but pesto also makes a delectable dressing for beans. For a protein-rich dish with all the best flavors of summer, sauté a chopped onion in extra-virgin olive oil. Drain and rinse one can of red or white beans and stir into the onions. Stir in your favorite pesto sauce. Serve topped with fresh chopped tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

Black Bean Gazpacho for Hot Summer Days

Made from chopped raw vegetables and served chilled, gazpacho is a traditional part of the cuisine of southern Spain. It’s a perfect choice anywhere for those summer evenings when it’s too hot to cook. Although gazpacho is often served as an appetizer, adding protein-rich beans turns this classic summer soup into a meal. Make it a day ahead for the best flavor.

1 ½ to 2 pounds ripe tomatoes

2 slices day-old bread torn into pieces

1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped

½ cup sliced green onions

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons chili powder (or to taste)

Salt

2 cups corn kernels

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

Optional: cubes of fresh avocado

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place them in a food processor with the bread. Pulse to combine. Add the cucumber, garlic, green onions, vinegar, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Pulse to form a thick liquid.  With the food processor running, blend in the olive oil.

Pour the soup into a large bowl and stir in the corn and black beans. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve garnished with cubes of avocado.

Beef and Bean Burgers

For backyard barbecues or easy weekend suppers, stretching ground beef with beans is a good way to cut your grocery budget and add a little extra fiber to hamburgers.

Combine 3 cups of any type of lightly mashed beans with one pound of ground beef. Stir in ½ cup chopped onion and a beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. Form into 8 patties and sauté in a frying pan or cook them on a grill.

3 Bean Macaroni Salad

Give macaroni salad a protein and flavor boost by combining it with 3-bean salad. This hearty salad is a fun addition to picnics and also makes a complete meal by itself.

2 cups cooked elbow macaroni

½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

½ cup chopped onions

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup Italian salad dressing

Steam the green beans until they are just tender. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, green beans, kidney beans, white beans, red pepper and onions. Stir the mayonnaise and salad dressing together to combine thoroughly. Stir the dressing into the pasta salad. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Not a fan of macaroni salad? Try this Cranberry Bean Summer Vegetable Salad.

 

Baking with Beans

With their mild flavor and creamy texture, beans are a natural ingredient in healthier, low-fat desserts. Food scientists in Idaho found that pureed white beans—like Great Northern or navy beans—can replace up to 75% of the butter in cookie recipes. Replacing some of the butter in your favorite cookie recipe with beans can reduce the calories by nearly one-third, and it’s also a smart way to pack a little extra fiber and protein into sweet treats.

Try this recipe from the Idaho State University for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, made with great northern beans.

Three Fast Ways to Flavor a Pot of Beans

There is no shortage of bean recipes on the internet and in cookbooks. But when you need to flavor a pot of beans fast, it can be as simple as opening a jar.

  • Stir ¼ cup of black olive tapenade and ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley into a can of drained, rinsed white beans. Serve in a bowl with warm bread.
  • Stir one cup mole sauce (a Mexican sauce made from tomatoes, peppers and chocolate) into a can of drained and rinsed pinto or black beans. Serve on a warm tortilla or over cooked rice.
  • Add ¼ cup of prepared basil pesto to a can of drained, rinsed white beans. Serve on a bed of salad greens.

Add Beans to Salads for Healthy Hot Weather Cuisine

Summer is salad season – the time of year when farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh produce and it’s sometimes just too hot to turn on the oven. Beans are a good addition to make salads more filling and to add a little variety. The mild flavor of white beans pairs especially well with greens that have a peppery bite like radicchio and endive. Or toss greens, sliced onions and tomatoes with corn and black beans for a Mexican-style salad. Turning a salad into a main dish is as simple as rinsing a can of beans and tossing them with lettuce and other vegetables. Dress with oil and vinegar or your favorite bottled salad dressing.

Check out our recipe page for salads and other tasty bean dishes. Click the salad tab at the top to filter recipes.

Beans in Buddha Bowls

If you follow popular food accounts on Instagram, you’ve probably seen your fair share of Buddha Bowls. No one knows quite how they came to be called by this name, but they are a popular way of building healthful meals that also have culinary and visual appeal. They also provide a creative way to use leftovers.

Beans are always at home in Buddha bowls, which often emphasize plant proteins. To make a Buddha bowl, arrange servings of grains or potatoes, brightly colored vegetables, and beans around a bowl. Drizzle dressing –those made from nuts or tahini are popular—over everything and dig in.

Photo: Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl with Quinoa and Black Beans from Accidentally Crunchy

Two Ways to Soak Beans to Reduce Gas

While not every recipe calls for soaking beans before cooking them, if beans give you gas, soaking can help. Soaking overnight and then discarding the soaking water leaches out sugars in beans that are responsible for gas production.

But if you don’t have time for a traditional overnight soak, a quick soak is just as beneficial. Rinse the beans and then place them in a pot with three cups of water for each cup of dried beans. Bring to a boil and boil for two to three minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for one hour. Drain the water, add fresh water and cook.

For everything you ever wanted to know about beans and gas, read Bean, Beans, the Magical Fruit.

Cook Beans the Fast and Foolproof Way in an Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is a programmable electric pressure cooker and much more. It also functions as a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and steamer. It’s custom-made for cooking beans since the Instant Pot includes a number of pre-set smart cooking programs and one of them is dedicated to beans. Just place one pound of rinsed dried beans plus six cups of water in the Instant Pot, add whatever seasonings you like, and choose the function for cooking beans. If you like especially soft beans, you can add an extra 10 minutes of cooking time to the program. If you enjoy exploring the latest kitchen appliances, an Instant Pot provides a fun and foolproof way to cook beans.

Baking with Beans: The Aquafaba Trend

“Aquafaba” comes from the Latin words for water and bean, and that’s exactly what aquafaba is: the liquid in canned beans. Instead of pouring that liquid down the drain, inventive and frugal cooks save it to make a quick substitute for eggs in baked products.

Aquafaba can be used straight from the can to replace eggs in cookies and cakes. Substitute 3 tablespoons of aquafaba for one egg. It can also be whipped into stiff peaks to make meringue or macaroons.

The liquid from any beans can be used to make aquafaba. With canned beans on hand, you’ll always be ready to bake a cake, even when you’ve run out of eggs, or if you’re expecting guests who don’t eat eggs.

Three Meals from One Pound of Beans

A pound of dried navy beans provides six cups of cooked beans, which is plenty for at least three different recipes. Try these ideas for stretching a pound of beans into three dinners.

White Bean Chili: Cook one pound of lean ground beef and ½ cup chopped onion in a skillet until the onion is translucent and the beef is no longer pink. Add a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes, eight ounces of tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon chili powder. Stir in two cups of cooked navy beans. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Ranch-Style Barbecued Beans: Sauté 1 cup chopped onions, in 2 tablespoons of oil. Add ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons prepared mustard, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, a 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes. Add 2 cups of cooked navy beans. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes.

Creamy Bean and Tomato Soup: Sauté ½ cup diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until soft. Add 3 cloves garlic, minced and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add two 28-ounce cans of tomatoes, 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, and one tablespoon dried basil. Stir in 2 cups cooked navy beans. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend the soup until it’s smooth.

Beans and Greens: A Match Made in Heaven

If the traditional cuisines from around the Mediterranean Sea are any indication, beans and greens were meant to go together. Pairing these two nutritional powerhouse foods creates one-pot meals that are packed with nutrients like protein, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A. White beans in particular, like navy Great Northern beans, are a good culinary match for spinach, kale, broccoli rabe and escarole.  It’s inexpensive and easy and lends itself to a range of flavors. Here are three easy ways to create healthy pairings:

Stir-fry beans and greens: Saute minced garlic and chopped onion in olive oil. Add quick-cooking greens like spinach, Swiss chard or bok choy and stir-fry just until slightly tender or wilted. Add canned beans, drained and rinsed, along with seasonings like Italian herbs, fresh parsley or chili pepper flakes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Turn a salad into a meal: Add canned or home-cooked beans to a salad of lettuce or baby spinach or baby kale. Dress with oil and vinegar and garnish with sunflower seeds or chopped olives.

Make homemade soup: Create a fast bean soup using any type of bean cooked in vegetable broth. Add sautéed onions and garlic, and chopped kale, collards or spinach. Simmer until the greens are tender.

 

Looking for another beans and greens recipe? Try our Sausage and White Bean Soup with Kale and Basil Pesto.

 

Beyond Hummus: Bean Dips for Parties and Sandwiches

Whether you need something a little different for a party or want a quick protein-packed lunch, any kind of bean can be used to make delicious dips and sandwich spreads.

White Bean Hummus: Substitute cooked or canned navy or Great Northern beans for chickpeas in any hummus recipe.

Black and Butter Bean Spread with Dried Tomatoes: Puree together ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, ¼ cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, one clove garlic, one 15-ounce can black beans and one 15-ounce can butter beans.

White Bean and Avocado Spread: Drain a 15-ounce can of white beans, saving the liquid. Puree together the beans, one large peeled and pitted avocado, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley. Add bean liquid, a few tablespoons at a time to get the right consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Red Beans and Walnuts: Puree together 1 ½ cups cooked red beans, ½ cup toasted walnuts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon dried basil and ¼ teaspoon dried parsley (or more to taste). Season with salt and pepper.

Spicy Beans for Cold Winter Days

Turn up the heat on cold winter days by adding a little extra spice to bean dishes. It’s easy to incorporate peppery flavors from all different types of global cuisine and you don’t need a recipe to do so. Just saute onions in vegetable oil until translucent. Add cooked beans and then stir in your favorite spice or spice mixture. Add a little bit at a time, tasting to get the right amount of heat. Try a spice blend like Cajun seasoning, North African harissa, Jamaican Jerk seasoning, Ethiopian Bebere or curry powder. Even a dash of hot pepper sauce like sriracha can give a plain bean dish some lively appeal.

For additional information, see our chart of dry beans mostly commonly consumed around the world.

 

 

Homemade Refried Beans are Easy and Versatile

Just because pinto beans are traditional, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy refried beans made with cranberry, pink, black, or even navy beans. When you make your own refried beans from scratch, you get to mix things up a little.

Start with flavor-infused beans by adding a whole onion, cut in half, to the cooking water. When the beans are cooked, remove the onion and reserve a cup of the cooking liquid. For each three cups of cooked beans you’re using, sauté ½ cup of minced onion and 2 medium garlic cloves in 6 tablespoons of butter, vegetable oil or bacon drippings. Stir in the cooked beans and add salt to taste. Mash the beans with a potato masher until they are chunky, adding the reserved cooking liquid, a tablespoon at a time to get the consistency you prefer. If you like, give the beans a little extra zing by stirring in canned chopped jalapeno peppers or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

Sweet and Savory: Beans and Fruit are a Match Made in Heaven

Canned, dried or fresh, fruits add subtle sweetness to all types of bean recipes.

Toss cooked navy or Great Northern beans with fresh rosemary and figs sautéed in olive oil. Legend has it that this was a favorite dish of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Create a sweet and spicy salad dish by combining cooked black beans with chunks of fresh mango, diced red onion and minced jalapeno peppers. Toss with a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

Sauté crumbled sage-flavored sausage and chopped apples to liven up canned or homemade baked beans.

Make Sweet Vegetarian Pineapple Baked Beans in the crockpot for effortless homemade flavor.

Warm Up Winter Nights with Chocolate Chili

Nothing warms up a cold winter evening like chili, and the best chili recipes call for a few tablespoons of chocolate.

Pairing chocolate with spicy hot peppers is a tradition that goes back some four thousand years. The Mayans of Central America, who are credited with discovering chocolate, didn’t use it as the sweet treat we love today. Instead, they consumed a fiery and bitter drink made from crushed cocoa beans and chili peppers. The treasured beverage was a regular offering at celebrations.

Adding unsweetened chocolate to a pot of bean or beef chili pays homage to the history of these flavors. Stir in one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder for every pound of meat or two cups of cooked beans in your recipe. You’ll find that this simple addition takes any chili recipe to the next level, giving it extra depth and richness.

Bean Dishes for Breakfast

Beans may not be common fare for American breakfasts, but they are not the least bit unusual in some parts of the world. Starting the day with beans makes sense. Their combination of protein and fiber gives them staying power, keeping hunger at bay throughout the morning. Here are five ways to include beans in the most important meal of the day.

• Spoon baked beans (your own or from a can) onto toast for a super-easy British-style breakfast.

• Fold black beans into a flour tortilla or an omelet and top with salsa for a Mexican-style breakfast

• Give hash brown potatoes a protein and fiber boost by stirring cooked pinto beans into them.

• Try Gallo Pinto or “Painted Rooster” which is a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast. This red beans and rice dish is often served with scrambled eggs. Make it by sauteeing 1 finely chopped onion and 1 finely chopped sweet pepper plus 2 minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add 2 cups of cooked red beans and season with salt and pepper. Serve over hot, cooked rice.

• If you eat breakfast on-the-go, bean muffins offer a healthy alternative to pastry or energy bars. Beans add protein and a pleasant moist texture to breakfast muffins. Try this recipe for White Bean, Banana and Walnut Muffins from the Today Show.

Think Beans for Your Vegetarian Thanksgiving Guests

These days, there is no shortage of options for the vegetarian guests at your Thanksgiving feast. Prepared veggie roasts are easy and increasingly popular. For homemade flavor, a baked stuffed squash creates a festive centerpiece. But for a taste of tradition, consider a dish built around beans. A close cousin to the kidney beans we know today probably appeared at the first Thanksgiving since they were regular fare for Native Americans.

This recipe does double duty since it also includes sweet potatoes. And because you can make it a day or two ahead of time (which actually improves the flavors) it lightens the workload on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Sweet and Spicy Baked Beans and Sweet Potatoes

1 pound kidney beans, soaked in water to cover for at least four hours and drained
1 quart water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or to taste)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 –inch chunks

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the drained beans and the quart of water and simmer for an hour until the beans are partially cooked.

Saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Stir the onion and garlic into the beans. Add the tomato paste, sugar and chipotle powder. Add salt to taste. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Transfer to a casserole dish and baked for one hour until sweet potatoes are tender.

 

 

From Side Dish to Center of Plate: Mashed Potatoes with Protein-rich Beans

Blending cooked white beans into mashed potatoes moves the ultimate comfort food from side dish to center of plate. Creating this protein-rich entrée is simple: just add a cup or so of cooked white beans when you mash the potatoes. Either navy or Great Northern beans work well. You can also try the following recipe which incorporates savory aromatic flavors of onions and garlic with just a few added steps.

1 1/4 cups navy beans, soaked in water to cover for at least four hours
3 cups unsalted vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, quartered
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 pound Yukon gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Drain soaked beans and place in a large saucepan with vegetable broth, onion and crushed garlic cloves. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add salt and simmer another 30 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to simmer until beans and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the onions and discard.

Drain the beans and potatoes, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid. Transfer the beans and potatoes to a food processor. Add the butter, thyme and ½ cup of the cooking liquid and process until smooth and creamy. Add more cooking liquid to achieve the consistency you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The “Three Sisters” of Native American Cuisine

By the time European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, Native Americans had been growing corn, beans and squash for hundreds of years. According to legend, the vegetable trio was known as the “three sisters,” and they played a central role in nutrition and agriculture.

When planted together, the corn provided a structure for the beans to climb. The squash spread over the ground as a living mulch, helping to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds. In addition to replenishing the soil with nitrogen, the beans served as an important source of protein in meals.

These three crops aren’t just compatible in the field; they also come together to create inspired and nutrient-rich soups and stews. Flavored with onions and dried herbs, the three sisters offer simple and varied ways to create savory and nutritious fall dishes. This Three Sisters Soup requires less than 10 minutes of hands-on preparation and can be ready in a half-hour.

Three Sisters Soup
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups frozen white or yellow corn or 1-16 ounce can
1 14-ounce can of kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) or one package of pureed frozen butternut squash
½ teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon mild chili powder
Bring the vegetable stock to a simmer. Add the corn, beans, onions and celery and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin or squash, plus the dried sage and chili powder. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Black Bean Brownies for a Guilt-free Treat

Beans for dessert? It might seem uncanny but it’s the norm in other parts of the world. Small cakes filled with a paste of red beans and sugar have been part of East Asian cuisine for hundreds of years. Referred to as “mooncakes,” these round pastries are a traditional part of autumn harvest festivals in China.

More recently, western cooks have adopted Eastern traditions to use beans in their sweet dishes. Next time you bake a batch of brownies, opt for black beans instead of flour. The fudgy texture provided by the beans produces a healthy, gluten-free brownie that’s packed with fiber and protein.

You can either use canned black beans for an easy fix or beans you’ve cooked from scratch.

Black Bean Brownies
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 ¾ cups cooked beans, rinsed and drained)
3 eggs
3 tablespoons of applesauce or canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8×8 square baking dish.
2. Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, and sugar in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture.
3. Bake until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

 

Cooking Beans in the Slow Cooker

One of the easiest and most economical ways to cook beans is in the slow cooker. Although actual cooking time is as long as six hours, hands-on preparation is just minutes. And the slow steady heat of the slow cooker produces beans that are tender and evenly cooked. It’s a good cook-ahead method, too. You can cook up generous batches of beans to use in different recipes throughout the week or to freeze.

A bonus of this cooking method: You don’t need to soak the beans beforehand. Just rinse them, add water and salt, and turn on the slow cooker. (Red kidney beans are the exception here. To make them more digestible, always soak first and then boil for 20 minutes before preparing in the slow cooker.)

To cook beans in the slow cooker, follow these steps:

  1. Rinse beans in a colander under cool, running water and remove any that look shriveled or discolored.
  2. Place them in the slow cooker with enough water to cover the beans plus two inches. Use a 3 ½ quart cooker for one pound of beans or less. A 5-quart cooker will hold two pounds of beans. Keep in mind that the beans will expand to twice their volume during cooking.
  3. Add two teaspoons of salt per pound of beans. If you like, you can add aromatic ingredients like quartered onions or whole garlic cloves. Just place them on top of the beans.
  4. Cook the beans on your slow cooker’s low setting until they are tender. Depending on the size of the beans, this will be between three and six hours.

Once the beans are cooked, they are ready to be used in your favorite recipes. If you don’t need them immediately, store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. Or freeze them in their cooking liquid for up to six months. If you’re using the beans immediately and don’t need the cooking liquid, be sure to save it. It makes a savory soup stock and can be frozen for up to six months.

Note: If beans give you gas, soak them overnight and then discard the water and add fresh water before cooking.

Home Cooking Tips from Chef-Dietitian Cheryl Forberg

For our January 2017 Q&A, we talked with Cheryl Forberg, a James Beard award-winning chef, best-selling author, and the nutritionist for NBC’s The “Biggest Loser” television show. A culinary expert as well as a registered dietitian, she has shared cooking and nutrition tips with the show’s contestants for seventeen seasons.

Cheryl received her culinary education at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After graduation, she embarked on a European apprenticeship journey that included stints at top French restaurants from Champagne to Strasbourg. She later was chosen for the opening team of Postrio restaurant, Chef Wolfgang Puck’s first venture in Northern California.  She also worked as a private chef for Lucasfilm Ltd. in Northern California.

Forberg went on to earn a degree in nutrition and clinical dietetics from the University of California at Berkeley and to work as a research dietitian at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Forberg has written or contributed to 17 books, including her latest, A Small Guide to Losing Big. She has contributed articles and recipes to numerous culinary and health publications, including Prevention, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Parade, Shape, Fitness, Cooking Light, Health, US News and World Reports and The Washington Post.

Bean Bulletin (BB):  Cheryl, we know many dietitians who later pursued culinary training, but you took a different path, first becoming a chef and later becoming a dietitian. What prompted you to pursue this path?

Cheryl Forberg (CF): When I left the restaurant world to cook exclusively for private families, many of my clients had dietary restrictions, from low sodium to low calorie.  At the time, there were few chefs who knew about nutrition and few dietitians who were also chefs.  I felt I could go further for my clients if I understood the physiology of their eating requirements and requests. I attended the University of California, Berkeley to pursue a nutrition degree and RD credentials.

 BB: When you create recipes for home cooks, what principles or guidelines do you keep in mind? For example, when we create recipes, we always give people the option to use canned beans in place of starting with dry beans knowing that saving time in the kitchen matters to most home cooks. We also promote brining beans as a way to save time when starting with dry beans.

CF: While my time as a private chef was spent cooking for affluent clients with unlimited budgets, my time with “The Biggest Loser” reminded me that most Americans have a very limited budget and not a lot of time to cook.  My mother lives in a small town in Wisconsin and I use her as my tether.  If Mom can’t find or afford a particular ingredient, I usually leave it out of my recipes because I know that most of my readers will be in the same boat.

 BB: In your opinion, how do the acts of shopping for, preparing, and eating home-cooked meals contribute to better health?

CF:  There’s so much work to be done in terms of nutrition education.  If only people understood that a little more time in the kitchen, and a few more dollars spent each week on quality ingredients can equate to more healthy years ahead and lower medical costs. Everybody wins.

 BB: We know you’re an avid home gardener, and that you have some animals on your small farm as well. What advice do you have for people who want to grow more food at home, or eat more fresh, local, seasonal foods?

CF: Nothing tastes better than fresh. Even if you live in an apartment, a few pots of fresh herbs can add a magical finish to a simple home cooked meal—whether it’s a dusting of chopped parsley or a few shredded basil leaves. And if you do have room for a garden, start slowly with a few veggies and try to take local garden courses to learn which fruits and veggies work in your area and whether you have the great fortune to grow winter veggies as well.

BB: We also know you love beans. How often do you cook with them, and do you typically use dry beans, canned beans, or both?

CF: I adore beans. I love them not only because they’re a great source of fiber and protein, but also because they’re so versatile and SO inexpensive.  I usually have at least five different dried beans in my kitchen, and even if I only need a cup or two cooked beans in a recipe, I usually cook a whole pound and keep the rest on hand to add to salads or soups (or to put in the freezer for next time).  But I’m super busy like everyone else so I always keep cans of black, pinto, and garbanzo beans on hand. Hummus is my go-to appetizer for last minute guests, and I love to use different canned beans for that.

BB: What are your favorite bean dishes to cook at home?

 CF: I often experiment with different bean dishes to serve with grilled meat or for meatless meal. I usually add onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, mustard, oregano, chipotle, and smoked salt. Sometimes I add fire-roasted tomatoes and/or bacon.  I also love to add beer while they’re simmering instead of adding water, and I often finish with fresh cilantro and a lime squeeze.   I always have enough for leftovers so that I can top them with poached eggs for breakfast—farm fresh eggs from my chickens!

BB: What’s the best bean dish you’ve ever eaten, and why? Was it something you cooked, or something you ate at a restaurant?

 CF:  I love the bean dishes cooked at home because I know exactly what’s in them and I feel good about that. The best bean dish I recall in a restaurant is Lobhia Aur Khumbi that I ate at an Indian cafe in Berkeley called Ajanta.  Though the dish itself was vegetarian and the primary ingredient was black-eyed peas, which are technically a bean, it was loaded with umami-rich shiitakes and complex curry seasonings. It was memorable and absolutely scrumptious!

BB: Finally, what advice do you have for people who want to cook more at home?

CF: If you’re intimidated or afraid, take a class. It will do wonders for your confidence and give you great ideas. If you can’t take a class, buy a book or two or explore the wealth of great recipes online.  Start simple and get creative as you learn more and build confidence.

BB: Cheryl, thanks for taking the time amidst your very busy schedule to answer our questions. We love talking with bean lovers who also love cooking!

Inspiring People to Cook More at Home

Here at the Bean Institute, we truly believe cooking at home is important for good health, both physical and mental. We love reading cookbooks and magazines, searching for new recipes. We love grocery shopping, especially the leisurely weekend trips where more time can be spent looking for new ingredients. We think dicing onions can be a mindful, stress reducing activity. And we love the thrill we get from heading into the kitchen to try new recipes, ingredients, tools, and techniques. But we recognize that not everyone shares our passion for cooking.

For some, cooking is a chore, too time consuming to be considered enjoyable. For others, cooking is a mystery, something that is too challenging or complex to be understood or undertaken. We want to help change this.

Research Shows People Who Cook More Eat Better

Research published in Appetite in 2013 shows that European adults who enjoy cooking are most likely to cook at home. This is not a shocking finding. We do more of the things we enjoy and less of the activities we don’t. So how can we help people enjoy cooking more?

This research team also found that survey respondents who reported having the most cooking skills also consumed the most vegetables and the least convenience foods. These correlations support the notion that being able to prepare your own food may help people make more healthful food choices.

Chances are, if you’re reading this issue of The Bean Bulletin, you’re already a fan of beans and someone who likes to cook. We’d love to enlist your help in sharing your passion for cooking with beans. But where should we start? Where should we focus our efforts? Here are some simple tips.

Start with Dietary Guidance: What Are We Missing?

When we look at current eating patterns in the United States, we note that intake of vegetables, including beans, and dairy are far below recommended levels. In fact, for both vegetables and dairy, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population don’t meet the recommended intake levels.

Focus on Easy Recipes That Quickly Build Confidence

One of our favorite ways to get people in the kitchen to start building culinary confidence and competence is to start with a super easy recipe like our Buttermilk Banana Bean Smoothie. This recipe features a full serving of dairy and two servings of beans, which as you know, can count as either a vegetable and protein serving.

Teach People Techniques

While we all love new recipes, what most people need is training on culinary techniques that can be used over and over again. We love teaching people how to brine beans as well as the benefits of brining dry beans before cooking with them. Brining dry beans in salted water reduces the cooking time and the likelihood that beans will split or burst. We’ve also noticed a much creamier texture from the brined beans compared to simply soaking in water.

How to Brine Beans
For every cup of dry beans, use 1 ½ tablespoons of salt dissolved in 2 quarts of water. Soak beans in the brining liquid for 8 to 24 hours. Drain brining liquid, and use the beans in your favorite recipe.

Show, Don’t Tell

When it’s possible, show people how to make a new recipe. You can do this via culinary demonstrations or hands-on instructions.  We know of a physician who shows clients how to make smoothies in his office. He attended Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives years ago, and he was so inspired to teach people how to cook that he installed a dorm-size refrigerator and a blender in his office. He now shows his clients how easy it is to make a nutrient packed, delicious smoothie in minutes.

Cooking videos are another great way to show people how to make delicious recipes. We produced five videos in 2016, and we hope you’ll share these with patients, clients, friends, and family members.

Getting Protein at Breakfast with Beans

Getting protein at breakfast is important. In this short video, registered dietitians Amy and Megan will show viewers how to make two quick & easy breakfast recipes – a Berry Black Bean Smoothie and Breakfast Bean Burrito – using canned beans.

Making Quick & Easy Bean Dips

Making bean dips is fast and easy, and there are endless variations. In this short video, registered dietitians Amy and Megan show viewers how to make quick & easy bean dips using canned beans, extra virgin olive oil, and a few aromatics and spices to make creamy bean dips and spreads.

Do you have a success story related to inspiring people to cook more at home? If so, please share it with us. We may feature you in a future issue of The Bean Bulletin.

 

Q&A with Chef and Restaurateur, Andrea Baumgardner

“There is a lot of care in food. I think people can feel the love. It isn’t necessarily about how much time you’ve spent, but it’s about how engaged you are.”

Andrea Baumgardner, a Fargo, ND chef and restaurant owner sat down with us to share her tips and ideas for holiday entertaining, and how she incorporate simply delicious, naturally nutritious beans into festive meals. Andrea currently owns and operates BernBaum’s, a unique Fargo lunch counter blending Jewish and Icelandic cuisine.

Bean Bulletin: Can you tell us a little about your background and why you became a chef?

Andrea: I was a French major in college and I spent a year abroad in Europe. I became completely entranced with the food in France. I lived with a normal French family and they had normal French attention food but they really cared.  They made all their own meals – bought eggs from Corsica, produce from the market – it was just a part of the culture and this made sense to me. When I came back I decided to go to chef school.

BB: What’s your holiday entertaining like?

Andrea: Because I catered for so many years, I’ve gotten to a place where I don’t fuss like I used to. I used to spend 3 days cooking and the meal would be over in 30 minutes. You can’t help but feel resentful. Now, I really appreciate the time to be with people. I really like foods that can be room temperature or one-pot meals. It’s more about getting together with the people you love and less about the perfect meal.

BB: How would you describe the perfect holiday party?

Andrea: I think you need to keep the energy up. I’m a big fan of keeping things small and snack-like. There’s nothing that kills the energy of a party faster than making everyone sit down to a big, heavy meal or buffet.  I also think the perfect holiday party needs a festive drink – something fun and delicious.

BB: What tips or ideas can you share to make holiday entertaining more fun and less stressful?

Andrea: When I entertain I like to do a couple expensive items, like a smoked fish, shrimp or crab cakes and then economize a bit on other things. I think a beautiful cheese with fresh vegetables, grapes and dried fruit all goes over well. And these items are a little less expensive but delicious.

I also don’t believe you have to make everything from scratch and there are some really great store bought products that are worth the buy. You have to think about what’s the best use of your time.

Also, I think the best advice is to plan well but don’t sweat it. It’s more about connecting with people and having fun than wowing people with your skills. If something doesn’t turn out right, think about Julia Child and her advise- don’t apologize!

BB: What ideas do you have to give beans the delicious factor?

Andrea: Beans are flavor absorbers, so if you’re cooking dried beans add something to the liquid. At work we’ve been doing a lot with dried chiles, and I think they can add really interesting, smoky, dark notes. Beans need seasoning so salt and acids are important. You also want to think about ingredients that are going to infuse the beans with flavor – vinegar, lemon juice, really good olive oil, sea salt, maybe something spicy like curry. Beans can stand up to a lot so don’t be afraid to give them lots of flavor.

BB: For people having a holiday party with appetizer, do you have any bean recipes to recommend?

Andrea: Beans make an excellent addition to antipasti platters. I also like Italian or Turkish marinated beans spread on a toast or crostini. Mashed beans are always good – any variation on hummus. Also, everyone loves a 7-layer dip with refried beans. You could even rethink the 7 layer dip – maybe a black bean cake with crème fraiche and salsa!

BB: Do you have a favorite bean recipe to entertain with?

 Andrea: I really love beans. They are part of every culture and it’s fun to explore different cultural bean dishes. I have an Indian bean recipe where you soak beans, grind them and add some spinach to make cakes. You serve them with a date sauce. I also love Mexican style cooked beans – a little epizote, salt, garlic and some fat or a bone. Beans also do really well in salads too. I just really love beans.

To learn more about Andrea’s food philosophy, current restaurant and to see more photos of her kitchen, visit Zach Davis Photography’s Artist Study.

Photo credits: Zach Davis Photography | www.zachdavisphotography.com