Thursday, June 28, 2012

Black Bean Recipes Tip # 2

Tip number two: Eat two servings of beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu (soy), or seed vegetables daily.

 Dried Beans and Quinoa in Recycled Glass Storage Jars
Tip number two has to do with the type of protein we should be getting.  It's good to be open to varying your sources of protein.  If you eat meat, then you can continue to do so, but why not add some vegetable sources of protein to your diet as well.  You'll get the added benefit of more fiber, nutrients and anti-oxidants.  You'll also cut down on your intake of fat, cholesterol and acid-forming foods.
Today I'd like to focus on black beans, since I have learned how to make them!

I didn't grow up eating a lot of beans.  If you are North American you may have learned how to make beans when you started cooking for yourself, like I did.  Beans don't seem to be a dietary staple here as compared to many other countries.  The problem is that by not eating beans regularly, we are excluding a great source of fiber and protein, and antioxidants from our diet.  

Lets examine some surprising facts about black beans.

Consumption of black beans promotes an anti-inflammatory effect in the colon.  This is due to a process that occurs when the indigestible fraction (IF) in beans allows bacteria in the colon to produce butyric acid.  The colon uses this fatty acid as its primary energy source.  It feeds the bowel and produces potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. It has also been shown to have a positive effect on intestinal permeability.   Impaired gut barrier integrity is associated with many health conditions, such as Candida over-growth and food sensitivities.  

There has been some debate as to whether beans should be cooked in the water used for soaking them. It has been generally agreed upon by researchers that there are more benefits to discarding the soaking water. Some of these benefits are getting rid of some of the phytates and tannins that can lower nutrient availability. (Phytates are found in grains, nuts and legumes).  Using new cooking water also reduces flatulence-related substances like raffinose (up to 33% removed along with the soaking water).

Phytonutrients as found in the pigment of berries and grapes called anthocyanins are also found in black beans.  The flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin are three anthocyanins primarily responsible for the rich black color that we see on the bean surface.  One of the most important activitites of anthocyanin is its high antioxidant effect.  It can protect your cardiovascular system from oxidative stress.  

The Brazillians have given beans an exclusive place on their food pyramid. Studies showing a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, many types of cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer was one of the key factors used by the Brazilian government and the U.S. government in establishing their bean intake recommendations.   Instead of 3 cups of weekly legumes, 4-8 cups would become the goal range.  

Some people like to used canned beans but they may wonder if it's better to make your own.   One special concern in the canning area has been the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in resin-based can liners.  This concern can be avoided when you make beans from scratch.  However, be sure to follow a bean cooking guide to be sure you cook beans safely.  Especially beans like kidney beans must be prepared very carefully or you could find yourself in the hospital!

From a single, one-cup serving of black beans you get nearly 15 grams of fiber (well over half of the Daily Value and the same amount consumed by the average U.S. adult in one entire day of eating) and 15 grams of protein (nearly one third of the Daily Value and equivalent to the amount in 2 ounces of a meat like chicken or a fish like salmon).  

My biggest challenge with beans was finding recipes that would taste good enough to eat every week.   In Costa Rica, we ate a local dish of black beans mixed with rice called "Gallo Pinto."  From this recipe, I came up with my own re-fried black beans recipe that is great for bean burritos or as a side dish.  The other recipe I can eat any time is my black bean chili.  Although I add a little ground beef, it would be great as a vegetarian dish too.  You can experiment with your own recipes while working toward the goal is of making beans a delicious part of your normal diet.  Eating beans is a good life-long, healthy habit for children to develop too.  Here are a couple of my recipes.  

Black Bean Marinara Chili

1 green bell pepper, chopped 
1 onion, chopped 
2 cloves minced garlic  
1/2 chopped jalapeno (optional)
1 lb natural ground beef (no hormones and grass fed)  
1 tbsp. cumin 
1 tbsp. chili powder 
1/4 tsp. Himalayan or other real sea salt 
Pre-Soaked, Black beans about 2 cups cooked 
1 jar 739 ml Simply natural Organic Tomato Pasta Sauce

Saute onion, green bell pepper and garlic until soft, about 7 minutes.  Add ground beef and saute until cooked through.  Add cumin and chili powder.  Adjust amount of seasoning to your taste.  Add salt and  cooked black beans.  Finally, mix in tomato pasta sauce.  Let simmer for 1/2 hour or longer.  

Black Bean Tacos  

Sprouted Wheat Tortillas (Alvarado St. Bakery)  
x-virgin olive oil 
1 onion, chopped  
1 red bell pepper, chopped 
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. cumin 
1 tbsp. chili powder 
1/4 tsp. real salt 
1 cup cooked black beans 
1/2 cup grated jack cheese 

Saute onion, red bell pepper and garlic until soft, about 7 minutes.  Add spices and beans.  Watch carefully and flip over frequently until lightly charred.  Another option is to lightly fry the tortillas in olive oil, fill tortilla with bean mixture and cheese.  Fold tortilla in half and then once more.  Serve when heated through.  Garnish with cilantro, salsa and avocado.  

For re-fried beans,  place bean mixture in Vitamix and blend with toggle, pushing beans into blades until mixed through.   Remove toggle, cover and secure.  Pulse on high for a few seconds.  Place bean mixture and cheese in tortillas, heat thorough and serve.  

References: Butyric Acid: Ancient Controller of Metabolism, Inflammation and Stress Resistance



Those seeking help for specific medical conditions are advised to consult a qualified nutrition therapist, clinical nutritionist, doctor, or equivalent health care professional. The recommendations given here are intended solely as education and information, and should not be taken as medical advice. Neither myself nor the sources mentioned accept liability for those who choose to self-prescribe. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease either physical or mental.

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