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Five Uses for Leftover Beans

The World's Healthiest Foods' beans: inexpensive, delicious and loaded with amazing health benefits! What more do you need to know, except the quickest, easiest ways to prepare these great-tasting beans? Here's how to get started.

Preparing beans from scratch is so easy and so inexpensive! However, you do need to plan ahead as beans need a good long soak—from 2 hours to overnight—before cooking. Of course, you can always buy already cooked, organically grown, canned beans for use in any of our recipes calling for beans. Compared to other sources of protein, even these ready-to-eat beans are much less expensive.

But, if you're willing to try your hand at cooking dry beans from scratch, you'll be greatly rewarded. Home-cooked beans are more flavorful and firmer than canned, plus they cost about 1/10th as much! Beans are so versatile; you can cook up a large pot, freeze some in quart-sized freezer bags to have on hand later, refrigerate the rest and and enjoy them throughout the week in salads, dips, and soups.

You'll be amazed at how easy it is to prepare dry beans! Here are the simple instructions:

  • To remove their gas-producing compounds and shorten cooking time, soak beans before cooking. This soaking process can be done in two ways:
  • The quickest method is to rinse the beans, put them in a pot, cover with water and boil for two minutes, then take the pan off the heat, cover and let stand for two hours. Drain off the water, rinse with clean water, and your beans are ready to cook.
  • The second method is to simply rinse the beans and soak them in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pot in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. As above, drain off the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water before cooking.

To cook the beans, you can either cook them on the stovetop or use a pressure cooker. Either way, it's a good idea to add a strip of dried kombu, a sea vegetable you'll find in the Asian foods' section of most grocery stores. Kombu adds healthy minerals to your beans while further improving their digestability.

  • For the stovetop method, add 3 to 4 cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about 1 to 2 inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, just skim it off during the simmering process. Different beans vary in the amount of cooking time needed. The smaller beans (e.g., black beans or navy beans) generally take about one and a half hours to become tender, while larger beans (e.g., kidney beans, pinto beans) may take two hours or more.
  • Beans can also be cooked in a pressure cooker, which cuts the cooking time in at least half. Just follow the directions that come with your pressure cooker. Most will tell you to add the beans, cover with enough water that 1-2 inches of water tops the beans, and to be sure to not fill the pot more than 2/3 full. Your beans will be ready in 20 minutes or even less.
  • Regardless of cooking method, do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been cooked. Adding them earlier can make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.

Once you have your pot of cooked beans, you'll find many delicious ways to serve them. Look first at our Recipes, as quite a number feature beans.

In addition, try enjoying beans in the following five ways.

  • Dips: Cooked beans can be quickly turned into a delicious dip or spread for raw, cut vegetables. For hummus, purée garbanzo beans with olive oil, garlic, tahini, and lemon juice. For a great South of the Border dip, combine black beans with chopped tomato, avocado, green onion, green pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and cayenne pepper.
  • Beans and rice or quinoa: A quick, delicious, high-protein dinner! Combine beans and rice or quinoa with any vegetables on hand in the refrigerator. Season with salt and pepper and top with a little grated cheese, sliced avocado and/or salsa.
  • Salads: Add cooked beans to any fresh green salad for extra protein and fiber. For a delicious salad topping, marinate the beans in olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Snacks: Beans make a great and very filling snack. Heat a small bowl full seasoned with your favorite spices and enjoy with some low-fat organic corn chips.
  • Wraps, Quesadillas and Burritos: Instead of using beef or chicken, add cooked beans to your favorite Mexican dishes. Wraps can be made ahead, sealed in wax paper, and frozen to have on hand for a quick, healthy, satisfying meal when you're on the go.

For more information on the health benefits and uses of beans, please see the articles on the website on Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Garbanzo Beans, and Pinto Beans.

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