Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Alternate Uses for Beans

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a long time and just have not gotten around to it but last night as we were having dinner, I knew it was time. I had made a different chicken recipe than I’d used before and salad and a vegetable and I made a side dish from Quinoa. Up until this point, I had only used Quinoa for breakfast.

When I put it on the table my husband just looked at it. Then he started really looking at it, like there was something crawling in it. I asked him if he knew what was in it and he asked, “Does this have beans in it?”

At this point I started looking at him funny – obviously there were no beans in this. What was he thinking? Then he just looked at me with a silly grin, laughed and said, “I’ve been reading your blog!” I guess that explains it all!

Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little obsessed with beans but I am continually finding more things that you can do with them and with the skyrocketing food prices lately I’m thinking we will see beans on the table more often.

Here are some of the things beans can be used for:


We’ve talked about cooking with beans and touched on sprouting a little and will talk more about that in the future but I want to talk about bean flour today. If you have beans stored and aren’t using them that much, bean flour is another way to increase the nutrition in your foods. If you are in to grinding your own wheat for flour here are some facts about replacing some of your wheat flour with bean flour:

• Any dry bean can be ground into flour using a hand or electric mill. Read your instructions carefully, some specifically say you cannot use beans in them. Super nutrition can be added to any commercial dry mix (cakes, cookies, muffins, breads) by adding a few tablespoons of bean flour to the dry ingredients, then adding extra liquid as necessary.

• Bean flour can be whisked into boiling water and seasonings to make an almost instant soup or thickener.

• Bean flour can be used in any recipe calling for flour by replacing up to 25% of the wheat flour with any variety of bean flour (instead of 2 cups wheat flour, use ½ cup bean flour and 1½ cups wheat flour). The bean flour combined with the wheat flour creates a complete protein for those cutting out or down on meat. The best part is that no one will ever know they’re eating beans!

•White beans or fava beans have a milder taste, making white bean flour or fava bean flour suitable for use in most recipes calling for white flour. Substitute 1/4 of the white flour for bean flour.

•Bean flour made from kidney, pinto, garbanzo, chana dal or black beans has a stronger flavor and is more suitable for inclusion in meat loaf or when making vegetable patties or vegetarian loaves.

•Bean flour can be whisked into soups and stews, adding flavor and goodness. Bean flour can also be used to thicken these dishes. Beans are being studied in relation to disease prevention in humans-and the results are promising. Scientific studies are uncovering the health benefits of eating beans. Nutrition research has revealed that dry beans are low in fat and high in fiber, making legumes an ideal food choice.

•Add bean flour to thicken gravies and sauces, and you increase the nutrition and make your dishes virtually fat-free. Bean flour of any kind also makes an excellent "instant" creamy soup base. No more soaking, boiling, mashing, and blending those beans to make thick, creamy, rich-tasting soups. Simply grind some dry beans, add water, and cook for 3 minutes. Add your own pasta, vegetables, or other beans for a quick, healthy, homemade soup. These 3-minute soups can be made in the microwave or on the stove top.

Bean Grinding Tips:
To grind beans, first sort them and check for dirty beans or rock pieces. You may want to place the mill in a kitchen sink and fill hopper with beans. Cover with kitchen towels to reduce bean dust, and leave a hole to stir beans as they go into the milling chamber. Small seeds like peas and lentils will not need to be stirred. Large beans like lima will need to be cracked in a blender or food grinder before grinding to a flour. Clean the sponge filter after each hopper of beans.

Make sure your grinder is okay to grind beans. I know many people have a small hand grinder that they use only to grind beans and corn just because they want to use their wheat grinder just for wheat. After grinding, store flours in resealable plastic bags or other food storage containers and refrigerate or freeze if possible. Flours last about six months at room temperature. After that time, a bitter aftertaste may start to develop.

Using beans to replace Shortening or Margarine in recipes:
• Method 1: Mashed white beans replace fat cup for cup in recipes. Mash until consistency of shortening (can use blender). Replace in recipes cup for cup. (Example: Recipe calls for 1 cups margarine, use 1 cup mashed beans.) Liquid may be added to adjust the consistency. Mashed beans do not keep long in the fridge, so freeze them.

• Method 2: Grind beans in your wheat grinder. Store in air-tight container. Replace fat in the recipe cup for cup. You will need to add more liquid since the ground beans will be part of the dry ingredients.

Important Information:
I need to post some information with a warning about beans. I hope that this does not affect your use of beans as they are a valuable food and important storage commodity. You just need to be aware that some beans are dangerous, IF EATEN RAW![Raw red beans and raw red and white kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin (the lectin Phytohaemagglutinin) that must be destroyed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes.]

I see no reason to eat raw beans. Even if you are grinding the flour you would not eat it without cooking first. Just be aware that if these varieties of beans, and this is not all beans, just the ones mentioned above, are eaten without cooking they can make you sick.

I hope you will try some bean flour in your cooking and baking. Experiment and see how you feel about the bean flour in your recipes or used as butter substitute in your baking. I’m already sold on using white bean flour as a thickener in soup or in place of canned cream of chicken soup in recipes. I’d be interested in hearing any of your experiences or having you share any recipes that you have tried using these methods.

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