By Leanne Ely, C.N.C
If you wanna get down and dirty and really get cheap, you need to start thinking beans, legumes; the dried variety. Bean there, done that, got the t-shirt! (sorry, couldn’t help myself).
Being the quintessential cheap eat and nutritional wunderkind that beans are, nothing beats a big batch o’ beans. They are easy to prepare and virtually foolproof to make, especially when you employ these tips:
• The Presoak: After your beans have soaked overnight, give them a rinse and put fresh water in the pot for cooking. Some people may complain that you’re throwing away some of the nutrition, but honestly, you’re eliminating a lot of musicality of beans by doing this—if you’re following my lead.
• The Salting . Wait until your beans are completely tender before adding salt. Salt can make the tenderizing process not happen.
• The Water. If you have hard water, your beans may not soften. Use bottled water if that is the case. You can add some baking soda too (1 teaspoon per quart).
• The Age . Old beans mean tough beans. Make sure you buy your beans fresh and that they’re from a market with a good turnover. Otherwise those beans may stay as hard as granite—even if you diligently apply all these fine steps. Beans are beans, but old beans are rocks.
Questions I invariably get asked but hate answering has to do with the “musicality” of the fine bean. Listen, there is no swift answer. If you ask enough people, they’ll all come up with their own remedy for fixing this indelicate problem. But the best one, believe it or not, is just eat more beans. Oh yes, more beans. Then your body becomes adjusted and you’ll be a little more discreet in the aftermath of your bean consumption. However, all bets are off that I’ll ever show up at your house while you’re going through the “adjustment” period!
WAIT…I almost forgot. Want a beanie kinda recipe? Here you go. This is my old faithful standby. Gets me thru just about anything!
Crock pot Mixed Beans and Turkey Ham
1 cup dry beans – mixed, your choice
Presoaked (see above for instructions)
3/4 cup carrots- Diced
3/4 cup celery – Diced
3/4 cup onion – Chopped
1 1/2 cups turkey ham Chopped
2 cans chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook beans on high for four hours in crock pot (or until beans are tender). After beans are cooked, add remaining ingredients and cook 2-3 more hours until done. Add more water as needed.
Per serving: 223 Calories; 4g Total Fat; 21g Protein; 10g Fiber; 26g Carbohydrate; 33mg Cholesterol; 1026mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain (Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates
SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with cornbread and a big green salad.
VEGETARIANS: Skip the ham and you’re there!