Thursday, November 7, 2013

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

Are you scared? You should be because I love beans, but let's just say they don't always love me. Nor does anyone else after I have eaten them. How's that for brutal honesty? Seriously, though, the dietary benefits of legumes are undeniable, and we eat tons of small lentil-type legumes several days a week in our house without a hitch. It's those other larger beans, however, that are so great if you're trying to eat more meatless meals that wreak some record-breaking havoc on the intestines...even if you eat them all the time. Yes, theoretically, your body is supposed to better tolerate them the more often you eat them, but I've eaten a ton of beans over the past 8 years overseas and my family would argue that nothing has changed. :) So, if you're like me, do you cut out this economical, power-packed nutrition altogether? I haven't given up, and I think I've finally found a solution that everyone around me can live with--sprouting. Not horns, but miniature plants.

Beauties sprouting in my kitchen
There is a ton of very technical research on the internet about the benefits of sprouting which people can get a little cuckoo about, but here's the reason I tried it: The body breaks down sprouts more like a vegetable so it reduces the war that happens in the body afterward. Other research suggests that not pairing beans with meat sources can also help, which I have found to be true. The verdict is that after we tried sprouting in our house this extra step in bean prep seems to make a significant difference. I ate a massive amount of mixed beans in chili and felt great the next day!

Here's how:
  • Soak your dried beans overnight then drain them. 
  • Place them on a cookie sheet lined with a lightly dampened towel. 
  • Cover the beans with another lightly dampened towel.
  • Every evening and morning, give the beans a good rinse in a colander, redampen the towels, and put everything back on the cookie sheet. If your house is hotter than 75F, give them a midday rinse, too.
  • Keep letting the beans go through this cycle until they have tiny tails.
  • To cook them, start with about half your usual cooking time and check them, as they will cook a good bit faster than other soaked beans.
My vegetarian chili with mixed larger beans took about 3 days from the start of the overnight soak. Smaller lentils and dals will take only about a day or so. With short (1/4") sprouts, you get the benefits of sprouting, but your kids won't look at you like you've fed them a science experiment. Given the type of water we have here, I would not recommend eating sprouts raw as some people in other places can do. Happy sprouting!


  1. So just today I was working on sprouting some beans! I didn't get them soaked until last night, so I knew they wouldn't sprout by this evening, especially in this cooler weather, but I had a brilliant idea. I put the beans in the oven with the light on, and by this afternoon, sprouts! I've done this when making yogurt, and the light gives off just enough heat to bring the oven to close to 90 or 100 degrees. As long as I kept the beans hydrated they sprouted VERY quickly. Not sure if you have a light on your oven, but maybe the pilot light would be enough heat as well. It's nice to know I don't have to plan quite so far in advance now!

    1. What a fantastic idea! Mine does have a light so I'll have to try that some time.