Food of the Month: Black Beans

February, the month of love. A great time to strengthen the most important muscle in our bodies, the heart. To keep our muscles strong we need to eat protein. The purpose of protein in our diet is to build muscles and tissue.

Beans, which are an excellent source of a plant based protein, come in a large variety to choose from. Black beans are slightly sweet, easy to prepare, native to Mexico, and can be used in soups, casseroles, salads, and they make excellent refried beans.

According to Oriental medicine, they feed and nurture the kidneys and adrenal glands.

Your adrenal glands are very important. They are little glands that sit on top of your kidneys.

Their function is to help you deal with stress. They get weakened by being too stressed-out and consuming too much caffeine and sugar in our diets.

Some other health benefits of beans are:

Contain isoflavones, can help prevent cancer and heart disease

-Contain phytochemical diosgenin, appears to inhibit cancer cells from multiplying

-Contains calcium, potassium, iron and zinc

-Contains several B vitamins

If you have the time, cooking beans from scratch is great. Soak the beans before cooking; I soak mine overnight. That way I know they have soaked for a good 8 hours or more. Then get rid of the soaking water – that is where the gas from the beans is located.

Start with fresh water and cover the beans. If you pot boil them, they still take a long time, an hour for most, sometimes longer. A quicker way is to pressure cook them. Once up to pressure, most beans will only take 15 to 20 minutes to cook. When you cook your beans, always use a little piece of the sea vegetable kombu. It will help you digest the protein in the beans, which helps eliminate the gas some people experience.

To help make things quicker, I use canned beans in this recipe. If you want to convert, a half-cup of dried beans equals 1 (15 oz.) can of beans. Eden brand beans are the only brand that cooks their beans with kombu.

 

Black Bean Burgers

 

2 (15 oz.) cans black beans (drained)

3 T. tamari

2 cups cooked short grain brown rice

1 cup grated carrot

1/4 onion (diced)

2 garlic cloves (minced)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup brown rice flour

Put the black beans and tamari in a food processor. Puree until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, put the rest of the ingredients and the pureed black beans. Using your hands, mix together. Make sure everything is mixed together well. Heat a small amount of canola oil in a skillet. Form mixture into patties and brown on each side. (Approx. 5 to 7 minutes each side on medium heat.) Serve on whole grain buns or bread. These patties freeze well.

Val Wilson

 

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About the writer: Valerie Wilson

Valerie Wilson is a chef, author, counselor, and host of "Healthy Cooking with Macro Val" on BMSRadio. She teaches macrobiotic, vegan cooking classes in Westland, Mi.

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