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How To Cook Dried Beans – A Staple of Plastic-free Living

Posted By Beth Terry On April 8, 2011 @ 3:57 pm In beans,bulk foods | 30 Comments

My friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship just released a new e-Book this year, The Everything Beans Book [1], and she’s giving readers of this blog a 20% discount through 4/15 (coupon code 20BEANSBK). I’m excited about Katie’s latest book because learning how to prepare and cook dried beans is crucial when you’re trying to live a plastic-free life. Why? Because dried beans are a great source of protein we can purchase plastic-free from bulk bins using our own bags and containers.

bulk dried beans

Canned beans, on the other hand, are problematic because most metal cans are lined with plastic which contains BPA [2], a hormone-disrupting chemical. And for me, even the new BPA-free cans are suspect because we really don’t know if the new linings are any safer than the old ones. Chemical companies don’t reveal their “trade secrets” and consumers are left in the dark.

But preparing dried beans is so hard, right? Wrong. While it does require planning ahead, it’s not hard. And by making up big batches and freezing in glass jars, you can have beans ready when you need them. In her book, Katie outlines three different methods for soaking and cooking beans, and explains the nutritional benefits of longer preparation times. And like her Healthy Snacks to Go [1] e-book that I wrote about last year [3], this book is just as well organized and easy to understand.

But how are the recipes? Well, this week I decided to give one of them a try. I picked Tuscan Bean Soup because it’s rated as easy, is easily vegan, and I already had the ingredients in the house: white beans, olive oil, spinach, garlic, herbs, and stock. Katie’s recipe calls for chicken stock, but I used my handy Better Than Bouillon veggie broth [4] instead.

dried white beans

I soaked them for over a day.

dried white beans

And cooked them for several hours while writing up my Pepsi bottle post [5].

dried white beans

To make Katie’s recipe even easier, I didn’t bother with sauteing onions and garlic separately. No, since I already had the beans cooking on the stove, I just dumped all the ingredients except the spinach into the water the beans were already cooking in and let the whole thing simmer. (Note: I added these ingredients AFTER the beans were done cooking.) Then, per Katie’s instructions, I removed 2 cups of beans, pureed the rest up in my blender, and replaced the whole beans. Pureeing gives a nice thick texture to the soup, which turned out seriously delicious. I added the spinach at the end and ate my soup with fresh sourdough bread from the bakery down the street. Awesome.

dried white beans

The Everything Beans Book includes 30 original recipes, including a recipe for bean brownies! Vegans and vegetarians be warned: Katie is not a vegetarian, and many of the recipes in The Everything Beans Book include meat and dairy products. But all of them can be easily modified, as I modified the recipe above. For me, the most useful thing about this book is the information about preparing beans. Katie even recommends soaking beans like lentils and split peas — beans you wouldn’t ordinarily think about soaking — and she explains why.

As I mentioned when I reviewed Katie’s Healthy Snacks to Go e-book [6], I am an affiliate, which means that when you purchase one of her e-books through this site [1], My Plastic-free Life makes a small commission, which pays for things like web hosting and field trips to exotic locations like recycling centers, plastic bag factories, conferences, and the like. So you’re not only getting a great book but also the warm happy feeling of knowing you’re helping keep the plastic-free work going.

This week, through midnight 4/15, you can use the coupon code 20BEANSBK to get 20% off the regular price. Click here to order The Everything Beans Book [1].

Article printed from My Plastic-free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com

URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/04/how-to-cook-dried-beans-a-staple-of-plastic-free-living/

URLs in this post:

[1] The Everything Beans Book: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/ebooks-at-kitchen-stewardship/?ap_id=PlasticfreeBeth

[2] metal cans are lined with plastic which contains BPA: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/12/washing-our-hands-of-bpa-this-winter/

[3] wrote about last year: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/06/homemade-power-bars-and-wheat-thins-without-plastic/

[4] Better Than Bouillon veggie broth: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/01/quick-and-almost-plastic-free-broth-soup-base-tip/

[5] Pepsi bottle post: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/04/the-truth-about-pepsis-new-plant-based-pet-plastic-bottle/

[6] Healthy Snacks to Go e-book: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/06/winner-of-healthy-snacks-to-go-ebook/

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