The freshness and quality of the foods we eat can transform the taste of our meals and the state of our health. And for me, there’s definitely a much greater sense of satisfaction and pride that I get from knowing that I made a meal from pure, healthful ingredients. I now make muffins from scratch, blend my own almond milk and cook dried beans instead of emptying out BPA and preservative laced canned beans. Although it may take a few times to get it right, at least I know there are no harmful chemicals or preservatives in what I prepare for myself, my friends or my family.
There are many benefits from using whole foods in their true form as opposed to buying the canned versions. Aside from avoiding harmful toxins, it’s usually much more economical. Packaging is often where the cost is driven up with most foods. In addition, a lot of the preservatives and cooking methods used to make these foods shelf stable and last for years can wreak havoc on our digestive systems. By choosing whole foods and
As a vegetarian and mostly vegan, I’ve been asked many times “where do you get your protein from.”
This is a topic I’ll cover in more depth soon, but beans and lentils are what I’m going to focus on here. They are just some of the many great sources of vegetarian protein. They also contain vital vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, B Vitamins, and even omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Here’s how some of these nutrients break down so you can see the true benefits of these little wonders. Magnesium and potassium are incredibly important in the proper functioning of the heart and in managing blood pressure levels. Iron helps in red blood cell production. B Vitamins are involved in pretty much every function of the human body including reducing stress, managing anxiety and depressing, fighting fatigue, easing PMS symptoms and improving memory. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help to manage inflammation, protect
So you can obviously see how adding beans and lentils to your diet is extremely beneficial whether you’re a carnivore or vegan. However, oftentimes a popular little jingle comes to mind when thinking about these little guys…”beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you…” They can pack a big, uncomfortable, rather pungent punch at times. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make them much easier on your digestive system and more of a pleasure to eat.
As I mentioned above, start with fresh dried beans, not the canned stuff. These are going to provide you with the best nutrition and the least contamination. The first and most important step here is to soak your beans and here’s why. Beans contain phytic acid and oligosaccharides that are the main reasons we get digestive upset from eating them. Soaking helps to
You want to soak the beans at least 8 hours to overnight. Among the benefits mentioned, this process also reduces the cooking time. Some say soaking for 1-3 days is even better, so feel free to experiment. However, if soaking for more hours than overnight, change out the water twice a day. I typically just soak them overnight and cook them in the morning or soak them in the morning and cook them when I get back from work. There is also a quick soak method where you can boil the beans
You want to put about 3 times the amount of water as beans to allow room for them to expand. Once the soaking is done, make sure to rinse the beans and put them in a pot with clean water that covers them about an inch or two. Bring them to a boil for about 10 minutes, skimming off any foam that accumulates on top of the water. Then cover and continue to cook on a low to medium setting until beans are fully cooked and tender. This can take anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour.
Another great tip to help with the digestibility of beans is to add a piece of kombu to the pot when cooking the beans. Kombu is a type of seaweed that comes in a dried form, that contains the necessary enzymes to assist in breaking down the oligosaccharides and
Very popular in Indian cooking is adding certain spices to beans and lentils that support better digestion. Some popular ones are ginger, turmeric, fennel, coriander, cumin and asofetida.
PRACTICE PROPER FOOD COMBINING
It’s said that beans are better digested when paired with whole grains and vegetables. Eating them with meats and other forms of protein and dairy can lead to digestive issues.
CHEW YOUR FOOD
Your mouth is the first point of digestion for your food. The more you chew your food, the less work the rest of your digestive system has to do to break it down and less opportunity for digestive discomfort. Therefore, make sure you eat slow, savor and enjoy each bite and chew thoroughly.
EAT WITH FERMENTED FOODS
Adding fermented foods such as fermented vegetables, pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut to your meals