Beans, lentils and other legumes come in a huge variety of colors, shapes, sizes and types — and all of them are absolutely loaded with protein. Even just a small handful of beans are tremendously full of protein and proof that no one needs animal meats for protein or for any other reason. Many cultures and cuisines around the world rely almost solely on beans and legumes to supply their dietary proteins and other nutrients and have done this successfully for millennia.
As for fiber — that most important of cancer fighting nutrients — one cup of black beans, for instance, supplies over 15 grams of fiber which is almost two thirds of the daily recommendation. But the same amount of meat, such as beef or pork supplies about 1 gram of fiber or less.
And besides, any food with little or no fiber should generally be avoided. White flour and white potato products illustrate this point pretty well. Foods like white bread and potato chips have little protein and almost no fiber which ensures all of their meaningless calories go almost immediately into fat storage.
Oppositely, beans have been food front runners from antiquity because they somehow manage to contain impressive amounts of all three of the main food groups: Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They really have it all. But where they truly beat out all other vegetables or foods is in their fiber content. Nothing else growing on the planet (other than tree bark!) comes anywhere near to containing the 8 – 16 grams of fiber per cup that is normally supplied by beans.
Case in point: A popular over the counter fiber supplement called Metamucil supplies only 3 grams of fiber per daily dose (like most of the other brands) and that is considered to be a big boost in fiber intake for most people. But why are people paying for this expensive ‘remedy’ when all they really need to do is eat one cup of (very inexpensive) beans which at 15 grams can easily beat out any fiber booster 5 times over!?
And a cup of beans doesn’t only win out in terms of fiber, they also taste wonderful, they go well with other foods, they can be used to make other foods (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a black bean burger!), and just take a look at this incredible list of nutrients for our motley friend, the Pinto Bean:
One cup (171 grams) of cooked pinto beans contains roughly (40):
- Calories: 245
- Protein: 15.4 grams
- Fiber: 15.4 grams
- Folate (vitamin B9): 74% of the RDI
- Manganese: 39% of the RDI
- Copper: 29% of the RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 22% of the RDI
Look at the Protein and Fiber counts! There is simply nothing out there that can come anywhere close to that — except for black beans, garbanzo beans and a few other legumes. Numerous health benefits are also ascribed to beans and legumes, such as lowering of cholesterol and helping to combat diabetes.
But don’t let all that nutritional information distract you from how delicious and supremely edible beans truly are. My own personal favorite is pinto beans, but I think many people have never tried them in all their true glory. So now I want to put forward an easy recipe and a little good advice:
Strong recommendation: Always cook beans from the dried form and don’t bother with canned beans — they should be used as conveniences only, such as when you are adding them to a recipe that is otherwise time consuming. This is because beans that have been industrially cooked, processed and packaged lose over half of their fiber content and much of their true flavor and character.
Beans cooked from the dried simply taste far better than canned. You can prove this to yourself very easily with just one little (or big) crock pot and a few cheap, widely available ingredients:
Easy Home Made Pinto Beans
- Buy yourself a nice 1 pound bag of pinto beans (this will probably cost you less than a dollar). It’s always in the grocery store over by the pasta and the rice.
- Pour out about 1 1/2 cups of beans into a bowl or the removable ceramic crock pot if you have one of those (for “OnePot” or “Instapot” this should work about the same)
- Wash and immerse the beans under the faucet and drain off that water (this is a hold over from the days when there were rocks and sticks in the beans and you actually had to strain them).
- Now add fresh water to the bowl or pot, enough to completely cover the beans plus at least an inch more of water.
- Let the beans soak for about 3-4 hours (or until they are nice and plump looking) or simply let them soak overnight.
Once the beans are nice and plump be sure and pour off the water they soaked in. Then once again, add back enough fresh water to cover the beans plus an inch or two more.
And now we’re ready for ingredients:
- 1.5 cups of beans
- at least 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon of Fiesta (or other brand) Pinto Bean Seasoning
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Tabasco sauce (just a few squirts to heighten taste. These beans are not supposed to be hot)
- 2 tablespoons Braggs Liquid aminos or just plain soy sauce will work fine
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
Note 1: (All of these ingredients are really needed to make good ole fashioned pinto beans like what I grew up with — but the make or break is definitely the “Fiesta Brand” Pinto Bean Seasoning — you gotta get some of that stuff, it’s sold everywhere, and it will become one of your new best friends in the kitchen. It is a great all round seasoning that can be used on other foods — but none to as great effect as pinto beans!)
Note 2: (The Tabasco sauce is going to become your other new best friend in the kitchen. It is simply wonderful and used for taste enhancement more than adding heat. My mother would add it to every vegetable dish she made. But be gentle when squirting it into the bean pot. There is already some chili powder in the Pinto Bean Seasoning and that is heat enough for this recipe.
6. Now simply add all the ingredients listed above into the pot, give a stir or two, put on the lid and cook on low or medium for about 3 hours, or on high for about an hour and a half (or until beans are soft and completely tender).
7. The last thing to do just before putting on the lid is adding the 3-4 cloves of garlic. Important: The garlic cloves do impart flavor to the beans and bean broth but they are mainly there to soak up any gassy content from the beans (to prevent them from earning their nickname, “musical fruit.”)
7. Check a few times during cooking to make sure the beans don’t run low on liquid (if they do, just add a little more water)
8. Important last steps: Taste the beans before removing from the crock pot and add anything that seems to be lacking tastewise — and Remove the used Garlic cloves that cooked with the beans and throw them away (they’ve done their job and you don’t want to eat the gassy stuff they have absorbed).
And that’s it. This is all you need for a taste experience that will not only make you a bean lover if you weren’t one before, but you probably won’t be tempted to go back to canned beans ever again. And you may realize, as millions of other people have, that there is no need to for animal proteins, not as long as there are seeds, nuts, legumes, peas, and of course, beans!