I am Full of Beans

Congratulations. If you are reading this, you are thick skinned enough (or just down right curious) to keep reading after you saw the title of this post. But the title is perfect; I am full of beans, both literally and figuratively.

I have mentioned on this blog before how much I love beans. I cook with beans all the time. Beans are an inexpensive, versatile source of protein and fiber and are sooooo good for you. We eat so many beans in this household that I used to buy them in cans by the case. Then I started reading labels.

It turns out that beans, like almost every other processed food, start as health food and in the hands of food processors become junk. We eat mostly black beans, so I will give you a little nutritional comparison using them:

Bush's Best canned black beans (regular) - 1 cup
Calories: 210
Sodium: 860 m (36%)

Trader Joe's canned black beans (low sodium) - 1 cup
Calories: 220
Sodium: 350 m (15%)

Home cooked black beans (no salt) - 1 cup
Calories: 227
Sodium: 2 mg (0%)

So then, you can see what my problem is with canned black beans. You think you are making a healthy choice for your family by serving them beans, but in every cup you are giving them nearly 900 m of sodium in a food that is naturally sodium free. Why do food processors do that? It makes me so mad!

Now that I know the truth about canned beans, I won't use them anymore. Instead I cook my own and freeze them in 1 can size portions. Beans are insanely easy to make and freeze beautifully. Go ahead and give it a try.

Freezer Black Beans (makes 12 cups cooked, or 6 2-cup portions)
Note that I make 2 pounds at a time because my large pot holds 2 pounds fairly well. Increase or decrease the amount you make as your pot demands.
2 pounds dried black beans, picked over
water to cover and cook

Add dried black beans to a large bowl and cover with cool, fresh water. Cover with a tea towel and let sit overnight.

In the morning, drain the water from the bowl and rinse the beans in cool water. Add the beans to a large pot and cover with as much water as you can get in the pot. Cover and set over high heat. Once the pot comes to a boil, boil until just tender (not mushy), about 45 - 60 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans rest until they are cool enough to handle. Once cooled, drain beans and gently rinse with cold water.

Pack your cooked beans in 2 cup portions (this is roughly equivalent to one can of prepared beans) in zip top bags and freeze.


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