Dried beans are among the healthiest foods in the world and are excellent choices for maintaining optimum nutrition. One of the best things about kidney beans is that they are available in fresh or dry for throughout the year. They are also very economical in that they cost little money and yield a large quantity of food when cooked.
Kidney beans are extremely healthy, containing high levels of protein and fiber. Fiber is organic plant matter than the body cannot metabolize, which aids in the digestive process. There are two types of fiber –soluble and insoluble fibers. Kidney beans are an excellent source of both kinds of fibers. A one cup serving of cooked kidney beans provides almost half of the daily recommended amount of fiber that a person should get. Soluble fiber helps to lower a person’s cholesterol by binding with fats in the digestive track and allowing it to pass out of the body without being metabolized. The insoluble fiber in kidney beans helps to prevent constipation and to cleanse the colon. Studies have shown that diets rich in fiber can dramatically reduce the chances of developing colorectal cancer.
Not only do kidney beans contain high amounts of fiber, but they also are sources of complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are simple sugars that the body uses for fuel. Carbohydrates can be labeled as simple or complex, depending on the size of the sugar molecule. Simple sugars are metabolized quickly and can make blood glucose levels elevate quickly. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are digested more slowly, preventing blood sugar levels from spiking. This is particularly desirable for diabetics who have to watch their glucose levels.
Consumption of kidney beans has also been shown to lower the risk of heart attack. Not only do the beans bind cholesterol with fiber, but they also contain folate and magnesium, which have been shown to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.
Kidney beans are also a great source of protein, making them a perfect meat alternative for vegans and vegetarians.
Buying Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are available all year round in fresh, dried, and canned forms. Fresh beans are rare in most markets, but dried and canned beans are supermarket staples. To select dry beans, make sure that the package is dry and that the beans are smooth and whole. When purchasing canned beans, look for beans that have a low sodium content and no preservatives. Dried kidney beans can be stored in a dry place indefinitely.
Prepping Dry Beans
Dry beans are superior to canned beans in terms of texture and flavor but must be reconstituted prior to use. To prepare dry beans for your favorite recipe, you can use the quick soak method or the long soaking method. Here are the steps to the quick soaking method for kidney beans:
1. Boil a large pot of water.
2. Place the dry beans into a pot or heat proof dish, allowing enough room for the beans to be covered by at least 2 inches of water.
3. Pour the boiling water onto the beans, bringing the level of the water at least 2 inches above the surface of the beans.
4. Soak for 1-2 hours.
The following steps outline how to soak beans with the long method.
1. Place the beans into a large pot or container.
2. Cover the beans with at least 2 inches of water.
3. Soak for at least 24 hours.
4. Add water as needed if the water level drops during the soaking time.
Cooking Kidney Beans
Cooking kidney beans is a simple process. Here are the steps to prepare kidney beans:
1. Dice a small onion, 2 ribs of celery, and 2 cloves of garlic.
2. Heat a large pan on medium heat and add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Add the diced vegetables and sauté until the onions are translucent.
4. Add the beans and cover with water or chicken stock by one inch.
5. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves.
6. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
7. Cook the beans until tender.
8. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste and serve or use in other applications.