Black Beans

Black Beans ~ Super Beans

Both dried and canned they're available throughout the year.

Dried, they're generally available in prepackaged containers as well as in bulk bins.

They couldn't be more succinctly and descriptively named.

They're commonly referred to as turtle beans, probably in reference to their shiny, dark, shell-like appearance.

With a rich flavor that has been compared to mushrooms, they have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking.

Health Benefits

This super food is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes.

In addition to lowering cholesterol, their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, they provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.

You may already be familiar with beans' fiber and protein, but this is far from all they have to offer.

Loaded with Antioxidants

When researchers analyzed different types of beans, they found that, the darker the bean's seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity.

Gram for gram, black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity, followed in descending order by red, brown, yellow, and white beans.

Overall, the level of antioxidants found in the black variety in this study is approximately 10 times that found in an equivalent amount of oranges, and comparable to that found in an equivalent amount of grapes or cranberries.

Lower Your Heart Attack Risk

The contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate and magnesium these beans supply.

It's been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%.

Just one cup of cooked black beans provides 64% of the DV for folate.

Their good supply of magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects.

Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker.

When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

Black Beans Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, their soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, these beans can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.

Iron for Energy

In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, these beans can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores.

Although the tannins in black beans may block absorption of some of the iron they contain, a cup of these beans contains so much iron, 20.1% of the daily value for this important mineral, that you'll still benefit.

Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, adding to their iron stores is a good idea, especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, these legumes are low in calories and virtually fat-free.

Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.

Manganese for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defense

This super food is a good source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential co-factor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses.

Protein Power & Then Some

If you're wondering how to replace red meat in your menus, enjoy the rich taste of these beans.

These smoky flavored beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods.

And, when you get your protein from these legumes, you also get the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of the soluble fiber provided by these versatile legumes.

A cup of black beans will provide you with 15.2 grams of protein (that's 30.5% of the daily value for protein), plus 74.8% of the daily value for fiber.

All this for a cost of only 227 calories with virtually no fat.

How to Select and Store

Whether purchasing them in bulk or in packaged containers, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are whole and not cracked.

Canned varieties can be found in most markets.

Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned and those you cook yourself.

Tips for Preparing Black Beans:

Before washing, spread them out on a light colored plate or cooking surface to check for, and remove, small stones, debris or damaged beans.

After this process, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.

To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, black beans should be presoaked (presoaking has been found to reduce the raffinose-type oligosaccharides, sugars associated with causing flatulence.)

There are two basic methods for pre-soaking.

For each, you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan and adding two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours.

The alternative method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment.

Before cooking the beans, regardless of method, drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.

To cook the beans, you can either cook them on the stovetop or use a pressure cooker.

For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans.

The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans.

Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot.

If any foam develops, you can skim it off during the simmering process.

Black beans generally take about one and one-half hours to become tender using this method.

They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare.

Regardless of cooking method, do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been cooked since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.

If you're running short on time, you can always use canned beans in your recipes.

If the black beans have been packaged with salt or other additives, simply rinse them after opening the can to remove these unnecessary additions.

Canned beans need to only be heated briefly for hot recipes while they can be used as is for salads or prepared cold dishes like black bean salad.

Check out this recipe; Black Bean & Turkey Salad

Or, you can try this one.

Black Bean Chili


This is not your ordinary chili but reflects the rich combinations of ingredients found in real Mexican cuisine.

It has tons of flavor, and we love it.

It’s best sprinkled with lots of cheese, sliced black olives, scallions and cilantro.

You might even think of it as a bean mole, since it combines many of the spices and ingredients, including both chili powder and cocoa powder, usually found in mole poblano.

Ingredients:

• 1 lb. (2 c.) dried black beans

• 6 c. water

• 6 allspice berries

• 1 stick cinnamon

• 1 tsp. cumin seed

• 1 tsp. coriander seed

• 1/4 tsp. aniseed

• 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

• 1 medium onion, diced

• 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

• 1/4 c. diced red bell pepper

• 1/4 c. diced green bell pepper

• 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano

• 1 to 2 Tbs. chili powder

• 1/4 c. cocoa powder

Toppings:

• 1/2 c. sour cream or nonfat yogurt

• 1/4 c. thinly sliced scallions

• 1/2 c. sliced black olives

• 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation;

1. Rinse beans thoroughly and place them, along with water, in a large slow cooker.

2. In a spice mill or mortar, grind allspice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and aniseed.

Add spices, along with tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell peppers, oregano, chile powder and cocoa powder to beans.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until beans are tender.

Turn slow cooker to high.

3. Continue cooking on high with lid slightly ajar for 1 hour longer.

4. Ladle chili into bowls.

Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of scallions, olives and cilantro.

Ahhh . . . I love this stuff.

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