An opening haiku to celebrate this International event:
rich nutrients of the earth,
Lentils and beans dance.
ABOUT THE CELEBRATION
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is celebrating pulses this year. Pulses are dried beans and peas, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, split peas, fava beans, and black-eyed peas.
So what? What’s the big deal about beans?
Ο they are nutritious, high in protein, fiber, and minerals; low in fat and gluten free.
Ο they are friends of sustainable farming, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides–for example, with the aid of certain bacteria they restore soil by taking nitrogen from the air and adding it to the soil (called ‘nitrogen fixing’).
Ο as cover crops they prevent water and wind erosion, and restore soil nutrients.
Ο climate resilient strains are potential food sources as global warming brings hotter growing conditions.
Ο bean crops offer solutions for hunger and poverty–they store well, can be processed locally, and yield more income than cereals alone (and rotating cereal and bean crops keeps the soil healthy).
The following bean quotes are excerpted from some of my favourite cookbooks:
There are basically five different kinds of meat and poultry, but 40-50 different kinds of commonly eaten vegetables, 24 different kinds of peas, beans, and lentils, 20 different fruits, 12 different nuts, and nine grains. The variety of flavor, of texture and of color lies obviously in the plant world…
—Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet, 1975, Ballantine Books, New York, p.63
BEANS ARE A MEATLESS MENU STAPLE
Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. Albert Einstein
—As quoted by Carollyne Conlinn, Past President (1995) Canadian Dietetic Association in Foreword to Cooking Vegetarian, by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest, 1996, Macmillan Canada, p. vii
Does cooking beans from scratch sound time-consuming? Well, they pretty much cook themselves! You just soak them overnight, change the water, and boil them until very soft, generally 1 to 3 hours, depending on the variety. You may also wish to keep some canned beans on hand, as they are convenient and ready anytime the mood strikes you. Just be sure to rinse them—rinsing canned beans reduces sodium by one-third…
—Neal Barnard, MD and Robyn Webb, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, 2010, Da Capo Press, PA, p. 44
Some more cooking tips:
- You can cook beans overnight in a slow cooker—some chefs use a pressure cooker for faster results.
- Lentils cook fairly quickly.
- Rinsing canned beans removes not only salt but also a foamy liquid that promotes flatulence.
- When cooking beans, skim off any foam.
- For ultimate gas reduction, soak overnight, bring to a boil in cold water, rinse, then re-cover with fresh water and cook until tender.
MENUS and RECIPES
Beans can be appropriate to every course in the meal, as evidenced by their international popularity in soups, dips, stews, casseroles, fritters, salads, and even sweet bean pies for dessert.
—Nikki and David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine, Over 1300 Meatless Wholesome Recipes From Short Order to Gourmet, 1983, New American Library, p.12.
My current bean and lentil recipe favourites include:
- Hummus (chickpea dip: available at the grocery store with other dips, or make at home using a food processor);
- Fiesta Bean Dip (baked bean and melted cheese dip, a hit at family gatherings–as home cooks usually do, I modify the recipe, using meat-free maple beans, marble cheddar for the grated cheeses, and home-blended taco seasoning);
- Summer bean salads such as Black-eyed pea salad;
- Baked beans or lentils for winter and summer (slow cooker or oven baked);
- Rice or quinoa and beans such as Red Beans and Quinoa ; and
- Veggie burgers such as Mushroom and Lentil Sliders.
Nourished blood pulses,
with rich earth nutrient beat,
Lentil and bean dance.
Thank you to What the Ducks! and Palm Rae Urban Potager for hosting Blogger Action Day in celebration of ‘Year of the Bean’, February 17, 2016.
As this is Wednesday, I am also linking this post to Writer’s Quote Wednesday at Silver Threading. If you enjoy reading quotes, I suggest a visit to SilverThreading for Colleen Chesebro’s weekly quote post and links to posts by other participants.
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