We all know the children’s rhyme about beans. They certainly have a bad reputation despite their many redeeming qualities. Really it’s not beans’ fault that they have a stinky reputation, it’s all the fault of sugar. Beans contain sugars that our bodies cannot properly break down. They stay undigested through the majority of our digestive tracks, well at least until they hit our colon. This is where the magic happens that we hear about in rhymes. The undigested sugars become a delicious feast for the bacteria that lives in our colons, and bam, music happens.
Legumes (beans) are packed with fiber, protein, and vitamins, plus they are downright inexpensive! Adding them to your diet is a great way to add variety without breaking the bank. Beans come in many different colors, shapes, sizes and even textures. They aren’t just for vegetarians either, have a look at my Sausage and Chickpea Stew for an interesting way to add beans to your diet while making carnivores happy too! I understand that their “musical” qualities can deter people from giving legumes a fair chance, but luckily there ways to help reduce these effects.
The first step to being able to digest beans better is to introduce them to your diet slowly. Overtime your body will become more used to them and you will become less, um, musical.
Soak your beans. When using dried beans always make sure to give them a good soak before using them. You want to leave them covered in water for at least 8 hours; I just leave mine overnight in the fridge.
Rinse and rinse again. Whether you are using canned or dried beans, always rinse them. For dried beans, give them a good double rinse after soaking but before cooking. For canned beans, drain the liquid from the can and rinse the beans really well before using them.
Add a little somethin', somethin'. In Asia seaweed is known to help the digestibility of legumes and is added during cooking. In other areas of the world spices known to help digestion are added. Consider fennel, cumin or ginger.