Ah, the legume family: that source of cheap, healthy, high-fiber, low-fat, Meatless Friday protein. Need to add a blast of protein to a salad? Throw in some chickpeas! Is your Friday a whirlwind of extracurriculars, and you need a dinner that’s quick as a breeze? Rice and beans can come together within half an hour. Need to puff some protein into your vegetarian taco night? Try black beans or refried. Even the American Heart Association toots the horn of these little diet helpers. Their website cheerfully trumpets,
“Beans are high in minerals and fiber without the saturated fat found in some animal proteins. Eating beans as part of a heart healthy diet and lifestyle may help improve your blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. Adding beans to your diet may help keep you feeling full longer.”
All that sounds great . . . except to those of us sensitive to legumes.
The worst culprit for me is the humble peanut, which can send me into anaphylactic shock. The peanut’s legume brethren can’t kill me, thankfully, but they can make me quite uncomfortably ill—beyond just, ahem, making me “musical” . . . until now!
In case it needs to be said, if you or a family member have/has any kind of food sensitivities, talk to your doctor about how to handle them safely. Thankfully, our family has found success in turning cheap, dried beans (chickpeas, black beans, and lentils) into easily-digested Meatless Friday proteins!
At the recommendation of a friend whose son has the same problem with non-peanut legumes as I do, I tried cooking the aforementioned offenders in my slow cooker for 10 to 12 hours. Miracle of miracles, legumes so prepared no longer made me sick! My understanding is that the long cooking time breaks down the proteins most often responsible for legume sensitivities.
So we now have a cheap way to add fiber and protein to our Meatless Fridays without always falling back on the expense of fish or the fat of cheese. Again, do check with your doctor before trying anything like this, but if you’re interested, here’s our method:
Empty 1 pound bag of dried beans of your choice into your slow cooker.
Cover with water that reaches about two inches over the top of the beans.
Cook on low 10 to 12 hours. Check every few hours to make sure beans are still covered with at least half an inch of water.
Once cooked, allow to cool slightly.
Portion out beans and accompanying broth into approximately one-pint portions. We use wide-mouth canning jars of the type that can also be frozen. We can usually get about four pints of beans plus broth out of one bag of dried beans.
Use right away in any recipe calling for beans, or freeze and thaw when needed.
Copyright 2017 Erin McCole Cupp