Often I hear from friends that they want to add more beans to their diet, but they don't like the unpleasant side-effects that can occur, like gas and intestinal issues.
My family and I have been enjoying beans as a main part of our diet for years without any issue. They are high in iron, B vitamins and fiber and provide a high-quality, plant-based protein to our meals. You can prepare them SO many different ways, so they never get boring. I can't imagine having to cook without them!
To help those who may find digesting beans a little difficult, I'm sharing some of our favorite tricks to make this super food a little more belly-friendly.
Experiment. All beans aren't created equal, so start with options that are easier to digest.
- Easiest to digest: lentils, mung, adzuki beans and peas
- Harder to digest: pinto, kidney, navy, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, lima and black beans
- Most difficult to digest: soybeans
Give them a good, long soak. Try soaking beans for a few days, changing the water twice daily until a small tail forms on the beans.
Get creative. Experiment with combinations, ingredients and seasonings. Legumes pair well with green or non-starchy vegetables and seaweeds.
Try a new tool. Use a pressure cooker. This also cuts down on cooking time.
While the beans are cooking, add:
...a little salt. Season with Himalayan salt, miso or soy sauce near the end of cooking. Salt is a digestive aid when used correctly. But timing is everything - if it's added at the beginning, the beans will not cook completely.
...fennel or cumin near the end of cooking helps prevent gas.
...kombu or kelp seaweed to the beans helps improve flavor and digestion, adds minerals and nutrients and speeds up the cooking process.
...a little apple cider, brown rice or white wine vinegar into the water in the last stages of cooking to soften the beans and help make them more digestible.
Take enzymes during or immediately after your meal.
Chew beans thoroughly and know that even small amounts are incredibly nutritious and healing.