No one should graduate high school without knowing this

March 9, 2010


It amazes me that I went through high school and college, was deemed an adult, and walked into the world without a clue how to perform certain basic life functions.

It’s unlikely, but if anyone ever asks me what questions should be on the SATs, I know my answer! Every graduating high school senior should know how to cook a pot of brown rice and dried beans. It could be a short essay.

Beans are ignored far too often. (Except for chickpeas – the darling of hummus!) For such low-cost, high-nutrient dense foods, you would think they’d be a staple in more homes. We complain about the economy, fear for our 401Ks, but do we buy some basic dried beans and feed ourselves well for pennies a day? Do we skip the irradiated, antibiotic-filled supermarket meat and make an affordable, organic choice instead?

I challenge you to do just that! And while you’re at it, teach a high school kid how to do the same. (Expect resistance now, gratitude later.)

Far too many of my clients have no idea how to cook up a pot of dried beans, so here we go with my basic method:

Remember that beans will double in size when they are cooked, so if you need 2 cups cooked beans, start with 1 cup dried.

1. Optional: Soak your beans 8-12 hours. Change the soaking water once or twice. Drain.

2. In a large pot, add beans and enough water to cover the beans by 3″. Optional: add a piece of kombu to the water. The nutrients will be absorbed into your beans.

3. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat. Skim off any foam that appears. Cook anywhere from 20-90 minutes depending on the size of your bean, until soft but not falling apart. Cooking time will be longer if you didn’t soak overnight.

4. Drain water (and discard kombu.) You’re done! You can keep cooked beans in the refrigerator for about a week, or freeze them to use later. You will save money over canned beans and certainly over pizza delivery!

You’ve followed the directions, you’ve cooked ’em up, or maybe – just maybe – you decided today was more of a canned bean day. So be it. Now, what are you going to make with them? Here are bean-y ideas from my repertoire:

Have it your way Rice Bowls
Delicious Breakfast Cookies
Indiasian Mung Beans with Veggie Rice

And some ideas from other healthy food bloggers:

Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad
Tortilla Soup with Pinto Beans
Rock Shrimp and White Bean Skillet with Bacon and Spinach

Have a great bean recipe to share? Leave it in the comments!