Frugal Nutrition Tips: Should We Eat Beans?

My friend Katie of Kitchen Stewardship has authored some of my most-referenced cookbooks over the years. Her ebooks are the first ones I turn to when I want a good snack for summer travel or a frugal potluck meal.

The pages I’ve printed off from her ebooks have that well-loved look any cook is familiar with, showing splashes, stains, and torn edges. Her bean dip, snack bars, homemade puddings, and soups appear frequently in our meals.

If you haven’t added them to your kitchen collection yet, this is the perfect chance. This week only, she has five of her ebooks available through Bundle of the Week! That means you get basically get five for about the price of one! The bundle includes: Healthy Snacks to Go, The Family Camping Handbook, Smart Sweets, The Everything Beans Book, and Is Your Flour Wet? ebooks.

To give you a taste of the help (and humor) you can find in Kitchen Stewardship books, she is sharing the following guest post and “sneak peek” with us today:

That I wrote a whole book about beans is almost like a vegetarian writing a book about grilling red meat - mushy legumes were one of my most hated foods as a kid, and now I could eat them every day and not get bored.

I can’t say whether my head convinced my tongue to appreciate them once I learned how doggone healthy they are, or if my taste buds just changed over time (don’t remind me that means I’m getting older; I’m in denial) — one way or another, I changed my tune on beans.

There are others who say, “Don’t eat legumes,” for a variety of reasons, many of which I tackle in the info-heavy introduction to the Everything Beans Book. Here’s a sneak peek inside for you:

The Arguments Against Beans
(and Katie’s Tips to Maximize Nutrition)

Although legumes have a fairly good reputation, there are always naysayers with warnings about a given food. Here are the most common reasons you’ll hear people warn against eating beans and my thoughts on them:

1. The iron in legumes isn’t absorbed well by the human body.

Consuming legumes along with Vitamin C gives you a better chance of
absorbing the iron, and even if the system isn’t perfect for this one nutrient, I haven’t heard that it hurts to have unabsorbed iron passing through. Many legume recipes already include tomatoes and colored peppers, which are high in Vitamin C, and including an orange or a side of broccoli with your dinner is another easy way to achieve this balance.

2. Fiber isn’t good for you.

Or is it? Some sources disdain fiber as a naughty nutrient. There’s always an alternative opinion backed by research if you don’t like what you read. However, if you’re not a fan of fiber, sprouting your legumes can reduce the problems there.

3. Beans aren’t a complete protein.

Pair legumes with whole grains to make a complete protein (two grains to one legume serving). Think chili with whole grain cornbread, burritos in whole wheat tortillas or beans and (brown) rice on the side.

Find more information on whole vs. incomplete proteins here:
http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/06/30/monday-mission-learn-about-complete-proteins/.  There’s a printable complementary proteins chart you can put on your fridge on page 90.

There’s another option to be easier on the budget and obtain adequate protein intake. Include some meat in lesser amounts instead of making a completely meatless meal. A meal with as little as 2% meat paired with beans allows the body to assimilate the vegetable protein completely!

Bone broth will also extend the value of the animal protein you include in your menu, so a soup with a bit of meat and some beans is an excellent option.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

4. Beans can be hard on digestion because of the phytic acid.

The overnight soaking process and the long cooking time for legumes should sufficiently reduce the phytic acid for most people (see page 14 for instructions). If you have terrible mineral absorption issues or serious cavities, you may want to see if things get better without legumes, but for most of us, we’re not going to avoid 100% of phytic acid anyway.

5. Legumes have lots of carbs and will make you gain weight.

First, the carbohydrates in legumes are complex and paired with protein, so they’re quite effective for losing weight overall. A friend lost ten pounds in a month by cutting grains and sugar and including legumes three times a day. Second, you can also reduce the overall carb load considerably by sprouting your beans.

6. There are dangers to home-cooked kidney beans because of a toxic protein called phytohemagglutinin.

Yes, kidney beans can have a dangerous lectin that causes extreme intestinal distress if even a few beans are eaten raw, but soaking and boiling for just 10 minutes completely deactivates the toxin. I can’t imagine that 4+ hours on your stove wouldn’t be enough. It is sometimes recommended that one avoid the slow cooker method for kidney beans, if you’d like to play it safe. Just don’t eat crunchy or sprouted, raw kidney or cannellini beans. [sources: 1, 2]

If you’d like to see an example of a recipe with all its options and FAQs, you can get a larger excerpt from the book HERE.
By the way, you don’t need a special eReader, Kindle, etc. These ebooks download as PDFs, easily read on any computer.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase through my links. Thank you for your support!

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