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Beans 101: Cooking Beans

black and kidney beans

Cooking Beans

People are uncertain when it comes to cooking beans.

Many people, for as much as we might joke or sometimes get annoyed by being questioned about it, really worry about getting enough protein on a vegan diet. We live in a culture that has brainwashed the majority into believing we need way more protein than we do. In reality, our need is less many think. Our basic requirement is approximately 0.3-0.4gms/lb of body weight.

There is more than enough protein available in a vegan diet. In truth, you need to give it far less thought than people realize because all plants have the components to supply good quality protein. In addition, it is far more affordable than animal protein, allowing you to make more healthful choices for much less of your food budget.

Consider the bean. 

Buy them in a 15oz can and you spend around $1, give or take. By them dry and you spend about $1 per pound. One pound of dried beans is approximately 2 cups. Beans expand when cooked. So for that $1 you can get 5 – 6 cups of cooked Adzuki beans, black beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, navy beans or brown lentils to name a few. Each bean has approximately 14-16 grams of protein in a cup.

Filling up the crock pot
Filling up the crock pot
Beans are versatile, nutrient dense, low in fat and high in fiber. They easily replace meat in many dishes and recipes are everywhere. The body pretty quickly adapts to digesting them so the initial period of gas and bloating does resolve, especially if you gradually increase the amount you are consuming (the important part is cooking them completely).

The investment they require is in planning.

But, many times neglected pots of boiling water and beans have overflowed on my stove making a disgusting mess. It doesn’t need to be that way: cooking beans can be super easy.

I have found the best way to have them on hand is to use a crock pot.

Put in the dried beans, fill the pot with water, cover, and put on “low”. They will cook over 6-8 hours, so you can put them on before bed, or on the way out the door in the morning. 

tip: If you want to speed up the process, and are in the house, set the crockpot on “high” and check them periodically for doneness.

To check doneness, spoon one out and pinch it between your fingers for desired softness. Simply drain and rinse.

I cook a lot so I can freeze what I don’t use in a freezer bag. Some people suggest freezing them covered with water in a container (but I think that just makes a block of ice). I freeze them flat in a bag, moist but not soaking, so that I can stack them in the freezer and thaw them on the counter quickly.

cooking away
The beans in the crock pot, cooking away

The exception: Lentils cook on the stove in about 40 minutes.

You can see Georgia walk you through it on this clip from our YouTube channel

Georgia is an unpretentious foodie who, at 50, transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a whole foods plant based diet and is loving it. She works as a nurse, plays as a quilter, loves to run, hates to race.
She thinks dogs are actually angels (in dog suits).

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I love how your dog is slurping the water in the background (at the end) lol
    thanks for showing us how to cook beans. I have never ever thought about putting them in a crock pot. Will do that tomorrow, because I really want to try your protein smoothie!!!!

    1. Hi Sandra! Yeah, Hazel always seems to find a way to at least interrupt a video if not photo bomb it! Beans are great in a crock pot – really speeds it up. We also just recently started to use an Instant Pot pressure cooker which REALLY makes it fast. Think “beans from thinking about making them, to being done in about hour and a half – from DRY”!! WOW!
      Let us know what you think about the protein smoothie. I have made it several times since then and it may take some tweaks for your individual taste level. I find most protein powders are just short of awful, so the beans are a big jump up. Start with a smaller amount of the beans and find where you like the taste/texture balance.
      – Greg

  2. I noticed your instructions say to put the crockpot on high but the video says to put it on low. Can you please confirm which it should be? Thanks!

    1. Hi Angela! Thanks for the catch on that (and thanks for watching the video, too ?). Georgia says “low” if you are running it overnight or while you are out. If you want to speed it up, and are in the house, put it on “high” and check periodically. Does this help?
      I’m going to edit the post right now, too.
      – Greg

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