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Dry Beans: cheap, nutritious and taste great!

December 2, 2009 • Paige

I have been married for sixteen years. (Go us!) For about fifteen and a half of those years, we thought we hated dry beans! I tried many different methods of soaking, slow cooking , you name it… I tried it. We just couldn’t stand the texture. I thought I would never find what works for us. My mother-in-law gave us an electric pressure cooker for Christmas in December of 2008 and now that is how I prepare dinner almost every night.
Here”s what she told me to do:

Sort and rinse dry beans, then boil them hard for about a minute. Dump out the water and put the beans in the pressure cooker with some more water and whatever spices we like, then put the lid on and set it to cook on high for 30 minutes or so.

VOILA!!! Dry beans that we will eat. I estimate that this tip has saved us $100 or more each month on groceries.
Now we have cut our meat intake by 70%. Yes… we’re eating only 30% of the meat we ate before I got the pressure cooker. On the average, we are eating a beans-and-rice type meal five nights per week.
Here is my basic recipe:

Sort and rinse beans, set them on the stove to boil. When they have been at a rolling boil for a minute or two, dump out the water, add fresh water and boil once more. I’m told this helps to reduce the gas, and it seems to work!
Meanwhile, brown a tiny amount of bacon with the “brown” setting on the pressure cooker . I keep a package of bacon in the freezer and just shave a little bit off the end for a nice flavor. 1 lb of good, thick bacon will last me a month this way!
Cut up a small amount of chicken. I use a half-breast or 2-3 tenders, or just any little bit of meat I have on hand. (You don’t really need any meat with the beans.) Toss the diced chicken in the pressure cooker and brown a bit.
Toss in some diced onion and celery. Add some garlic and whatever spices you like. We like fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano, sometimes some chili powder.
Add the twice-boiled beans and some fresh water. I usually also add about a half-cup of quinoa and a little extra water.
Secure the lid and cook for about 35 minutes.
Enjoy over brown rice.

Note: If you want to add anything acidic like tomatos, cook the beans most of the way done then add them for just the last few minutes. It takes a little while to depressurize the cooker first, so most of the time I don’t use tomato at all.

A one-pound package of dry beans costs around a dollar, and contains thirteen (1/4 cup) servings.
One-fourth cup of cooked dry beans or peas counts as 1 ounce equivalent of meat, fish or poultry
Dry beans and legumes are an excellent source of protein.
Beans are high in fiber, folate and magnesium, and very low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.

Recipe for low fat chocolate chip pecan cookies using beans to replace the fat!!

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