Legumes and pulses are often associated with bloating, gas, explosive toilet experiences and misdigestion in general. This was my take on them too, so while I was not totally avoiding them, I ate stews and chilly beans not more often than twice a month.
I recently prepared a stew differently and all the above mentioned problems sort of went away. Like usual, I completely immersed myself into the subject of bean preparation. 1 full day of research on beans. Over 200 lengthy articles, videos and podcasts and some scientific literature on oligosaccharides and phytic acid. 18hours on beans.
Phytic acid, the form of phosphorus found in vegetables bound to a mineral. It protects cereal grains being more likely in the outer shell and also secures the proteins in beans in the inner part of the seed. We must remove as much of this as possible. Why? As we break down phytates to phytic acid, it can rebind itself with other minerals, leaving the body unabsorbed. This can cause mineral deficiencies of iron, manganese or zinc. However, iron for instance is not that welcome in the colon, and phytic acid could prevent it from entering, therefor reducing the risk of colon cancer.
It is suggested, that it can bind itself to unstable minerals, decreasing the chance of free radical creation, but also to heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Stated by many nutritionist, that phytic acid can increase natural killer cell growth, reducing cancer risk and to help eliminating the side effects of chemotherapy. There are many other benefits, what science tells us about this phytate compound, but in general if beans prepared well, we don’t have to worry about the pros or the cons, just enjoy our stew.
Humanly impossible to digest carbohydrates. The amount of oligosaccharides in beans and lentils are lot higher than the enzyme needed to break them down in humans. Mostly heat can eliminate the enzymes protecting these, but long soaking too. Specially formulated vegan and non vegan digestive enzymes are also commercialised to help in bean digestion. I don’t see the point though, as if you had really hard time processing them, you can totally live without beans.
Many cultures don’t even ever consume any legumes, pulses or grains, but still thrive. They have a lot of benefits, like high mineral and protein content, vitamins, prebiotics, but they are replaceable with so many other foods. A dish of sweet potato, some fish, prepared with a fresh salad composed of lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber with a side of sauerkraut and you’ll have a complete protein, fat and carb source with all the existing vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and beneficial bacteria. Don’t overthink nutrition, there is no such things as must ! You don’t have spinach ? Get some nettles and plantain, they are for free. Cannot afford fish ? Guess what, you can collect crickets, snails, snakes and many other non-protected wild edibles for free, or just go spear-fishing.
This is the whole point of this article. I bought about 3 bags of beans 4 years ago. They really passed their expiry date. 06/2015 . However they still sprout after 2 days of soaking ! There is still life in them. Since time of purchase, I tried everything to soften them up:
- Changing water 4 times during a 48hour soak, then cooking for 12 hours
- Adding vinegar or lemon drops to the water
- Cooking them for 24hours on low heat
- After they had been soaked, I waited till they really sprouted, then cooked them
- I added 2 spoons of sauerkraut juice and left the beans for 24hours on the radiator (heater)
- I added probiotic fermented coconut water to the beans for 24 hours
Nothing worked and they stayed uncooked and crunchy. Eating them like this is unpleasant, but you also have ridiculous amount of gas afterwards. As I said, with this particular batch of beans, I tried a lot of different methods.
I nearly gave up after I read in some recipe post-scripts, that once legumes really passed, there are some irreversible chemical changes in their structure and nothing can be done about this. Although, there is one single thing, I haven’t gone through. Instead of acidic, using a complete alkaline environment for soaking. Yes, I am talking about baking soda. I poured boiling water on my beans and added a giant heaped table spoon of baking soda. It created a very creamy white liquide, but after an hour of sitting the water was bean coloured. Then just an hour of cooking and they already were softer then ever. 2 hours more of slowcooking, salted and spiced, with potatoes, tomato, chickpeas, carrots and beef-heart. I had a wonderful stew with creamy and soft beans !
How will I do the next time ?
- Warm soaking overnight, with a spoon of vinegar in the water
- Morning Rinse
- Boiling water and baking soda for an hour to 90minutes
- Cold Rinse
- Cook till medium soft, then add veggies and spices
I don’t say, that there is no gas production, but instead of every 5 minutes, you ‘pass’ once or twice an hour. That is 8 to 10 times less methane ! What I also find that a vegetable stew with beans digest very clearly. However, if I added meat, fish, bread, rice, pasta, corn or basically anything else in addition, it hinders digestion of probably both beans and side-dish. I might still cook quality smoked lard, bacon, beef heart or even chicken drum-sticks in my soup, but would serve them as cold cuts in the morning for breakfast.
Basic bean stew recipe:
- Cook prepared beans till nearly ready: around 3 to 400 grams
- 2L to 3L of water
- 2 to 3 potatoes
- Big table spoon of salt
- 6 carrots
- Parsley or stinging nettles
- 2 onions and 4 cloves of garlic
- Colombo spice mix, red and black pepper and a bay leaf
- Celery root chopped
- 5 tablespoons of EV olive oil
- Cook all slow from 3 to 10hours
- Add meat if needed, but not necessary. You can add bone left over to enhance taste and texture if wanted.
I love slow cooking, but it consumes way too much electricity as I don’t have principal gas supply. I often stick to 3 to 4 hours of preparation on a little higher heat.
Enjoy your beans, if you liked them, but don’t be afraid to completely ignore them and focus on other vegetables and fruits. You won’t miss out on anything don’t worry !