Is it green, is it brown or is it white?
Let’s start with the coffee bean – yes, go and make yourself a cup of coffee then settle down ready to read all about ‘the bean’.
Beans are an excellent source of fibre and packed with B vitamins. Beans frequently replace meat as a source of vegetarian protein for vegans.
Beans can be canned, frozen or fresh. If we start by looking at the canned, the most popular is the baked beans in tomato sauce. These can be served hot, cold or added to stews and casseroles. They have a rich tomato flavour, enhancing a big breakfast or cold to complement a delicious fresh salad. Other canned beans are those preserved in water; butter, broad, cannellini, red kidney and black beans. These contain a mixture of protein, fibre, various vitamins of the B group – B1, 2 and 9, Iron, magnesium and manganese. It is easy to see why they are rich in nutrients for the vegan and so aptly replace animal or as we used to call them, first class proteins. Drain and rinse the beans in water before use. These beans enrich a casserole, thicken the gravy and blend well with all the other vegetables you choose to add to the dish you are preparing.
Runner beans can be frozen commercially or at home straight from a market or your own garden. Those from the garden are fresher, contain more nutrients and flavour so if you are a part-way keen gardener grow your own beans, freeze and store!
When cooking beans, flavours can be enhanced by adding garlic, bacon, any herbs and spices as far as your imagination will take you. Toss in butter, add parmesan, or cheddar cheese, a good glaze will be had and such a succulent flavour.
Let’s look at some of the other beans that can now be found in our supermarkets, thanks to travel now being faster and crops being preserved in a speedier manner.
Edamame/Soybeans popular in Asia and consumed in different forms (Tofu being one of them) again can be added to soups and casseroles, served on their own with their flavour being enhanced by a variety of herbs and spices. Soybeans can also be made into oil for body massage.
Black beans are a staple source of food in central and South America. They help maintain healthy bones, nutritionally they have many mineral elements and can be purchased either dried, packaged or canned. As with many other beans, black beans are a great source of fibre, vitamin B1, B9, iron, magnesium and manganese. They can be added to dishes and reduced to liquid in a juicer.
Kidney beans often eaten with rice have a beneficial effect on sugar levels in people with diabetes – be sure to cook them thoroughly.
Haricot beans can have their flavour enhanced by using stronger flavoured foods and adding in the spices and herbs that will lift a dish. They are good, as are all beans, as a substitute protein for vegetarians and add fibre to a delicious smoothie.
There are far too many bean types to mention them all in this blog, but when I think of my garden and all the different bean types I grow out there, they could be divided into 2 or 4 types. If I need space, then I grow some pole beans that have to climb up a trellis or pole – these might be the runner beans. If I have room for a bush and can pop it in amongst the flowers then I grow bush beans as these can be either snap beans, (green beans) where you eat the pod as well as the beans as long as they are cooked, or shell beans where as the name suggests you shell the bean and discard the pod.
Finally, I come to the bean bag! No, I do not grow it, I place lots of polystyrene balls into a ‘chair’ shape, sew it up and sit on it. Hopefully if you have not finished your coffee you could sit on your bean bag, drink coffee from your coffee beans and plan how to cook your next meal using some of the very nutritional beans I have just mentioned.
Written by Chris Pritchard (MD Jace Catering)