I absolutely love black beans. I grew up in Miami and confess that I never ate Cuban food, not even once (hanging head in shame). I never had a Cuban sandwich or black beans in any form until about 5 years ago when I read about how nutritious they are. I always knew beans along with a whole grain bread of some sort created a complete protein with all of the essential amino acids. I put lots of red beans in my homemade chili or made amazing vegetarian pinto beans as meat-free meals. But when I tasted black beans I felt as though I had found bean Nirvana. Black beans are like the luxury model of beans. Not only that, but they are so nutritious that to not have them in your diet means you are probably missing some vital health benefits.
Nutritional Value of Black Beans
One cup of boiled black beans contains*:
- 1g Fat
- 0g Cholesterol
- 15.2g Protein – 30% DRI
- 46.4mg Calcium – 5% DRI
- 3.6mg Iron – 20% DRI
- 120mg Magnesium – 30% DRI
- 241mg Phosphorus – 24%
- 0.8mg Manganese – 38%
- 0.4mg Thiamine – 28% DRI
- 256mcg Folate – 64% DRI
- 181mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- 217mg Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- 15g Dietary Fiber – 60%
This doesn’t account for the onions and garlic that I put in my black beans. That will provide even more essential minerals especially potassium.
Health Benefits of Black Beans
I recently became aware of some of the amazing health benefits of black beans. Below are just a few:
- Repair damaged nerves
- Repair connective tissue
- Boost immune system
- Prevent progression of kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes
- Prevent constipation
- Reduce blood cholesterol levels
And let us not forget those EFAs or essential fatty acids. You are getting a huge dose of iron with that healthy fiber. Have any of you taken iron supplements? What happens? You get constipated. Eat black beans instead.
Buying Dried Black Beans
I would be very picky about what black beans you buy and cook. I would not buy black beans grown in China. In my food co-op’s buying club catalog there are several choices for buying black turtle beans in bulk: grown in the USA and not grown in the USA. My food co-op will not buy black turtle beans grown outside of the USA. And I only buy organic black beans. I have purchased and used the bulk beans in the past, and recently made a batch of Eden Food’s Black Beans. I found no difference in the taste and quality. I will say that the Eden Food’s boxed Black Beans were extremely clean when I washed them. No pebbles, skins or half beans that float up and out when washed. So if you are not buying bulk black beans I highly recommend Eden Food’s Black Beans (not affiliated with or sponsored by Eden Foods, by the way). They cost three times as much as non-organic bagged black beans. Are they worth it? Yes. One box, which is one pound, of organic black beans cooks up to nearly 2 quarts of cooked beans. Think about how much 2 quarts of canned organic black beans would cost (in my food co-op organic canned black beans are over $2 per can).
How to Cook Dried Black Beans
Most people are put off by the preparation time of cooking dried beans. I cook mine over a period of a day and a half. But they can be cooked in 2 hours easily, sometimes less. And you can always put them in your slow cooker. Really, what is easier than that?
Soaking: there are two methods to soaking dried beans. Quick soak and slow soak. Yep. Quick soak simply requires placing washed black beans in a pan 4 times the volume of your dried beans, pouring twice the amount of water (1 quart beans, 2 quarts water). Bring to a boil. Immediately turn off heat, cover and allow to sit for 1 hour. That’s it. Slow soak is exactly the same as quick soak except I pour warm water on my washed beans and allow to sit at room temperature overnight (approximately 12 hours). It is perfectly safe.
Rinse those beans!!! Maybe, maybe not. After soaking, I drain and rinse the beans at least two times and begin with fresh water when cooking. This supposedly eliminates gassy reactions (we all know what this is like — and why most people don’t eat beans) by eliminating undigestable sugars. Some people believe that rinsing soaked beans pours out important nutrients, and that long, slow cooking deals with the gas-causing elements. I rinse and slow-cook my beans, so I don’t know which is true.
Time to cook those beans. I add 1 small onion or half of a large chopped organic onion and several whole cloves of organic garlic. No salt yet. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for at least 1 hour. This results in firm beans, or beans that need more cooking. I prefer slow-cooking my beans for several hours. Optional: add ham, bacon, or salt pork for additional flavor.
I then add sea salt, ground cumin and sometimes 1/4 cup of hot salsa (optional). Uncover and simmer for 15-30 minutes or longer until liquid thickens. Enjoy.
At this point you have delicious cooked black beans. Use them in any recipe, strain some for salads, homemade salsa, black bean patties (burger substitutes). I use only black beans in my homemade chili (my children do not like red beans) along with ground beef. They bring a flavor to chili I have not found with any other beans.
Homemade chili: equal amounts of black beans and browned ground chuck, a large can of organic diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes (or any peppers you like), sauteed onion, green pepper and lots of garlic. Simmer on the stove for a few hours or put in slow cooker. Yum, yum.
Bowl of black beans over organic brown rice (cooked in extra water and rinsed to limit arsenic) with salsa and organic sharp cheddar cheese melted on top. Chopped fresh onion and fermented garlic are delicious toppings, too.
Black beans and corn bread. Need I say more? Use whole wheat flour in your corn bread recipe, please, and organic corn meal (non-organic will be GMO corn).
Southwestern Spring Rolls. Oh my, these are delicious. Drained black beans, organic cooked corn kernels, diced tomatoes (drained), onions, and garlic, hot or mild peppers. Wrap and deep or pan fry, or brush with oil and bake.
Black bean burritos: Drained black beans, fresh onions, tomatoes, fermented garlic, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, cheddar cheese wrapped up in an organic whole wheat tortilla.
There are limitless ways to use black beans. When I have black beans in my fridge I eat a small bowl for my first breakfast (a very small breakfast in the early morning hours). Talk about a metabolism booster. Adding black beans to your family’s menu is easy and delicious. Enjoy!