Celebrating National Bean Day | Natural Gourmet Institute

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Celebrating National Bean Day

Posted January 3, 2019

As kids growing up, many of us sang a version of a song about beans, the magical, musical fruit. Turns out, there’s a seed (or two) of truth in that song!

On January 6 of each year, we celebrate National Bean Day and its proximity to New Year’s Day—that day that so many of us start our personal improvement plans—is perhaps serendipitous. As we close in on our first week in the new year, National Bean Day is a reminder to add a healthy food to our diets.

Beans are magical! They are low in fat, high in fiber, are a good source of protein, and are rich in other nutrients including folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium. You can find them dried (our preference) or canned in most grocery stores, which makes them accessible as well as affordable. To top it all off, they are incredibly versatile and almost every culture incorporates beans into its diet. Add whole beans to soups, stews, and salads; mashed beans make an excellent addition to burgers, meatballs, and brownies (check out our decadent and delicious double-chocolate black bean brownie bites); and pureed beans make a delicious dip or spread.

Here are some tips for cooking with beans:

  • Pick and soak your beans. When working with dried beans, make sure you inspect them for stones, dirt, or other debris. Rinse them well then soak overnight in water. When you’re ready to cook your beans, drain and rinse the beans and follow your recipe.
  • To salt or not to salt? The research is in: salt your beans during the soaking process and again during the cooking process.
  • Harness magical kombu for less musical beans. A fantastic tip I picked up during a class at NGI was to add kombu to the beans during the cooking process. Its enzymes break down the compounds that not only cause gas (making a more enjoyable experience) but also inhibit nutrient absorption.
  • Drink water. Beans contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, so make sure you drink water to keep your gastrointestinal system happy.

For an incredibly warming and delicious dish, try this vegan cassoulet.

ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLE AND WHITE BEAN CASSOULET
(Serves 6-8)

For the Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 large carrot, cut into ¼-inch, diagonal slices
  • 1 large parsnip, cut into ¼-inch, diagonal slices
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the Tomato and White Beans

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into ½-inch squares
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cans Great Northern beans, drained

For the Breadcrumb topping

  • ¾ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.
  2. Toss carrots and parsnips in bowl with olive oil. Spread in an even layer on prepared baking sheet and roast until browned, around 15-20 minutes.
  3. In 10-inch sauté pan, warm olive oil. Add sliced onion and sauté over medium heat until nicely browned. Stir in garlic and sauté for another minute.
  4. Add tomatoes, sea salt, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté until tomatoes are soft. Stir in beans.
  5. Prepare breadcrumb topping in a small bowl: Toss bread crumbs with olive oil. Mix in thyme leaves.
  6. In 2-quart casserole dish, layer half of the bean mixture. Arrange half the roasted vegetables on top in an even layer. Repeat with remaining bean mixture and roasted vegetables.
  7. Top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until browned.