Monday, January 14, 2013

Seven Recipes for Beans - Post Holiday Cleaning

Welcome to the January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Recovering from the Holidays This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about how their families get back to normal after the holidays are over. ***
To say that I overindulged in the holidays this year is like saying Richard Simmons has frizzy hair. I know I over did it, and that's not typical for me.
I try to eat fairly healthy. I love vegetables and have a strange fondness for beans that others don't really get. I haven't been eating well lately, and coming off of a really restrictive diet a few weeks ago caused me to lose sight of my healthy eating goals, in a really big way.  

I don't want to add up how many cookies, peanut butter balls, pieces of fudge, or coconut macaroons I have eaten in the last week. Nope, I'm not going to do that to myself. But I can tell you that I feel BAD, physically. My muscles feel weak and tired, my head feels foggy, my stomach is queasy and has that "sour" feeling that I get when I abuse it. I feel headachy and tired and I want to go to sleep throughout the day. My body is sick on the sugar and butter and trash I have fed it and I long to feel energized, fit and clean inside. I want... beans.

Beans - they are amazing! Honestly, when I would go running (too long ago) I had twice the energy to put those miles out on days when I had beans for early lunch. They provide the right amount of protein to keep muscles moving all day long with out wearing out; they're full of fiber and basically keep you running smooth and clean all throughout the day. One bowl of beans a day will do some amazing things  and you notice the changes pretty quickly.

  • Beans contain plenty of protein for your muscles to do what they need to do throughout the day.
  • Beans contain lots of fiber - both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down by your body, and can help cleanse toxins and other waste that tends to stay in your colon and putrefy. It also contains soluble fiber that can help break down some of that other stuff and process it more easily.
  • Beans are positively loaded with antioxidants which can help combat toxins in your body. FYI, the darker the beans, the more antioxidants they tend to have.
  • Beans help you feel full, and stay full longer. They are what is considered a low-glycemic food. The sugars found in beans break down more slowly and steadily, preventing blood sugar crashes that send you running for high processed carbs like bleached flour products and sugary stuff. Ergo, they help to reduce food cravings substantially, and help you lose weight.
  • Beans and other plant based, nutrient rich foods help your body produce more leptin - a hormone generated by our bodies fat cells that controls our appetites and boosts metabolism, giving us even more energy and decreasing our food cravings.

Here are some more recourses for the health benefits of beans and their restorative properties:
Nine Reasons You Should Eat Beans
Beans and Their Healing Power
Beans - A Natural Fat Burner!
WebMD, Beans: Protein Rich Super Foods
10 Best Super Foods
WebMD, Antioxidant Superstars
Prevent Disease Dot Com

Also, check out Hillbilly Housewife's Bean Recipes! She has some terrific recipes. I love the black bean soup, especially.

Although beans are amazing healers and can restore our bodies from the inside out, a bowl of beans a day gets pretty tiring - especially when you're eating the same variety every day. So, here are seven of my favorite bean recipes. You can make a bunch in advance and freeze them individually for convenience, if you like.

 First, some tips and general information about beans:

  • Always allow 4 hours to prepare the bean dishes. You may not need that long, but it's always better to have them finish early and keep warm, than to have to wait on them while you're hungry.
  • Water amounts and cooking times in these recipes are approximate. Use enough water to keep the beans covered, and add more as you need it.
  • Don't boil the beans outside of doing the rapid soak. The skins will burst if you do. It won't hurt them or affect their taste, but they look better and have a better texture if the skins are on.
  • Always cook beans in a large enough pan.
  • If you over salt the beans, you can drain them off in the middle of cooking and add additional water.
  • The older your beans are, the longer they will take to cook. If you have been cooking your beans for hours and they never seem to soften, they may be quite old. It is said that salt and acid in the beans can toughen them, but I've never had issues with that myself.
  • Always sort beans to remove bad ones and small rocks. You can go through ten bags of beans and never find a rock, but you don't want the one you find to be the one that breaks your tooth.
  • You can use canned beans and adapt these recipes, but take care to note the sodium content of the canned beans - and stay away from beans that have preservatives - especially disodium EDTA.  Not only because it is a carcinogenic substance used in house hold cleaners and cosmetics, they make it out if several toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde. Yep, right there in your food.
  • It is said that draining the water the beans have soaked in and cooking them in fresh water can reduce the amount of intestinal gas that results from eating them. I have also heard that adding a tablespoon of sugar can reduce it.
    The scientific fact is that beans produce excess gas because their molecules don't break down much in the stomach - and the job is left to the bacteria in the small intestine.  I've also heard that the more often you eat beans, the easier your stomach can break them down.
    If you are worried about producing excessive gas, take a beano tablet and also reduce the amount of onion/garlic and other odor producing foods you put into the beans.

Ham and Beans with Banana Cornbread
Although this recipe is very basic, it's perfect for the day after holidays. The simplicity is pretty welcome after a big extravagant meal the day before.

Basic Ham and Beans
Ham (either bone from left over Christmas Ham, or a pound of ham cubes
1tbsp. oil
1 cup onion, diced small
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1lbs. dry pinto beans - sorted, rinsed and soaked
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 cups of water (approximately)

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add your onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until it browns at the edges (caramelized garlic is so sweet and nutty!). Add your ham. If using cubes, put a little sear on them. If using the bone from a left over ham, immediately add water, brown sugar and salt and pepper.
Bring the beans to a boil and turn the heat down to low. Cover with a lid and simmer for one to two hours, stirring occasionally and checking the water level.

Banana Cornbread
1 cup of milk
2 ripe bananas
1 egg
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400F. and grease an 8"x8" pan (or line a muffin tin). Beat milk, egg and  bananas until the banana chunks are broken up. Add remaining ingredients. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Apple Bacon Black-eyed Peas

1lbs. black eyed peas, rinsed, sorted and soaked
1/2 lbs. hickory smoked bacon, cut into half inch pieces
1 granny smith apple, cubed small (leave the peal on)
1/2 cup minced onion
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Enough water to keep beans covered

In a large pot, start cooking your bacon. Leave the fat in the pan and add in your onion, garlic and apple. Cook until it breaks down. Add in your beans, water, cinnamon and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low with a lid on until the beans are tender - usually about one to two hours.

Chicken and Navy Beans with Cheesy Vienna Style Bread

Chicken and Navy Beans
2 lbs. chicken meat, boned and skinned
1 lbs. navy beans - sorted, rinsed and soaked
1 tbs. oil
1 onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, pealed and diced
1 tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika (smoked, if you have it)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 can stewed tomatoes, broken up
1 can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Cilantro
Six to eight cups of water or chicken stock

In a large pot, heat your oil. Add in the onion and the carrot. Cook until soft. Add in garlic and lightly brown.  Add in your liquid, tomatoes and tomato sauce, chili powder, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook on low for one to two hours until the beans are soft.
Add in the cilantro and cook for 10 more minutes.

Cheesy Vienna Style Bread
When I'm talking about Vienna Style Bread,  I mean THIS. However, I don't bake my own, I buy Roma Brand, which is a local bread company in my city.

Slice your bread (if you didn't buy pre-sliced) and butter it on one side. Heat a skillet over medium, and lay the buttered side down. Add a slice of provolone cheese and cook until the buttered side is browned.
Yah. It's hard. It's like, half a grilled cheese sandwich.

Beef Chili

2 lbs. ground (extra lean) beef
1 lbs. red kidney beans - sorted, rinsed and soaked
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup of onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tbs. cocoa powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 cups of water (or so)

In a pot, brown the beef. Add in the onion and garlic, cook until soft. Drain the fat.
Add in the cans of stewed tomatoes and break up with a spatula. Add chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper and cocoa powder. Let cook for 10 minutes, so that the flavors are well infused.

Add in the beans, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer with a cover for one to two hours. Check the beans regularly to add in more water as needed.

I like my chili topped with sour cream and cheddar, lettuce and tomato and served with corn chips.

Red Beans and Rice

This is not a very healthy meal, when you put in the beef smoked sausage, but I love it. I try to cut down on the sausage in my portion. You can also substitute turkey sausage, or omit it altogether, if you wish.

2 lbs. Beef Smoked Sausage, sliced
1 lbs. red beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced small
1 bell pepper, diced small
2 cups fat free beef stock
4 cups water
2 cups uncooked brown rice
3 tbs. Cajun Seasoning
In a large pan, sauté your beef sausage. Without draining the fat (you may need to add more oil), add in your vegetables (add the garlic last, when the rest are half way finished cooking). Add the beef stock and water, the Cajun seasoning and the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for one to two hours until the beans are tender.

Cook the rice according to instructions. Serve the beans and beef mixture over the rice, or stir the rice in.

Refried Beans

Refried beans are wonderful to cook yourself. I always have a bag of pinto beans in my cupboard for making refried beans. Whether you wrap them in tortillas, eat them with corn chips, or form them into patties for making burgers, you can make a bunch ahead of time and freeze it. You'll also find it hard going back to store bought ones!

1 lbs. pinto beans - sorted, rinsed and soaked
1 tbs. oil
1 cup of onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tps. pepper

In a large pot, heat your oil and sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Add your soaked beans and water. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat. Cook on low, simmering for one to two hours until the beans are soft. Drain the beans fully. Any liquid left in the beans will make them runny when you mash them.
You may mash the beans with a potato masher, or run them through a blender. The beans will be light in color when you mash them up. They certainly won't look much like canned beans. Add your seasonings in, adjusting to your preference. Place them back into the pot and cook over medium heat until heated through and they darken.

Homemade tortillas are simple to make and go wonderfully with your refried beans!

Black Bean Salad

This salad is great to put on a regular garden salad, or add some chicken to it and have it on tacos. Add some quinoa for texture, or eat it with couscous

1 tbsp. oil
1 cup onion minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lbs. black beans - sorted, rinsed and soaked
6 cups of water

1 cup of ham, finely minced
1 cup of red bell pepper, chopped small
1 cup of corn (frozen, thawed)
2 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbs. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/3 cup of green pimento stuff olives, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup of rice vinegar
1/3 cup of oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic until the garlic begins to caramelize. Add the beans and water, cook for one to two hours until the beans are soft. Let the beans cool at least to room temperature, place them in a large bowl.
Add in the ham, corn, bell pepper, parsley, cilantro, and olives.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the vinegar and oil, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the bean salad and mix gently so you don't mash the beans.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting this March!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Pinterest Inspiration for Easier Winter Holidays Shannon, writing at Natural Parents Network, shares inspiration for having more relaxed winter holidays from their Handmade Holidays Pinterest board.
  • Seven Recipes for Beans - Post Holiday Cleaning — Destany at They Are All of Me shares her favorite bean recipes that she hopes will help her body recover from overindulging her sweet tooth during the holidays.
  • The Recovery in the Change — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen made changes in her life and attitude throughout 2012 and was pleasantly surprised at how those changes impacted her holiday recovery!
  • Could this question change your life for ever? — To get your new year off on the right footing, Mrs Green of Little Green Blog is challenging us all to love ourselves with commitment and discipline. She asks you to focus on a simple question which might just bring you back in balance...
  • Holiday Recovery — Meegs at A New Day talks about how the holidays can be overwhelming for a toddler, and how she's helping her 3 year old recover.
  • 5 Ways to Detox After the Holidays — Brittany at The Pistachio Project gives a few ways to help you detox and get back on track after the holiday season has passed.
  • 3 Simple Ways to Establishing Rhythm After the Holidays or Any Time — Sheila at A Living Family shares 3 simple ways to reestablish a rhythm of connection and calm in your family after holidays, visitors, travel or any time.
  • Gemstones For Holiday Hangoverss — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama delves into the power of gemstones as an often overlooked means of dealing with the holiday letdown.
  • Getting back to Healthy — Bess at A Warrior Mom talks about the struggle of getting young ones back to eating healthy after several days to weeks of getting more candy and sweets than normal for the holidays and gives some suggestions on how to get them back to eating healthy in the new year.
  • Post Christmas Juice Feast — Sam at Love Parenting explains why she has created a new tradition of juice feasting, and how she includes her toddler when detoxing.
  • The Java Monkey On My Back — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs realizes it is time to kick her cup of Joe habit as a first step toward detoxing.
  • Minimalist Holidays — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn't find much need for recovery after her minimalist version of the holidays.
  • Do something for you — Lauren at Hobo Mama urges you to find a silly and indulgent reward of me-time — and she has hers.
  • do we recover? — Kenna at Million Tiny Things wonders what recovery really means in the context of the tragedies of this past holiday season.
  • 37 Easy Ways to Save Money — Shannon at GrowingSlower is sharing these money-saving tips to help get your budget back on track after the holidays.
  • A Two Year Old's ResolutionsThat Mama Gretchen is putting the holidays behind her with a spin on traditional resolutions — New Year's goals for her two-year-old! Sound crazy? Read on for an explanation!
  • How to Find Balance after the Holidays — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her favorite ways to start a new year with hope and calmness.
  • Fresh Awakening — For Luschka at Diary of a First Child, the new year has coincided with a return to restful nights. With sleep, she's found new directions in life, but while she can't make too many changes to her life right now, she's inspired and excited about the future.
  • Learning to slow down after a busy Festive Season Stoneageparent describes the joys and lows of this year's festive season, as well as her New Year's resolutions.
  • Detoxing' Your Toddler After the Holidays — Does your family suffer side effects from the holidays? Join Christine from African Babies Don't Cry to learn how she detoxed herself and her toddler off the treats and festivities of the season.
  • Scheduling is OK! — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep explores the possibilities of the — SCHEDULE!!
  • We're Saving their First Christmas for Next Time — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot takes it easy after moving with her husband and new babies to Scotland.
  • A Vacation from the World — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children retreats with her family at the end of every year in order to recuperate and enjoy one another.
  • On the Road to Recovery — Dionna at Code Name: Mama isn't just recovering from the holidays, she's recovering from a lifestyle.
  • We Never Left the GrindErika Gebhardt compares a typical day pre-holidays and post-holidays.
  • Remembering and Recovering from the Holidays (One day at a time) — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM is recovering from holidays slowly--taking one day at a time--while trying to remember all the sweet moments that passed too quickly.
  • 5 a Day — To get back on track Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy needed a simple system to help her family learn new values.
  • Holiday Detox & Healing: Bieler Broth — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her secret for a gentle, whole-foods-based post-holiday detox: Bieler Broth!
  • I'm Mama Not Supermom — After a year filled with changes Angela at EarthMamas World has to remind herself that she does not have to be supermom while recovering from the holiday chaos.


  1. I never knew refried beans were so simple! You've enlightened me :D I LOVE beans too but I must admit to buying in cans - albeit organic beans. But I've never experimented and have been a bit scared of cooking them without poisoning us. AND I wondered if cooking them yourself was cost-effective as they seem to take so long. But You've convinced me to have a go; thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful! There's nothing wrong with canned beans, if they work for you. I have a hard time finding them without the chemicals. They put some freaky stuff in nonorganic varieties. It is much more cost effective to cook them yourself though. I prefer to cook a large batch on the weekend and freeze them into can-sized portions.

  2. I have to say, I've almost become more of a ham for special occasions girl than a turkey girl (which is almost a sacreligious statement in my parents' house), simply because I want to use leftovers for ham & beans. We *love* our ham and beans. We should have a ham & bean swap sometime!

    1. A bean swap! I love that idea. :D It's incredible how good something so simple and rustic can taste after the overly rich foods of the holidays.

  3. I am so there with you on wanting to restart with some good eating after all the junk I indulged in over the holidays. I definitely over did it. Other then green beans, I've never been a bean fan. But I might have to give some of these recipes a try.

    1. Thank you for reading! If the only beans you like are green beans, then I say have at them. They are just baby pinto beans!

  4. I <3 beans probably way more than my family wishes I did. :) LOVE all these recipe ideas... great contribution!

    1. Thanks for reading! My daughter exclaimed to me earlier, to get my beans off of the stove because she thinks they stink lol. My family members do not love beans as I do, either.

  5. Thanks for the recipes! I am a bean lover too. My partner and I rarely have time to commit 4 hours to a recipe, so we are big fans of lentils, especially this super-easy recipe that can be mixed up in a few minutes from shelf-stable ingredients and then bakes unattended for an hour: Honey Baked Lentils.

    1. That recipe looks delicious! I love lentils also, especially in a tomato based soup. I find that cooking a large batch of beans on the weekend and freezing them into portions saves me a lot of hassle. I can't imagine spending 4 hours cooking my lunch every day.
      Thanks for the recipe share!

  6. Oh, yum! I am such a bean fan. I was aghast to learn that many people think chili shouldn't have beans … because I love chili that's ALL beans! Thanks for the recipes and the tips.

  7. Mm, I love beans. Refried beans seem to have the perfect blend of protein, starch, and fat (I make them in olive oil) that just hits the spot, especially if I'm not feeling well. I lived off them when I had morning sickness.

    The trouble is they give me very, very bad gas. I don't care but my husband really objects if I eat beans too often because he doesn't want to be in the house with me! I have tried every prep method ... nothing makes a difference.