Dr. Perricone's No. 4 Superfood: Beans and Lentils
Generally speaking, the larger the bean, the longer they need to soak: and the longer you soak beans, the faster they cook. Dried chickpeas, beans and whole dried peas need about eight hours of soaking.
If you forget to soak them the night before, just do it before you leave in the morning and they'll be ready to cook when you get home. Or, add three times the amount of water as beans, bring them to a boil for a few minutes, remove from the heat, and let sit for an hour. Throw out the soaking water, and cook as normal. You can also use a pressure cooker, which will reduce the cooking time by more than half, and reduce nutrient loss. (Of course, you can just drain and rinse canned beans, and add them directly to salads, soups or curries.) You can also prepare large batches to freeze in meal-sized portions, as cooked beans freeze well.
Well-soaked beans take 45 minutes to an hour to cook, depending on the variety. Cook beans until soft and then rinse them thoroughly because the residual starch on the surface feeds the harmless bacteria in your gut, which then release gas. Some of the gas-producing starch stays in the soaking water so don’t cook with it.
You can prevent gas by adding beans to your diet gradually, eating just a bite or two per day to start until your body adjusts period. Drinking ample fluids also helps. You can also try an enzyme supplement such as Beano, sold in most supermarkets, which will digest the gas-producing sugars. Just put a few drops on the first bite of food.
Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly. Lentils do not need pre-soaking. Simply remove any debris, then rinse and boil them. Red lentils take only twenty minutes, green lentils take 30 to 45 minutes, and brown lentils cook in 45 to 60 minutes. Do not add salt to cooking lentils, as this may toughen them. Like beans, lentils will keep almost indefinitely in a cool, dry place. Their colors may fade slightly after long storage, but their flavor and nutrition won’t. Lentils are the perfect way to add protein, fiber and all the antioxidant benefits of this food group to any meal. And they taste wonderful, adapting themselves to a wide range of aromatic spices and herbs—particularly turmeric and ginger.
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