Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gluten-Free Vegan Homemade Baked Beans

You know the song..."Beans, beans, their good for your heart.... the more you eat the more you...." Yes, you can fill in the blank. That is what baked beans are traditionally known for.... and I guess it can be true because if you don't soak and simmer your beans enough before eating they are a bit harder to digest. Although, beans can be the perfect addition of protein to a plant based diet and they give you more nutrients and the balance your body craves.

Some tricks to avoid flatulence and improve digestibility:

#1) Soak beans for several days, changing the water twice daily, until a small tail forms.

#2) Chew beans thoroughly and know that even the small amounts have a high nutritional and healing value.

#3) Season with unrefined sea salt, or tamari sauce near the end of cooking. If salt is adding at the beginning, the beans will not cook completely. Salt can be a digestive aid when used correctly.

#4) Adding fennel or cumin in the later stages of cooking also helps prevent gas.

#5) Add some kelp seaweed to the beans while cooking to improve flavor and digestion, it also adds minerals and nutrients, and even speeds up the cooking process.

#6) Pour a little apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar or white wine vinegar into the water at the last stages of cooking. This softens the beans and breaks down the protein chains and indigestible compounds.

#7) The hardest beans to digest are soybeans, and black soybeans. Some of the smaller beans are easier to digest, like azuki, lentils, mung beans and peas.

Beans are a great addition to the diet, if you don't have time to soak and cook your own beans...canned organic beans can be very easy and helpful as well. They are a wonderful way to add a high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet, but you need to make sure that you take the steps to make them easier to digest so that you truly enjoy them. They are high in iron, B vitamins and fiber. Be careful to not use "old" beans that have been in the pantry for years because they may be harder to digest. A good way to know this is that old beans will not soften after cooking, they stay hard and brittle. Now to an easy baked beans recipe...

2 cups of dry white northern beans

1 1/4 cup of organic ketchup ( Trader Joe's or Annie's are my favorite kinds)
1/3 cup of wheat-free tamari low-sodium sauce
1/4 cup of organic apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup of sucanat
1/8 cup of organic mustard, or 1Tb of ground mustard
1 ts. of cumin
3 diced cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
sea salt to taste
cracked pepper to taste

First off to start the process you will soak 2 cups of dry beans in a 1/2 gallon of water. Let set over night, and for the next day, change the water in the pot twice a day and do this until you start to see the beans sprout a bit. Then simmer in a large pot of water that covers the beans by a few inches, add a few garlic cloves, bay leaves or seaweed to help the digestiblity of the beans and simmer/cook for 5 hours. Follow some of the tips above with either adding in some apple cider vinegar to the later stages of cooking. Add more water/vinegar if you need it over the hours of cooking. You will know your beans are ready after you try then and they are soft and chewy. Remove the leaves and garlic and drains the cooked beans so they are ready for joining the other ingredients
Then...Saute the diced onion and garlic in a large pot and then add the cooked beans, and the rest of the ingredients. Let boil and then simmer up to an hour, or you can cook longer on a lower heat to keep warm until you serve. Cook at least an hour with all the other ingredients to help the flavors mix and cook, and then let cool.

The beans actually taste great as a leftover, so if you are going to make for a large group, make a head of time, let them cool to let the flavors meld together, and then warm up on the stove before you want to serve.

I love adding in a great nutrient filled side dish to most summer cook-out parties, and you will be so proud of yourself that you made them from scratch and they are gluten-free! Not all baked beans are gluten-free if the worcestershire sauce or soy sauce used has wheat in it, and many people like to make their beans with bacon fat, which would not make them vegan. These beans are void of gluten and animal protein, so you can enjoy if you follow a vegan, gluten-free diet.

Servings in this recipe range from 6-8 servings.
Enjoy and be nourished!

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