Sunday, March 6, 2011

52 Week Food Storage Plan - Week #8

Week # 8: 20 lbs Pinto Beans & 5 lbs Lima Beans

Pinto Beans:

Because their texture is very smooth, pintos may be used in virtually all methods of bean preparation. Purée them for soup bases or use them in casseroles; refry them for frijoles refritos and use them in burritos. Before cooking, soak pintos for 8 hours, then pressure cook for 18 minutes or simmer on top of the stove for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. 1 cup of dried pintos makes 3 cups of cooked beans. Use pinto beans to make chili, soups, and stews, or use them in salads or in Mexican dishes. They can also be puréed and used as a spread or dip.

Nutritional Value - Pinto beans are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. One cup of pinto beans provides one quarter of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of protein for adults. Supplementing the protein of pinto beans with a little meat, dairy products, rice or corn will provide all the essential amino acids. Because beans contain soluble fiber, they can lower blood cholesterol.  Pinto beans are a good source of energy and the B vitamins-thiamin, riboflavin and niacin-which are necessary for growth and tissue building. Minerals found in pinto beans include calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron, all essential to good health. One-half cup of cooked pinto beans furnishes 118 calories. Beans are good for low-sodium diets as they contain only the salt added by the cook.  However, beans contain several complex carbohydrates that are not readily digested.  To increase digestibility and reduce intestinal distress, discard the waters used for soaking and cooking because much of this indigestible carbohydrate dissolves into the water. Tests show no important amounts of essential nutrients are lost when the soaking and cooking waters are discarded.
Nutrition Facts
Pinto beans, 1 cup (171g) (boiled)
Calories: 234
Protein: 14.0g
Carbohydrate: 43.8g
Total Fat: 0.89g
Fiber: 14.7g
*Excellent source of: Iron (4.5mg), Potassium (800mg), Selenium (12 mcg), and Folate (294mcg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
How to Select and Store - Dried pinto beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins are covered and the store has a good product turnover rate to ensure maximal freshness.  Whether purchasing pinto beans in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there’s no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that beans are whole and not cracked.  Canned pinto beans can be found in many markets. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned pinto beans and those you cook yourself.  Canning lowers vegetables’ nutritional value since they are best lightly cooked for a short period of time, while their canning process requires a long cooking time at high temperatures. On the other hand, beans require a long time to cook whether they are canned or you cook them yourself. Therefore, if enjoying canned beans is more convenient for you, by all means go ahead and enjoy them. We would suggest looking for those that do not contain extra salt or additives. (One concern about canned foods is the potential for the can to include a liner made from bisphenol A/BPA. To learn more about reducing your exposure to this compound, please read our write-up on the subject).
Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to 12 months. If you purchase pinto beans at different times, store them separately; they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times.  Cooked pinto beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days, if placed in a covered container.

Cooking Techniques - Dry beans can be cooked quickly in a pressure saucepan or microwave oven or they can be cooked slowly in a crockpot or a saucepan on top of the range.  Sort the beans to remove small stones, lumps of dirt and defective beans. Wash the beans with several changes of water.  Soak beans to reduce cooking time, using five cups of hot water to each cup of beans. For a quick soak, add beans to water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for one hour. For overnight soaking, cover beans with cold water and refrigerate.  Discard soaking water, replace with fresh water and cook the beans in one of the following ways. (Note: When cooking in the microwave oven, on top of the range or in a crockpot, never fill pan more than one-half full.)  Pressure Saucepan: Place beans and enough fresh water to cover the beans in a pressure saucepan.  Add one teaspoon of vegetable oil to prevent foaming.  Do not fill pan more than one-third full.  Following saucepan instructions, cook beans at 15 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes.  Reduce pressure by placing saucepan in a sink of cold water or under a thin stream of cool water.  Microwave: Place soaked and rinsed beans in fresh water and cook at full power for 8-10 minutes or until boiling; then cook at 50% power 15-20 minutes or until beans are tender.  Follow instructions on pan if using a microwave pressure cooker.  Saucepan: Cover soaked, rinsed beans with fresh water and bring to a rapid boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until tender, but not mushy. Add water if necessary. The time will depend on hardness of water and altitude, usually 2 to 3 hours.  Crockpot: Follow manufacturer’s directions. If directions are not available, add fresh water to soaked, rinsed beans, heat to boiling and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender which may take 4 to 6 hours.  After cooking, drain cooking water, add either fresh water or chicken broth and heat to serving temperature.  Always add salt AFTER cooking the beans to desired tenderness.  Adding salt ahead of time will prevent the beans from cooking as fast. 

·To prevent skins from bursting, simmer gently and stir as little as possible.
· Increase cooking time in high altitude and hard water areas.
· Cook the full contents of smaller packages such as the one pound size. Refrigerate left over cooked
beans; drain cooked or canned beans before freezing. Store dry beans in airtight glass or metal containers in a cool place.
· Add 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon of baking soda per cup of beans to shorten cooking time in hard water or use distilled water. Excess soda will cause an undesirable flavor and loss of nutrients.
· A teaspoon of sugar and a clove of garlic enhance the flavor of plain, cooked pinto beans.
· If a recipe calls for tomatoes, lemon juice, wine or vinegar, add when beans are almost tender. Acid delays softening.
· A 1-lb. pkg. of dry beans = 2 cups dry or 5-6 cups of cooked beans.


Lima Beans:

Sometimes called “butter beans” because of their starchy yet buttery texture, lima beans have a delicate flavor that complements a wide variety of dishes. Although fresh lima beans are often difficult to find, they are worth looking for in the summer and fall when they are in season. Dried and canned lima beans are available throughout the year. (recipe for the Lima Beans with Chorizo shown in the picture to the left.)

Nutrition Information for Lima Beans - The following nutrition information is for one serving of lima beans. That would be about one cup of lima beans, or 156 grams. This general information is for any variety of raw lima beans.

Health Benefits - Lima beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes. In addition to lowering cholesterol, lima beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, lima beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. You may already be familiar with beans’ fiber and protein, but this is far from all lima beans have to offer.

Sensitive to Sulfites? Lima Beans May Help - Lima beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them. A cup of lima beans will give you 86.5% of the daily value for this helpful trace mineral.

A Fiber All Star - Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you’ll see legumes leading the pack. Lima beans, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber. For this reason, lima beans and other beans are useful foods for people with irregular glucose metabolism, such as diabetics and those with hypoglycemia, because beans have a low glycemic index rating. This means that blood glucose (blood sugar) does not rise as high after eating beans as it does when compared to many other foods. This beneficial effect is probably due to two factors: the presence of higher amounts of absorption-slowing protein in the beans, and their high soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the stomach forming a gel that slows down the metabolism of the bean’s carbohydrates. The presence of fiber is also the primary factor in the cholesterol-lowering power of beans. Fiber binds with the bile acids that are used to make cholesterol. Fiber isn’t absorbed, so when it exits the body in the feces, it takes the bile acids with it. As a result, the body may end up with less cholesterol. Lima beans also contain insoluble fiber, which research studies have shown not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. Just one cup of lima beans will give you 65.8% of the daily value for fiber.

Lima Beans Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar - In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, lima beans’ soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, lima beans can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contained 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein–the most dangerous form of cholesterol) levels by 12.5%.

Iron for Energy - In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lima beans can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores. A cup of lima beans contains 24.9% of the daily value for this important mineral. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, adding to their iron stores with lima beans is a good idea–especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lima beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you’re pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.

How to Select and Store - Dried lima beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the lima beans are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure the beans’ maximal freshness. Whether purchasing lima beans in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that the beans are whole and not cracked.  Fresh lima beans are generally not widely available, although they can sometimes be found at farmers’ markets or specialty grocery stores. If you have the opportunity to purchase them, choose ones that are firm, dark green and glossy, and free of blemishes, wrinkling and yellowing. If they have been shelled, you should inspect them carefully since they are extremely perishable. Look for ones that have tender skins that are green or greenish-white in color and do not have any signs of mold or decay.  If you purchase frozen lima beans, shake the container to make sure that the beans move freely and do not seem to be clumped together since the latter suggests that they have been thawed and then refrozen.  Store dried lima beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to six months. If you purchase the beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. As cooked lima beans are very perishable, they will only keep fresh for one day even if placed in a covered container in the refrigerator. Fresh lima beans should be stored whole, in their pods, in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep fresh for a few days. Frozen lima beans do not need to be thawed before being cooked.

Tips for Preparing Lima Beans - Before washing dried lima beans, spread them out on a light colored plate or cooking surface to check for and remove small stones, debris or damaged beans. After this process, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.  To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, lima beans should be presoaked (presoaking has been found to reduce the raffinose-type oligosaccharides, sugars associated with causing flatulence.) There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan and adding two to three cups of water per cup of beans. The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours. The alternative method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. Before cooking the beans, regardless of method, drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water. To cook lima beans, place them in a pot and add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. Lima beans generally take about 45 minutes to become tender when cooking this way. Lima beans may produce a lot of foam during cooking. Simply skim any foam off during the first half hour or so of the simmering process. Because of the foam limas often produce, it is recommended to avoid cooking them in a pressure cooker. Do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been cooked since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time. While uncooked lima beans contain compounds that can inhibit a digestive enzyme and cause red blood cells to clump together, soaking and cooking the beans renders these compounds harmless. Therefore, it is important to always eat soaked and cooked beans and not to use them uncooked by, for example, grinding dried beans into flour.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas - If you can find whole lima beans in the market, you can serve them as an appetizer sprinkled with seasoning just like edamame (whole soy bean pods).  Mix puréed lima beans with chopped garlic and your favorite fresh herbs. Use this spread as a sandwich filling or a dip for crudité.
The heartiness of lima beans make them a great soup bean, especially when added to a soup that features root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, beets, and/or rutabagas.  For a twist on the traditional native American dish succotash, make lima bean burritos. Fill corn tortillas with lima beans and corn kernels, and then top with chopped tomatoes, avocado and scallions. Blend cooked lima beans and sweet potatoes together. Serve this tasty dish on a plate accompanied by your favorite grain and fresh vegetable.

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