Yes I said it, chili without the beans. Sacrilege? Well maybe, but if beans have become magical fruit for you they’re best left alone! Beans can be a part of a healthy diet and can provide excellent nutritional value if you are digesting them and absorbing their nutrients. Bloating, cramps, and yes gas are a sign of non-digestion which means they may taste good, but they are doing nothing for you nutritionally. But people have been eating these for centuries!! Yes they have, but they also knew the proper way to prepare them and out of the can and into the pot, my friends, is not that way. Beans should start dry and be soaked in a neutralizing agent to break down it’s protection.
Confused? Let me explain!
Beans are seeds and by their nature they want to be planted and create more beans, not be eaten and digested by us or anything else for that matter. They have built in protection against those of us that would make a meal of them. Here’s what we’re dealing with:
1. Phytic acid: This protection binds to minerals in the body including calcium, magnesium, zinc etc and make them unavailable to our bodies. This not only affects minerals in the beans themselves but also from all other foods you are eating! That’s right! Even as they are being eaten, the beans have the last laugh. Keep eating them without proper preparation and we may end up with mineral deficiencies far greater than the state most of us are already in.
2. Enzyme inhibitors: This protection keeps our bodies from breaking down the bean in order for us to digest and absorb nutrients. When we are unable to do this, it can lead to more nutrient deficiencies and digestive hmmhmm discomfort. Enzyme inhibitors can also contribute to a decreased ability to metabolize important amino acids which are the building blocks of the body.
3. Complex Sugars: This protection is where we get the “magical” fruit song and no excess flatulence is NOT normal! The culprit here are oligosaccharides. When these sugars are not pre-digested they can cause indigestion, bloating, cramping and yes gas.
**The difficulty digesting legumes can contribute to or aggravate leaky gut syndrome which may lead to a variety of problems from autoimmune disease to anxiety**
Legumes (beans) are soaked and cooked based on the type of bean using a neutralizer specific to the bean. A neutralizer does not affect the ph of the bean but rather “neutralizes” the protections.
1. Neutralizers include: lemon juice, whey, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda
Black beans, lentils & Garbanzo (chickpea): lemon juice, ACV, whey (1 tblsp/quart)
All other kidney shaped beans: baking soda (1 pinch/quart)
2. Do not use cold water! Simmer filtered water first (not boiling just warm to the touch) then pour over legumes. The warm water allows the bean to open up and release the enzyme inhibitors.
3. Rinse the beans a minimum of 1 time during the soaking and up to 3 times for longer soaking beans. Drain water, add newly simmered water, and add new neutralizer after each rinse.
4. Bring beans to boil and skim and foam that rises to the top. Turn to low and simmer covered. Do not boil the beans or add salt during cooking as they will become tough.
5. Kombu seaweed can help break down any remaining complex sugars. Add a strip while cooking to improve digestibility and add another source of minerals.
Soak & Cook Times
Legume Soak Time Cook Time
Lentils 7 hours 45min to 1hour
All Kidney shape 18-24 hours 1-1.5 hours
Garbanzo/Chickpea 24-48 hours 4-6 hours
Canned beans are processed at high temperatures and under high pressure which damages the proteins and other nutrients. Dried beans are less expensive!
Using a pressure cooker also may damage proteins and nutrients, but this is a controversial topic. Check out this POST at foodrenegade.com for more insight.
Soybeans SOS! Soybeans are often touted as a health food, but they are VERY high in phytic acid and damaging enzyme inhibitors. They also inhibit thyroid function and contain phytoestrogen which can mimic estrogen in the body potentially leading to imbalances and contributing to hormone dysfunction.
So all of that to say, beans can be great as part of a healthy diet, but proper preparation is the key! Those that are dealing with a leaky gut or going through a healing protocol may find they are better off without them during the healing process as your digestive system needs a break! Here is my almost root vegetable recipe (I include butternut squash) with or without black beans. I’ll leave that up to you 😉
- 1 lb ground beef (optional)
- 1 sweet potato, peeled & diced
- 1 med rutabaga, peeled & diced
- 4 med carrots, peeled & sliced into rounds
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 quart beef broth or veggie broth
- 2 tblsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 3 tblsp ea coriander, cumin, oregano, basil & paprika
- salt & pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot, saute onion in fat of your choice about 3 minutes Stir in
- all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 30-45 minutes or until sweet
- potato and rutabaga are cooked through.
- Options: Swap out sweet potato for any winter squash. Swap out rutabaga for turnip. Add 2 cups pre-cooked black beans. For sweeter vegetables, roast first! Then cook chili for about 30 minutes to bring the flavors together.