THE BLOG
09/16/2011 02:46 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Plant-Based Basics

The quick-and-healthy plant-based recipes that I've been putting out there a lot lately contain canned beans, just because it's super fast and easy to simply open a can of beans and pop them into a dish.

Beans are an excellent addition to anyone's diet, and that's what matters most -- making it easy to add them.

Once you're sold on the value of beans and enjoy eating them regularly, you may want to stretch a little and cook them from scratch. It's so much easier than you might imagine! Once you've done it a couple times, it'll become second nature and you'll wonder why you haven't been doing this your whole life.

Here's all there is to it:

2011-09-16-cranberry_beans_bowl.jpg

Beans From Scratch
Beans, any type and amount
Salt-pinch of salt
Water

Place beans in a pot with water and rinse with your fingers. Sift through to pick out any rocks (not common, but just in case!). Drain, and refill with clean water to the top of the pot, as most of the water will be absorbed by the beans.

The next morning, or later in the day, drain the soaking water and refill the pot to cover beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes. Add salt, cover and cook 10 more minutes.

That's it. The beans are ready to add to any recipe -- or to freeze for later use.

A lot of people tell me that they cook too many beans and then don't know what to do with them. Did you know that you easily can freeze cooked beans? I frequently cook up large batches of my favorite dried Maine-grown and pesticide-free beans. When cooled, I put them into plastic bags, in 1- and 2-cup portions, and freeze. This method makes it as easy, or even easier, than opening a can.

Why eat beans? So many people express a desire to eat healthier, but worry that they won't get enough protein if they eat less meat. This is a myth, and beans are such an easy way to get protein without saturated fat. They're low in calories and contain lots of fiber (40 grams of fiber are recommended each day by nutritionists). And they also are nutrient dense (link nutrient dense).

Beans are a whole food (they have not been processed or stripped of their nutrients), and because they aren't refined, they are complex carbohydrates (not simple carbohydrates like pies, cakes and cookies). Complex carbs give us great energy.

I've been experimenting with easy, quick and healthy plant-based recipes a lot lately because for one, I'm on crutches and one leg a lot lately and I need to keep this doable for myself!

Also, I get so many comments from people that go something like this: "Well, I'd eat this way if someone cooked it for me because I love this food, but I don't have time to cook. I need it to be quick."

So, I've been trying to address those comments lately by creating, perfecting, photographing and showing people how to Keep It Simple, quick (and delicious).

Here are some recent offerings that I believe can become your own favorite go-to recipes!

It's easy to eat healthy. And remember ... your health depends on it!

Have you cooked beans from scratch? If you haven't, are you willing to give it a shot?! Is this article helpful?

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