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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Black Beans in a Crock Pot

Black beans are very high in fiber, folate protein and antioxidants, along with numerous other vitamins and minerals.  Black beans can be used in a variety of ways as part of a Healthy lifestyle

Black Bean Salad

  •  Add to omelets.
  •   Add to salads. (Salad pictured can be found in  The Healthy Edge Cookbook)
  • Serve as a side dish to any meal topped with feta cheese.
  •  Add to soups.
  • Add to wraps or burritos.
  • Mix with tomatoes, avocado, greek style yogurt and brown rice for a delicious side dish.
  • A variety of recipes call for black beans.

Canned black beans can be convenient, BUT if you want to save a ton of money and sodium, using dried black beans is a great option!  

Let’s look a bit more closely at the cost savings of dried black beans versus canned black beans.   Who doesn’t want to save a buck or two at the store?  At our local grocer in the Midwest, a can of black beans (non-organic) (15 oz.) costs an average of about $0.74 (prices are much higher if you are buying organic) and a bag of dried black (16.5oz) beans costs about $1.47.  Now if you are thinking, wait a minute, the canned beans are cheaper!  Check this out: After cooked, a bag of dried beans equals about 3 cans of black beans.  So in this example, you're saving approximately 50% on your beans, and making a healthier choice!  

If you were comparing the prices for organic beans you are looking at a savings of around 75%!

If you are going to be using your beans right away, and you just want to prepare enough for one use, then check out How and Why to Soak Beans, Nuts and Seeds.  But if you REALLY want to maximize your time, then a slow cooker is the way to go. You can prepare enough beans to last you weeks or even months. 

By slow cooking your dried beans, they can conveniently be stored in serving size amounts in plastic freezer bags. Try storing 2-3 cups per bag.  Then, when you need them, you simply take them out of the freezer, transport them to a strainer and gently rinse them in warm water to de-thaw. You can also take a bag with frozen beans from the freezer and transport them to the refrigerator and let them thaw on their own. 

How To...
Slow Cook Black Beans
  1. Rinse the dried black beans in a strainer and pick out any debris. 
  2.  Place dried black beans in a crock pot. You can use anywhere from 5 or more cups of dried beans. There is no need to measure, just make sure black beans do not take more than ½ of the crockpot, since they will expand as they cook.
  3. Cover the black beans with water and add additional water until you have about 2 inches of water above the dried black beans. If you have the time, allow the beans to soak from 1 – 4 hours. 
  4. If you are cooking overnight, turn the beans on low and set time for 8 hours. If you are cooking during the day, you can turn the beans on high for 4 hours. If during the process, the beans look “dry” you can add more water.  
  5. Once the beans are cooked, turn off the crockpot and allow to cool.  Avoid stirring too much, so the beans do not break open and become mushy. 
  6. Transport the beans to a strainer to remove excess water. You can then place them in a container to store in the refrigerator or put in plastic bags and put in freezer for up to a month.

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