Thursday, August 4, 2016

South of the Border Bean Salad

I love bean salads. All kinds of beans actually, from fresh green beans to dry ones like pinto, black and canellini beans. And I especially like them in cold salads, which are perfect to eat during the summer.

I had given up all dry beans since developing stomach problems last fall. As most of us know, beans have a rather gassy reputation. Since I've been feeling better this last month and starting to experiment with adding foods back in, I decided to try beans and am glad that I seem to be doing okay with them.

You can use beans either from a can or cook them from dry yourself,  but either way, beans need to be soaked in order to make them easier to digest. Beans, as well as grains, contain phytic acid, an organic acid that blocks mineral absorption in the intestinal tract. This might not be a major problem for those of you with excellent digestion (provided you don't eat beans and grains that often) but for those of us with compromised digestion, we are already having trouble absorbing nutrients as it is, so we don't need any more problems. 

Phytic acid is neutralized in as little as 7 hours of soaking in water with small amounts of an acidic medium  such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Soaking neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and increases the amount of nutrients present, especially the B vitamins.

Soaking your beans overnight will do the trick. Just make sure to rinse them well and toss the water they were soaking in.

Even if you use canned beans, who knows if they were properly prepared before they were cooked. I would soak them for a few additonal hours just to be on the safe side.

If you think beans are boring, they don't have to be. The secret is incorporating ingredients that add flavor. Think of pungent, spicy or really bold flavors. I made a salad and tossed in all kinds of stuff from my fridge and pantry and came up with this:

Mexican Bean Salad

1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
Frozen roasted corn
Red onion, sliced
Red bell pepper
Zucchini, chopped

For garnish:

Tomatillo salsa
Avocado oil
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Soak beans for a few hours. Drain.
Add to a large bowl.  Slice onions and saute in a little coconut oil until slightly carmelized. Add jalapeño, bell pepper and zucchini and cook until tender.  Add corn till just warmed up and thawed out.  Add to the bowl along with the chopped tomatoes.

Mix all the dressing ingredients in quantities to your liking. Add to the beans and vegetables. Stir. Add sliced avocado and chopped cilantro for on top.

Along side it I made a cheese-stuffed chili relleno without all that batter you usually get at a restaurant. Simply take an Anaheim chili, cut off the top and scrape out all the seeds with a spoon. Stuff it with Monterey Jack and a little tomatillo salsa, or just simply some Pepper Jack cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 or until your level of preferred doneness of the chili is achieved.  Soft with just the slightest bit of crunch is best.


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