chickpeas!

The theme for our potluck dinner tonight was “On a stick” because apparently it is National On a Stick Day? 🙂  Just a fun fact for ya!

To keep in the theme, we made some salads-on-a-stick to contribute to our dinner.  We enjoyed kebabs and salad for dinner, and fruit kebabs, fruit pops and chocolate pretzel rods for dessert.

We decided to make 2 different ‘salads’.  First up, Caprese Salad (on-a-stick, of course).  I bought cherry tomatoes and mini mozzarella balls to keep things simple.

Next, I made a Pear Gorgonzola Salad (on-a-stick).

I envisioned them to look like those, but unfortunately the cheese was so crumbly!  I don’t normally buy gorgonzola, so I didn’t realize this was going to happen.  But, I made due with a cheese/tomato/pear plate with toothpicks to make your own salad-on-a-stick.  This was a delicious combo!

I used heirloom cherry tomatoes, which were delicious!

We had a great dinner!

Chickpeas!

I have been meaning to try to cook my own beans for awhile now.  I love beans, especially garbanzos (chickpeas), and hate that canned beans contain so much salt.  Buying dry beans and cooking them myself would mean much less salt, and it would be much cheaper.  I like to add some beans to my salads at lunch in order to get in protein.  By cooking a huge batch of beans, I could store some in the freezer to have whenever I want them.  So, this weekend I set out to cook my beans!

Chickpeas are a great source of protein, iron and cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans.  In addition to lowering cholesterol, chickpeas high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal which increases your energy levels.  Pair your chickpeas with a grain (such as quinoa) and you have yourself a complete protein meal.

I bought about 6 cups of dried beans from the bulk bins at my local heath food store.  Last night, I put them into covered jars filled with water and soaked them overnight (about 8-10 hours).

Why should you soak the beans before cooking them?  Well, for one – they will cook faster!  But, there are also other benefits as well.  By soaking the beans, you make them much easier for your body to digest.  It helps to break down all the complex sugars in beans, sush as the indigestible oligosaccharides.  Soaked beans are also more likely to retain their maximum nutritional value, mostly due to the shortened time required for cooking. Basically, the longer you have to cook your beans, the less nutritional value will be retained since many vitamins and minerals are lost with added heat.  So, definitely take the time to soak your beans first (FYI – the same goes with nuts)!

This morning, after my beans had soaked for a good 10 hours, I found that they had expanded to almost twice their dry size.  Make sure you leave room in your soaking jar or dish for this!

I dumped the soaked beans into a strainer to rinse with fresh water before cooking.  I read that you should never cook your beans in the water that you soak them in – I’m not sure why, but I chose to listen to the advice out there!

Then, I dumped the rinsed beans into my crockpot.

I filled the pot with water, so that it was about 2 inches above the beans, turned the crockpot on low for 6 hours and went on with my business for the day. 🙂

I checked the beans throughout the 6 hours, probably 2 or 3 times because this was my first time doing this and I did not want to overcook them.  But, I found that 6 hours was the perfect amount of time.

So, I dumped them into the strainer again and rinsed with cold, fresh water.  Then let sit for 15 minutes to dry.

I put some of the beans, that I will eat this week into containers in the fridge.  The others I wanted to freeze, so I dumped them in a single layer onto 2 baking sheets and placed them in the freezer until frozen.  This way they won’t all clump together and I can easily use them in batches from the freezer.

Once frozen, I checked them a few hours after I had put them in the freezer, I dumped the beans into a glass jar for storing.

This may seem like a long, time-consuming process, but it honestly took about 10 minutes of my time to make a huge batch of beans from scratch.  I basically dumped the beans into soaking jars, then dumped them into the crockpot, then put them in jars for storing – and they will last me weeks (at the very least)!!  It is totally worth it to have homemade, cheap, salt-free beans at your disposal whenever you want them.  Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!  I plan to cook some black beans that I bought fairly soon.

Have you ever cooked your own beans?  Or do you prefer the convenience of canned beans? As you can see from my experiment, home-cooked beans seem to be extremely convenient as well!

Advertisements

5 Responses

  1. YUM, caprese on a stick! One of the best salads ever, in my opinion 🙂

    I have beans soaking right now at home! I like cooking my own because I think the flavor is better and I don’t like having the stuff the cans are lined with mixing with my foods. But obviously it is far more time-consuming, and canned beans are cheap too, so I often buy them like that.

    • I agree! Best salad! And, I think the beans taste better too. This was my first time actually cooking beans, and it’s amazing the flavor difference!

  2. […] discovered that cooking your own beans is definitely the way to go!  I cooked a huge batch of chickpeas over a month ago, and I am still enjoying […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: