Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit
So, up until this point, my husband has managed to escape any real significant embarrassment in my stories. Oh, I have talked about how we met, and his less than adventurous culinary tastes. I may have mentioned a drunken party foul or two, but compared to all the stories about my smelly teenagers and their nether bits, Greg has really dodged some bullets. That ends today.
We are talking about gas. And I don’t mean ethanol, petrol or helium. Not argon, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or ether. There will be no discussion of butane, oxygen or halogen. Nope. We are talking about methane. Toots. Farts. Whistleberries.
Now, I know the more sensitive of you are thinking, “Lawdy Mercy—can’t believe this girl is writing about gas…Shocking…Vulgar…tres declasse….”
I say, you’re right! But…Children adore it. Wives fear it. Animal rights activists use it as thinly veiled subterfuge in their battle against the beef industry. Apparently, the evil beef industry is responsible for high levels of methane, from the cows doing what cows do after they eat. Which is funny—because wouldn’t there be MORE methane if we quit eating all the cows?
Actually, the human digestive tract produces several types of gasses, of which methane is only one. But the other ones are odorless, and methane is, well, NOT odorless. Some foods produce more gas than others because they contain compounds that the human body does not break down and absorb. If you eat it, and it does not break down and get absorbed by your body, then it has to leave your body or you would blow up and die. When it’s put like that, you would think people would be glad of their gas.
Some people, such as myself, would rather have their fingernails ripped out with pliers than ever, ever produce methane. In the 17 years we have been together, my husband has received no indication that my body functions properly in this manner.
On the other hand, my husband dabbles in gas like DaVinci dabbled in oils. He is an artiste! A savant of gas. His plumbing is a finely tuned machine–the minute he is done eating, the car windows start rolling down. It’s enough to bring a tear or two hundred to the eye. The kids beg that beans not be made available to him.
With good reason. Beans contain a sugar compound called oligosaccharides. The enzyme that breaks this type of sugar down is not produced in the human body. Thusly, these sugar molecules are not broken down and absorbed by the small intestines the way other sugars are. Instead, they are broken down in the large intestine, into the gas that will eventually send your family scrambling for fresh air.
My husband’s grandfather had a giant cast-iron bean pot that he used to cook beans over a fire for their giant family gatherings. Probably about 20 gallons could be cooked in this pot. Greg said Grandpa Van de Walle used to lean a big stick against the outside of the pot, and when the kids asked him what the stick was for, he said it “so all the little farts could crawl out…”
I am guessing it didn’t work.
But, the flip side to all this toilet humor is this: the foods that produce the most gas, are also the healthiest. Beans and other legumes, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc., and fruits…aside from being high in octane, they are also high in fiber. Beans have the added benefit of being high in protein, making them an excellent source of low fat, high fiber, lean protein nutrition.
With your good health in mind, I am glad to offer you three great bean recipes. And tell your dining/sleeping companions that I apologize in advance for doing this to them. I am sure they are lovely people.
Like roasted chick peas or soy beans, pinto beans may be toasted in oil and spices until crunchy. I serve them like mixed nuts when serving a Texican feast.
3 cups pinto beans, may use fresh cooked, or canned
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each: salt, paprika, brown sugar
½ teaspoon each: cocoa powder, cumin, garlic powder
Heat oven to 250*
Rinse and drain beans. Spread out on paper towels to dry, and pat with additional paper towels. Place on a baking sheet, and toss with the olive oil to coat. Mix all of the spices together, and toss with the beans. Spread evenly across baking sheet into one layer. Heat in oven for 5 hours, stirring every hour. Remove from heat, and allow to cool completely.
Jeff was my best friend’s brother-in-law when I was in college. He made some killer beans. I don’t know if there was ever actually a written recipe, but this is my rendition of them. A little bit sweet and a lot of savory, they are good with anything that you would serve with pinto beans or baked beans.
1 pound bacon, chopped
2 green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch parsely, chopped
2 cans (15oz each) of black eyed peas
2 cans (15 oz each) pork and beans
2 cans (15 oz each) field peas with snaps
2 cans (15 oz each) crowder peas (if not available, use 1 more each of black eyes and pork and beans)
1 T cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s)
Cook bacon in dutch-oven or soup pot over medium heat until bacon is almost crispy. Add chopped peppers, onions and garlic, and cook until softened. Stir in parsley and heat for 2 minutes. Add all beans (do not drain) and seasoning, and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
You can also cook the bacon and vegetables ahead of time, and then throw everything in a crock pot for slow cooking.
I know it sounds weird, but these are delicious. You don’t actually taste the beans. These make for a smooth, dense, super chocolate-y brownie that you don’t have to feel guilty for eating.
1½ cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (I use Fage)
2 tablespoons melted butter (or may use applesauce)
½ cup sugar (or may use Splenda)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
½ cup dried cranberries or chopped nuts (optional)
Whiz all ingredients (except for chocolate chips, dried fruit, or nuts) in a food processor for 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Stir in any optional ingredients you are using. Pour into a well greased 8×8 baking pan. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
Serve warm or room temp. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.