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Recipe for a Delicious Bean Stew to Improve Your Health

I like to cook healthy meals and experiment with creating tasty and nutritious recipes like this one. I'll show you how you can do it too.

My Tasty Bean Stew

My Tasty Bean Stew

As I get older, I have become more health-conscious. And I watch what kinds of food I eat. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do include a plant-based diet at least twice a week. That's why I created this bean stew recipe.

I had read in several professional journals that a plant-based diet could help with heart disease, Alzheimer's, and cancer of the prostate and colon:

  • According to the summer 2013 edition of The Journal of Family Practice, a study of 198 people with cardiovascular disease were monitored while on a plant-based diet over a four-year period. Of 21 people who didn’t stick to the diet, 13 of them had a stroke. The other 177 who adhered to the diet never had another cardiac event.1
  • The Wall Street Journal also ran a report about plant-based diets cutting the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.2
  • In addition, researchers found that a plant-based diet could slow the progression of prostate and colon cancer (reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).3

After all that research, I began making meals with beans—all kinds of beans.

After many revisions, I ended up with an easy-to-follow method of cooking a healthy bean stew. Sometimes I make rice or potatoes to go with it, but it’s just as plentiful as a stand-alone stew.

Beans are legumes, which are a good source of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins.

My cholesterol and triglycerides came down a lot when I had my last annual physical. I have high blood pressure, and that improved too. My doctor said it had to be due to my dietetic changes.

My Bean Stew Recipe

I have this worked out to a three-step process that takes three hours from start to finish, but you don’t need to slave over the stove all that time. The actual prep involves less than 45 minutes, which you do while the beans are simmering.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

45 min

3 hours

3 hours 45 min

Approx. 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups mixed dry beans
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1/2 green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon basil
Example of individual bags of various dry beans I use. Mix and match as you wish.

Example of individual bags of various dry beans I use. Mix and match as you wish.

Getting Started

I use a six-quart pot, and I make enough for three or four days. I freeze the rest, so I don’t need to spend time cooking every day. If you have a smaller pot, adjust accordingly.

For the beans, you can use any type you like. I use dry beans, and I usually include a combination of pinto, black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and great northern.

I don’t use canned beans since they have chemicals and preservatives added, plus a lot of sodium. Canned beans are also more likely to cause gas because they are not cooked in a way to remove the gas-producing enzymes. I describe that later, below this recipe.

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Read More From Delishably

Stay healthy and avoid all that bad stuff by using dry beans. Remember, you'll avoid the added salt and all the chemicals.

Cooking Instructions: Summary

  1. Bring beans to a boil and soak for 1 hour. Then rinse.
  2. Simmer in fresh water for 45 minutes while preparing veggies.
  3. Chop up a half green cabbage, two cups of chopped celery, two cups of carrots, plus half an onion.
  4. Add all ingredients and simmer for another 45 minutes.

Detailed Instructions

Step 1: Soak the Beans

One-Hour Method

  • Measure out three cups of mixed beans.
  • Rinse and then fill water 1 inch over beans.
  • Bring to boil and then shut off the heat and let sit for one hour.
  • Pour out the water and rinse beans under running water until clear.

Overnight Method

If you plan ahead, you can soak the beans overnight in cold water. However, the above method works just as well—bringing them to a boil and soaking for one hour.

Remember that you need to drain that water you soaked them in and complete the cooking in fresh water. Properly soaking and draining helps remove the gas-producing enzymes. I'll explain this in detail later.

Rinsing beans under running water

Rinsing beans under running water

Step 2: Simmer the Beans While Preparing the Veggies

  1. After rinsing beans, add 10 cups of water to the beans and bring to a boil.
  2. Then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. While simmering, prepare all the vegetable ingredients.
  4. Chop up celery, carrots, and onion. Prepare enough of it so that you have two cups of chopped celery and two cups of carrots, plus half an onion.
  5. Chop up a half green cabbage.
Chopped-up green cabbage

Chopped-up green cabbage

Feel free to try various alternatives. Sometimes I like to add kale as well, but it needs to be chopped into small pieces. Use less cabbage if you're adding kale.

You can adjust all the ingredients as you desire. There are no hard and fast rules.

  • Cut a few green olives in half.
  • Mince two cloves of garlic (not shown). Optionally, you can use garlic powder or none at all (your choice).
Green olives cut in half

Green olives cut in half

Step 3: Simmer the Combined Stew

  1. Add all the veggies, cumin, cayenne pepper, and basil (left image below) to the beans.
  2. Mix and add more water, if necessary, to cover everything.
  3. Increase the heat to bring back to a simmer and then reduce heat to continue simmering for the final 45 minutes, as shown below (right image).
Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, and Basil (left) ~ Cooking stew in a six-quart pot (right)

Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, and Basil (left) ~ Cooking stew in a six-quart pot (right)

During this last step, while simmering, you can cook either rice or potatoes to go with the stew once completed. Sometimes I eat it alone since it’s so substantial by itself.

There are many choices, and you may come up with your own serving ideas as you try different things, just as I did.

Enjoy!

My completed been stew.

My completed been stew.

How well do you like it?

Health Benefits of Ingredients

Celery, Cabbage, Onion

Plant-based foods are a good source of antioxidants, which may help avoid cancer, as reported by the Mayo Clinic.

Carrots

The carrots provide Beta Carotene (an antioxidant) as well as vitamin A, which is known to be good for eye health.

Kale

Kale contains Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which have been reported to slow the development of macular degeneration and cataracts. It may also help fight other diseases and some forms of cancer.

Black Beans

Black Beans are an excellent source of Vitamin B1, Thiamine. They contain about 28% of the USDA recommended daily allowance.

The deficiency of vitamin B1 can harm the nervous and circulatory systems. Extreme deficiency of vitamin B1 can lead to the development of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which results in severe fatigue and degeneration of the cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, and gastrointestinal systems. On the other hand, the over-consumption of vitamin B1 is unknown.

How to Avoid Gas From Eating Beans

There are two ways to prepare dry beans:

  1. You can soak them overnight,
  2. or you can boil the beans for one minute and then simmer for an hour, as I described above.

Soaking loosens the skins of beans and releases the gas-producing enzymes (oligosaccharides). You should pour out the water initially used for soaking and rinse the beans before continuing the cooking process.

Different types of beans have various amounts of gas-producing enzymes:

  • Beans that are seeds from the pods of plants are easier to digest and leave no gas if prepared correctly, as explained above. Known as legumes, some of these are pinto beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, and mung beans.
  • Navy beans, kidney beans, soybeans, green and yellow split peas, and chickpeas are somewhat harder to digest and can cause more gas. If you include them, soak them longer.

As I mentioned before, canned beans are more likely to cause gas because they're not cooked the same as I described above. I only use dry beans for that reason.

Note about sodium: Most of the sodium is from the 1/2 cup of green olives. If you leave out the olives then you'll reduce the sodium of one serving to only 48 mg instead of 255mg.

References

1. Harvard Heart Letter. (Sept 2014). Halt heart disease with a plant-based, oil-free diet. Harvard Health Publications

2. Sumathi Reddy. (April 20, 2015). A Diet Might Cut the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s. Wall Street Journal

3. National Institutes of Health. (June 17, 2008). Prostate Genes Altered by Intensive Diet and Lifestyle Changes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

© 2016 Glenn Stok

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