The Magical Fruit Called Beans

By Jackie Mccobb | Category: Recipes & Kitchen Tips | Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It would appear that the whole world is under financial strain. Our mighty dollar has weakened, and we are almost all feeling the pinch, no? For that reason, we all desire to be more frugal and so we flock to great money-saving blogs (such as this one) looking for deals, coupons, and helpful tips on how to spend less.

Overseas I have had to become quite creative in regards to frugality. Deals online are no longer great deals when you have to pay shipping.  (Like the time I saw a skirt on sale at Old Navy for $10 and they would ship it to me for only $60! Yowzers.)

We’ve done our best to cut back as much as we can…we line-dry clothes, walk as much as we can, turn lights off when we leave the room, use cloth diapers on the baby, etc, etc, etc. Those are things we are all doing! Next in line to trim back was the grocery list. There are no coupons here and the only things that go on sale are junk food items.

Therefore…BEANS. We eat ‘em. A lot!

Knowing that we are all trying to pinch pennies, save more, spend less, I thought I would share some of the tasty, different bean recipes I have tried and loved. (Because we did the simple black beans over rice and got tired of it pretty quick.)

Black Bean Tart with Chili Crust (I haven’t actually tried these yet, but it looks interesting)

Black Bean and Brown Rice Cakes (Could these be used as a burger patty I wonder?)

Black Bean and Cheese Taquitos (I leave the cheese out, brush olive oil on the tortillas and bake them!)

And when you’ve tried all of those and are running low on creativity, go back to the Pioneer Woman’s Pinto Beans and Cornbread. She will never steer you wrong.

Of course there are also the great bean recipes that Heather has previously shared:

Black bean brownies

Slow cooker refried beans

Easy (and super yummy) hummus

Mexican Bean Burgers

and the ebook ebook called The Everything Beans book which Heather said has been a wonderful resource for her.

So beans are my little money saving tip and I have to ask, if there are any other Americans overseas reading this…please share in the comments any tips you have for me!


Jackie Mccobb

Hola! My name is Jackie McCobb and my family and I live in the wonderful country of Paraguay. We are church planting missionaries and have lived here for 6 years. We absolutely love it! I have three sweet little girls, each one born in a different country, we have moved around a lot. I have many stories to tell about all of my globe-trotting (I grew up in the Amazon jungle of Venezuela, for example) so hang around and let’s get to know each other.

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Cooking with beans

By Ashley Devonish | Category: Healthy Living, Recipes & Kitchen Tips, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Thursday, February 2, 2012

Photo source)

Beans, beans the musical fruit, the more . . .

Let’s talk about beans today!

One year ago I shared that my goal for 2011 was to add more whole grains, nuts and grains into our diet.  I took the plunge by purchasing 5 large 25 pound bags of dried beans (kidney, pinto, Northern, black and garbanzo) from Azure Standard.  Prices range depending on the variety but average just slightly over $1 a pound. For most beans: 1 pound dried beans = 2  cups dried = 4 – 5 cups cooked beans (source).  I split each bag with a friend allowing both of us to enjoy the savings of buying in bulk without having to store a ton of beans.  I found room in a guest bedroom closet for the bags and simply stocked and labeled Mason jars in my pantry for each type of bean.

I am super pleased to say that I am getting ready to place a restocking order through Azure for more beans.  Although I don’t feel that our bean consumption last year was where I want it to be, I feel it was a good start that I can build on this year.

Cooking with beans.

When it comes right down to it, the main two things that have kept me from cooking more often with beans is simply a lack of advanced planning and a lack of bean recipes.   Cooking with dried beans is not hard (in fact it is quite easy) but it does require planning ahead.  I simply can’t cook with dried beans unless I am meal planning.

Planning out my meals in advance is a crucial step for me because:

  • It allows me the opportunity each evening to examine what I will be making the next two days and if necessary begin the soaking process (details on how to do this below).
  • It provides me with the opportunity to be intentional about finding and scheduling bean based (or supplemented) recipes.

I found this one page PDF summery explaining how to soak and cook dried beans very helpful.

Bean Recipes.

Bean based recipes are not something that I have felt very equipped with in general.  I do have my favorite standard Chili recipe and within the last year I have discovered some other great favorites such as:

Black bean brownies

Slow cooker refried beans

Easy (and super yummy) hummus

Mexican Bean Burgers

But lets be real, refried beans are a side dish and hummus is more of a dip/spread.  These are not meals.

Lucky for me I have also been reading the Kitchen Stewardship blog.  Katie has an ebook called The Everything Beans book which (even after cooking with beans for a year) has been a wonderful resource.  Not only do I appreciate having an entire recipe book filled with new bean recipes as I plan out my weekly meals (this recipe book includes appetizers, soups, main dishes and desserts), but I have also found Katie’s detailed instructions on how to soak and cook beans to be extremely helpful.

I have learned things such as why it is helpful to do long bean soaks whenever possible, what foods to eat with beans to help make them a complete protein and helpful tips on how to reduce the gas that bean consumption can create.  I also realized how easy it is to simply cook more than I need and refrigerate (for about a week) or freeze the extras for another meal!

I also was SHOCKED to learn that bringing my kidney beans to a boil for at least 10 minutes is absolutely essential to deactivating a toxic compound called phytohaemagglutinin.  This compound can cause horrible nausea, vomiting and diarrhea by consuming as few as four-five beans which are raw or improperly cooked.  Because I like to use my slow cooker, this was really good to learn because cooking kidney beans in a slow cooker without bringing them to a boil can actually make the toxic effects five times worse!

Don’t let that last bit scare you away from adding this healthy, economical and versatile food to your meal plans!

Do you already cook with beans?  Why or why not? Which beans do you like best?  What recipe(s) are your favorites?

Please note: I am an affiliate of Kitchen Stewardship’s eBooks, which means I’ll earn a small commission from any sales made through links to her book. I first read and used her book personally before deciding if it was one that I felt you would find valuable.

Ashley Devonish

I have a passion for helping moms and encouraging them in their journey through motherhood. I invite you to journey along with me!

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How to make Hummus (easy peasy and yummy)

By Ashley Devonish | Category: Recipes & Kitchen Tips | Posted Monday, February 7, 2011

Get ready, this stuff is uber good!

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 3 cloves raw garlic
  • 1/3 cup sesame tahini
  • Juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bulb roasted garlic (optional but oh so good).  Simply cut of the very top layer of the bulb of garlic, drizzle olive oil and Thyme on top and wrap it in tin foil.  Cook for 180 degrees for about 30 min or until soft.  Then simply squeeze the bulbs out!  I use my toaster oven for this and it works great.
  • 1 roasted red pepper (optional but also, very good).  You can find how to roast red peppers here.
  • Sun dried tomatoes, chopped up and added to taste (yum, yum–remember when I showed you how to make these at home)?

1) Soak the dried chickpeas in cold water for 6 hours. Drain and rinse. Put in medium saucepan with 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, cook until tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

2) Drain chickpeas, saving out some of the cooking water. Place chickpeas and all other ingredients into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add as much of the chickpea cooking water as you need to create the desired consistency.  You may notice that my chick peas look much darker than yours, they are just a different variety than the whiter kind.  I have tried making Hummus with both kinds and they both turn out very good.

3) Add any of the optional ingredients to create a variety of flavors.

4) Place in covered container and chill in the refrigerator. Serve with additional olive oil drizzled over the top (optional).


Can you see where Quinten gets his stellar blue eyes?!

And in case you are not really familiar with what Tahini is (and don’t worry because many grocery store employees are not either), I have included a photo for you below.  I believe it is basically blended up sesame seeds.  Also shown below are the kind of chips we love to use with our Hummus.  I get them from Costco.

Oh and you might consider making a double batch, this stuff goes fast at our house! :)  Do you use ZipList?  Here is this Hummus recipe in my ZipList recipe folder for you to use.

Want to find some more great (and healthy) recipes?  Click here!

Ashley Devonish

I have a passion for helping moms and encouraging them in their journey through motherhood. I invite you to journey along with me!

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

By Ashley Devonish | Category: Healthy Living, Recipes & Kitchen Tips | Posted Thursday, January 27, 2011

A friend split a huge order with me for dried beans from Azure Standard last year (if you remember, eating more beans was one of my resolutions last year).  One of the kind of beans we bought was pinto beans.  Since I had never used pinto beans for anything before, she shared this recipe for Slow Cooker Refried Beans.  It sat in my recipe book for many months.  Then, when Trent took off to Mexico this month, I had Mexican food on my mind and decided to give it a try.  I was thrilled by how easy it was (so typical of slow cooker recipes) and even more so when he returned home and said the end result tasted truly authentic!

2 cups of dry pinto beans

6 cups of water or chicken broth (or enough liquid to cover your beans plus about 2 inches)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper (or to taste)

1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)

1-2 clove(s) of garlic (optional)

1-2 T lime juice (optional)

1 tsp chili powder (optional)

1 tsp cumin (optional)

1) Rinse your pinto beans throughly with cold water.

2) Put them in your cock pot and add your liquid (I prefer the taste of using the chicken broth personally instead of just water).

3) Mix in your salt, pepper, onions, garlic and any other “optional” ingredients that you choose (the ones I use are listed above, there are others listed below that I have not yet tried).  Don’t worry about adding the salt at this stage.  I have been told that beans stop getting soft after you add salt but I have made this recipe two times now and both times they softened up just fine.

4) Cook on high for 6-8 hours or until the beans are soft and most of the liquid has been soaked up.

5) Use a masher to mash the beans to a refined consistancy.

6) Serve warm (I like to add sour cream).

Servings: 8

Additional optional ad-ins:
-red pepper flakes
-additional garlic

We choose to eat ours on our tortillas but they are also great as a side or served with rice.

Now if you have any other great recipes for pinto beans, will you please share them with me?  I am afraid my bulk bag of pinto beans is going to last a LONG time if I only use them to make refried beans :) !

Ashley Devonish

I have a passion for helping moms and encouraging them in their journey through motherhood. I invite you to journey along with me!

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My baby steps toward health

By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Healthy Living, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three years ago I stared taking baby steps toward making intentional improvements in our home for my families’ health.

First step: change the skin care products that we use.  It was after reading this Mom 4 Life guest post about skin care that I decided to make some changes in what I purchased and used in our home.  I had no idea how porous our skin was and how many common skin care brands had questionable ingredients.

Second step: use less plastic.  I became aware of the dangers of BPA and Phthalates in plastics and decided to start using them as little as possible and instead opt for glass or stainless steel whenever possible.  Along the way I started looking for and using products that were reusable and eco-friendly.

Third step: Investigate raw milk.  I was interested in learning more about the benefits of raw milk and ways I could use it to make butter, buttermilk, yogurt, and ice cream.

Fourth step: help my kids eat healthier.  I started playing around with sneaking in extra protein in the everyday foods my kids eat.

Fifth step: drink more water and exercise regularly.  I did great during our Get Fit, Have Fun: M4L Challenge but I admit, once I reached my goal weight after giving birth to Quinten, I haven’t been exercising so this is a step I am going back to.

Next step: for 2010 my goal is to incorporate eating a lot more whole grains, nuts and beans into our diet.

To do this:

-I have switched our pasta over to whole wheat pasta.
-We already prefer brown rice.
-I am trying out more whole wheat recipes for my breads.  I already make homemade whole wheat yeast bread but it wasn’t 100% whole wheat so I am experimenting with some new recipes for that as well as breads such as banana bread.
-I am stocking up on several different kinds of beans and am going to experiment with different soup recipes.  I am also cooking and pureeing white beans and freezing them in ice cube chunks.  I have been adding several of these cubes to my sauces (i.e. spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce) for an easy protein boost.
-Starting with raw almonds I am keeping nuts on hand for snacks and incorporating them in breads, hot cereals, etc.)

Extra credit;):
-I purchased a dry container for my Vita Mix at Costco in order to start grinding my own grains for flour.  This is an extra step that I don’t think is “needed” but is one that I am interested in learning more about and excited to explore.  I have found a local wheat supplier off of craigslist so that I can grind my own whole wheat flour (did you know that if you store wheat grains properly they can last for more than 10 years and that freshly ground flour has more nutrients?!)–it is also super inexpensive to get your flour this way!

I have another goal for 2010 that I will share in a future post.  So what do you think?  Have you had any of these steps yourself?  Anyone want to join me in my new steps?  I want to mention that I think it can be totally overwhelming to make lots of changes at once.  For myself picking smaller, manageable things to focus on helps.

Heather Ledeboer

I am a Christian, wife, mom and the original founder of Mom 4 Life. Now that Ashley owns Mom 4 Life, I am focusing my energies in homeschooling and asking God to use me in other areas.

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