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As part of this goal to get healthy and lose dangerous weight, I’ve given myself a lot of restrictions. I’m using a nutritionist’s pyramid, basically. One that I thought looked good was in the movie I reviewed yesterday, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead. That pyramid looked like this

Most people know, at this point, that fresh food from the Earth is better than food produced more or less in a chem lab. But, I was surprised to see it all the way at the top as something to eat only rarely. I guess I thought it would be off the map, more of an aside, like: BTW spinach in your Hot Pocket does not count as a leafy vegetable serving.

I’ve gone off on a tangent. The point is that I am trying to avoid processed foods. And now finally we have gotten to the point of this blog post! The point is I was very proud of myself today because I did some actual slow cooking today that would have made my Texan ancestors proud. I made black beans! It was definitely the longest cooking process I have ever taken on. There are a lot of steps!

Steps to Preparing & Cooking Black Beans

1. You buy the beans either in a bulk bin or in a bag. The market on my street only had the bag, which was fine because it was still organic.

2. Once home, sort through all the beans and sift out any seeds, stones or other weird looking things. I love this part because it really is a reminder that these beans are coming from the ground, not the assembly line.

3. After you’ve sifted through them, wash them. I am a weirdo about water so I sprayed them with the shower head function on the kitchen sink (no idea what the technical term for that thing is!) and then dumped a whole brita pitcher on top of them to make sure they were clean.

4. Once they are cleaned and sorted, they need to soak. Put the beans in a big bowl, then cover with water at a ratio of 3 cups water to 1 cup beans. The bag I bought was 2.5 cups so I put in 8 cups of water, just to be sure. The soaking part takes a long time. It’s best to just let them sit overnight. No worries about covering the big bowl, it doesn’t matter.

5. The fun part starts! Put the beans in a big cooking pot. Out of four sizes, I used our second biggest one.

Clean beans, big pot.

Then you can add some flavor! The spices can vary depending on your taste.  My mom makes some amazing tacos, so I used her seasoning recipe as a guide, and tweaked it since these are beans instead of chicken. Here is my recipe:

Spicy Black Beans

  • 1 Bag of Black Beans (2.5 Cups)
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, chopped*
  • 1/2 an Onion, chopped**
  • 1 Small-Medium Tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (or a little more even)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth (1 box)
  • 6 Cups Water

* I love garlic and it is a very cleansing food, but you can use less if you want. 3 or 4 would be fine.

** I was running low on onion, and used leftover scraps from a red and a white. I wished there was more onion, which is why I’m predicting a half of one would be better. Either color really, but white might be a little better.

Even though there are a trillion ingredients, the directions are really simple.

5. Add all the spices and the other ingredients to the pot.

Garlic, Onions and Spices...look at all those colors!

6. Cover ingredients with liquids. I did half the water then the stock, then the rest of the water but I am sure it doesn’t really matter.

7. Bring it all to a boil.

8. Once at big, rolling boil, cover the pot, turn down heat and let simmer. Somewhere in the medium-low range is good. Let it simmer like that for about 1.5 hours.

–I’ve seen other similar recipes say as low as 45 minutes, but I wanted mine to be really soft, and they were still crunchy and grainy at 45 minutes on my stove. I recommend you begin checking them at 45 or 50 minutes, and if they are not ready, stir them up and let simmer at 10 or 15 minute intervals until you like the consistency. An hour and a half for me was perfect.

9. Turn off burner. Let the beans sit for a couple more minutes, just to let them soak in a little more moisture and also cool down.

10. Drain the liquid. There will probably be a lot of it. (A lot of liquid is important to avoid burning.) Drain until there is still a little water left as a sort of juice for the beans, but no free standing water left. This is obviously a matter of taste, but I would guess I left 1 or 1.5 cups of water at the bottom of the pot.

11. Use the beans! Eat them however you want! I put them in a completely delicious black bean and hummus “burrito” (really the world’s largest soft taco):

Black Bean & Hummus "Burrito": Organic Flour Tortilla (soften with 1/4 tsp EVOO and 2-3 minutes in oven at 250˚F), Spicy Hummus, 1/3 Cup Black Beans, 1/2 Avocado, tomato, onion, carrots & arugula (however much you want!)

12. Put the rest in a sealable container and save for next time! They should last about a week.

The final product

This was probably my biggest foray into the world of clean cooking (is that a term?) so far. It covers a lot of hours, but the actual work time is completely manageable.

I’ve been really enjoying cooking. Eating these clean recipes, using only organic, fresh products makes me feel energized and accomplished. Plus, the only way to trust what’s in it is to make it at home! Now I just have to decide what to make next…

-lj

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