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Bean cuisine

Beans, beans, the economical fruit. The more you eat, you save more loot. That seems to be Charlene Nelson's view of legumes. At $2 to $3 for a bean meal, versus $8 or $9 for a typical family meal including meat, they're a real budget-saver. And ...


Beans, beans, the economical fruit. The more you eat, you save more loot.

That seems to be Charlene Nelson's view of legumes.

At $2 to $3 for a bean meal, versus $8 or $9 for a typical family meal including meat, they're a real budget-saver.

And they can't be beat for their nutritional value, Nelson says.

The Casselton, N.D., woman is known for incorporating beans into her family's weekly menu in a variety of ways. She will lead a Moorhead Community Education class about beans in February.


"Usually we think of beans in just soups and chilies," Nelson says.

She suggests sprouting beans to use in salads, grinding beans into flour for baking and cooking, and even using beans in desserts.

"Who ever heard of pinto bean fudge?" she says.

She buys several kinds of dry beans in bulk to use through the year. Pinto, lentils, black, navy and garbanzo beans are the ones she uses most.

Tochi Products in downtown Fargo carries at least 25 different types of dry beans, owner Will Hoglund says. They sell most in single-pound bags, for $1 to $2 a pound.

"It's an inexpensive way to get your protein," Hoglund says.

Beans are also a good source of fiber and folate, and are low in fat and cholesterol-free.

Two studies released in 2006, one from the National Cancer Institute and Nurses' Health Study, showed that eating beans may lower the risk of developing colon adenoma, a non-cancerous tumor that can develop into colon cancer.


But some people don't like to eat beans for that "magical" reason.

Beans contain sugars indigestible by normal stomach enzymes. They proceed to the lower intestines, where bacteria break down the carbohydrate and produce gas.

Nelson says darker beans are harder to digest. People can gradually get the body used to beans by starting with the mild lentil, then trying pinto, white navy and great Northern beans.

She also suggests changing the water between soaking and cooking the beans, and draining the water after cooking can reduce flatulence.

"And of course, there's Beano as a last resort," she says.


1 14-ounce can chickpeas

¼ cup lemon juice


¼ cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves

Drain and rinse chickpeas and place in blender or food processor. Add lemon juice and mix. When it becomes creamy, add olive oil. Mix until perfectly creamy.

Stop mixer and crush garlic cloves on top of hummus. Wait a couple minutes, then mix again. Serve cold with pita bread.

Black Bean Dip

2 15-ounce cans black beans

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or 1 tablespoon dried)


2 small tomatoes, chopped

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

Juice of 1 lime

1 small onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

In a food processor, coarsely chop the black beans, garlic, cilantro and 1 tomato. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Add the red pepper, cumin, lime juice, onion, remaining tomato, salt and pepper.


Chill, allowing flavors to blend. Serve with chips. Makes about 3 cups.


1½ cups dry navy beans

9 cups water

1 cup chopped carrots

6 slices bacon

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery


1 clove garlic, minced

2 16-ounce cans tomatoes, diced

3 ounces (1½ cups) fine egg noodles

2 cups finely shredded cabbage

2 medium zucchini, sliced (2 cups)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried sage

¼ teaspoon pepper

Rinse beans, combine with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Do not drain.

Add the carrots and return to heat. Cover and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours.

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings.

Crumble bacon and set aside.

Cook onion, celery and garlic in bacon drippings until almost tender. Add to beans, along with undrained tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini and spices. Bring to a boil. Stir in noodles.

Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes or until noodles are tender. Stir in bacon. Serves 8.

Pinto Bean Fudge

1 cup cooked soft pinto beans (drained and mashed)

¼ cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 pounds powdered sugar

Nuts (optional)

In a large bowl, stir beans and milk together, adding enough milk to resemble mashed potatoes. Stir in vanilla.

Melt chocolate and butter and stir in bean mixture. Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Knead with hands to get it well blended.

Spread into lightly buttered 9-inch baking dish or form into 1½ inch rolls. Chill 1-2 hours.

Adding nuts will mask the lumpiness of the bean mixture. Or, consider using bean flour instead of beans for a smooth consistency.

If you go

- Charlene Nelson will lead a Moorhead Community Education class on beans from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Feb. 8. Call (218) 284-3400 to register.


- 1 cup dried beans = 2 to 2½ cups cooked beans

- 1 pound cooked beans = about 6 cups, or four servings

- 1 cup dried pinto beans = 2 cups bean flour

Recipes courtesy of Charlene Nelson

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525

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