You might have heard about using applesauce or yogurt in baked goods to reduce the amount of fat, but have you ever heard of using dry beans? Beans are know as a super food, packed with many nutrients our bodies need. Legumes, like dry beans, are high in fiber, low in fat, and a good source of many other nutrients. In fact, they are so healthy that the USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest we eat several cups of beans each week.
A great way to reduce fat and add some nutrition to baked goods is to use beans as one of the ingredients. Dry beans take a bit of preparation. Soaking is the first step. There are two different ways to soak beans:
Quick Soak Method
Cover beans with twice as much water as beans (2 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans). Bring to a boil, boil 2 minutes, remove from heat and allow them to soak at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours. Discard soaking liquid.
Traditional Overnight Soak
Cover beans with twice as much water as beans (2 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans). Soak 8-18 hours in a cool place. Discard soaking liquid
Once your beans are soaked, it is time to cook them. Here are a few important tips about cooking beans:
- Rinse beans in cold water prior to cooking and remove any rocks, dirt, or bad beans.
- Beans will double to triple in size during soaking and cooking.
- The slower the beans are cooked, the easier they are to digest. If adding water to cooking beans is necessary, bring water to a boil before adding. Adding cold water will toughen beans and slow down the cooking process.
- To prevent skins from bursting, simmer gently and stir as little as possible.
- Increase cooking time in high altitude and hard water areas.
When it comes to using beans in baked goods, white beans, great northern beans, and black beans are my favorite. Once you decide which type of bean you will be using, follow the recipe below to make bean puree.
Now I’m going to spill the beans and let you in on a little secret! If soaking and cooking dry beans seems like more of a lengthy process than you are ready for, you can use canned beans. Use a can opener to open the can. You don’t need to rinse the beans, but you do want to drain off most of the liquid. Next place the beans in the blender or food processor to puree. If you would like a smoother consistency, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of canola oil.
A good idea is to make a whole bunch of bean puree at one time and freeze for later use. It will last in the freezer for up to six months. My favorite way to free bean puree is to place it in ice cube trays. Once they cubes are frozen I can remove them from the trays and place them in a freezer bag. That way, when I need some bean puree, I can pull just a few cubes out of the freezer at a time.
Using bean puree in recipes may take a bit of practice. A good rule of thumb is to use 1:1 ratios and to never remove all of the fat in a recipe. For example, if a cookie recipe calls for 1 cup margarine and 1 cup shortening, try replacing it with 1 cup bean puree, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup oil. The amounts have stayed the same, but the ingredients have changed from unhealthy ingredients (margarine and shortening) to healthier ingredients (butter, oil, and beans). To get started try out recipes posted below. Then be brave and start using beans in your favorite recipes. Enjoy!
Click on each recipe card for a printable version.
Certified Nutrition Education Assistant
Categories: Create A Healthy Dessert