Beans, beans, the magical fruit...
By Stepfanie Romine, co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"
"Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot."
We've all heard that tune, and most of us have unfortunately experienced the reality of it.
Beans are an excellent source of fiber, and they are a great source of protein, especially for vegetarians. So many people are scared to eat them because of the digestive ditties that their bodies play later.
That unpleasant bloated, gassy feeling occurs when the sugars in the beans (called oligosaccharides) break down in your gut (we don't have the enzyme needed to digest it, so it ferments and produces gas).
Fear no bean. Learn how to make your beans less musical, no Beano needed:
The #1 tip: Rinse and drain canned beans. Not only will this reduce sodium significantly, but rinsing away the slimy canning liquid removes much of the gas-causing sugars.
If you cook your own:
Soak them first. This shortens the cooking time (bonus!) and allows some of the sugars to leach out.
Add a strip of kombu (a type of seaweed that also adds a rich umami flavor), a teaspoon of baking soda, or the Indian spice asafetida, a natural antiflatulent. Each of these can help break down the sugar.
Cook the beans low and slow (you can use the slow cooker), change the cooking water halfway through, and rinse them well.
Chew them well. It seems like a no-brainer, but chewing your beans (or any food) well aids in digestion.
Spill the beans: Do beans make you, ahem, musical? How do you deal with it?
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SparkRecipes.com editor Stepfanie Romine is an Ashtanga yoga teacher and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A vegetarian and runner, she has lived and cooked on three continents.