Shelling large green beans may put many off, making them select canned-varieties instead. But there is a way to do it quickly and efficiently.
We are very fortunate here in the Midlands of South Africa that we can enjoy green legumes all year-round. Favas and peas are our favourites in the winter; and pole beans, limas and scarlet runners in the summer. And a host of others of course, but those are the ones that keep us in vegetable protein.
See what else is potting in the summer vegetable garden.
We are not vegetarians, but are trying to lessen our reliance on red meat as the whole planet will have to do in the next few decades; if we want to survive the ravages of greenhouse gases. And we like our peas and beans in any case. Cooked imaginatively with herbs and spices they are absolutely delicious.
I'm less enthusiastic about dried-beans.
There are several good reasons to enjoy green legumes. To begin with they are a lot nicer than dried beans and peas; easier and quicker to prepare also, even if you have a pressure-cooker.
The second is that green beans and peas have far less of substances being called “anti-nutrients.” These are produced by plants to protect themselves from pests, one of which is a mammal known as the human-being. In particular, trypsin inhibitors reduce the digestion and absorption of protein by countering some of their pancreatic enzymes.
Others like phytates reduce the absorption of minerals from their food.
What actually are legumes you may be asking.
The anti-nutrient content of soy beans is about ten times greater than the other more common legumes which is why many people don’t like them in burgers; they are very indigestible and leave one with discomfort in the belly.
Peas have by far the least anti-nutrients; 2% of those in soy beans. That is why we can enjoy them raw without abdominal pain. All other legumes should be cooked.
The influence of these anti-nutrients is greatly reduced by soaking, rinsing and cooking; and using salt when boiling or roasting. Such that a person enjoying well rounded meals need have no concern about them.
The downside of the larger green beans and peas is that shelling takes a lot of time, and is particularly hard on the thumbnails. And so many people, to their detriment in my opinion, shun them in favour of dried-legumes; or from a can.
We have tried various different ways of shelling-beans and eventually I have come to the conclusion that it is best to cut away a thin slice along the side where the seed attaches, with a sharp knife. Then they pop out much more easily.
It is one of the reasons why the common green-bean is favoured; it doesn't need podding.
Young broad beans can be cooked and eaten in their jackets; in fact there is even more of a very important phytochemical called L-dopa in the pod.
Like all vegetables, freshly picked fava beans and peas are far sweeter than those that are days old or from a can. Late summer is the season to plant them in mild climates but spring is when we set the seeds out in Chicago. They take at least two-months before you can reap the fruit, and often longer, but then they go on bearing for a long time.
It’s amazing how much money you can save by growing your own vegetables.
And how much nicer they are when freshly-picked and cooked. They are more nutritious too I suspect.
Picking your large green beans, and other vegetables, from the garden is time-consuming, especially the limas that hide in the foliage. Instead of getting frustrated we have turned our minds around to think of it as forest bathing; a period of peace and quiet where you might meet with God and even see some fairies.
They are a wonderful source of protein; one cup of cooked lima beans, for example, will supply you with nearly a third of the amino-acids needed for the day. They are often served in traditional American culture with corn in a dish called succotash. Both have a high fibre content so the net carbs are low.
I now look at every recipe with the time taken to prepare it in mind. Does succotash have any advantage over corn on the cob and a plate of lima-beans? I don't think so.
Green beans are a very good source of a phytochemical called a betaine; it has an extremely important role to play in preventing inflammation in the body.
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Legumes have come in for a lot of stick because of their starch-content. Those on a very low carb meal plan are encouraged to eschew peas and beans; wrongly so in my opinion.
Then the schlep of shelling large green beans may be just one more reason to avoid them.
Avoid them at your peril, in my opinion, except perhaps for a season if you are very obese and must reduce your daily carbohydrate below 30g per day for a few months while you get all those pounds off.
Do remember that yoyo diets more than double the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Then it makes a lot of sense, but for a season only. So some of the ketogenic diets are helpful.
Half a cup of lima beans has 20g of starch, but a third of that is fibre that does not produce glucose but passes through to the colon where it is digested by the normal flora forming highly beneficial short-chain fatty acids instead.
So the net carbs are only about 13g.
There is oodles of research showing that diabetics on high-fibre meal plans have far better glucose and insulin profiles, with lower cholesterol and triglycerides too.
Shelling large green beans is time-consuming but there are ways of doing it neatly with a sharp knife.
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