The Natural Cook® repertoire of cooking methods and the student’s guided creative process will help invent delicious bean dishes. In addition to understanding how to combine ingredients that fulfill satisfying flavors, participants will understand the character of the different kind of beans and how to cook them so that they are easily digestible and good tasting.
In 1990, when I talked about beans, people would flash a hint of a frown, pull back, and act as if I was talking about a skunk or something distasteful. Recognizing fear as the underlying pulse of this interaction, I wanted to find a way to be inspired to write the second book in my primary element trilogy – grains, beans, and vegetables. Seduction was on my mind in those days, so the simple bean became my target.
I watched beans sneak in the back door of the natural food industry. I dug into the past of how people ate beans and what I found in the history of cooking beans was really bad technical understanding of how to change the digestive inhibitors, which caused “gas”.
In the late 1960s through 1980, I was in the generation of young people seeking vegetarian and vegan diets to resonate with the spiritual teachers coming from Asia and India. I learned to cook beans from traditional cultures that rely on beans as a source of daily food. They don’t fear beans. They have awe and gratitude. Along the way, some of the secrets of properly cooked beans were ignored, and we young people would eat beans even if they were not digestible, just to be vegetarian.
The more I paid attention to the transformative process beans would go through while cooking them, I realized that in order to excite my students, I needed to romance the bean. But instead, they romanced me with their sensual brilliance and their ability to drink in almost any supporting element I gave them.
As with any good relationship, I’ve learned that even with beans there is a balance of give and take. In this relationship, the beans need me to transform them if they are going to do their part and give us their protein. With this, they give me a sturdy substance and are fully open to my creativity. But there are clear boundaries around what to do and what not to do to make them digestible. Now that I make them ever so delicious, the trick is to not eat too many.
As a food, beans definitely command my respect, even if I am not having a love affair with them. Their abundance of smooth fiber, gentle protein, and modest carbohydrates makes them a great choice for variety in any diet.