Beans and Grains
What exactly is a grain?
What’s the difference between wholegrain and multigrain?
Which is better, dried or canned beans?
Read along to find out the answers to these questions but recipes, cooking tips, and more!
Both beans and grains are food staples around the world and can be found in every single cuisine! Recently beans and grains have been gaining popularity due to the affordability, versatility and nutrition that they offer. From the familiar corn cob and pinto bean to the avant garde anasazi and quinoa, there is a grain and bean out there for everyone. That being said there’s often confusion about which bean and grain options are the best.
Beans add diverse flavors and textures to your cooking while also boosting the nutrition by providing a good balance of fiber, protein and minerals like calcium and iron. Beans are a great kitchen addition that make for a dynamic meal with very little cost. Plus if stored properly dried beans can last for up to 2-3 years without losing significant nutrient value and taste!
Dried beans are one of the most affordable ingredients with many types to choose from.
You can easily buy them in bulk which allows you to get exactly the amount you need without excess packaging!
Most dried beans, excluding lentils, split peas, and adzuki, will require soaking overnight (or at least 8 hours) before cooking in order to properly rehydrate them. After they’ve soaked make sure to drain the soaking water and add fresh water to your cooking pot. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional details on bean varieties, storage tips, and cooking times.
Canned beans are super convenient and great to have on hand for quick meal additions. While there tends to not be as much variety in canned beans as dried, there are still lots of bean types to choose from.
It can be especially handy to have canned garbanzo and soy beans, as these take the longest to prepare from dried.
A nutrition note on canned beans is that many have additional ingredients added such as sugar, salt, and fat and you should always check the ingredient label first before purchasing.
When it comes to fresh beans there are fresh shelling beans, like fava and cranberry beans which require shelling because the pod is inedible, and fresh whole beans, like romano and green beans which can be eaten whole. Fresh shelling beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found dried, while fresh whole beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found canned.
A benefit of fresh beans over dried and canned is that many varieties, like romano beans, can be eaten raw and do not require any cooking preparation. You can find these fresh beans when in season here at the Davis Food Co-op or your local farmers market!
When it comes to beans, dried are the most affordable option with the best variety to choose from. However, dried beans require proper storage and more preparation time for soaking and cooking. Canned beans offer the most convenience and are also an affordable option, but they limit the control of nutrients like salt and fat because many canned options have additional ingredients added. And lastly, fresh beans are a great seasonal option that can occasionally even be eaten raw offering unique flavors and textures.
Guide to Grains:
Grains, sometimes referred to as cereals, are small, hard seeds that come from different grass and grass-like plants. Today the most commonly produced grains around the world are rice, corn, and wheat, but there are many different kinds of grains! Whole grains are great sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins plus they are very satisfying and filling meal additions. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional information on types of grains, storage tips, and cooking times!
So what’s the difference between whole grain, multigrain, and fortified grains?
Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel, the bran, endosperm, and germ, are used. This is obvious when cooking rice or quinoa because the grain kernel is still intact, but can become more confusing when buying grain products like bread, pasta, and crackers.
Whole grains are the healthiest option because they offer the full nutrient and fiber content of the grain.
Back in 2005 the Whole Grains Council created a whole grain stamp that makes it easy to identify products made with whole grains! Many but not all products use the whole grain stamp so other good identifiers of whole grains are words like ‘stone ground’ and ‘whole wheat’.
Fun fact, popcorn is a whole grain!
Multigrain means that multiple different grains were used but none of them necessarily in their whole form. Due to this, the term multigrain can be deceiving because it is just referring to the number of grains and not the quality of the grains.
Multigrain products such as rice blends can be great options to diversify your cooking but it’s important to check the label because multigrain breads and cereals can sometimes be tricky!
Other names to look out for are numbers placed in front of grain such as ‘seven-grain’ or twelve-grain’. These are still multigrain products and may or may not contain actual whole grains.
Fortification is a process used to restore the nutrient content of grains that have been stripped of their natural nutrients during refining. During refining grain kernels are separated and the bran and germ are removed leaving just the starchy endosperm behind.
This is generally done because the bran and germ impart more earthy flavors that are not also desirable but in doing so the majority of fiber and nutrients are also removed from the grain.
This is why most refined grains are then fortified with essential nutrients such as B vitamins and iron. While fortification has made refined grains much healthier, they still do not compare to their whole grain counterparts and will be lacking in nutrients unique to that grain.
When it comes to grains and grain products whole grain is the best option because the grain kernels are still intact leaving all of the nutrients intact as well. Multigrain products can be good options to get a variety of grains into your diet but tend to be misleading as to the processing and quality of the grain so you should always double-check the nutrition label. And lastly, fortified grains are highly processed, do not contain the same nutrients found in whole grains and therefore should be the last option when buying grain products.
Bean and Grain Recipes
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
Kale and Chickpea Frittatas
Maple Pecan Granola
Peanut Tofu Ramen
Cooking with Avocado Oil
Avocado Oil? But I have always used Olive Oil!
Similar to olive oil, avocado oil is one of a few cooking oils that is extracted directly from the pulp of the fruit as opposed to chemically extracted from the seed.
While avocado oil has long been used in cosmetics and self-care products like shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, it has also become a favorite for many to cook with. The high smoke point of the oil (up to 520 degrees Fahrenheit!), makes it great for high temperature cooking, such as frying and sauteing.
It is creamier in texture and has a less bitter flavor than olive oil which makes it extremely versatile in a number of dishes. Some vegan recipes even use it as a butter replacement.
While avocado oil has a similar fatty acid profile as olive oil (around 75% fat with a substantial dose of monounsaturated compounds), there’s also a few other key nutrients that make it a healthy option:
- It has 25% more Vitamin E than Olive Oil, which helps nourish skin and hair . You can actually rub a small amount of avocado oil into the skin in dry areas to provide relief; even some cases of psoriasis have been helped with a topical treatment.
- It has more potassium than a banana to help stabilize blood pressure and promote heart health.
- This oil has nearly triple the amount of carotenoids as olive oil. These soluble antioxidants help fight cancer growth, protect the eyes from macular degeneration, and halt the physical signs of aging
- It contains lutein, a plant compound that helps to preserve eyesight
- Around 23% of the daily recommended amount of folate, a B vitamin that’s important during pregnancy to support the development of a healthy fetus can be found in Avocado Oil
- Studies from the National Center for Health Statistics have shown that those who eat avocados regularly are better off than those that don’t. And avocado oil is just as effective as the raw fruit. Those that ate one serving of avocado every day found these benefits:
- 22% lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
- 11% increase in HDL cholesterol (the good kind!)
- 20% less blood triglycerides
This isn’t to take away from Olive Oil; it is still a cheaper alternative with its own health benefits and a classic flavor that shines in cold dishes like salad and meals with lower cooking points. But if you are looking for an oil that can withstand a higher cooking point while providing you with some extra health benefits and a pleasant taste, Avocado Oil may be the oil for you!
Plant-Based Taco Tuesday
Looking for a way to switch up your Taco Tuesday? We have a recipe that is plant-based, protein-packed, and perfect for a laid-back weeknight meal. Watch the video below for an explanation of what ingredients we chose and a walkthrough of the steps. The ingredients and instructions are listed below.
1 to 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Apple cider vinegar
10-12 corn tortillas (use GF if desired)
Tofu “cheese” crumbles (1 C crumbled extra firm tofu, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast)
Garnishes: 1/2 cup salsa, avocado, fresh cilantro, lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Coat the sweet potatoes in about 2 tbsp of oil, salt, chili powder, and cumin. Then put on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes. Stir and flip, then roast another 15 minutes.
- While this is roasting, saute the onions in about a tbsp of oil. Just before they are soft, add the garlic and jalapeño, saute for another minute. Then add the drained and rinsed black beans and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Cook until hot.
- Crumble extra firm tofu into a bowl, add salt and nutritional yeast. Mix well. This is your cheese!
- Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet or in the microwave.
- Let everyone fill their tacos with sweet potatoes, beans, avocado, salsa, cilantro, and cheese! Yum!
This recipe was developed by our Education and Outreach Specialist, Madison Suoja, and the demonstration was done by our staff member Rheanna Smith. Rheanna has a background in nutrition and food science, and along with working in many departments here at the Davis Food Co-op, she actively runs a food blog containing healthy recipes and nutrition tips. Keep an eye on our Co-op blog to see some of her recipes and give her Instagram account a follow for additional health tips and ideas, @rheannnabanana.
Layered Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge
Stuck at home and looking for a fun and delicious recipe that the whole family will love? We have just what you need, easy layered peanut butter freezer fudge! This simple yet hands-on recipe makes for the perfect sweet treat while also being dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan!
This recipe is also an opportunity to try out some of the Fair Trade products that we have in our store! Coconut Oil and Chocolate are products that traditionally have not always fairly compensated the farmers that produce them. Buying Fair Trade versions of these products makes a positive impact on the lives of these farmers and makes the cultivation of these products more sustainable as well. For this recipe, we suggest using Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil and Equal Exchange chocolate chips, but we have many more Fair Trade options in our store for you to choose from! You can find some of our staff’s favorite Fair Trade items in another of our blog posts.
What You’ll Need:
- 8×8 inch Baking Dish
- Parchment Paper
- Small Saucepan
- Small Mixing Bowls
- Measuring Spoons/Cups
- Rubber Spatula
- Baking Sheet
- Ziplock Bag (optional)
- 1 + ½ cup Peanut Butter
- 6-8 tbsp Maple Syrup
- 1 ½ cup Oat Flour (Divided)
- ¼ cup Cocoa Powder
- 1 cup Coconut Milk (Divided)
- 2-3 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 2 cups Chocolate Chips
Makes 12+ servings!
- Begin by heating the small saucepan over low heat and adding in 1 cup of the peanut butter and all of the maple syrup.
- Mix together the peanut butter and maple syrup, stirring constantly for about one minute or until smooth.
- Remove the peanut butter mixture from the heat and evenly divide into two mixing bowls.
- To one of the mixing bowls add in half of the oat flour (¾ cup), half of the coconut milk (½ cup), and all of the cocoa powder. Mix until smooth and thick to form the chocolate layer.
- To the other mixing bowl add in the remaining oat flour (¾ cup), remaining coconut milk (½ cup), and remaining peanut butter (½ cup). Mix until smooth and creamy to form the peanut butter layer.
- Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and using clean hands or a rubber spatula press the chocolate mixture into the bottom of the pan to form an even layer.
- Scoop the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate layer and press into an even layer on top.
- Place in the freezer overnight or for at least 3 hours to set.
- Once fully set remove the layered freezer fudge from the parchment and cut into 2-inch cubes.
- Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together in a small saucepan or double boiler over medium-low heat until smooth and creamy, being careful to not burn the chocolate by stirring constantly.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a fork or slotted spoon, dip each fudge chunk into the melted chocolate sauce, drain off extra chocolate by gently tapping the side of the bowl and then set on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Place into the freezer for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow the chocolate sauce to harden.
- *Optional – For an extra touch scoop a tablespoon or two of peanut butter into a small ziplock bag. Using scissors cut off the tip of one of the bottom corners of the bag and use it as a frosting piper to drizzle peanut butter on top of each fudge chunk!
Store in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for up to a month.
- Peanut butter can be substituted with almond or cashew butter.
- Coconut milk can be substituted with any plant-based milk.
- If your peanut butter is extra thick add a splash of extra coconut milk to help with mixing and if your peanut butter is thin and drippy add an extra ½ tbsp of oat flour to thicken it up.
- To make your own oat flour simply pour whole rolled oats into a food processor, high-powered blender, or clean coffee grinder.
Recipe developed by our staff member, Rheanna Smith. Rheanna has a background in nutrition and food science, and along with working in many departments here at the Davis Food Co-op she actively runs a food blog containing healthy recipes and nutrition tips. Keep an eye on our Co-op blog to see some of her recipes and give her Instagram account a follow for additional health tips and ideas, @rheannnabanana.
Zero Waste Vegan: Cashew Yogurt
- 2 Cup Raw Cashews
- 1Tbsp Sweetener (Agave, Maple Syrup, Honey, Unrefined Sugar)
- ~60 Billion CFU Probiotic (DFC Brand is Vegetarian or use any vegan probiotic, use as many capsules as needed)
- Soak your Cashews in warm water for 6+ hours, I typically do it overnight.
- Separate the cashews from the water.
- Put the cashew in a blender or food processor. Add about 1 cup of water, sweetener, and probiotics.
- Blend until smooth, you may need to add more water to get the consistency you want.
- Set yogurt in a bowl, cover with a towel (it needs to be something breathable), and store in a warm place (on your countertop is probably fine).
- Let the yogurt sit for at least 6 hours. Then put it in the fridge!
- Eat it with the dried blueberries from our bulk fridge or fresh strawberries. YUM!
- At first, the texture will be similar to ricotta. Blend for longer to make it smoother. (I love ricotta! So I don’t blend it for too long)
- I like to add vanilla to give a little extra flavor!
- You must add some kind of sweetener, even if you don’t want it sweet! Probiotics need something to eat in order to grow!
Video Edited by Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist, Blog Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist
Zero Waste Vegan: Oat Milk
- 1 Cups of Rolled Oats
- 4 Cups of Cold Water
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- Add Unrefined Sugar to Taste if you want it sweeter. (or use pitted dates, agave, or honey)
- Ultra Fine Cloth
- Place all ingredients in the blender and blend for a minute.
- Use a cloth to strain and put it in a container.
- Put in the fridge.
- Use cold water. When you cook oats they form a goop. If you use warm water, your milk will be goopy.
- If you don’t have an ultra-fine cheesecloth or nut milk specific cloth, you can use a piece of cotton. It will take longer for the milk to drain and you will need to squeeze it out.