Whole Foods Lifestyle - How to season dry beans?

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02-06-2011, 04:30 PM
How can you season dry beans in a crock pot besides using fat meat, salt, or any other unhealthy things. Is there any healthy alternatives? Preferably low sodium choices?

02-06-2011, 04:54 PM
I cook my beans in a pressure cooker but I usually add crushed garlic and diced onions. Also, I may add seasonings when I eat them such as chili powder.

02-06-2011, 04:55 PM
I haven't used a crock pot, but how about adding spices such as basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, italian seasoning, ground pepper, and so on - whichever ones you enjoy. Or perhaps adding them to the finished product before serving, especially if you are using fresh herbs/spices? Fresh herbs/spices, more so than their dry counterparts, add a substantial kick of flavour.

02-06-2011, 05:51 PM
I've actually heard that it's bad to add lots of salt to beans while they're cooking - apparently, it can keep the beans from becoming tender. I like to make what I call "Louisiana" style beans (think red beans and rice without the rice). I saute onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, and diced carrots with a bit of cooking spray, add the beans which I've soaked overnight, a can of crushed tomatoes (I look for the lower sodium kind), about 6-8 cups water or low sodium chicken stock, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, bay leaves, parsley, and cajun seasoning then simmer for a few hours. You'd have to saute the veggies ahead of time, but the main cooking can totally be done in a crock pot. I've never even felt the urge to add salt on the tail end of the cooking time (especially if I didn't have low-sodium varieties on hand). If I can find lower fat/calorie andouille sausage, I'll add it with about 30 mins of cook time left, or sometimes I'll just add turkey Keilbasa or smoked sausage. I took the following recipe, and "healthed" it up :D


02-06-2011, 07:37 PM
I do crockpot beans alot, and season with all sorts of herbs, spices, and seasoning veggies and herbs.

Usually I saute seasoning veggies (onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bell pepper, parsley, cilantro, basil - not all of them, just what I have on hand and want to add).

If I'm being lazy, I'll just stir in the diced seasoning veggies (or if I'm really lazy I'll throw in a whole onion, a whole carrot, a whole slice of celery and I'll fish those out later).

I never buy low and reduced sodium products without reading the label very carefully, because many use potassium chloride (a common salt substitute) in place of sodium chloride (table salt). It has a salty taste, but also an extremely unpleasant bitter, metallic aftertaste. And in my experience, dilution doesn't seem to help (I ended up having to throw a huge pot of soup away, because I had used 1 small, 6oz can of low-sodium tomato juice that contained potassium chloride. And even in that small proportion, the metallic taste was still very noticeable and unpleasant to me).

Some people don't mind, or can't detect the aftertaste (which I can't even imagine because I find it so horrible, and I'll eat just about anything). So if you're going to try low sodium products that contain potassium salts, make sure you taste it before adding it to a recipe.

02-06-2011, 08:14 PM
I never buy low and reduced sodium products without reading the label very carefully, because many use potassium chloride (a common salt substitute) in place of sodium chloride (table salt). It has a salty taste, but also an extremely unpleasant bitter, metallic aftertaste.

Huh...learn something new everyday :) I'll have to add that to my list of unexpected ingredients to look for in canned food...kind of like corn syrup added to canned tomatoes :dizzy: or added sugar in low-fat stuff. I naively figured that they just didn't add as much salt, but otherwise it was pretty much the same stuff -

02-06-2011, 08:32 PM
I add a piece of seaweed. It keeps the beans tender while adding some salty flavor. You can find dry seaweed in the grocery store or natural food store.

02-06-2011, 10:23 PM
I have a Greek seasoning mix that I made (recipe online somewhere), and that is good in beans or lentils.

02-06-2011, 10:52 PM
SALSA!!!! I put that in even before I was a fat chick. Back then, I also added bacon.. Maybe some of the Oscar Meyer kind that is 3 slices for 70 calories...center cut...would work for you now, esp. if you just use a little and it would give great flavor. I also like canned green chiles, but I bet you could use fresh ones just as easily.

02-07-2011, 02:54 AM
I often saute a slice or two of bacon to start off a pot of beans. Stretched over a large pot the calories don't add that much to individual servings and they add a lot of flavor (especially if you are cooking for people who object to your "healthy diet" like my stepdad). :) You can also slice up a kielbasa or bratwurst into the pot toward the end of cooking for those folks, and just not eat any yourself.

Watch out for the turkey bacon though, it seems MUCH saltier than the regular pork bacon.

02-07-2011, 01:21 PM
Thanks guys for all the great suggestions!!!!!

Jennifer 3FC
02-07-2011, 02:47 PM
I use bay leaves, a little olive oil, and a couple of tablespoons of smoked paprika. It tastes like it was flavored with ham.

Edited to add: It's important to use some olive oil, because that really helps with the flavor absorption.

02-07-2011, 04:13 PM
Another consideration is the quality of your dried beans. When I switched from pintos in the bag at the grocery store to the high rate turnover bulk bin at Whole Foods (99cents a pound) I was amazed at the "beaniness" of the beans. I have not tried the high end heirlooms from Rancho Gordo but hear they are phenomenal. When I use good beans I want to taste the bean. I add some whole sprigs of fresh oregano during the last bit of cooking and it imparts just enough extra. Of course I eat them with super spicy homemade salsa :) I also do not pre soak and I do salt some from the beginning never having encountered the oft spoken of failure to tenderize.

02-07-2011, 04:57 PM
Oh Rancho Gordo is awesome :) One of my favorite bean has had some bad crop years so they haven't had it available but once they do, I'm making a large order.

Jennifer 3FC
02-08-2011, 03:20 PM
Have you had the Gay Cabellero sauce from Rancho Gordo? Ohhhhh yum! I just looked on their website and don't see it. I wrote them and asked if they were still making it. Some other places online do sell it, though.

Suzanne 3FC
02-09-2011, 10:57 AM
I bought pasilla oaxaca peppers from World Spice Merchants (http://www.worldspice.com/spices/0054pasillaoaxaca.shtml). They are wood smoked and heavenly! World Spice said they were good in vegetarian dishes instead of bacon or ham hock. I split them to remove the seeds first so they won't impart much heat, but you still get a teeny tiny zing.

02-09-2011, 05:51 PM
Oh yes Suzanne - both pasillas and anchos lend a lovely rich complex flavor. I do not bother de-seeding. I leave the stem on so most of the seeds stay inside and remove when beans are done. These can often be found inexpensively in clear plastic bags where the bulk Mexican spices are. Here in So Cal I get them at the 99 cent store or Smart & Final, and even the Safeway chain has them for a bit more.

Suzanne 3FC
02-11-2011, 07:14 PM
tommy, thanks for the tip, I never thought about leaving them whole! Are the ones you refer to wood smoked as well? I'm addicted to wood smoked foods and that's the one thing I miss since I gave up meat.

02-11-2011, 08:48 PM
this sounds sooo delicioius! guess what I am gonna do on Sunday!!
one thing I do with dried beans, is soak em over night and i will take one tbsp of olive oil and sautee garlic and crushed red peppers and some onions fill the pot with water and cook the beans until they are soft, they freeze really good, lima beans are really good this way

02-12-2011, 03:17 PM
I do black beans in the crock pot, and my favorite way to season them is to add sauted onions and garlic and a LOT of ground cumin near the end of the cooking. I'm talking 3 tablespoons or more of the stuff.

02-12-2011, 05:06 PM
Suzanne - I doubt they are wood smoked but they have such a natural "smoky" flavor with sort of a chocolate lilt that for the price I am happy. I know someone who uses a smoky tea for smoke flavoring (lapsang souchong)

02-16-2011, 01:12 AM
I dump sriracha on everything and call it a day.

06-01-2011, 05:17 PM
I have never considered using my crockpot to make beans. Wow!! I learn something new everyday on 3 Fat Chicks. :carrot:

06-26-2011, 04:49 PM
My favorite way is to chop an onion and about 3 jalapenos, sautee for about 1 or 2 minutes and add them to the bean pot. Garlic, too, if you like. I LOVE jalapenos in beans and if you throw them in early in the process the whole pot of beans is fantastic!!

07-04-2011, 10:26 PM
I like cooking a big batch of beans....then season them according to my taste sometimes its a bean and veggie soup, or taco seasoned....etc bean and bacon or ham. celery and carrot and thyme and garlic. I like them best just plain with salt and pepper.

09-12-2011, 08:14 AM
I have not heard of any other better alternative. Am surprised to see that all this suggestions are working. great.

09-16-2011, 02:24 AM
If you don't want to add meat to a pot of beans, but still want a smoky flavor, use liquid smoke. It's all-natural and isn't made from chemicals. Alton Brown had an episode of Good Eats where he showed you how to make it yourself.