Topic 2 How to cook healthy foodstuffs

How to cook Beans

  • Rinse beans ahead of cooking and pick out any debris
  • Soaking beans overnight before cooking helps reduce cooking time and save energy, but it is not necessary. Soaking beans in clean water overnight, or for a few hours at the countertop.
  • Place desired quantity of beans in a container that has room for them to triple in size, fill with water, and cover.

Place soaked or rinsed, dry beans in a pot that has room for soaked beans to expand somewhat and dry beans to triple or quadruple in size. Cover soaked beans with 1-2 inches of water (or cooking liquid) or dry beans with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat so that liquid is gently simmering. Cook uncovered or partially covered until beans are tender.

It is best to use soaked beans for cooking in a slow cooker or they will take far too long to cook. Soaked beans can generally be cooked on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours in a slow cooker.

There are two main types of pressure cookers—stovetop and electric. The former generally cooks at higher temperatures and faster than the latter. Because pressure cookers vary from model to model, it is best to follow the instructions for cooking beans that came with your particular unit. Soaked or unsoaked beans of any type can be safely cooked in a pressure cooker. However, soaked beans cook more quickly and are more likely to stay intact, while unsoaked beans tend to split apart in a pressure cooker.

Beans are done cooking when they are tender in the center and do not taste overly starchy or gritty. However, they should not be cooked so long that they are all falling apart. To get all beans completely cooked, some will generally fall apart.

To amplify the flavor in beans, add dried or fresh herbs or spices and other aromatics while cooking. A common combination is onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns.

How to Cook Whole Grains

  • These are the most basic cooking instructions for a variety of whole grains. Grain is a term encompassing a large group of plant foods including oats, wheat, quinoa, brown rice, barley, and rye.
  1. Rinse grains in a strainer under cold running water OR by swishing in a bowl of water, then draining, and repeating 1-2 times until water is mostly clear.
  2. Transfer grains to a large saucepan (for up to 2 cups of dry grain) or stock pot (for >2 cups of dry grain).
  3. Add Water & Cook: Add appropriate amount of water or other liquid, place covered over high heat, stirring occasionally until liquid comes to a boil. Add other seasonings or salt, if desired. Then, stir once more, reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and simmer for the length of time indicated on the chart.
  4. Stand: Once cooking time is up, remove pot from heat without uncovering, and allow to stand for the standing time given in chart, or longer.
  5. Eat or Store: Your cooked, whole grain is ready to serve or store for later. To store, allow grains to cool to near room temperature. Then, store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (reheat in a covered dish in a microwave to serve) or freeze.

An alternate method of cooking that works for whole grains that can keep their shape with cooking— such as rice, quinoa, wheat berries, farro, or barley—is to bring a large pot of water to a boil as you would for pasta and boil the grains until done (testing occasionally for taste/texture), then drain in a fine strainer as you would pasta and then run cool water over the grains to stop the cooking. This method works well if you want to serve whole grains in a salad rather than as a warm side.