Black Bean Nachos

Black turtle beans are named for their dark color, which has a purple undertone.

Black beans are a key ingredient in traditional dishes from Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela and other Hispanic countries.  It can also be found in Cajun and Creole cuisines of southern Louisiana.  Legumes, like beans and lentils, are an affordable, earth-friendly and healthful protein source for most of the world.

Black beans’ purple color comes from their high levels of anthocyanins, also found in grapes and berries.  Research indicates anthocyanins may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and metal-chelating properties.  Beans are also sources of fiber, protein, carbohydrate, iron, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, thiamine, vitamin B6, and folic acid.  1, 2

Along with their nutritional benefits, beans are also legendary for their gas producing potential.  The gas is produced by intestinal bacteria consuming oligosaccharides in the beans.  Hippocrates is said to have once professed that, “passing gas is necessary to well-being.”  Yes, farting is a natural bodily process – people reportedly fart an average of 14 times a day.  Cooking beans with a piece of kombu seaweed can help make the beans easier to digest, reducing gas.  Using kombu is a common practice in Japan, and is used in canned bean production by the company Eden.  Also, the longer one cooks beans, the more their gas-producing oligosaccharides are reported to break down.  Regularly consuming beans can also reduce flatulence.  3

This week’s recipe is Black Bean Nachos.  Nachos can be a great way to introduce beans to children.  This finger food contains two of kids’ favorite foods: cheese, and chips (low fat baked corn chips in this case).  Pairing beans with corn provides complete protein.  Short on time?  Substitute canned black beans for home made, or make a large batch of beans and refrigerate/freeze leftovers in single serving containers.

BONUS!  Anthocyanin Experiment:
Anthocyanins can be used as pH indicators because their color changes with pH. Anthocyanins are pink in acidic solutions, purple in neutral solutions, greenish yellow in alkaline solutions.

To use your black bean soaking water as a pH indicator, select several acidic and basic foods/non-toxic products.  Pour some of each into its own white or clear cup.

Add some bean water to each cup of food/product, stirring if necessary.  Now watch for color changes!

If the substance is an acid (i.e. vinegar), the indicator should turn pink. If the substance is neutral (i.e. water), then the indicator should remain blackish-purple. If the substance is a base (i.e. baking soda), then the indicator should turn green.

Hooray for Science!

Disclaimer:  Test only non-toxic substances.  Do not consume test substances.  Do not mix test substances, as they may react with each other.  Dispose of substances by washing down sink with running water.  4

Black Bean Nachos

Bean Soaking Time:  Overnight

Cooking Time – Beans:  1-2 hours

Preparation Time – Nachos:  10 minutes

Baking Time – Nachos:  5-10 minutes

Yield:  2-4 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup black beans, dry
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 large bag baked corn chips
1 cup cheddar or jack cheese, grated
1 cup mild salsa or tomatoes
Optional toppings:  avocado, guacamole, sour cream, black olives, cilantro, cooked meat, like shredded beef or chicken.

Equipment:

Large bowl
Measuring cups
Strainer
Heavy-bottomed pot
Pie tin
Spatula
Plate
Spoons

Directions:

1.  Put black beans in bowl, fill bowl with water, and let soak overnight.

2.  Strain beans with sieve, reserving soaking water for pH experiment if desired.  Put beans and salt in pot.

3.  Cover beans with several inches of water.  Bring mixture to boil on high heat, and cook 1-2 hours on medium heat until beans soft, stirring occasionally.  Add additional water to keep beans covered, if needed.  Remove from heat.

4.  Preheat oven to 375 F.

5.  Place a layer of chips on pie tin.  Add some cheese and strained beans.  Add another layer of chips, and top with more cheese and beans.

6.  Bake nachos in 375 F oven until cheese is melted.  Carefully transfer nachos to a plate.  Top with salsa, and favorite nacho toppings.

7.  Enjoy!

References:

1.  Linus Pauling Information Center: Flavonoids

2.  USDA Nutrient Database

3. Eden Organic

4.  Discovery’s How Stuff Works

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