This week I have been experimenting with dried peas and beans. I always have eaten fresh vegetables whether they were in season or not, but up until this point in time I have always thought that things like canned lentils and navy beans were ok as long as I checked the label to see how much sodium they contained.
Apparently this is not the case. There is a nasty health risk lurking in almost every can in the form of Bisphenol A (BPA) that has been linked to increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and is believed to have negative effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands.
This plastic hardening chemical is found in everything from the epoxy resin lining inside canned food, to tins of soda, to plastic water bottles and, numerous studies have found it to be dangerous to human health even at low doses. It is toxic enough that in the US the FDA has already banned its use in children’s baby bottles and sippy cups, but they have not yet banned its use in the processing of regular food.
Obviously the simplest way to protect yourself from exposure to BPA is to eat fresh food. If you must eat processed food, choose food packed in glass jars or cans that are clearly labeled “BPA-free”. Alternatively, if free vegetables are unavailable or too expensive, you can often substitute dried ingredients.
It is surprisingly easy to rehydrate things like beans or lentils in a crockpot overnight. Just add beans and water to the pot and cook on low while you sleep. In the morning drain and rinse the beans and you are ready to cook with them or mix them into salads. Even though they were “dried” you will be surprised how much fresher and cleaner they taste than the canned versions and they are a lot cheaper as well.
I made split pea soup using this method last weekend and the only thing I had to do when I got up in the morning was puree it with an electric wand. The recipe follows below:
Split Pea & Pumpkin Soup:
1 cup dried split peas
3 cups water
1 medium onion diced
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 clove garlic grated
1 inch piece of ginger finely grated
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sage
2 cups pumpkin cut in cubes
Almond milk as needed
Mix everything together in a crockpot and cook on low for about 6 hours. In the morning puree in small batches adding a bit of almond milk as required. Store in fridge for up to one week.