How to Cook Legumes/Beans Properly

Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans, mung beans, adzuki beans, borlotti beans, black beans, pinto beans......etc are so good for you!!  They are a high protein, complex carbohydrate that has resistant starch so not too much starch is absorbed by your body, they are low GI, hunger satisfying, versatile, delicious and full of vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals.  They are a perfectly packaged food that is under rated and under used.  I my kitchen they are an important staple and my preferred source of protein.  There is more protein gram for gram and is more bio-available to our body in lentils than in red meat and they do not contain the saturated fat, hormones and chemicals that red meat contains.  Every week I prepare a large pot of beans, divide them up into ziplock bas and into the freezer for quick easy meals.  Beans in cans are not ideal as they are de-natured from very high temperatures and contain high levels of added sodium and sugar. It is ok to use cans in an emergency.  The more you eat beans for the more your body will build up the right bacteria to digest them - you will get used to it.  Gradually introduce more beans into your diet.  Do not eat uncooked beans - this is bound to cause you trouble, they must be cooked and tender right through.  If you are not used to eating beans then start slowly as the good bacteria in your gut will multiply and digest this high fibre food, it will become easier to digest as time goes on. 

If you sprout your beans for a few days first until small roots appear you will make them more alkaline, make the nutrients more bio-available and shorten cooking times.

How to cook Beans Properly

Health Kitchen How To Cook Beans/Legumes Properly

Health Kitchen How To Cook Beans/Legumes Properly


  • 4 bay leaves

  • 10L stockpot (large) or use a slow cooker

  • water

  • 1/2 onion

  • 1 Garlic clove

  • Dash of olive oil

Rinse the beans under water, place them into a large bowl and cover with twice the volume of water and soak overnight.  Larger beans like chickpeas and kidney beans can be soaked for another day, changing the water twice daily, and chickpeas can be sprouted for an extra day by draining off the water, placing a lid on the container and rinsing twice a day.  The sprouting process removes the phytic acid.   

Discard the soak water and rinse the beans again, place into large stockpot with bay leaves and if you like you can add a small piece of kombu (Kelp) although I do not feel kombu makes a difference.)  Cover the beans with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil with a lid on - keep an eye on it as it will boil over if you do not remove the lid in time!  Once at boiling point remove the lid and simmer gently on a low heat until cooked.  Lentils will take 15 minutes, chickpeas and kidney beans can take between one and two hours.  Cook right through until soft, drain, cool, pack into ziplock bags and store in the freezer for speed and convenience.

Do not add salt - this will toughen the skins and prevent cooking.   

If making a puree with the beans such as hummus then add a tablespoon of aluminium free bi-carb soda to the soak water, rinse and drain after soaking.  This will soften the skins and shorten cooking times.