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Basic Cooked Beans

Beans are a top Blue Zones protein, so there are a lot of bean recipes in this book. Canned beans are a shortcut, but dried beans save you big time on money and sodium. Using them also keeps more of the beans’ nutrients intact. Preparing dried beans in advance is easy with a slow cooker. Make a large batch of beans and divide it into meal-size servings to freeze for later.


Basic Cooked Beans Recipe


1 pound dried pinto, black, red kidney, great northern, cannellini, or cranberry beans
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1⁄2 teaspoon salt


Spread the beans on a large baking sheet and discard any that are discolored or broken.
Set the beans in a large bowl and add enough cool tap water so they’re submerged by 2 inches.
Soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours but no more than 16 hours (that is, overnight).
Drain the beans in a colander set in the sink.
Pour them into a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker; add the onion, garlic, and thyme.
Stir in 5 cups water.
Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 5 hours on high or 9 to 10 hours on low.
Stir in the salt, cover, and cook for 10 more minutes.
Uncover and let the beans cool, storing them with their cooking liquid in small, sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Tip: Red kidney beans can cause a particularly nasty stomach upset in a small percentage of the population. Solve this by boiling the soaked and drained beans in a large saucepan of water for 5 minutes before draining and adding to the slow cooker. Never cook red kidney beans in their soaking water (in fact, you increase the chance of minor stomach upset by cooking any dried bean in its soaking water).

Tip: If you don’t want to soak the beans overnight, set them in a large saucepan and add enough cool water so they’re submerged by 2 inches; bring to a full, rolling boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 1 hour. Continue with step 2 of the recipe.

100 Recipes to Live to 100 THE BLUE ZONES KITCHEN

The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. The Blue Zones’ food tradition is going the way of the dodo bird, thanks to the encroachment of the American Food Culture.

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From #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, National Geographic Fellow & Founder of Blue Zones, Dan Buettner

The Blue Zones: Secrets for Living Longer

Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth