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Brenda’s Maple-Ginger Red Beans

Brenda Langton had been cooking Blue Zones foods 30 years before I found the first Blue Zone. Her Minneapolis restaurant, Spoonriver, is my go-to lunch haunt— one of those few restaurants where you can’t get an unhealthy or so-so meal. Everything tastes fantastic! As for this recipe we’ve adapted from The Spoonriver Cookbook: Better than any baked beans, these red beans are sweet and savory.

4 to 6

Brenda’s Maple-Ginger Red Beans Recipe


1 cup dried small red beans
1⁄2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon salt


Soak dried beans in a large bowl of water at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours. Drain and rinse the beans in a colander set in the sink.
Put the beans and 3 cups of water in a large pot.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.
Drain in that colander.
Return the beans to the pot; set it over medium heat.
Stir in the broth, maple syrup, ginger, soy sauce, and salt.
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes longer until slightly thickened before serving.

Tip: Use small red beans, not red kidney beans.

Tip: If you want to add some diced carrots, onions, and celery, cook 1⁄2 cup of each in a tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, then add to the beans with the broth.

Tip: You can also use 2 1⁄2 cups drained and rinsed canned beans or precooked beans; simply skip steps 1 and 2 and add them in step 3 with the other ingredients.

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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