Full of Beans

What do you consider when choosing food for your toddler?

Toddlers may not know beans about convenience or nutrients, but they do know what they like. Beans make toddlers smile. They like to take things into their own hands and pop them in their mouths. It helps them feel capable and independent.

Knowing humble beans are nutrient powerhouses makes moms smile, too. Quick + taste + nutritious + fun = winning.

Read on as expert moms spill the beans on how to get your kids on the bean wagon.

Canned beans: Canned beans can be moms’ best friend when it is minutes to mealtime. Open a can of bean and rinse with water. Heat, season and serve. (See more tasty bean recipes below.)

Overnight method: Do you have time to spare? Soak dry beans overnight. Soaking beans overnight reduces cooking time. Put the beans in a bowl, cover with water and wrap in plastic or use a lid. Leave overnight on the countertop. Cook in the soaking water until tender and eat. (Draining the soaking water is fine, but some foodies say beans are more flavorful when cooked in the soaking water.)

The soak and simmer method works with these beans: chickpeas (garbanzo), navy, black, pinto, Great Northern and cannellini beans, as well as black-eyed peas. Lentils and split peas cook much quicker and do not require pre-soaking.

Before you cook that random bag of beans hiding in your pantry, check the best-by date on the bag. Toss beans that are past their prime, as they may take a long time to cook and still be too firm to eat.

Quick-soaking beans: Are you pressed for time? Try quick-soaking beans: Put beans in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover. Remove from heat, and let them sit in the warm water for about an hour.

No-soak beans: Make no-soak beans by putting beans in a pot, and cover with water. Simmer until tender and eat. (Bonus: No-soaking means the beans retain their color.)

Cooking tips: Cooking time varies from 45 minutes to three hours, based on soaking and age of beans.

Beans cooked with the lid on will be creamy. Beans cooked with the lid off may be more flavorful.

How to add flavor to beans:

Add one or more of these flavorings at the start of cooking:

  • Onion
  • Peppercorns
  • Cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Chili powder

Stir in one or more of these flavorings after the beans are cooked and drained:

  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Chopped chilies
  • Onion
  • Cilantro

How to use beans in recipes: Stuck in a dinner rut? Beans to the rescue. Which of these “recipes” will be your favorite?

How long do beans last in the refrigerator? Cooked beans last about three to five days in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen, for later use. To freeze, drain the beans and put them in small zip-lock bags and freeze. Two cups of beans are about the same as a can of beans.

When can children start eating beans? Offer small amounts of beans anytime between 8 months and a year. Babies may experience gas or indigestion if beans are offered in large amounts or sooner than 8 months. Tip: Beans and other high fiber foods can help with constipation.

Bean queen moms share these strategies for raising toddlers who love beans:

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