Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Guide to Beans

My Crazy Sexy Guide to Beans


Hi Sweet Friend,

Does this charming chant ring a bell? Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you… toot! Whether this tune gives you the giggles or makes you blush, you get the point: beans wake up your gut!

Beans are an essential component to any plant-based diet. They’re loaded with protein and fiber and add heft and heartiness to any meal. Did you know that there are more than 800 varieties of beans? Holy abundance!

What you may not realize is that the more you eat beans, the better you feel. And there are many things you can do to make friends with this fibrous food if you find that they cause some digestive discomfort. (Get loads of tips here!) Since I’m such a huge fan of these thrifty, nourishing and tasty members of the plant family, I feel a little education on this pantry staple is in order. And I turned to my handy-dandy cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen for some assistance…

Let’s start with the basics. How do you choose the best beans?

Dried or canned? I buy dried beans in bulk (saves money!) and store them in mason jars. But it’s always good to have a few cans around for those times when you haven’t soaked your beans and are in a rush. When buying canned beans look for BPA-free products without preservatives, such as calcium disodium EDTA. Also, try to use low-sodium varieties and make sure to rinse them well (no need to pickle yourself!). Bonus tip: Brands like Eden add kombu (seaweed) to their canned beans, which make these tasty dudes easier to digest.

How to prep for ultimate pep!

First, let’s learn about enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. Beans, seeds, and legumes contain enzyme inhibitors, which delay germination (when a plant emerges from its seed and sings, “Hello, world!”). In nature, rain triggers germination. If we eat these foods before soaking, then it hasn’t “rained” yet and the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid are still intact. Who cares? Your belly!

Enzyme inhibitors block and bind with our digestive and metabolic enzymes. What are they? Digestive enzymes help to break down our food, while metabolic enzymes support every amazing function in our bodies. Bottom line, we don’t want to mess with them. Soaking beans triggers germination which neutralizes enzyme inhibitors.

Phytic acid in the body decreases our ability to absorb key minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. These minerals are crucial for peppy health. Soaking our beans until they germinate activates the chemical phytase, which is an enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid. Voilà!

How to cook your beans

Step 1: Draw Your Beans A Bath

Place them into a bowl filled with water. Swish the little suckers around, strain, and repeat until the water is clear. This helps to remove dusty residue and the occasional dead bug (ew!), not to mention stones. Yup, from time to time you might find a little rock in your batch. Protect your choppers with a quick sift.

Step 2: Soak, Soak, Soak!

As we just mentioned, soaking your beans overnight will greatly reduce enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, making them easier to digest (less toots!). Just be sure to use fresh water for cooking. Even if you can only soak them for a few hours, it helps and your body will thank you. And get this: soaking beans for around 18 hours can reduce phytic acid by 50 to 70 percent. Dang! Plus, soaking your beans first will reduce cooking time.

Bean Bonus: Adding a piece of kombu (seaweed) increases the effectiveness of this process.

Step 3: Boil, Baby!

Just about all dry beans have a similar cooking method. Start with cold water and beans in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving the lid tilted just enough to allow some steam to escape. Beans are done when they are tender and the skin is still intact.

Tip time: What’s Up With Salt?

Salt pulls moisture from beans, so wait until they’re almost tender then add salt to the cooking water. You’ll avoid adding too much sodium, which would just get lost during the cooking process.

Your Ultimate Bean Chart

Get your bean facts at a glance, plus cooking tips with your fun and fabulous Crazy Sexy Guide to Beans! Download the PDF below.



Crazy Sexy Bean Chili

Before the weather turns warm try Crazy Sexy Kitchen’s out-of-this-world Crazy Sexy Bean Chili (huge hit on game day, hint hint!).

So tell me, what bean-tastic ways do you enjoy this magical plant? Share your favorite bean recipe or cooking/storing/buying tip in the comments below!

Peace & fabulous fiber,

Kris Carr

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71 responses to My Crazy Sexy Guide to Beans
  1. White Bean Salad!! 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or cook your own) and add chopped purple onion, chopped red/green/yellow/orange bell peppers, diced plum tomatoes, chopped raw spinach. Mix is all up, add some dried oregano and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. This is really a catch-as-catch-can recipe. Whatever looks/feels good to you. Also good stuffed in a pita pocket or served in a half of an avocado.

  2. Web team, can you help? I’ve tried accessing the link to Kris’s recent blog article/video about dairy, and no matter which browser I use the page will not load. I see only a blank page.

    Thank you for your help.

  3. I LOVE beans and used to eat them on a regular basis…but my gut just can’t seem to tolerate them. The discomfort afterwards isn’t worth it to me anymore, so stopped eating them. Is there anyway of eating beans without having such an effect on my system? Thanks!

    • Try using a pinch of hing when you cook your beans. Hing, a spice/resin used in Indian cooking and also known as asofetida, helps make beans more digestible. It does have a strong smell, though. I suggest keeping your hing in a plastic bag or container and storing in the freezer. Just a pinch will do the job! Also mixing spices with a good oil like coconut or ghee, stirring in spices like cumin, fennel and turmeric, then mixing with the beans, also helps to make them more digestible (and delicious!) and the oil acts as a vehicle for delivering all the nutrients in the beans and spices deep into the tissues, fat, bone, blood and muscles in your body. Depending on your constitution (in Ayurveda it’s called your Dosha) you can also add garlic and onions. Even parsley and coriander. Delicious!

      • You might want to try runner beans. Many people that have a hard time with small beans can tolerate runners… myself included. My personal favorites are scarlet runners and Christmas limas. I can eat a pile of these with no ill effect!

  4. This chili looks great! I’m gonna try it!
    How should I add kombu to my bean preparation? Just include it in the soaking process, or actually add it to the cooking/finished dish?

    • A thumb-sized piece of kombu is added when cooking the beans. Then just pull it out when they’re done.

    • I usually add about a 2 to 3 inch strip of kombu. This works well if you started with 1 cup dry beans before soaking. Add to the cooking water.

  5. Adding a Bay leaf or two while cooking helps to lower the gas activation as well!

  6. Love me some beans. Especially black beans. Always keep some in the pantry. Also, it saves a lot of time and energy cooking them in a crock pot – after soaking them just dump them in and forget about them for a couple of hours.

  7. Hi Kris,

    What about Lectins?


    • And what about phytates, which bind certain minerals and amino acids? To what degree does soaking and sprouting degrade them? Does it depend on how much phytase enzyme to break down phytic acid is in the bean? Do different beans have different amounts of phytase and phytate and different optimal pH levels for degrading it?

      Lectins do cause the blood to get sticky, which can help cancer cells hide, right? Does cooking degrade lectins? Do some beans have more lectins than others?

      I love beans and I love to do research and will share some responses from scientists when the research is ready for prime time. Amy, thanks for opening up a can of …

    • I’m curious about this too. I was reading that lectins can punch holes in your intestines.
      They’re all over quinoa – I did not realize they’re in beans too! D=

      • I ran this question by our Crazy Sexy RD, Jen Reilly. Here’s our combined response:

        Phytates have the potential to give beans a bad rap. Phytates occur in various amounts among all plant foods, but especially beans, nuts, and grains. They are actually a powerful antioxidant, but they also bind to iron, calcium, and zinc. So, it’s important that your diet is rich in iron, calcium, and zinc if you’re also eating lots of high-phytate foods. Interestingly enough, iron, calcium, and zinc are all found in beans! Most dark leafy greens are also loaded calcium and iron, and Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds are great sources of zinc.

        Beans highest in phytates include soybeans, navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and peanuts (they’re a bean). Beans that are lower in phytates (with about half the amount) include split peas, lentils, chickpeas, white beans, and mung beans. Soaking beans for 18 hours in very warm water can reduce their phytate content by 50-70%, and soaking also helps to neutralize lectins, the natural toxins found in many foods. Fermenting and sprouting also reduces phytate and lectin content, but it’s not recommended to sprout beans high in lectins (natural toxins). The safest beans to sprout are lentils, peas, adzuki beans, and mung beans. Hope that helps!

  8. OK, this is cool. How did Kris know I was in need of a guide to beans? That’s right – she reads minds. Thank you Kris…fabulous as always.

  9. What about Lectins!!!!!!!!!

  10. White and Black bean Risotto

    3 tblsp EVOO
    2 tblsp butter
    1 medium onion
    1 cup Aborio Rice
    White beans
    Black beans
    About 6 cups Chicken Broth

    Cook onion in Olive Oil and butter until translucent…add rice and cook for a few minutes…add Chicken Broth one cup at a time until all absorbed add beans..cook for another 5 or ten minutes and Walla!..You can add chicken to make it a meal if you like.

  11. What about frozen beans?

  12. I saute garlic, onion, potatoe, celery, carrot in olive oil, season with pepper, crushed pepper flakes, add broth of choice, cooked bean of choice (I like a white bean) & kale. Enjoy :)))

  13. Hi Kris,

    I absolutely love your positive attitude and have benefited much from your inspiration to eat a plant-based diet and not let disease be the ruler in my life! I do not have cancer but I do have Celiac. I have followed a gluten-free plant-based diet for about two years now and I have tried to eat beans every which way I can. I soak overnight, rinse, and boil and I use seaweed in the soaking water,
    I have even bought Eden brand beans but no matter what I do, beans cause me much digestive distress. I believe it is most likely due to the fact that my intestines are worn down from years of poor eating and not realizing I had Celiac.

    All that said, do you have any suggestions for substitutes for the beans? I eat Quinoa, Rice, and other grains as well as a variety of veggies and fruits but would like to have more variety in the base foods for my recipes since beans are out and so are any grains with gluten. I can tolerate small amounts of Lentils and Kidney beans but more than 4 or 5 and I am in pain.



  14. Thank you so much for this bean guide Kris! I cook beans weekly and have never soaked because I thought the only benefit was to reduce cooking time. Will start soaking my beans today!! So helpful. 😀

    • I soak mine for 2-days and all the gassy-ness goes away with water. One thing she forgot to mention is when you soak them, to get rid of the gas causing enzymes, dump that soak water out and rinse several times and the refill new soak water – several times throughout the whole soak process. If you don’t dump the water and rinse them then all the whatever it is that causes gas, just soaks back into the bean.

  15. I am just simple with them. Cook dried dark kidney beans. I store them in the fridge and when I am getting ready to eat them, I add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste before reheating them in the microwave. Sometimes I will add a small dollop of sour cream.

    • Melinda, I was reading all the responses and I came to the end of yours where you mention using a microwave. UGH! Microwaves are toxic -to food & humans, and research shows they totally zap any energy and nutrients right out of food & emit unhealthy radiation . If you are on a healthy path, I suggest you get rid of the microwave. don’t nuke your food….just saying

      • Please post what “research” supports this.

        • I’d be much easier if you googled this information. It has been, for the most part, common knowledge, for quite some time now. The molecular structure of the food changes in a microwave and is definitely not health promoting at all.

  16. My favorite bean, adzuki, the smaller the bean the more the protein!

  17. Ironically I just shared this recipe with my patients at our clinic last week and it was a hit! I definitely have a responsibility to point out the important health benefits to eating more (or less of) certain foods but the one overwhelming positive response I get over-and-over is “thanks” for the recipes I share. With each nugget of nutritional wisdom I like giving my patients somewhere to start and always include a recipe (or two)! Crazy Sexy Kitchen is my go-to! We love you Kris!
    Hugs & Unicorns,
    The Whole Gang at LeBlanc Spine & Nerve

  18. In the UK we had a rhyme too……… Beans beans good for your heart the more you eat the more you fart!!!!!! Excellent post.x

  19. Adding a splash of vinegar to beans when you are ready to eat them, greatly reduces tummy problems.

  20. We eat a lot of beans in our household, love them! What do you think about using a pressure cooker for cooking them?

  21. Do you just leave beans on counter to soak or should they be in refrigerator?

  22. I’ve read you can put dried beans in a slow cooker and cook for 4-6 hours depending on the bean.

  23. I love all kinds of beans but always bought canned beans because I was never really sure of the process of rinsing and soaking. Now I can’t wait to try and I’m looking forward to making the chili. Thanks.

  24. Hi Kris,

    Do you soak canned beans as well?

    Much love xo


    • Canned beans are generally already soaked and cooked – ready to eat cold as a bean salad or to heat till hot enough for the palette tolerance. Linda

  25. I use red beans. I cook on dimmer for a few hours with fresh garlic, shallots, onions…. Then last 30 minutes add cumin, salt, fresh cilantro, parsley…mmmh good .
    And an added mama recipe.. In a separate sauce pan scoop out bean liquid about a cup and the cooked beans, bring to a boil and crack an egg..cook until hard boiled
    Serve with sour cream ..or a substitute … Really it is tasty .
    Kris You are A Pillar! An inspiration, and a beauty thank Angels for You!

  26. I love Kidney beans in almost everything from salads to soup. Since they have a toxin that requires they be boiled for 10 minutes before I put them in my slow cooker I actually boil a huge batch for 10 minutes and then freeze them in 3 cup ziplock baggies to store for later usage so I don’t have to try to find the time to boil them in the morning before work. Saves time and hassle.

  27. Sousboontjies (Sweet and Sour Beans)

    1 c Sugar beans, soaked or 1 can Butter Beans
    2 Tb Sugar
    4 tb Vinegar
    Himalaya Salt / Black pepper to taste
    2 Tb Butter

    Drain the water from the sugar beans. Cover the beans with fresh, cold water and cook until beans are tender. Drain the beans again and place them in a pan over low heat. Add butter, sugar and vinegar, shaking the pan. Add salt and pepper. Simmer the ingredients for 15 minutes on the lowest possible heat. Serve the beans hot or bottle them and store in refrigerator.

  28. Are refried beans healthy? I buy the canned vegetarian kind.

  29. I made the Crazy Sexy Bean Chili – It was awesome. I did make a change. I used sweet potato instead of white and eliminated the maple syrup. I needed to increase the cooking time to 45 minutes because of the sweet potatoes.

    My husband loved it!!

  30. I bought a pressure cooker a couple months ago after a friend suggested it.Wow! What a huge difference.Quicker and easier.I still soak the beans ahead.I had trouble getting the proper texture before so I just used canned.Not anymore.It has been a great investment.

  31. I absolutely love beans and eat them every day. I always thought the bloating and gas issues came from the beans themselves. But for me, when I gave up dairy and stopped putting cheese and sour cream on top of my beans, all of those symptoms went away. Now I enjoy them with no problems at all! Thank you for the guide.


  32. Thank you for this guide and the tip on when to add salt I did not know that.

  33. I was wondering if you could tell me how to store beans that have been soaked for quick preparation. I love beans but hate cans and would love to get away from using canned beans if possible. Love your site and how knowledgeable you are! Thank you for taking the time to share, it is very much appreciated!

  34. LOL… there are so many versions of that little ditty. The one I usually use is:

    Beans, beans, are good for a hoot, the more you eat, the more you toot.

    But yes, love my beans… wish my family liked them more since they’re so great for you.

  35. What about lentils….do you have to soak them?

  36. My eyebrow raised when I read about this bean topic. Beans have been prohibited at home because of its phytic acid which is a huge no-no for my mom. We had to go along with her no-bean-diet to make it easier for her. That’s a great guide you made on the bean soaking process to reduce the phytic acid content and kudos on the nutrient breakdown for all the healthy beans.

  37. I make killer chili & amazing bean soups using Better Than Bullion. My secret ingredient.

  38. Amber said on May 1, 2014

    We take it to the next level and sprout all of our beans, and grains because that’s when they are easiest to digest and peak in available nutrients. It’s just another few easy steps, drain after soaking overnight, rinse a couple of times a day, keep covered with mesh or cloth so nothing gets in and in a few days you’ll have the most nutrient dense sprouted beans to cook. We freeze some after cooking to have them ready to go when needed.

  39. Have you ever tried pressure cooking the soaked beans? I regularly make chickpeas and blackbeans at home. Soaked overnight I pressure cook the blackbeans for 10 minutes (at pressure) and 12 minutes for the chickpeas. A huge batch and put the cooked beans in the freezer in whatever portion size you use most. I mostly make hummus (6cups at a shot) and black bean brownies.

  40. Sonia said on May 4, 2014

    So, can anyone tell me when I should add the kombu to beans? Cause in this article, it looks like it should be added while soaking, but in another article that Kris wrote, it says to add it when boiling the beans…

  41. Great job!
    I grew up eating beans as a complement with many other foods Thanks to you now I know that sink them is better. Sometimes when you cook them they can dry, you can add extra water when they are cooking but is better to add boiling water, :)

    Greetings from sinaloa mexico

  42. What about jelly beans???!
    Thanks for the chart! :)

  43. Instead of soaking beans overnight, after washing I put them put them in pot with water, bring to a boil, and turn off — letting them sit for about 10 min. I then rinse beans thoroughly with cool water. I fill with water again and repeat this process at least 3 times. I know it seems like a lot of work, but it will definitely almost get rid of all the bloating that comes along eating beans. After the last rinse, proceed to season and cook your beans according to your recipe.

  44. My favorite way to cook beans is in the crock pot, mostly because it’s so easy. Soak beans overnight, throw in crock pot in the morning, check in a few hours. They are really flavorful this way, too, especially if you add any flavor to the beans as they cook.

  45. Hello Kris Carr,

    GREAT chart. I “shared” it with my Facebook “friends” (>2k).
    Just two things I would add when you talk about beans:

    1) add LENTILS to your bean cooking chart
    2) please note that the BEST way to reduce gas after eating beans (of course they’ve
    got to be well soaked and cooked)… to AVOID ANYTHING SWEET, even fresh fruit, after
    eating beans.

    Mary Farkas

  46. Bean cream!! You cook black or pinto beans, caramelize some onions and add beans and coconut milk, salt, and herbs (I like epazote or oregano), and off to the blender! You have the cream with croutons, thin tortilla chips, or cheese squares… Yumm!

  47. This is such a great resource! And the title made me giggle :)

  48. Nice chart. Would be nice to see a similar chart for slow cooker use too. It seems that red kidney beans are the most important to cook right.

    I’ve tried so many times to re-create the “Tasty Bites – Madras Lentils” and not a single recipe online seems to have the exact ingredients listed on the box and they usually add or take from it. I think a combination chart for slow cookers would be great as well since cooking times are so much different, as you can’t leave lentils in the slow cooker the whole time you’re cooking kidney beans or they’ll turn to mush. i prefer to make from scratch without a recipe, but I can’t afford to waste a whole batch if the beans end up improperly cooked or overcooked.

  49. Thank you for this great article! I am so tired of the latest fad diets that are trying to say beans are bad for you (paleo). This was a great summary of the essential info we need for understanding any concerns people may have about the benefits of eating beans. Keep up the greatbwork!

  50. My fav is roasted chickpeas! They get nice and crunchy and can be spiced a million different ways- a really great tasting and satisfying snack!

  51. Beans are seeds, not fruits… ty

  52. Should I worry about getting organic beans? I know many beans are sprayed with pesticides, however with the soaking, and the boiling process of cooking beans is it necessary to worry about that?

  53. Does Cha-cha-cha-CHILI freeze well?