I am featuring yet another bean recipe! In Britain, baked beans on toast are a staple of a fully-cooked English breakfast. When I traveled throughout Europe, I remember having a lot of jam with (very dry) toast as part of the continental hotel breakfasts. I never had baked beans while in England, but I read that British-style baked beans refers almost exclusively to canned beans in a tomato sauce and are often paired with blood sausage, eggs, bacon, and more meat. Even before I became vegan, I hardly ever ate a significant amount of meat, let alone blood sausage and bacon! The Bible considers that kind of meat to be unclean (Leviticus 11 & Acts 10). With all the disease ravaging the animal kingdom today, I would have to agree with the God of the Hebrew nation. Not only does He want to set His followers apart from the world, He cares about our health and the livelihood of the animals too!
Baked beans from scratch take a lot more preparation, however they are a very rewarding part of a full balanced meal. When you eat beans, you automatically increase the amount of plant-based fiber in your diet. Beans also help to regulate blood glucose levels so it is recommended to include them at breakfast time! But, beware, you will notice an increase of intestinal gas. The good news is, that the longer you stick with it, the better your health will become and your body will adjust to the high levels of fiber and digesting those undesirable oligosaccharides.
British Baked Beans (makes 5 cups)
1 cup dried navy beans
4 cups water
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 maple syrup
2 tablespoons date paste (see step 6)
2 tablespoons molasses
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
- Place the navy beans into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Or, bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Once boiling, add the beans and boil for 15 minutes (this helps break up those simple sugar chains to allow for better digestion, hence less gas). Carefully drain and rinse beans.
- Next replace the water lost, with 4 cups of fresh water use the same sauce pan or pot that you cooked the beans in, turn heat to a medium-low, cover, and simmer until soft (about 1 hour).
- Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Stir the ketchup, maple syrup, date paste, molasses, vinegar, salt, and chili powder together in a small bowl; set aside.
- Once the beans have simmered for 1 hour, drain, and reserve the cooking liquid. Pour the beans into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish and stir in the chopped onion and the molasses sauce. Stir in enough of the reserved cooking liquid so the sauce covers the beans by 1/4 inch.
- Cover, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C), and cook 6 hours longer. Stir the beans after they have cooked for 3 hours. Once the beans are tender and the sauce has reduced and is sticky, remove from the oven, stir, recover, and allow to stand 15 minutes before serving.
- Chef’s tip: I actually did not have 6 hours to keep watch over the oven, so I cooked the beans for 3 hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 Celsius). The onions came out a little bit crunchy in texture, but overall it looked and tasted fine! To make date paste, add about 10-12 pitted medjool dates to a small saucepan and cover them with water. Simmer until soft then use a small handheld blender or drain water and blend in a Vita-mix until smooth or a jam-like consistency. Use the left over date paste on an extra piece of toast (it is a wonderful simple spread), or include it in recipes that call for blended dates. On a personal note, I also can honestly report that I did not experience a notable problem with intestinal gas after devouring this recipe. Cheers!