Keeping Beans a Vegetarian Protein!

Black beans sprouting
Photo courtesy of Vera Almann

As was explained in Dr. Jack Tips’ book, The Pro-Vita Plan, master herbalist Doc Wheelwright espoused the proper preparation and cooking of legumes to keep them a vegetarian source of protein.  As is explained in the book, most beans are prepared in a manner that does not allow for the activation of sprouting, and then they are overcooked, denaturing the delicate proteins and leaving in its wake a carbohydrate-rich food.

Fun times leaning from my friend, Dr. Jack Tips

Fun times leaning from my friend, Dr. Jack Tips

However, if beans are soaked (and in my suggested preparation, also fermented), allowed to sprout just a little, and then cooked at a very gentle simmer, they maintain their protein structure, a portion of the carbohydrates are transformed by the fermentation process and another portion is used as a fuel source for the sprouting process.  The end result?  A much-more digestible, lower carbohydrate, vegetarian protein source!

At home, we enjoy beans prepared this way on salads, in sprouted corn tortillas topped with raw cheese and avocado, and blended into various pates–beans are just so versatile.  And when they’re prepared in this manner, they make a great vegetarian source of protein in a given meal.  There are some caveats, though–I have found, and so have others in my 6-week course, that fermenting peas doesn’t work out quite right…they stay tough.  Better to just soak them in plain water overnight before cooking.

You can just hear the cows mooing in deep appreciation, the chickens flapping their wings in delight ;-).

Preparation of Protein-rich Beans

  • 1 cup of organic, rinsed and sorted whole beans
  • 3 cups of room temperature, chlorine-free water
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh water kefir (to culture the water and propagate little fermentation–Kombucha works too)
  • Any vegetables and seasonings you would like for your beans
  • Plan to also include about 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt in the soaking water to help soften the beans when cooking

Soak the beans in water, salt and water kefir  for at least 8 hours, up to 24 if you like, kept at room temperature, in a loosely covered bowl (a bound paper towel works great, or a pot with a lid.)  Check them after about 4 hours to make sure they are staying well-submerged under the water.

Beans after eight hours of soaking should be pliable to the teeth, no longer ultra-hard, and after the longer fermentation cycle of up to 24 hours, you’ll also notice they are fermenting…there will be bubbles and a slightly tart sent of fermentation.

Drain and rinse the beans, then spread them in a colander, keeping them level throughout, and loosely covered with a paper towel. (Placing them in a colander keeps air circulating on more surface area of the beans, and makes for easy rinsing until they begin to sprout.)  Keep beans at room temperature, checking every few hours for a small, white sprout to appear.  Rinse every 4-5 hours until sprouts have appeared.  Just don’t let them get slimy!  Rinsing helps avoid this, but if it is especially warm and/or humid, you may need to rinse more frequently.

Once sprouted, add beans to simmering water—or even bone broth.  You may want to season with herbs and spices and precook any vegetables you might include as well.  Bring the beans and water/broth up to a gentle boil, removing any scum that might rise to the surface.  After a few minutes, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cap the pot, careful that it doesn’t start simmering too hard with the lid on.  Plan to maintain at this heat for 40-50 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from the heat and enjoy!  Cooked beans will store in the refrigerator for up to five days in a glass, stainless steel or ceramic container–and beans freeze very well for several months.


  • Renate

    RE: Preparation of Protein-rich Beans. I’ve tried following this recipe twice using a slow cooker and failed. I bought the Cuisinart Cook Central 3-in-1 Multicooker MSC-600. What intrigued me about it is the slow cooking settings of High(212F), Low(200F), Simmer(185F) and Warm(165F). Following the Keeping Beans a Vegetarian Protein recipe I used the Simmer setting. After 21 hours at this setting they were tolerable, but not desirable. The beans were soaked using 2 Tablespoons of Suero Gold and sprouted before cooking. I need help in determining if it’s the machine or the operator. If you think it’s the slow cooker, I’ll need to return in quickly. Which slow cookers do you recommend? Which colander do you use that keeps the beans level throughout? Why do the beans need to be covered with a paper towel during both the soaking and sprouting stages.
    Thank you,

    • Sarica

      Hi there, Renate,
      I just got your message and it’s great to hear from you. I’m sorry you’re struggling with the recipe. One question is the freshness of the beans…are they old beans? If so, they will be tougher. Always buy from small packages that are dated, and either use them within a couple of months, or refrigerate them (or keep in some sort of cold storage.) It sounds like you’re following the pre-steps well. How long are you soaking before moving to sprouting? What is the average temperature as you’re soaking with the cultures? And you are generating a sprout on the beans, so that is good. Your slow cooker sounds good…what I would recommend with using that (rather than a stock pot on the stove, as I do in the recipe, and most anytime I cook beans–it just goes really quickly and I don’t see the need for a crock pot for this use, but you can certainly try and use one), is to first bring the beans up to just above simmer (your Low setting) for about 20″, so that you’re seeing the most mild boil, then reduce to the Keep Warm setting, for maybe another 40″ or so. Of course, throughout this process, the lid MUST stay in place–that’s the magic of a slow cooker–you lose a tremendous amount of heat when the lid is removed. I think your slow cooker/crock pot sounds great–I wouldn’t suggest a change on that.
      And I keep the paper towel over the beans while soaking and sprouting, to allow for air flow (of course, the beans are totally submerged under water while soaking anyway), but to keep dust and insects out. And I just use a colander that is large enough for me to spread all the beans out evenly along its sides and bottom–nothing fancy, but functional.
      I hope this helps–please keep me posted and we’ll keep troubleshooting if necessary!
      Take care,