Spilling the Beans

ChickpeasBeans, beans the musical food!! High in protein, high in fiber, high in antioxidants – there are just so many good things about beans. The downside? Beans can be highly gas-inducing which is why so many people shy away from them, but don’t worry – there are many ways to reduce the toot! Let’s get started!

There are four factors at work in your gastric distress:

  1. Your digestive system.
    When you make any kind of major dietary change, your digestion takes time to adapt. Plus, when you start eating a lot more fiber, it cleans out years of accumulated garbage, tending to make you a public nuisance. Try to eat beans at lunch when you digestion is the strongest and don’t forget to drink a lot of water during the day.
  2. The kind of beans.
    Red kidney = more gas, lentils=less. chickpeas and black beans = moderate. Everyone is different though!
  3. The foods you eat with the beans.
    Spicing makes beans much easier to digest. Fennel, coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric (for chick peas, and Indian dahls), paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. Herbs such as thyme, bay leaf, basil, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, and cinnamon stick are also good.
  4. How the beans are cooked.
    If you’ve only ever eaten canned beans, no wonder you’ve wanted to give up on beans all together. Give home-cooked beans a chance. It really can make a significant difference. Cooking in a pressure cooker is the best way to reduce gas.

Cooking with beans – Chickpeas


  • Chickpeas – up to you how much
  • Water
  • A big pot with a lid
  • Kombu, ginger, or fennel seeds (optional, see #6 below)


  1. Soak the beans in water overnight or for at least 8 hours.
    Soaking Beans
  2. Discard water the beans were soaked in by pouring it through a large colander.
  3. Add fresh water to a large pot and bring it to a boil. Do NOT add salt – it toughens the beans.
  4. Add the beans to the boiling water.
    Cooking Beans
  5. Let the beans boil for a few minutes and then reduce to a simmer. You will see white foam on top of the water – take a ladle and spoon it off. That is the gassy stuff that you don’t want in your colon!
    Cooking Beans - Foam
  6. Once at a simmer, you can add a few fennel seeds, a slice of ginger, a bay leaf, or a strip of kombu (sea vegetable). These make beans more digestible.
  7. Let the beans simmer away. Leave lid off – you want that gas to escape. Cooking beans can smell a bit bad though so don’t cook ‘em right before a dinner party! Cooking time depends on the type of beans – but here is a handy dandy guide:cooking beans
  8. After cooking time has passed, strain beans and rinse thoroughly.
  9. You can use the beans immediately, put them in the fridge to use within a couple of days, or freeze them for later. A little tip for freezing – freeze them in 1, 2, or 3 cup servings so they can easily be thawed and added to recipes. Don’t forget to the label bag so you know what is what and when they were made.
    Bagged Beans

Note about canned beans: Always drain and rinse them before eating because the liquid is very salty. Canned beans are more likely to cause gastric distress than dry beans you cook yourself,\.

If you still have trouble digesting beans you can try some digestive enzymes (like Beano) which you can find at any pharmacy.


There are so many great bean recipes out there. Here are a few favourites:

Chana Masala – A traditional Indian dish that makes a regular appearance in our house. The spices in this recipe will help with digestion.

Guinness Black Bean Brownies – Yes, that is right – beans, beer, and chocolate. Yes, I know you may be in shock right now. Beans, beer, and chocolate. Together. And it’s bloody delicious.

Chickpea Pot Pie – Such a great comfort food. You can switch up the spices. I like to add a bit of curry powder.

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