Ellen Kanner, the Soulful Vegan, is a Bean Lover Supreme.
An award winning author of, Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner; a regular columnist, The Edgy Veggie, for The Miami Herald; and Meatless Monday blogger for the Huff Post – In my opinion, Ellen’s biggest accomplishment of all is sharing her love of beans through all these avenues and writing entire book about beans, “Beans: A Handful of Magic” – download the e-book: here. Order the book and follow Ellen on twitter @soulfulvegan. Seriously, beans are magical.
I was so honored to take some time to interview Ellen and why she loves beans so much!
Why do you HEART beans?
We are all so busy these days. We like to multitask. Beans do, too. They’re incredibly versatile, taking on the flavors of whatever they’re cooked with. I say they’re the little black dress of cuisine. They offer a satisfying, meaty texture without the meat and offer loads of nourishment not just for us, but for the planet, too. And they’re cheap — pricing out to maybe 20 cents a serving.
What is your favorite bean — or legume — because we love all the pulses!?
I do love them all. But when coaxing others into trying beans, my favorite is lentils. They’re quick-cooking and require no pre-soaking so they’re among the most user-friendly legume.
How do you typically enjoy beans? AKA what is your go-to bean-based meal?
I have some kind of spicy bean stew going all the time. My husband loves guacamole, so I’ll cook up black beans with cumin and greens for a complete, nourishing meal. I have a weakness for Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, so often I’ll make a pot of dal — curried lentils — or a soup like the Moroccan Soup recipe I created with Better Beans pinto beans with serrano and kale.
If you are doing it up – making a really fancy bean meal what would it be and who would you serve it to?
I’m proud to serve beans to anyone at my table. Beans can be incredibly elegant and there’s nothing meager about them. I served beans at Thanksgiving to 30 people, family and friends. I made chic little black beluga lentils scented with lavender. They cooked up fragrant and herbaceous with great texture — black lentils keep their shape, so they weren’t at all mushy, and looked glossy and lovely. Of all the dishes on a table crowded with the traditional Thanksgiving favorites, the lentils got the most raves. They were so good, I didn’t have any leftovers.
I want everyone to love beans as much as we do. Sometimes people are daunted about how to integrate beans into their diet or how to cook them. Beans: A Handful of Magic empowers you by offering bean basics and entices you with recipes for bean dishes you’ll want to eat.
And why did you choose the title to be “Beans: A Handful of Magic”? I always say beans are magical, do you agree?
Absolutely. Beans are such tiny little things, but they pack so much goodness. They’re natural magic.
Do you have any memories of beans as a kid or from your family that you would like to share?
I come from a loving family, but I realize, we were virtually beanless. This is so shocking. It’s amazing I grew up to be as well-adjusted as I am.
In your opinion, why was 2016 named the International Year of Pulses?
Read Ellen’s article on the International Year of Pulses here!
What inspires you most about the nutritional profile of beans?
As a vegan, people still ask me, where do you get your protein? Beans have heaps. They also have heaps of something animal protein doesn’t — fiber. It’s fabulous for body support. There’s zero fiber in meat. That’s pretty amazing right there. But beans do more — they’re one of the few crops that enrich the soil as they grow. They nourish us and the planet, how cool is that?
Was there a time when you didn’t eat beans? How did your life change when you started eating them?
I can’t remember eating beans as a kid, but they were a big, positive life-changer in college. Making a pot of beany, vegetably chili gave me solid nutrition, made my mouth and belly happy and made for fun evenings with hungry friends. Beans meant I could stretch a dollar and eat well, too. You don’t know how glad I was to kiss cheap ramen noodles goodbye.