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Expanding Our Cultural Knowledge: Brazilian Cuisine

“My name is Larissa Gonçalves. I’m a nutrition senior-year undergraduate student from Brazil. I was a short-intern at the NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Department and I’m going to share with you one of our food customs with some questions and answers about beans and rice.”

Why are rice and beans consumed in South America so frequently?

Brazil is the largest producer and consumer of beans in the world. We have an average consumption of 33 pounds per person per year. Beans are present in the two main meals, along with rice. Rice and beans are the famous combination because rice protein is low in lysine but rich in sulfur amino acids such as methionine and cysteine. Bean protein is relatively rich in most essential amino acids, especially in lysine, but deficient in methionine and cysteine. Together, they are complementary foods and provide a combination rich in protein and carbohydrates, which are energetic components of the diet.

How important is the consumption of beans?

  • Recent studies have shown that daily consumption of beans is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease, therefore protecting the heart.
  • Regular consumption of beans is associated with the reduction of triglyceride, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Beans are rich in soluble and insoluble fibers.
  • Beans have low fat content.
  • Beans have minerals such as iron, potassium, manganese and zinc.
  • Studies verified the reduction of oral cancer risk by the daily consumption of beans.
  • Studies verified a risk reduction for breast cancer associated with frequent bean consumption.

After all these benefits, how about including more beans in your diet? Set aside some time on the weekend, prepare your beans with lots of love and separate into desired portions. Freeze to keep them fresh longer and make them easy to use.

How do I soak and use dry beans in cooking?

Follow these steps from an NDSU Extension publication about beans. Check out the additional bean information here:

1. Inspect the dry beans, removing any broken beans or foreign materials.

2. Rinse the beans thoroughly in cold water.

3. Soak the beans using the preferred method.

• Add 10 cups of cold water to the pot for each pound (2 cups) of beans. Bring the water to a boil, then boil for one to three minutes. Remove from heat and cover the pot. Let stand. A four-hour soak is ideal for high-quality beans.

4. Drain and rinse the soaked beans. 
Draining and rinsing the beans helps remove natural sugars that may cause intestinal gas.

5. Cook the beans. 
Add fresh, cold water to cover the beans. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil if you wish. Adding oil helps prevents foaming and boiling over. Heat to boiling, then reduce the heat to simmer gently until the beans are tender.

Cooking times vary with the type, size and age of beans, but generally cooking takes one to two hours. While the beans are cooking, add more water if necessary to keep them covered. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking during cooking. You should be able to mash the cooked beans easily between two fingers or with a fork.

Here is a recipe with a Brazilian touch. Try it with your family.

Traditional Brazilian Beans


By: Larissa Gonçalves, NDSU Extension Intern

Filed under: fca newsletter

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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