I can't remember how it started, but my old friend and I call each other "mung bean." The words themselves sounded cute together, and coupled with the image of little beans, it just seemed like a good pet name. Years later, I found myself curious about these critters, and decided to do so some research.
Mung beans, a member of the legume family of plants, grow in the warmer seasons, as they require 19 to 20 days of frost-free temperatures, along with adequate rainfall. Though best known in their sprouted form -- as a white crunchy garnish used in Asian dishes -- the legume itself is available in many varieties: split with skins, split without skins, sprouted, and whole.
They originated in Asia in ancient times, then moved on to China, Southeast Asia, and eventually the United States. They're a rich source of vitamins A, C and E, calcium, magnesium, iron, protein, and fiber. According to Ayurvedic principles, mung beans are considered a cooling, easily digestible, and soothing food, though they are often eaten cooked and spiced for flavor.
Here's a cozy winter recipe for Mung Bean Stew, coming to us from AllRecipes.com. You can have it ready in about an hour and a half, and it's filled with healthy vegetables. It yields 8 servings, at just 174 calories each.
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Mung Bean Stew
- 1/2 cup raw mung beans
- 5 potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 5 button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Place the mung beans in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook for 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium, and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain beans into a strainer and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, place the potatoes in saucepan, cover with water, and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook just until potatoes begin to soften when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; cook and stir until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook vegetable mixture 5 minutes more. Combine with the mung beans and potatoes in an oven-proof casserole. Cover with a lid.
- Bake in preheated oven until mixture bubbles, about 30 minutes.