The Musical Fruit

September 26, 2017

I hail from the midwest, where football is a religion and the onset of Autumn brings the same electric anticipation as Christmas. Some of my favorite fall memories include my mother making her amazing chili for half-time while the family gathered to watch the game. This vegetarian recipe was inspired by her meat-based version-- enjoy and GO BUCKS!


The more you eat, the more you... know

Beans are the most concentrated form of plant protein in the world and as a result, a staple for most vegetarians and vegans. Humans have been cultivating beans for the last 10,000 years, and utilizing them for thousands of years before that. They are also the only cultivated plants which actually enrich, rather than deplete, the soil during the growing process. 


Why Beans:

  • low in fat/ high in protein

  • a good source of minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and zinc

  • bean carbohydrates have been proven to drastically improve the stability of blood sugar levels in diabetics

  • high in soluble fiber which is considered beneficial for digestion 

Unfortunately, it’s this soluble fiber that is the problem when it comes to stomach gas.

The culprit behind the bean’s reputation as a musical fruit is a group of complex carbohydrates called oligosaccharides. Most humans don't produce enough of the alpha-galactosidase enzyme which helps break these complex sugars down; instead, the large intestine's bacteria ferment them during digestion. This fermentation produces large amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide gas. AND THEN THE FARTING STARTS.


Luckily, it's possible to reduce the gas-making effects of beans through controlling factors such as cooking method and duration, complementary ingredients, and the variety of bean used. (The least “musical” legumes are said to be lentils, split peas, adzuki beans, mung beans, and black-eyed peas.)


Note: this recipe calls for EPAZOTE, a spice used commonly in Latino cooking with a distinctively sharp, herbal flavor. Its flavor is reminiscent of oregano and fennel with minty, pine notes. It’s a popular pairing with beans, since it can reduce their tendency to cause "le toot". If you cannot find any, oregano will do for flavor, but won’t do much for the stench.


Spicy Three-Bean Chili

veg, gf

Serves 6



2 cans (14.5 oz) organic diced tomatoes

2 cans (15 oz) black beans

1 can (15 oz) kidney beans

1 can (15 oz) cannelloni/navy beans

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

2 cups of water

6 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 chiles in adobo, chopped (brings the heat to ⅗, feel free to add more!)

1 tbsp ground cumin

3 tbsps of chili powder

2 tsp of epazote (or oregano)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp each basil, thyme, turmeric, parsley

1/2 tsp of black pepper or more, to taste

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp of kosher salt

1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)

1 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream for topping (optional)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese for topping (optional)


Sauté onions, garlic, and chiles in 2 tbsps of olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add spices, then stir and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and stir until combined, then add tomato paste, beans, and water and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low/medium heat for 45 minutes. Top with cilantro, yogurt or sour cream, and/or cheese, if desired.


Enjoy, share, and let me know what you think!


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