I have to be honest, I had no idea what adzuki (aka English red mung) beans were up until last year…
On a typical weekday afternoon, I was strolling through the grocery store alleys, picking up all the necessary products before going to work. I quickly grabbed a familiar can of red kidney beans. After work, I unpacked the groceries and opened the can of beans when I realised I’d picked up a wrong ingredient. The size was definitely smaller than the size of the regular beans and the consistency seemed a bit softer, though the colour was definitely the typical deep-red kidney bean colour. I looked at the label: “adzuki beans”. After trying them, I noticed they were much sweeter and more delicate than the well-known red kidney variety. At first I was not quite sure what to do with the slightly mushy beans as they did not seem that good for the salad I was planning to make, then I came up with a different idea: let’s make a brownie!
After blending a can of beans with a handful of dates and two bananas to make a smooth paste, I added a few spoons of coconut oil as well as some cocoa powder and vanilla extract and I mixed everything together. As a finishing touch, I added some chopped walnuts and half a dark chocolate bar (also chopped) to the final cake mix. Praying for a decent result, I put the brownie batter in the oven pre-heated to 180 degrees for 30 minutes. The smell of chocolate was amazing, suffusing the entire kitchen. Hoping that my baking skills did not fail me, I cut into the gooey brownie and I have to say, it was actually pretty stunning.
With only a few ingredients I spontaneously baked one of the best brownies I’d ever tried and definitely the most nutritious. Adzuki beans are an amazing source of protein (they contain all the amino acids apart from tryptophan), fibre, folic acid, iron (which prevents anaemia), potassium and calcium. Molybdenum present in these beans produces an enzyme, sulfite oxidase which detoxifies your liver. They also support lipid (fat) metabolism and reduce lipid accumulation in your liver. Phytoestrogens present in the beans also have anti-cancer properties. Moreover, adzuki beans have a low GI index which means that they are perfect for keeping your blood sugar levels steady and therefore ideal for diabetics. These small beans also support your kidney functions and regulate cholesterol levels.
Encouraged by my brownie attempt, I tried to find other inspirations for using adzuki beans and, to my amazement, many of the recipes I found were actually desserts as well! Did you know that adzuki beans are often used for desserts in Japanese culture and there is a whole variety of recipes which contain coconut milk and adzuki beans together? They range from ice popsicles, through to panna cotta, mochi, tapioca-based desserts, sweet bean soups to adzuki bean muffins. The possibilities appear simply endless!
After reading various opinions I gathered that cooking them in their dried bean form works better than using the canned ones for most recipes. But I can reassure you that if you are in a rush, the canned ones will be just fine as well. With these beans, you simply can’t go wrong and desserts can hardly get much healthier! Tried adzuki beans, maybe you’ve a special recipe for them? Let us know below, or on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! (Why not check out our other articles on healthy eating?)