Thursday, 3 November 2011
BROAD BEANS (FAVA)
Broad beans (some call it fava beans or fava) come from the pea family and are a good source of copper. They also have niacin, folate, fiber and vitamin C. They are rich in calories and especially proteins. In general, they provide similar nutrients to beans. Overall speaking, beans are so rich in protein that they may replace meat in diet but they lack some certain elements (amino acids) that they need to be able to substitute meat. That is why it is good to consume beans with some grains, for example on toast or with some rice.
The flowers of broad beans are used for medicinal purposes but it is the pods and the seeds that we eat. The pods can be eaten when young and fresh (I can tell you that the raw pods are juicy when young) and the seeds can be consumed as dried beans (soaked and cooked well) or raw if fresh and tender (if cooked/boiled, I suggest peel off the skin before using it as it will help with digestion). We normally use the fresh ones when we have them in the garden and we eat them raw even though you can find many recipes of cooked foods made with them on the internet or via friends or family (we sometimes add it to our stir fried noodles or make salads with them. They can be pureed too and it is a pretty common dish in a certain part of Italy). They are more digestible when they are tender.
We used to buy dry broadbeans from local groceries whenever they were in season. However, last year, we decided to plant some using the dried beans we had in hand at the time and have been enjoying some fresh ones since then. We noticed that it is quite easy to grow them (at least it has been the case for us here in Melbourne, Australia) and I may try to write about how to grow them for the ones interested in having their own in the garden when I get a chance in the future.
We simply go to the garden, pick some, open them up and eat the seeds (and sometimes the pods too). Mr. Junior really likes the idea of picking something by himself from the garden and it actually makes him more interested in the food. He is happier to consume the foods that he plays a role in planting or growing or harvesting than the ones he just sees in the fridge or in his plate. When they are in season, we also take some fresh broad beans with us when we go out for him to snack on.
Note: Some people may be allergic to this food and it is called favism. Even the inhalation of its pollens may cause an allergic reaction.
Did you know that according to a source, a fava bean is included in a Christmas cake in Portugal and traditionally, whoever gets the fava bean has to buy the Christmas cake the following year!
Also, it is claimed by a source that in the Netherlands, the velvet insides of the broad bean pods are rubbed against warts as it is believed to heal warts (it is a folk remedy in the Netherlands).