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Get Your Nutrients Naturally: Cooking with the Mung Bean

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If your idea of including mung in your diet means topping off a salad with a few bean sprouts, think again. Mung beans and their split, hulled version, mung dhal, can be used to create main dishes, salads, soups, spreads, savories, beverages and desserts. Mung beans combine well with a host of grains and flours, vegetables and greens, tart fruit, other sprouts, spices and herbs, and even rice, soy or nut milks. Mung or moong beans (Phaseolus aureus) are small cylindrical beans with a bright green skin and yellow insides. They are eaten whole, split with skins on, split and hulled as mung dhal, or sprouted. They are used extensively in both Indian and Chinese cooking.

Ayurvedic healers consider the mung bean valuable because it is highly nutritious and delivers sustenance while being easier on the digestion that most other beans. The vitamin content of some seeds can increase by up to 20 times their original value within several days of sprouting. Mung Bean sprouts have B vitamin increases, compared to the dry seeds, of – B1 up 285%, B2 up 515%, B3 up 256%. Even soaking seeds overnight in water yields greatly increased amounts of B vitamins, as well as Vitamin C. Compared with mature plants, sprouts can yield vitamin contents 30 times higher. Mung beans are also low in Saturated Fat and Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Folate, Copper and Manganese.

When cooked to butter-soft consistency and combined with digestion-enhancing herbs and spices, mung beans can be digested even by the recuperating, the very old and the very young, and individuals with a weak digestive fire. Mung beans offer the astringent and sweet tastes, are cooling for the physiology, light and soft. When cooked with appropriate herbs and spices, mung beans are balancing for all the doshas. From the modern nutrition perspective, mung beans offer protein and dietary fiber, and are a source of phytoestrogens. They also contain vitamins A, C and E, folacin, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium.

RECIPE : Mung Bean/Herb Spread

1/2 cup mung dhal

2 tbsp almond butter or tahini

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp mild olive oil

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Rock salt to taste

1 tbsp lemon juice

Fresh-cracked black pepper to taste or large pinch sweet paprika

1-2 tbsps water if needed

Heat a skillet and dry-roast the mung dhal until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Stir constantly to toast all sides and prevent burning. Grind to a coarse flour in a spice- mill. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process to a smooth, spreadable paste, adjusting the water as necessary. Tastes excellent on crisp toast or crackers, or as a dip for vegetables.

Note: If using garlic, add one medium clove, peeled, to the ingredients.

@2014 Hillary Sepulveda

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