This is another quick one from our legume series and is based on the fact that everybody loves baked beans on toast – comfort food heaven!
Heinz, who make the most popular ready brand of baked beans have been improving their recipe in terms of health over recent years, and we think it’s a pretty good product. The main problem has been the sugar and salt content and they have been slowly reducing these elements. However, a dramatic change would likely cause a public backlash and so they seem to have adopted a slow weaning strategy.
The current recipe contains 9.8 g of sugar per serving (1/2 can) and this equates to 2.5 teaspoons of sugar, which is still a reasonable amount. Salt comes in at 1.2 g which actually isn’t too bad (*6 g is the current daily recommendation, although this in itself is slightly controversial depending on your perspective of the evidence — a discussion for another day). Otherwise the ingredients are good without any nasty surprises – beans and tomatoes making up the majority.
Heinz also produce a ‘healthy version’ which has 6.7 g of sugar (30% less) and 0.9 g of salt (25% less) but this obviously has a ‘flatter’ flavour – if you want to control weight or cardiovascular risk factors then this would be a better choice. Here lies a fundamental issue with most processed foods – because they lack the flavour boost of fresh ingredients they have to enhance the flavour with sugar, salt etc. We still think tinned baked beans are a good convenience food but our ‘Baked Beans’ are definitely better, when you have a little more time!
This recipe is perfect for the Spring/ Summer season when fresh tomatoes are at their best and you get a natural sweetness. The basic base of the sauce can be used in lots of different dishes including CardioKit’s ‘Huevos Rancheros’, with pasta and it’s beautiful with grilled meat or fish. We usually make a batch and it will keep really well for a few days to be used in multiple dishes. You can also ‘pimp-up’ the basic sauce to include even more vegetables – we really like adding sliced mushrooms or courgettes.
Most baked bean recipes use Haricot beans. For this recipe you can use any bean you fancy or have available – we like Haricot (classic), Borlotti (a favourite when fresh and in-season), Flageolet, Cannellini etc. All can be bought fresh (when available) or, more commonly in the UK, dried (and soaked before cooking) or tinned /’tetrapacked’ and used immediately for convenience.
For this one we have used Butter beans for the fun ‘Giant’ element although you tend to get a higher bean to sauce ratio which may not be to everyone’ liking. This is a great Spring/Summer brunch though can be enjoyed anytime really. It’s really versatile – try it topped with some tinned sardines, grilled chicken livers placed in the oven under the eggs until they are just set.
* On average, adults in the UK eat about 8.1 g of salt (3.2 g sodium) a day. This may not sound like much, but to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, it is recommended that adults should not be eating more than 6 g of salt (2.4 g sodium) a day. Salt intakes should be much lower than this for babies and children.