It seems to me that beans get a bad rap. So many people avoid them–you’ve all heard the reasons they give! Can I be frank? In my opinion, the problem is not with beans, but with people’s weakened digestive tracts. Really people, if you can’t digest well, work with your health care provider to fix that! Beans figure prominently in cultures as varied as Mexico, India and Japan and are too delicious and healthy a food to pass-up. There’s little doubt that our planet would be healthier if people in high meat-eating countries like the U.S. ate more beans and less meat. A cup of pinto beans, for example, provides an adult with 28 % of her daily protein, and also fiber, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, thiamin, and a half dozen other nutrients. As for digestion, people in Japan believe that cooking beans with the sea vegetable kombu improves their digestibility, while Mexicans feel the same about the herb epazote. Both are easy to find in Bay Area markets. And eating beans is hardly a sacrifice, they can be a great-tasting comfort food. My mother is known for her wonderful baked beans, and I’ve always been a fan of that all-American dish. Her recipe is very similar to this one for Boston baked beans, the classic barbecue and picnic favorite. My vegan recipe leaves out the pork fat and brown sugar, but delivers lots of complex flavor (sweet, salty, spicy) in an earth-friendly format. The 80 or so people who joined us for our weekly dinner in Palo Alto this past Monday more or less licked the pot clean–I think they liked it!