So... are green beans paleo? You might be thinking, "Katy! You said that legumes aren't paleo!" Well, that may be true, but the thing is, green beans don't really count. They are more pod than actual bean. Have you ever split one open to see the actual bean? Tiny. Not only that, but Mark Sisson says they are ok, because basically they contain a fairly minimal amount of gut irritants, and minimal starch. Most other legumes you think of, like black beans, soy beans, peanuts, etc. contain high amounts of starch (which can raise blood sugar), high amounts of lectins, and high amounts of phytates.
You may be like, "Ok Katy, you lost me at 'lectins' and 'phytates.'"
"Lectins are bad. They bind to insulin receptors, attack the stomach lining of insects, bind to human intestinal lining, and they seemingly cause leptin resistance. And leptin resistance predicts a “worsening of the features of the metabolic syndrome independently of obesity”. Fun stuff, huh?"
Read more: Mark's Daily Apple
"Phytates are a problem, too, because they make minerals bio-unavailable (so much for all those healthy vitamins and minerals we need from whole grains!), thus rendering null and void the last, remaining argument for cereal grain consumption."
Read more: Mark's Daily Apple
Lectins and Phytates are in both grains and legumes, which contribute to the reasons why they are not included in a paleo diet.
But back to green beans. They have minimal amounts of both of phytates and lectins, so unless green beans give you tummy troubles, there's no reason to avoid them.
When I used to live in Atlanta, there was an awesome restaurant called Doc Chey's Noodle House around the corner from me in Druid Hills. On their appetizer menu they have these green beans and they were hard to resist! I wasn't paleo then, and I had no idea that I was gluten intolerant. I notice now that on their menu, it says, "Allergen Information:Our menu includes items that contain one of the eight major allergens: dairy, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, & fish. While we do our best to inform guests of foods that contain a food allergen, we can’t guarantee that cross-contact with other allergens will not occur during preparation."
Hmm. Well that's good to know.
I was thinking about those green beans the other day, and I googled "recipe for Doc Chey's seared green beans with Cantonese sauce" and I found this recipe. It was a good start, and with a few tweaks and a few tests, I made a delicious version that is up to my own "real food" standards.
Wok Seared Green Beans
with Sesame Garlic Cantonese Sauce
3/4 cup homemade stock (I used pork stock, but beef or chicken stock would work fine too)
2 teaspoons Red Boat Fish sauce
2 teaspoons coconut aminos **
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch, dissolved in
2 tablespoons cold water
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 pound fresh French green beans (haricot verts), washed, trimmed, and patted dry
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt
pinch crushed red pepper
dry toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
**Coconut Aminos are a paleo substitute for Soy Sauce. If you aren't bothered by small amounts of soy sauce, you can use it here, but reduce it to only 1 teaspoon, and use organic tamari, which is soy sauce that is non-GMO and wheat/gluten free, and easily found at regular grocery stores.
1. Wisk together the stock, fish sauce, coconut aminos and honey in a small bowl. Make a slurry with the arrowroot starch and cold water in another small bowl, whisk thoroughly to combine, then whisk into the sauce.
2. In a wok, or a very large sauté pan, heat the sesame oil over medium high heat for two minutes, then add the green beans and stir fry until well seared, about 5-6 minutes. While stir-frying, resist the urge to turn constantly. When they first go into the wok, toss them around to coat them evenly with the sesame oil, then let them sit for 10 seconds at a time, then stir, then repeat until done. This helps them to get the wrinkled, seared black marks we are going for here.
3. After 5-6 minutes, add the garlic, salt, crushed red pepper and the sauce. Stir fry for another minute until the garlic is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately, garnished with toasted sesame seeds.