As children, many of us may have heard songs and stories about beans. While these songs and stories tried to encourage more bean consumption, it seems that legumes aren’t eaten quite as often as they could be. Legumes include beans like black, pinto, navy, and kidney beans as well as chickpeas, split peas, and lentils. Choosing to incorporate legumes in your meals is an easy and inexpensive way to add more nutrient dense foods to your lifestyle.
Health benefits of legumes:
- Great source of protein
- Fiber rich
- Rich in iron and other micronutrients such as zinc, phosphorus, folate, potassium and more
- Heart healthy protein source that is naturally low in both total and saturated fat
- Contain antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds
- Help stabilize blood sugar
Tips for preparing legumes:
Choose dried legumes. They are even more affordable than canned, don’t contain added sodium, and tend to have a better texture and flavor.
Soak your legumes. A quick overnight soak helps to reduce cooking time, make digestion easier, and increase the availability and absorption of legumes’ naturally occurring nutrients.
Pair them with foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to make the iron in plant foods more absorbable. For increased iron absorption, consider adding tomatoes, broccoli, lemon juice, or another vitamin C rich food to your legume dishes.
Use herbs and spices to make your meal the flavor you desire. The possibilities are endless when there are so many ways to flavor legumes.
How to incorporate more legumes:
- Make dips and spread, like hummus
- Cook more bean based chilis or stews
- Add lentils to your salads
- Make different patties and things like falafel
- Stuff potatoes with chili, bean stew, crispy chickpeas, and other legume fillings
- Add to dishes such as tacos, burritos, wraps, rice bowls, salads, pastas, stir fry, casseroles, and stews
- Use them in sweet dishes too. Try black bean brownies, chickpea blondies, or other sweet and tasty things like cookies, cakes and breads made with legumes
Including more legumes in your meals can be great for your overall health, help you save money, and be a fun and delicious way to try new recipes!