Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, soy beans, navy beans, black eye peas are just a handful of more than 80 different types of legume varieties that are consumed in the world! These are the staple to many traditional cultural dishes. Think: Indian Dahl and rice, Mexican red beans and corn bread, Lebanese chickpea falafel and pita bread. Are you salivating yet?
The variety of dishes is even more complex than the selection of legumes. But taste is not the only reason these cereal-legume dishes are an integrative part of traditional cultures: by combining legumes with cereal products we create something marvellous that has allowed these cultures to evolve throughout the years: a complete protein. This means that the consumption of meat or animal products (such as dairy) is not necessary because eating these meals provides one with all of the amino acids (protein building blocks) meat contains. Isn’t nature wonderful!
Let’s talk about the benefits of eating legumes! No, they are not just for vegetarians; everyone can take advantage of their amazing properties. Here are a few good reasons to integrate them into your diet:
- Contain an abundance of fibre (meat contains virtually none) that help in maintaining a healthy intestinal track
- Very low in fat
- Cholesterol-free and saturated fat-free (unlike dairy or meat)
- Very economical
- They have a high satiety level: they provide sustained long-lasting energy
- They are a good source of B vitamins (especially good for your nervous system) and minerals
- By eating them with a cereal product, they form a complete protein and can easily replace meat
- They promote good health, helping in prevention of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, certain forms of cancer, among other things..
Do not let a little wind get in the way of you appreciating them…
If you are not used to eating these little balls of goodness, integrate them slowly into your diet so that you avoid any intestinal discomfort or gas.
Another way of avoiding gas when you are preparing dried legumes is to soak them overnight, then thoroughly rinse them and cook them with seaweed, herbs and/or spices such as ginger, bay leaves, savory, cumin, garlic and/or onions. Make sure to avoid adding sugar, salt or tomato when cooking them. If you are buying them jarred or canned, make sure you rinse them thoroughly.
Whether you are trying to reduce your fat consumption, concerned about your cholesterol, trying to loose weight or simply looking to eat healthier, this source of protein is for you. Legumes can be just as tasty and satisfying as meat if you have a few good recipes to play with. Think bean dips, salads, stews, patties, soups… Look out for upcoming legume recipes that will leave you energised and satisfied!