Walk down any grocery store aisle and you’ll be struck by all the foods being marketed as low-fat, gluten-free and reduced sodium. Increasingly, consumers are rejecting processed foods and embracing more wholesome foods. Even fast food outlets are jumping on the bandwagon and introducing more healthy selections in response to demand. We’re increasingly going back to basics with whole, healthy foods, colorful plant foods and nutrient dense foods.
Legumes are one of those super foods. They encompass a broad class of staggering varieties of beans, peas and lentils.
Fresh legumes include peas, wax beans, pod beans, snow peas, edamame and raw lima beans. Dried legumes are harvested from pods, fully developed. Examples of these include kidney beans, black beans, lentils, split peas, soy beans and chickpeas.
There was a time when the humble bean was considered the poor man’s meat. Today many people are taking advantage of their rich protein content to eat less meat. For those that have adopted a gluten-free or vegan diet legumes are enjoying nothing short of a renaissance.
As well as being a super high protein food, beans are low in sugar, cholesterol-free, contain no saturated fat, are loaded in complex carbohydrates and are high in fiber.
Eating legumes three times a week may help prevent cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol levels, keep you blood sugar steady and your bowels regular.
Adding Legumes to Your Meals
Fresh snow peas in your salad adds great crunch and delightful texture. They are great on their own as a snack in a lunch bucket. Yellow and green wax beans are a tasty accompaniment to almost any meal and are a favourite mixed with the dried bean group in a colorful summer salad.
You can make dried beans the main event or serve them as a side dish, appetizer or add them to salads. Try serving chickpeas with some chorizo and red onion. Make a really simple dal with ginger and garlic. Experiment with other spices. You can come up with some great taste experiences. Try frying beans in garlic and olive oil. Add black beans to pizza topping or quesadilla fillings. Like refried beans? Mash up those kidney beans, add some tomato, shred some mozzarella and broil until melted. Almost any tender bean will taste superb with butter, salt and pepper with a splash of your favourite vinegar. Just so many possibilities and taste treats with this versatile food group. Simple, delicious and just so good for you.