In my F.I.T. programs, I recommend to eat legumes on a regular basis. Legumes are not only for vegetarians and vegans but even meat eaters, like myself, benefit from including them. They contain more protein than any other plant-derived food and are also good sources of B-vitamins, potassium, iron, zinc, and other important minerals. They are low in fat, and high in complex carbs and fibre. Also, legumes have been linked to several health benefits, such as reduced cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease, improved insulin sensitivity, and better-regulated blood sugar levels.
And did you know, that people that eat legumes on a regular basis normally have a smaller waist? So, ensure you load up on legumes and make them part of your healthy lifestyle!
Types of legumes
There are plenty of different legumes, and some of the most common ones include black beans, butter beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, soybeans, kidney beans and lentils. As they all contain different vitamins and minerals and varying levels, it is a good idea to swap them up and include different ones weekly. Not only do they have great nutritional value, they are normally also cheaper than meat.
What about gas and bloating?
People often complain about flatulence after eating legumes. It is true that they contain gas-forming nutrients. However, soaking the beans and rinsing them will help with this. Another negative characteristic of legumes is the content of anti-nutrients, substances that can reduce the uptake of certain vitamins and minerals. So, to ensure you get the most benefits from your beans it is really important that you soak and rinse them. Soaking will allow you to better digest them, increase nutrient absorption and also reduce the risk of gas building. Lentils do not require soaking, however, it might be good if you rinse them after they have been cooked to lower the risk of gas and bloating.
How to add more legumes to your diet
There are several ways you can add legumes to your diet. Below are my top tips.
- Add them to your salad
By adding legumes to your salad, you will not only increase the amount of protein, but also the amount of fibre. An extra bonus is an extra texture and flavour.
- Add them to your meat sauce
I like to add beans or lentils when I make a meat sauce like Bolognese. It will boost the nutrient value, but also provide more extra texture and fullness.
- Add them to your casserole
Adding beans or lentils to a casserole is an easy way to ensure you increase your intake. When I use lentils, I add them at the end, as they do not require as much time to cook.
- Add them to your soup
Add lentils or beans to your vegetable soups, or why not make a lentil soup?
- Add to your rissoles
Another way you can increase your intake of legumes is to include them when you make patties. Have you tried to make a salmon and chickpea rissole? It is delicious!
- Make a curry
A curry is a great and delicious way to increase your intake of legumes. Try my Pumpkin & Bean Curry recipe below.
Pumpkin & Bean Curry
1 cup of pumpkin, diced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 can of tinned organic cannellini beans, drained
1/4 cup of red lentils, uncooked
1/2 small red capsicum (bell pepper), cut into strips
1 1/2 cups of broccoli, chopped
1 heaped tbsp. of gluten free curry paste
1 tbsp. of tomato paste
2 cups of vegetable stock
1/8-1/4 cup of plain Greek yoghurt
2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil
1. In a saucepan of boiling water, cook the lentils for 15-20 minutes until cooked, then drain and set aside.
2. In the same saucepan heat the oil and fry the onion, capsicum, and both pastes for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the pumpkin, beans and stock, simmer covered for 8-10 minutes.
4. Add the broccoli and beans; simmer for a further 5 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat, stir through the yoghurt and serve.
NOTES: Any Indian style gluten free curry paste can be used. Make sure you look for one with low/no sugar content. Place the second serve in the fridge and have at a later date.
You can find more recipes like this in my F.I.T. programs.
What is your favourite legume recipe? I would love to get some inspiration!