What ARE Legumes anyway?
Legumes are plants that grow fruit inside a pod such as peas, peanuts, lentils, alfalfa or beans. Many people think that legumes and beans are mutually exclusive but really it goes like this: ALL beans are legumes but not all legumes are beans (such as peas, peanuts, lentils alfalfa).
You get the picture.
So when you are talking about getting a great amount of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates (the good kind!) in your plant-based diet, you are talking about LEGUMES. Legumes have no cholesterol and are low in fat. They are high in potassium, iron, folate and magnesium and they are delicious!
So many people are nervous about what to do with them, how to prepare them, or think they do not like them.
Beans are the easiest to start incorporating into your diet right away. You can buy canned beans and add them to salads or your rice, replace your meat in a taco (season just like taco meat), or refry them and make homemade burritos. This is as easy as putting in a saute pan on medium heat with some melted coconut oil and mashing to desired consistency and add salsa or cumin, chili powder, lime juice, and onions – really anything that suits your taste. They are also delicious added to any soup or stew and will add a nice richness. I lightly mash chickpeas and add them in place of chicken for a very healthy satisfying chickpea noodle soup!
Let’s talk about lentils for a moment.
Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. In particular, fiber. As stated on their website The Worlds Healthiest Foods, lentils lead the pack in fiber dense foods. If you need further convincing listen to this:
“A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as lentils, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.”
And as many people questioning a plant-based diet want to know where to get their protein, lentils have 17 grams of protein PER cup!
Lentils can be a little harder for people to want to incorporate into their diets. My husband to this day thinks that he is eating “ladybugs”. It does all depend on how you cook them. You can cook them longer to get a softer bite to them and when I do that, my husband does tolerate them. He actually loves a good hearty flavorful lentil soup.
Red lentils are sometimes a great way to start on your lentil journey because they are much softer and making a soup out of them is a wonderful way to eat them. They end up with a consistency similar to split pea soup. Yum!
Hop on over to The Sweet Tomato for a recipe for a delicious and lemony red lentil soup!