02 October 2012

All about legumes

If you have never seen the word “legumes” before, you are probably uncertain about what it is, much less how to pronounce it.

“Leg-yooms are a class of vegetables that include beans, peas and lentils, and they can be used to replace the substantiality of meat in vegan dishes. With high fiber and protein content and low fat, they are a more nutritional choice overall.

Many legumes are adequate sources of folate, iron, magnesium and potassium and are low on the glycemic scale, meaning they don’t spike blood sugar levels. A list of common legumes includes adzuki beans (field peas), anasazi beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, butter beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), edamame (soybeans), fava beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, peas, pinto beans and white beans.

The best way to purchase legumes is in their dried form, because you can purchase them in bulk and avoid any added sugars, salt or lard. Allow for extra cooking time, though, because they will need to soak in plenty (about 10 cups per one pound of beans) of room temperature water for several hours or overnight to rehydrate them before cooking. 

This applies to all legumes except lentils, black eyed peas and split peas. Allow at least 45 minutes of cooking time, possibly longer. The beans are “done” when they can easily be mashed with a fork.

Purchasing frozen legumes and cooking them is fine, too. If you must purchase canned legumes, make sure lard has not been added and rinse them thoroughly to remove any added salt or sugars.

 Yet another option for legume consumption is substituting a legume-based flour, such as soybean or chickpea flour, for some of the white or wheat flour in recipes. Because legumes are high in fiber, they may cause intestinal discomfort, bloating or excess gas when added into the diet. You can lessen this by changing the water while soaking, using different water for cooking, experimenting with a digestive aid such as Beano, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You know the saying: Beans, beans, good for your heart, the more you eat, the more…healthy you are.

Erin Fergus | Facebook
Pensacola, FL Erin works as an adjunct instructor in Human Performance at Pensacola State College and group fitness instructor and personal trainer at the YMCA. She holds a master’s in exercise science and is entering her final year of a master’s in journalism. She became a vegetarian in 2001 after viewing PETA demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and she has transitioned closer to veganism since 2008. Some of her previous work has been featured on livestrong.com. Her favorite activities include vegan cooking, going to the beach, playing piano and spending time with her Cocker Spaniel.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/cookbookman