Legumes have many ingredients which benefit more to a healthy diet than you might have thought. Lentils, peas and beans are very versatile and provide much vegetable protein. Learn more about the health benefits and why cooking with them even helps your budget!
Lentils, Beans, and Peas – Traditional Vegetables in Today’s Cuisine
Bean stew, pea soup and lentil dishes – they have filled hungry stomaches for ages as they are delicious and low in price at the same time. Legumes are often an important basic food in impoverished regions. However, they get more and more attention in the Western world, too, these days. Even in high-class cooking they find there placed in exquisite recipes. That’s no surprise: legumes are both delicious and healthy.
What are Legumes and Where do They Come From?
Legumes also go by the name pulses. Whatever you call them, they are dried seeds of plants like peas, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), beans, or soybeans which ripe in sheet ropes. People have been knowing and eating legumes since the 8th century B. C. – especially in the Middle East at that time. They later made their way to Europe and Northern America.
In the USA, one legume is especially popular: the soybean. According to Arthur Geoffrey Norman, Professor of Botany at the University of Michigan from 1952 to 1976, the domesticated soybean was brought to the States by Benjamin Franklin in 1804. Henry Ford was another soybean benefactor. Being a vegetarian, he used soybeans for industrial purposes which became extremely important during World War II.
What’s another popular American legume? The peanut. (Yes, it’s actually a legume, NOT a nut!)
Why are Legumes Healthy?
Today, there are about 730 different kinds of legumes. You are for sure familiar with kidney beans and black-eyed peas, especially when you love Southern food. But have you ever heard of beluga lentils or pinto beans? If not, you should absolutely give them a try as legumes offer many health benefits:
- most legumes are low in fat
- rich in dietary fiber and good carbs
- contain more protein than any other vegetable
- have many important minerals, trace elements and vitamins
As there are also so many different kinds of them, you will never get bored of legumes but will explore many different recipes and flavors. This makes eating healthy very easy!
Can I Lose Weight by Eating Pulses?
Not all legumes are equal but most of them can help you with losing weight. They key for weight loss is a deficit between your intake of calories and your energy consumption each day. To create such a deficit, you can either eat fewer calories or burn more through activity – or with a combination of both.
Legumes, however, can help you with controlling your calorie intake. Most of them are low in calories but fill you up because of their rich ingredients and their long-chained carbohydrates.
So you can eat a bigger portion of a lentil dish than, say, regular pasta for the same amount of calories. Plus, many people feel sated for a longer time when they had legumes compared to a meal which consists mostly of short-chained carbs.
So eating lentils makes you less hungry or having fewer cravings which means fewer meals per day and fewer total calories. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? That way lentils can be a good start to your weight loss journey but fuels you with all the healthy stuff you need.
What are Easy and Cheap Recipes with Legumes?
Whatever you try: Never eat raw legumes! Some of their substances are toxic to the human body – but fortunately cooking your beans and lentils destroys those. Cooking them for a minimum of 15 minutes is the best way to make a safe meal for the whole family.
But besides that, there are endless possibilities to create an easy family dinner with legumes. Most people have a family recipe for soups and stews with legumes. Nothing wrong with that, but in the summer months you might prefer a salad with black lentils or kidney beans. Or perhaps some chickpea-based hummus!
If you want to cook a more exotic dinner tonight: chickpeas are extremely popular in Indian cuisine. Combine them with coconut milk, and even your kids will love it – when you spare the hot spices, of course. Another option: this recipe for coconut curry lentil soup!
Your little ones are some of the picky kind and all they want to have are spaghetti with Marinara sauce or meatballs? Take a secret from one mom to another: You can even add legumes there. Red lentils can make a tomato sauce extra creamy and help your kids get all the health benefits.
Do you have any more ideas for easy recipes with legumes? Let us know in the comments or send them to other moms and dads on our FamilyApp!