You know the people who say that they don’t satisfied unless their meal contains meat? Well, these people obviously have not met The Legume. Adding legumes (think lentils, chickpeas, beans etcetera etcetera) is the best way to add a hearty, filling component to a plant-based meal. They are packed with protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They are economical, filling, and go a long way when it comes to stretching out a meal. They are also our saving grace on Meat-Free Mondays.
If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, here is a list of legumes to try …
Tasting like a cross between a pea and a nut, chickpeas are my favourite form of legume. But they have to be the fresh ones. If you’ve only tasted tinned chickpeas, the fresh ones are going to blow your mind. Soak them overnight or for eight hours, and then add them straight to salads and wraps, cook them in curries, soups and stir fries, or blend them up to make hummus. Another trick I’ve recently discovered is to bake the soaked chickpeas for about 30-40 minutes. The come out of the oven tasting like peanuts! And when you whiz them in a blender, it tastes like peanut butter!
Cooking time: 120-180 minutes
Small, flat and disk-shaped, lentils are a good source of vitamin B, fibre, iron, protein and phosphorus, which is an essential mineral that every cell in the body requires for normal function. Choose from red, brown, yellow, and French varieties. Lentils are awesome in curries, stews, soups, dips and salads.
Cooking time: 30-45 minutes.
Also known as shelling peas, snap peas have plump pods with a bright green colour and crisp texture. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium, magnesium and riboflavin. I love eating these peas raw, straight from the pod, but they can also be cooked to bring out a sweeter flavour.
Beans are a form of legume. Adzuki beans are predominantly used in Japanese dishes, black beans and kidney beans are great if you’re cooking Mexican, and fresh sprouted mung beans are fantastic in salads. You can also choose from lima beans, fava beans, pinto beans, navy beans and cannellini beans.
Adzuki: 45-60 minutes
Black (turtle): 60-90 minutes
Cannellini: 90-120 minutes
Fava: 60-90 minutes
Kidney: 60-90 minutes
Lima beans: 60-90 minutes
Navy: 60-90 minutes
Pinto: 90 minutes
Increase digestibility/ Reduce bloaty-ness
Love lentils but hate how farty and bloaty they make you? Don’t we all! Good news is there are certain steps you can take to make legumes easier on your digestive system, to eliminate these embarrassing and uncomfortable side effects.
• Soak legumes for a couple of hours before cooking them.
• Use a pressure cooker. This also cuts down on cooking time.
• Chew thoroughly.
• Try red lentils instead of brown as they are easier on your system.
• Watch what you are eating your legumes with. They combine best with greens or non-starchy vegetables and seaweeds.
• Add fennel or cumin near the end of cooking to help prevent gas.
• Add kombu or kelp seaweed to improve flavour and digestion, add minerals and nutrients, and speed up the cooking process.
• Pour a little apple cider vinegar into the water in the last stages of cooking. This softens the legumes and breaks down protein chains and indigestible compounds.
• Take digestive enzymes with your meal.
Note: Avoid giving legumes to children under 18 months because they have not developed the gastric enzymes to digest them properly.
How do you eat legumes?
Positive affirmation for the day: I release all criticism and treat everyone with the same compassionate understanding I would like to be treated with.
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