You know beans and legumes are good for you. You’ve seen many varieties in food and vegetable markets. But… how do you incorporate them into your diet on a regular basis in a tasty, easy and acceptable manner?
Legumes include beans of every variety (green beans, baked beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, butter beans, sugar beans etc); also chickpeas, lentils and split peas.
Despite differences in colour and taste, all legumes have a similar nutritional value. A serving of beans contains no cholesterol, excellent protein value, lots of complex carbohydrates, and virtually zero fat. In addition, beans are a good source of B vitamins, potassium, and digestive health-promoting fibre.
Beans will cook more evenly, tenderly and in less time if they have been soaked first.
To soak beans overnight:
Rinse and cover with cold water. Leave to stand overnight.
Cover beans with water (about 2 cm above the beans), microwave for 3 minutes on high and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Then cook as described below.
Rinse well, cover with water and simmer gently for +/- 1 hour and 45 minutes.
|LEGUME||NUTRITION INFO||COOKING||RECIPE IDEAS|
|BLACK-EYED BEANS||½ cup = 90g cooked:|
436kJ / 100kCal
|250 ml (1 cup) raw beans make 550 ml (2 ¼ cups) cooked beans. One serving is usually 125 ml (1/2 cup) cooked beans. Salt and any acidic ingredients should only be added to the beans about three quarters of the way through cooking, as these ingredients can lengthen cooking time or prevent softening.||Black-eyed beans are delicious in an aromatic vegetarian curry, can be blended into a spicy bean dip or added into rice or couscous for extra flavour and nutritional benefit.|
(also known as garbanzo beans)
An excellent nutritional choice and are high in fibre and protein. They are also considered more digestible than most other beans.
They have a very low glycemic index.
|½ cup = 90g cooked:|
436kJ / 100kCal
|Soak overnight, Discard the water and simmer for 1 ½ hours.|
If you use canned chick peas, drain and rinse well to get rid of the brine.
|Chick peas can be used whole in salads or ground up to make hummus.
They can be used warm in soups, vegetable stews, vegetarian curries and casseroles.
Whole soybeans are an excellent source of protein and dietary fibre where soya protein is considered the only natural non-animal complete source of protein. Soya has recently attracted a lot of attention because of its ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and can be used in soups, curries, and stews.
|1/3 cup cooked:|
334kJ / 80kCal
4g essential fats
|Soya Beans are an excellent source of protein, with a firm and nutty flesh that stands up well to re-heating. Delicious added to stir fries and soups.|
Simmer for 3 – 4 hours
|Soya beans can be used whole in salads or used warm in soups, vegetable stews, vegetarian curries and casseroles.|
Lentils are legumes that have a rich nutty flavour and are much quicker to cook than any other legume as they do not require soaking. Lentils are extremely versatile and absorb flavours well.
|Lentils are highly nutritious and are a good source of fibre, B vitamins and protein and are also a low GI food.|
½ cup = 90g cooked:
438kJ / 100kCal
|50 ml (1 cup) raw brown lentils makes 550 ml (2 ¼ cups) cooked brown lentils. One serving is usually 125 ml (1/2 cup) cooked brown lentils.|
Cover with water, Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes
|They are delicious served as a salad, in a thick warm soup, in spicy vegetarian curries and can be used as a healthy meat extender in bolognaise or lasagnas.
Lentils add lots of flavour and some protein to all kinds of dishes, from soups to salads. Combine with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, parsley and garlic as a salad or puree with cumin, grated ginger and turmeric for an Indian dahl.
Canned beans are great to use! All the pre-preparation of soaking and cooking is already done. Be sure to drain the beans really well in a sieve, and rinse off the brine to reduce the salt intake. Use as is in salads, soups, stews, stir-fries, starch dishes.
Always keep several tins of beans in your pantry: chickpeas, red kidney beans (great in salads – great colour!, and don’t forget that Chilli con carne is not the same without these), baked beans (puree and use as a thickener in mince dishes and casseroles; or simply use as “baked beans on toast”), butter beans, lentils, mixed beans – and any others. Start experimenting – using beans in at least 2-3 dishes per week.
Purchase a South African vegetarian recipe book and learn to make a couple of standard delicious dishes incorporating beans and lentils. After a while, allow your imagination to run riot – and create your own dishes using either fresh legumes (prepared as per above table), or canned ones.