Everything you need to know about legumes, part 2 of 4

square legsMatthew wrote me and said instead of telling people to eat legumes, I need to tell people what legumes are, and what the best 10 are.

That last part, the best 10, is somewhat subjective. I will tell you, nonetheless, 10 great legumes, because this whole class of food is HIGHLY UNDERRATED. That’s my next blog post. For now, I’m going to tell you some reasons to commit to eating this food group regularly.

heart legumesThey’re cheap, they’re high in fiber, they’re high in micro-nutrients, they’re filling, they’re low in calories, and they’re easy to obtain, worldwide. They store well and have a long shelf life, especially split peas and many beans.

They’re great for your heart. They have nutrients and fiber that can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and help you lose weight.

Eat a cup a day of cooked legumes, or more!

You can eat them in soups and stews, add cooked or sprouted ones to salads, or grind dry ones for bread or baked goods to substitute for part of the grains. I have LOTS of recipes in Ch. 6 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods with fabulous main dishes that deliciously leverage legumes.

They generally take an hour to cook, some even longer. But I highly recommend cooking your own, rather than buying them canned. Not only will you save money, but you’ll avoid sodium and any weird phthalates and other stuff leaching from the inside of the can.

Cook a big giant batch, to save time, and save 1 cup servings in Ziploc baggies in the freezer.

blacksalsguacI like to add black beans and salsa to guacamole, so that I can eat lots of it on homemade organic corn chips. Then I’m guilt-free about the high calories and fat in guacamole. (I usually eat a whole avocado in one sitting. It’s very nearly a perfect food!)

I like to add chick peas (garbanzo beans) to salads. I love all varieties of lentils in soups. Find a few ways that you love to eat legumes!

Rinse legumes very well before putting fresh water on them to cook. They are amazingly dirty when they come out of the bag. Beans need to soak overnight (legumes lentils and split peas don’t). Or, bring clean beans to a boil, turn it off, and let them soak two hours, to speed up the process. If they have been in your storage for years, I recommend soaking them, draining the water, and soaking them a second time, for up to a whole day. This makes flatulence less likely, which is a significant risk of eating really old beans.

beans soakFlatulence comes from the oligo saccharides sugars in the beans not converting well a form of sugars your body can use easily. Soaking the beans before cooking makes them easier to digest.

To cook them, drain the soak water, and add at least 3 cups of water for every 1 cup you originally had of dry beans. Cook as much as you want, but remember that 1 cup of dry beans will become about 2.5 cups of cooked beans! Put clean, soaked beans in a heavy saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, keep covered, and cook until beans are tender.

For lentils or split peas, this will be about 45 minutes. For beans, it will be 2-3 hours, or for very old beans, it could be 4 hours.

Don’t add acidic things to your beans until they are fully cooked. Add tomatoes, vinegar, salt, or lemon juice later; otherwise it inhibits the beans cooking.

Edit: Corrected a typo above about soaking legumes.

4 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about legumes, part 2 of 4

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  1. Robyn: Have you ever pressure-cooked your legumes? It saves sooo much time -and NO soaking overnight needed! Just cover legumes with water and pressure a couple of minutes (this replaces the soak), then drain and rinse well. Put back in cooker cover with twice the water as legumes, some coconut oil and some Kombu (dried seaweed) and pressure-cook for about 20-25 minutes (depends on the type of legume). So good!

  2. Thanks Robyn for all you do! I am wanting to try new recipes that have a variety of beans so we find ones our family likes in case we ever needed to live off of our food storage. I hear variety helps.

    P.S. I think you meant lentil instead of legume in the parentheses in the second sentence of the paragraph 5th from the bottom. 🙂

  3. I discovered legumes (particularly lentils) when I was running marathons. As a whole food vegan I started to notice that every time I ate lentils I ran incredible well the next day–I felt full of energy and had no soreness. Even when I was competing out of town, while all the other runners were flocking to Italian restaurants to eat pasta I would look up an Indian restaurant and order a big plate of dal (lentils). Recently I researched pulse (remember the story of Daniel from the Old Testament?) and, sure enough, experts believe it was probably chicpeas and lentils. No wonder Daniel appeared healthier than the king’s men!

    Yes! Eat legumes!!!

  4. Hi Robyn! Is it ok to eat legumes at night? I have always wonder this, since they are carbs and I do not eat carbs at night?

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