Here’s a primer on using some of my favorite whole foods with a weird name, pronounced “lay-gooms.” Eating a lot of these, along with lots of greens, vegetables, and fruits leads to finding your ideal weight. Everything about them is perfect for weight loss! They are bulky, high in fiber, low in calories, and high in micro-nutrients. Legumes in general are high in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and calcium.
Lentils. My lentil soup with cooked carrots and celery and onion, in Ch. 6 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods is the best thing ever. Lentils are truly a super food. And you can buy the red, green, or brown varieties, all of which have a slightly different nutritional profile and texture. Brown lentils are the most common and least expensive. You don’t need to soak lentils, like beans. They’re high in fiber, protein, Vitamins B1, B5, B6, niacin, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese.
Split Peas. They’re so easy to use in soup–and please leave the bacon out! In my next post, I’ll share my split pea recipe. They take about an hour to cook and are called ‘split peas’ because when they’re harvested and dried, they naturally split in half. They are high in protein, fiber, Vitamin B1 and B5, potassium, and phosphorus.
Black Beans. Everyone’s favorite legume. I love to add it to guacamole and salsa as a dip, or mash for a burrito. High in protein, Vitamin B1, iron, folate, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese.
Black-Eyed Peas. Most people in the Northern states don’t know this delightful little legume, but they cook in an hour or less. I grew up with a bowlful, plus a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar, being dinner! They’re high in fiber, protein, four B vitamins, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese.
Pinto Beans. These might be the cheapest legume you can buy, and easy to store. I grew up with this food as a staple that raised 8 children to adulthood on one military salary. Big pots of vegetarian chili are one of my main memories of growing up. Pinto beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, B1, and molybdenum.
Kidney Beans. These are my favorite for adding to a salad, as they taste very starchy, which is a nice complement and balance to crunchy greens and vegetables. Plus they’re pretty and dark red. A mix of these and pinto beans are great in vegetarian chili. They are high in fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins B1, B3, B5, and calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans). Everybody loves hummus, and there are so many things you can put in mashed chickpeas with a little lemon juice, sea salt, and tahini (sesame paste): sundried tomatoes or any kind of olives, for instance. I also love them in salads. They’re low in calories and high in protein, fiber, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, and iron.
Soybeans. Soybeans are heavily genetically modified in North America, so buy ONLY organic to make sure you’re getting the good available from this food, and not the bad. Soybeans are extremely high in protein, so for many years, vegetarians made use of soy-based “meat replacement” products. I suggest avoiding all processed soy products and eating only whole, organic, occasional soybean foods such as edamame, tofu, or tempeh, or organic miso or nama shoyu as seasonings. Soybeans are well known to be high in isoflavones, a class of antioxidants known to be anti-cancer that ease hormonal symptoms in women and increase bone density. They’re also high in fiber, calcium, Vitamin B2, manganese, molybdenum, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and omega-3 fats.
Lima Beans. Called “butter beans,” these large Peruvian beans make a nice soup with onions and root vegetables (potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc.), or they’re great mashed in a burrito or with sweet potatoes. They’re high in protein and fiber, as well as folate, molybdenum, tryptophan, manganese, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin B1.
Mung Beans. Ayurvedic doctors feed this to sick people because they’re such a power food. It’s easy to sprout these tiny beans; just soak them overnight, drain in the morning, and rinse and rotate them twice a day until you see “tails” about ¼” long. In two days, you’ve got a superfood for your salads and sandwiches. They’re chock full of protein, fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, iron, and phosphorus.