At last beans peas and other legumes are resuming their rightful place in our menus. More and more people are becoming nutrition conscious, and are becoming aware of the value of these wonderful foods.
Legumes provide a very nourishing, very economical, and varied diet.
There are at least twenty-four kinds of peas, beans and lentils.
Legumes are very filling and satisfying, and have a low Glycaemic Index, which means that the carbohydrates which they contain are digested and absorbed at a slower rate, thus providing that satisfied full feeling for longer, and that can be of great help if you are fighting the “battle of the bulge”!
At the 3rd International Congress of Vegetarian Nutrition (1997) Dr Gary Fraser, from the Loma Linda University, spoke of the benefits of legumes, especially in the diets of those who chose to include meat in their menus. It was reported that a frequent consumption of legumes was linked with a decreased incidence of pancreatic and colon cancer among those who ate meat.
Research had shown that those who frequently included white and red meats in their diet were more likely to develop colon cancer, but the frequent consumption of legumes was a protective factor.
Eating legumes frequently is not without its initial problems, especially for the beginners!
Legumes contain certain compounds which the body cannot break down. When these reach the lower intestine, the resident intestinal bacteria react, sometimes violently, producing flatulence. Take a hint -- introduce legumes slowly into your diet, make sure they are always well cooked, and you should have very little trouble.
A very effective method of combating this problem is to soak the beans in the usual way (see below) and then drain them and spread them out on a towel and allow to sprout for a couple of days, until the sprout just begins to appear. Cook them in the normal way. The sprouting changes the indigestible compounds to ones that are completely digestible, thus eliminating the problem, as well as reducing the cooking time
Preparing the Beans
Place the dry beans in a large container. Cover with plenty of cold water. Allow to soak for a period of at least 8 hours. In hot or humid climates, allow them to soak under refrigeration, otherwise change the water frequently.
To cook, if possible use a heavy-bottomed pan with lid. Take the beans from the soaking water. DO NOT COOK THE BEANS IN THE WATER IN WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN SOAKED. Doing so will encourage the production of intestinal gas.
Cover the beans with at least 5cm (2 inches) water. Bring the beans to the boil, and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender. Do not stir. Stirring breaks the skins, releases starch, and encourages the beans to stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more water if necessary.
Adding just 1 teaspoon of oil will help prevent foaming and produce a better textured bean.
Try freezing your beans. This actually improves them, whether they are frozen before or after the cooking process.
Soak and cook a large amount, then divide into "recipe-sized" portions, place in sealable plastic bags or containers, and you have your beans ready-cooked next time you wish to prepare that favourite recipe.
(or "Soup in 5 minutes")
1/2 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
425g can tomatoes, chopped
310g can mixed beans (or your choice)
1/2 teaspoon basil
3 sprigs parsley
1. Heat water and saute onion and celery in it until soft.
2. Place all ingredients in food processor, and process until smooth.
3. Heat in saucepan or microwave. Serve topped with a dollop of light sour cream or low-fat yoghurt, or with a sprinkling of home-popped corn. Serves 3.
Go to Legume Recipes for more recipes of your choice. These will be added to from time to time.
Do you have any queries? If so, please contact us, or go to the Recommended Links page, and click on the Sanitarium Nutrition Education Service link for more delicious recipes, and a Nutritionist to answer your questions.
I. Darmadi-Blackberry, M. Wahlqvist, A. Kouris-Blazos, et al. Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(2):217-20.
W. Chang, M. Wahlqvist, H. Chang, C. Hsu, M. Lee, W. Wang, C. Hsiung. A bean-free diet increases the risk of all-cause mortality among Taiwanese women: The role of the metabolic syndrome. Public Health Nutr 2012 15(4):663 - 672.
S. J. Nechuta, B. J. Caan, W. Y. Chen, W. Lu, Z. Chen, M. L. Kwan, S. W. Flatt, Y. Zheng, W. Zheng, J. P. Pierce, X. O. Shu. Soy food intake after diagnosis of breast cancer and survival: An in-depth analysis of combined evidence from cohort studies of US and Chinese women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2012 96(1):123 - 132.