Legumes (beans, peas and lentils) have an abundance of health benefits, having been shown to help prevent ageing and cancer, reverse diabetes and heart disease and increase longevity (more about why you should be eating them here). However, we’re not eating enough of them. So this blog is going to show you how to change that. Beans are no longer something that is merely added to soups to bulk them up a bit – there’s much more to them than that! Many of the most popular cuisines’ cultures have been using beans as a staple food in their diets for thousands of years. Here I’ve included some bean-based dishes from ethnic cuisines, as well as some modern takes on traditional recipes that have beans added to them. There are 102 ideas here (yes, this took me a while to compile!) so you’re bound to find at least a few recipes to try.
Here are all of the delicious ways that you can eat beans!
For a classic hot breakfast option, try Baked Beans on toast (a homemade version that’s much more nutritious than it’s tinned counterpart!). For something a little different, try Tofu Scramble, French Toast, a Breakfast Burrito, Savoury or Sweet Chickpea Pancakes or a Chickpea Omelette.
Spread some Hummus on your sandwich, wrap or roll (if you’re after something a bit different, try one of the dips in the snacks section, or maybe some Tofu Mayonnaise). Feeling extra bean-y? Try a sandwich made with this Chickpea Bread! Fill it with marinated Tofu or Tempeh. Or try these takes on a BLT or Reuben Sandwich. If you’re more of a salad person, simply add some frozen edamame, tinned chickpeas, lentils or kidney beans (drained and rinsed) to your salad and drizzle a Salad Dressing on top, or try one of these recipes…
Pictured salads (in order):
Then if you want to re-vamp your own recipes, try some of these ideas:
- In any recipe calling for mince meat, replace with tinned brown lentils or textured vegetable protein (soaked in water- looks and feels exactly like minced meat!)
- In place of chicken, try marinated tofu
- Ground up beans or lentils (in a blender, or purchase a flour like this) to thicken soups and stews
- Try this pulse pasta in place of regular pasta (Here’s an American version, too)
Or make one of these recipes for your main…
Traditional with a Twist
Mexican (Rows 1 & 2): 3 Bean Mole, Tacos, Burritos, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quasedillas, Mexican Bean Soup wth Chipotle Avocado Cream, Enchilada Casserole, Enchiladas, Chilli (stuff some sweet potatoes with it!)
Asian(Indian) (Row 5-6): Pumpkin Cauliflower Chickpea Curry, Kidney Bean Lentil Dahl, Aloo Baingan (Potato & Eggplant Curry), Curried Chickpea and Millett Croquettes, Channa Masala Curry, Kichadi (Indian Rice and Lentil Curry)
For a nutritious and satisfying mid-meal snack, you can’t go past the classic crackers/toasted pita or veggie sticks and Hummus. Other dips you could try are:
- My Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Dip
- Hummus variations: Pumpkin, Spiced Sweet Potato, Peanut Fusion, Curried (Indian) with Raisins
- White bean and Artichoke Dip
- Spiced Carrot and White Bean Dip
- Basil Pesto
- Spinach Ranch Dip
- Southwest Three Bean Dip
Try some of these delicious recipes:
After that long list you shouldn’t have any trouble working out what to make with legumes! Now you may be wondering how on earth you’re going to try out all of these delicious recipes and keep your bowels intact. Here’s some advice…
How to Avoid Gas!
Some people’s guts can have a hard time digesting beans, which often leads to a build up of gas after we eat them (and lots of embarrassment!). This is a normal reaction if we aren’t eating beans very often as our guts are getting used to them. Legumes contain a group of carbohydrates known as ‘galacto-oligosaccharides’ as well as ‘fructans’, both of which the gut can’t digest. Instead, these carbohydrates head down to our large intestine and are fermented by our gut bacteria, which results in gas (on the positive side, these carbohydrates feed our good bacteria, so they’re a great source of prebiotics!).
So if you’re susceptible to it but don’t mind a bit of gas in the beginning, go ahead and eat your beans- the gas will subside after about 2 or 3 weeks. However, if you want to avoid gas at all costs but still want to gain the many benefits that beans have to offer, the key is to introduce them slowly: Start off with one tablespoon-size serve of beans or lentils if you don’t usually eat beans or lentils and double this amount every few days until you’re satisfied with the amount you’re eating.
Still having issues? If you’re getting all sorts of bad digestion issues after eating beans (or any other foods for that matter), seek the help of an accredited practicing dietitian.
Coming Up: If you’re confused about soy, I’ll be writing an upcoming blog about whether soy is healthy or not (you can probably guess my stance on it from this blog, but I’ll be explaining exactly why in the blog)