Let’s all laud legumes, some of the most underrated plant-based foods on the planet. For such a humble cooking ingredient, legumes - or pulses as they’re also known - boast an impressive nutritional profile.
1- They’re a great source of protein, low in fat, high in dietary and soluble fibre, and packed with important vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, folate and antioxidants.
2- Legumes are a carbohydrate with a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they are broken down more slowly, so you feel fuller for longer.
3- They’re not only healthy and nutritious but cheap to buy, which makes them a popular staple in many cultures and cuisines.
4- The legume family consists of plants that produce a pod with seeds inside and include lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans and, interestingly, peanuts.
Legumes typically come dried, canned or frozen. Incredibly versatile and vegetarian friendly, you can add legumes to a vast range of dishes.
Broad beans: earthy broad beans are a great source of vitamins A, B1 and B2 and can be used to bring flavour and texture to delicious dishes, such as falafel.
Peas: low in fat, low in carbs, low in calories, and low in sugar. What’s not to love about the little pea? Try adding to a wonderfully creamy risotto.
Lentils: come in many shapes and sizes including red, brown, and black to name a few! A warming bowl of filling lentil and bacon soup makes a tasty weeknight meal and is a great source of vegetarian protein.
Chickpeas: high in fibre and folate and low in calories, chickpeas can be used in curry and pasta dishes, dips, soups, salads, pies and even flatbread.
Kidney beans: the staple ingredient in a cheering bowl of chilli con carne, the juicy kidney bean helps reduce the rise in blood sugar that happens after a meal.
Pinto beans: these legumes can be eaten either whole or mashed and bring a tasty twist to lots of different cuisines such as Mexican-style refried beans.
Rice with Cod, Kidney Beans and Spinach
Mashed pea and corn slice
Moroccan Chickpea and Halloumi Pie