Legumes are an incredibly versatile food group and they should be with 13,000 known varieties around the world! Low in fat and high in fiber, legumes are a great option for those wanting to increase their fiber intake. One cup of cooked lentils contains 16 grams of fiber, this is about half of our recommended daily intake. They are also very high in protein, with one cup of cooked lentils containing 18 grams of protein, making legumes a great protein source for vegetarians and vegans. Because legumes are high in fiber and protein, they are more slowly digested by our bodies. This means that legumes may help better control our blood sugar levels. Studies have also shown that legumes may be able to help reduce blood pressure and reduce overall risk for developing heart disease. As I mentioned earlier, there are a wide variety of legumes. These include:
- Peanuts – yes, these are actually classified as legumes and not nuts, but their nutritional makeup more closely resembles a nut than a legume.
Legumes may be consumed in a peanut butter sandwich, bean dip, hummus, a side dish to a meal, a snack, or even as the main course. With so many ways to prepare legumes, there is no reason to not incorporating them into your diet. They taste great, are very filling, and easy on the pocket book, so why would you not want to prepare them?
Here is a recipe for lentil soup to help get you started on trying to include legumes into your diet. I hope you enjoy!
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 1/4 cups chopped carrot
- 1 1/4 cups chopped Brussels sprouts
- 1 1/4 cup frozen or fresh green beans
- 2 cups dried lentils, rinsed & drained
- 1 14 oz can of crushed tomato
- 6 cups of chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and add garlic and onion. Cook until tender, about 2 minutes.
- Add celery, carrot, Brussels sprouts, and green beans to pot and cook for 7 – 10 minutes until softened. Add all remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper, stir until combined.
- Increase heat to medium high and bring to simmer.
- Place lid on and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 35 – 40 minutes or until lentils are soft.
- Add a touch of water if you want to adjust soup consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.