The Importance of Legumes in Your Diet
Legumes are an incredible source of nutrients and an essential part of diets worldwide. They are packed with protein, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential micronutrients. Legumes include beans, lentils, and peas and are naturally gluten-free, low GI, and release energy slowly over time, preventing surges in blood glucose and lowering cholesterol levels.
Dried vs. Canned Legumes
While canned legumes are widely available, using dried varieties allows for more flavor and texture, control over ingredients, and often a cheaper option. Soaking and cooking the dried beans only takes two minutes, and as a general rule, cooking doubles the weight of dried beans and pulses.
Eating Legumes for Your Five-A-Day
Eating legumes is an excellent way to get one of your five-a-day, with at least three heaped tablespoons of baked beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, butter beans, or chickpeas. It’s also essential to have a variety of different legumes and pulses to get a range of nutrients.
Legumes are not only packed with protein, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates, but they are also rich in essential micronutrients that are essential to maintaining good health. For example, black beans are a great source of iron, which is necessary for making red blood cells. Lentils are a source of copper and manganese, which help protect our cells from damage. Garbanzo beans are an excellent source of molybdenum and manganese.
Recipe for Legumes & Barley Stew
This recipe for Legumes & Barley stew is the perfect meal for a cold winter day. It’s a balanced dish that can be used as a starter or as a whole meal. The stew consists of a mix of 10 dried beans: black-eyed beans, black turtle beans, butter beans, haricot beans, lima beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, rose cocoa beans, alubia beans, and mung beans. However, you can use any type of beans you have at hand.
- 2 cups cooked beans mix (or 1 cup of dried beans)
- ½ cup orange lentils
- ½ cup pearl barley
- 3 sticks celery
- 4 mushrooms
- 1 onion
- 1 can plum tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 liter water
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 3 leaves bay
- ½ stick cinnamon (optional, add depth and sweetness)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 red chili pepper
If using dried beans, soak them in cold water overnight. Chop the vegetables and sauté them with the oil and the aromatic herbs for a few minutes until the onion is transparent. Add the beans, lentils, pearl barley and stir for a minute, then cover with the water. Add the tomato paste and the plum tomato and cook between 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the legumes are tender. Remove the aromatic herbs before serving.
The Final Dish
This Legumes & Barley stew is a perfect combination of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. It’s a delicious, healthy, and hearty meal that will keep you satisfied and warm on a cold winter day. Enjoy!