Legumes: A Source of Flavour and Nutrition

Experiment with legumes in your cooking to add a boost of vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein into your diet

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Often considered a superfood, legumes should be a regular part of your daily diet

Often underrated, legumes can be a tasty way to enhance the flavour and nutritional value of your meals

Legumes refers to a versatile group of nutrient-rich meat alternatives that includes lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and soybeans, among others.

Legumes an Excellent Source of Energy

An important source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein, legumes (especially when combined with whole grains) are a cornerstone of the vegetarian diet. However, everyone can benefit from eating more legumes as they provide both soluble fibre, which lowers cholesterol and promotes a feeling of fullness, and insoluble fibre, which helps maintain a healthy bowel. They’re also an excellent source 
of slow-release energy.
 Legumes are available dried, canned or in flour form. Dried legumes take longer to prepare as they need to be rinsed and soaked.

Easy to Store

However, once cooked, they can be frozen for up to six months. Canned legumes only need to be drained and rinsed before use. Legume flours are gluten-free, making them ideal for improving the vitamin, mineral and fibre content of gluten-free baking.

Flavour Boosting Legumes

Legumes can be used to enhance the flavour and nutritional value of lots of popular dishes. Add beans to salads, or mix them with lentils to make tasty veggie burgers. Roast chickpeas with spices for a crunchy snack. Add legumes to your favourite soups, stews and chili recipes. Puréed lentils work well in loaves and muffins, and black-bean brownies are always a hit with chocolate-lovers. 

Note: Legumes are comprised of long-chain carbohydrates called oligosaccharides. This gives them their energy-sustaining effect, but 
is also why they can lead to gas. Happily, the more legumes you eat, the better your body 
will become at digesting them, resulting in 
less or no gas.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.