Welcome to a powerhouse of nutrition: legumes! They’re packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and minerals. Legumes keep you fueled for anything you want to do in your life.
Legumes include beans, lentils, peas, and even peanuts. They are the seeds of the Fabaceae botanical family of plants (also called Leguminosae). There are thousands of varieties of these plants, and they have been a staple in the human diet for thousands of years.
Legumes are delicious on their own, and they’re also used in many other products like hummus made from chickpeas. Legumes provide the basis for vegan main dishes like black-bean burgers and lentil soup.
Soybeans are a particularly flexible food. They can be transformed into innumerable products like tofu, soy milk, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein.
The fiber in legumes (up to 13 grams per cup) can help lower cholesterol. And legumes are low in fat, with peanuts being the exception. If you’re watching your weight, you’ll want to avoid peanuts and peanut butter. Choose other varieties of legumes.
Protein in Legumes
As part of a balanced diet, legumes are an excellent protein source for vegans. Soybeans contain all 9 essential amino acids that make up a complete protein. The others lack one or two amino acids, but these can be found in other plant foods like whole grains.
With a balanced diet of legumes, whole grains, and vegetables, vegans can easily get a complete set of all 9 essential amino acids.
How to Cook Dried Beans
1. Start with a 1-pound bag of dried beans. Sort and rinse the beans. Remove any small pebbles that may have found their way into the beans.
2. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and cover with water.
3. Let soak 8 hours or overnight. Place bowl in the refrigerator while soaking.
3. Drain water.
4. Transfer the beans to a large pot and add 7 cups of water.
5. Bring to a boil, the reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender. You’ll want to check every 15 minutes to see if the beans have softened enough to your liking. Avoid overcooking because you’ll have a mushy finished product. Lentils will cook quickly (15-20 minutes), while beans may take an hour or more.