According to Drew Hays, MA RD LD, who is one of my favorite lecturers at the University of Texas at Austin, "legumes are the unsung hero of nutrition!" Legumes, also known as pulses, are seeds or pods grown on a plant from the legume family. The United Nations declared 2016 the Year of the Pulses to raise awareness for the amazing nutrition power of this exceptional source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein!
Beans (black, pinto, navy, kidney, fava, soybean, black eyed pea)
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
Health benefits of legumes
Legumes are a terrific addition to your diet! One ½ cup serving of legumes provides on average 115 calories, 8 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 7-9 g fiber, and 1 g fat. As a plant-based food, legumes are cholesterol free and even help to lower cholesterol levels. Every legume has a different nutrient profile, but all legumes are popular for providing protein, carbohydrate, fiber, B vitamins, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Legumes are low glycemic, meaning that consuming legumes does not cause a spike in blood sugar.
Research shows that consuming a diet high in legumes to reduce the risk of developing hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and Type II diabetes as well as improve the status of people who already experience these conditions. Diets high in legumes are also shown to help with weight management.
Fun legume dishes you have to try!
Congris (black beans): Cuban black beans and rice!
Hummus (chickpeas): Middle eastern chickpea and tahini spread, best paired with veggies or pita bread
Texas Caviar (black eyed peas): A light and bright vinaigrette salad made of black eyed peas, bell pepper, onion, and corn
Black bean burger (black beans): A vegetarian burger patty made from black beans and veggies
Falafel (chickpeas): Middle eastern chickpea balls
Tarka Dal (lentils): A mouth-watering Indian dish flavored with tomato and a delicious array of Indian flavors
Black bean brownies (black beans): brownies made with black beans instead of conventional flour, an interesting way to change up your brownie game!
Roasted chickpeas (chickpeas): A crunchy snack found in a variety of flavors, also great on top of salads, my favorite are Saffron Road Bombay Spice chickpeas!
Most legumes are a delightful addition to any soup, salad, or bowl!