Lentils, beans, and peas are also known as pulses. They belong to the legume family. They are used and appreciated around the world and are part of many different dishes. Legumes are part of a healthy diet; they are very nutritious. They are high in proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are good complex carbohydrates–they are low in fat, low on the glycemic index, and do not contain any cholesterol. They are also economic and good for our environment. Try to incorporate them into your meals more often. One cup of cooked legumes is equal to 4 ounces of meat.

Whenever possible, try to cook your legumes at home. It can be intimidating at first, but it becomes pretty easy once you know how to cook them. If you are in a hurry, you can always use canned legumes. They are a bit pricier than and not as tasty as dry beans, but it’s better than not eating them at all. If you buy canned legumes, try to get organic to avoid salt, additives, and BPA. Eden Organic has great canned legumes. Eat them as side dishes or with rice, or incorporate them into casseroles, soups, stews, and sauces.

5 DIGESTION TIPS:

  1. Eat a smaller portion to start
  2. Chew beans very well
  3. Rinse them and soak them before cooking
  4. Remove foam that is creating while cooking
  5. Take digestive enzymes if needed

1. BEANS

Dry beans are available all year long and can be found dry or canned. Beans are normally soaked before cooking. Beans are a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber. They are also high in B vitamins and iron. Beans can be cooked on the stove, but can also be baked or cooked in a pressure cooker.

A). TYPES OF BEANS

ADZUKI BEANS
They have a meaty flavor and go well in many different dishes. They are normally easy to digest. They are part of the Asian cuisine.

BLACK BEANS
They have a sweet and mild flavor and are part of the Mexican, Caribbean, and Latin American cuisine. Most people like them. They are also known as turtle beans.

CHICKPEAS
Who never ate hummus? Chickpeas are the main ingredients in hummus. You can also add them into salad or eat them sprouted (raw).  Chickpeas are popular in the Middle Eastern cuisine. They are also known as garbanzo beans. Chickpea flour is also available.

KIDNEY BEANS
They are very popular in Asian cooking but go well in chiles, stews and patties. Never eat kidney beans raw as they contain a toxic substance that is only destroyed through cooking. They are known to be good for they kidneys and the bladder.

LIMA BEANS
They are white and have a fat shape. They are good in casseroles and soups, as well as side dishes.  They have a smooth and sweet flavor.

MUNG BEANS
Those small, green beans are mostly use in the Asian cuisine. You can cook the beans, as well as eat the mung beans sprouts which are popular in Asian stir-fry. They can also be eaten sprouted in salads. Mung bean flour is available.

PINTO BEANS
Pinto beans are popular as refried beans in Mexican cuisine. They are also used in chiles and stews. It’s another popular bean. You can substitute kidney beans for pinto beans in your recipes.

SOYBEANS
Always try to buy organic soybeans as most of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. Soybeans may be hard to digest and are also a common allergen. Edamame are green soybeans, normally found in the frozen section at the grocery store, and are popular as a snack or in Asian cuisine. Black soybeans are known to be far better than regular ones, and are also sweeter than traditional soybeans. Soybean flour is also available.


B). HOW TO COOK DRY BEANS

  1. Rinse beans and soak them in cool water overnight at room temperature. It’s an important step to improve digestion and reduce cooking time. Kidney beans and chickpeas needs about a day of soaking.
  2. Drain and rinse beans very well. It will help to flush away carbohydrates (sugar) that cause gas.
  3. Cook beans in a large pan. Add 4 cups of water or broth per 1 cup of soaked beans. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for 15 minutes. Reduce flame, cover, and let simmer until the beans are ready. They need to cook slowly. Add more water if necessary.
  4. Beans are done cooking when tender but not mushy. They should keep their original shape.

C). TIPS

  1. Do not add any salt or vinegar when cooking beans as it will slow down the cooking process.
  2. You can add 1 tsp. of oil to the boiling water to prevent foaming.
  3. Remove foam that is produced while cooking. It will help to prevent gas.
  4. Keep stirring to a minimum to help prevent bursting the skin and make the bean mushy.
  5. Cumin, fennel, anise, ginger, coriander, and bay lead to improved digestibility.
  6. Adding raw vinegar in the last 15 minutes of cooking helps to soften the beans and improve digestibility.
  7. Store cooked beans in the refrigerator. They will keep up to 4 days.
  8. Freeze beans if necessary. They will keep up to 6 months.

2. LENTILS

Lentils are legumes that grow in pods and have a nutty and earthy flavor. They    are quicker to cook than beans and do not require any soaking. Lentils are a great source of proteins, fiber and B vitamins.

A). TYPES OF LENTILS

BROWN LENTILS
Those are the most common type of lentils. They tend to get mushy if overcooked but will normally keep their shape. They have an earthy flavor.

GREEN LENTILS
Green lentils and French green lentils are different types of lentils but very similar. They are great in patties and salads and will normally keep their shape after cooking. They also take the longest to cook.

RED LENTILS
Red lentils are popular in the Middle Eastern and the Indian cooking. They are part of the traditional dhal soup. Red lentils are fast to cook and will get soft and mushy rapidly. They are also good to make purees or to thicken soups.

B). HOW TO COOK DRY LENTILS

  1. Rinse dry lentils under running water before cooking. They don’t need to be soaked.
  2. Add dry lentils to a pan and add water. For 1 cup of dry lentils, you add 2 cups of liquid.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce flame to low, and let simmer until lentils are cooked and liquid is absorbed. Time will depend on what type of lentil is used.
  4. Lentils are done when they are tender and can be easily mashed with a fork.

C). TIPS

  1. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic while cooking to help prevent gas.
  2. Do not add salt until the lentils are cooked.
  3. If you want them to be firm, add oil to the cooking water and cook the lentils just a short while, say 15 minutes
  4. Do not overcook the lentils, as they will become mushy.
  5. Store cooked lentils in the refrigerator. They will keep up to 5 days.
  6. Cooked lentils can also be frozen up to 6 months but it may affect their texture when reheated.

3. PEAS

Peas are the “seed” of the pod, which is considered to be a fruit. Each pod contains several peas. You can enjoy them all the year–fresh and raw during summer, and cooked and warm during winter. You can buy them fresh, dry, or canned.  Whole peas need to be soaked while split peas don’t.  They are also a great source of protein, fiber and B vitamins.

A). TYPES OF PEAS

GARDEN PEAS/GREEN PEAS
These are the types of pea that you normally buy frozen at the grocery store. They are already cooked. They just need to be heated and are ready to serve. During summer, they can be grown in your garden and eaten raw. They are sweet but can become starchy a few days after harvesting.

SNOW PEAS
They are normally eaten raw, fresh from the pod. They are great in salads or just as a snack during summer. The pods are flats, thin, and edible. They are great in Asian dishes.

SUGAR SNAP PEAS
They are popular in stir-fry and Asian dishes. Their pod is bigger and rounder than the snow pea. The pod is also edible. Sugar snap peas are really sweet, and sweeter than snow peas.

DRY PEAS
Dry peas are normally used in soups. They need to be cooked. The most common ones are the yellow and green peas. They can be found whole or split. The traditional pea soup is normally made with yellow split peas.

B). HOW TO COOK DRY PEAS

  1. Rinse dry peas under running water. Drain. Whole peas need to be soaked in cool water overnight at room temperature. Split peas don’t need to be soaked but can be if you want to reduce cooking time.
  2. In a pan, add soaked whole peas or rinsed split peas and add water. In general, you will need 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dry peas.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce flame, cover, and let simmer until peas are tender. Whole peas will take a little longer to cook.
  4. Skim off the foam while peas are cooking, and stir the peas to prevent sticking.
  5. Peas are ready when they are tender and be mashed with a fork. They can now be added to another dish.

C). HOW TO COOK FRESH PEAS

  1. With pods, rinse them and add them to your stir-fry.
  2. Without pods, remove peas from the pod with your thumbs and steam, boil, or add them to your stir-fry.

D). TIPS

  1. Do not add any salt or acidic ingredients such as vinegar, tomatoes, or lemon juice while cooking. It will dramatically increase cooking time. If desired, add those ingredients when the peas are ready or almost ready.
  2. You can add fresh herbs to the boiling water to add flavor.
  3. Skim off the foam as it’s cooking.
  4. Peas are best eaten as soon as possible.

LEGUME COOKING CHART

LEGUMES SOAK? WATER NEEDED

/CUP

APPROX.

COOKING TIME

YIELD (CUPS)
ADZUKI Yes 4 30-45 min. 3
BLACK BEANS Yes 4 1 hr.-1 hr. 30 min. 2 ½
BLACK-EYED Yes 3 30-60 min. 2
CHICKPEAS Yes 4 1 hr.-1 hr. 30 min. 2
KIDNEY BEANS Yes 3 1 hr.-1 hr. 30 min. 2
LIMA BEANS Yes 4 1 hr.-1 hr. 30 min. 2
MUNG BEANS Yes 2 ½ 1 hr. 2
PINTO BEANS Yes 3 1 hr. 30-2 hr. 2
SOYBEANS Yes 4 3-4 hr. 3
WHITE BEANS Yes 4 2 hr. 30 min. 2
LENTILS No 1 ½ 45 min. 2 ¼
RED LENTILS No 1 ½ 15-20 min. 2
PEAS Yes 4 1 hr.-1 hr. 30 min. 2 ½
SPLIT PEAS No 3 45-60 min. 2