Dried beans/legumes contribute to the health benefits associated with plant-based diets and they are naturally gluten free. Beans are rich source of important micronutrients, like potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc. These are important nutrients for the gluten free diet. Legumes are important sources of protein in vegetarian diets as they are among the only plant foods that provide reasonable amounts of the essential amino acid, lysine( used to aid the absorption of calcium and help transport fats across your cells to be burned for energy.)Dried beans are rich in total and soluble fibre as well as in resistant starch, all of which contribute to the low glycaemic index of these foods. Legumes contain polyphenols/antioxidants. Research shows that diets which include beans reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and favourably affect risk factors for metabolic syndrome heart disease and diabetes. In some cultures, the low uptake of beans and lentils is contributed to by negative culinary image as well as to intestinal discomfort(gas) attributed to the oligosaccharide content of beans. Lentils will give you less gas (brown lentils particularly) than beans. For protein content soybeans have the highest protein, followed by lentils. More vitamins and minerals are found in lentils than beans.
Cooking practices such as sprouting beans, soaking, and discarding soaking water before cooking, and cooking in water with a more alkaline pH can reduce oligosaccharide content. Tinned beans are often a good option for cooking as the soaking and discarding of soaking water is done as part of the canning process.
Most legumes contain phytochemicals: which have important metabolic roles in humans who frequently consume legumes. Dietary intake of phytochemicals may protect against coronary heart disease, inflammation, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Easy ways to include beans and lentils in your diet
Vegetable and tomato soup thickened with chickpeas
Makes 8 portions
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 medium carrots, sliced
- 2 courgettes diced
- 1 large onions, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, seeds removed, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 medium leeks chopped
- 2 cups frozen green beans
- 1 tin (400g)chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 gluten free vegetable stock cube
- 1-1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes(or 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley)
- 1 tsp salt , ¼ tsp cracked black pepper,
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 800ml water
- 1 tin(400g) chopped tomatoes, undrained Method
- In a saucepan heat the oil, cook the carrots, onions, celery, courgettes, and green pepper until softened. Add garlic stir for 1 minute. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat simmer, covered for 20 minutes, blend with a hand blender
Beef and bean casserole
Ingredients: serves 6.
- 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained
- 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained 1 x 400g tin of butterbeans, drained
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
- 1 tablespoon of Cajun spices.
- 1 teaspoon of Colman’s mustard powder(gluten free)
- 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar 500g of lean beef mince.
- 100g of smoked bacon lardons. 1 large onion chopped
- 100g of baby spinach leaves
- ¼ tsp of salt black pepper.
- 6 tablespoons of low-fat Greek yoghurt (to serve)
- Preheatovento 175°c
- In a large pan over medium heat, fry the minced beef, bacon, and onion together untilbrowned,add the Cajun spices. Drain any excess fat.
- Inalarge mixing bowl, combine the drained beans, stir in the dry mustard, brown sugar, and add to the cooking beef mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the tinned chopped tomatoes
- Pourthebean and meat mixture into a baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes,
- when cooked and just before serving add the washed raw baby spinach leaves.
- Serveeachportion topped with a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt.
Lentil and Aubergine bake
Serves 4 Ingredients
- 2 large aubergines
- 2 large courgettes
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice 150g of baby spinach
- 2 medium onions chopped 2 red chillies chopped
- 50g of fresh ginger peeled and chopped 1 tsp of ground cumin
- tsp of black nigella seeds(black sesame)
- ½ tsp of turmeric
- tsp of gluten free mild curry powder(use hot if you prefer spicier) 1 tsp of tomato puree
- 120g of red lentils
- 1/8 tsp of salt ¼ tsp of cracked black pepper 120ml of water
- 1 tin 400ml of low-fat coconut milk 220 g of firm tofu or paneer(optional)
- Cut the aubergine and courgette into similar even sized chinks
- In a large saucepan or sauté pan heat the olive oil ,fry the onions and ginger for 5 minutes while stirring, add in the courgettes and aubergines cook for 5 minutes, add in the chillies and spices.
- Next add the tomato paste and lentils stir to coat the lentils in the spices, add salt and pepper now add the water and coconut milk.
- Add the diced paneer or tofu now if using it.
- Cook on a gentle heat for 20/25 minutes.(this could also be finished in a preheated oven at 170°c for 30 minutes. When cooked stir in the spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- This lentil bake is a delicious accompaniment to fish, meat, or chicken.
- With the additions of cooked chicken, the lentil bake makes a lovely wrap filling for lunch.
Beans are an all-year great food from warm winter soups and casseroles to light summer salads. Using drained tinned mixed beans add diced peppers ,red onion, sweetcorn, avocado, spring onions roasted sweet potato or whatever vegetables you like and add the following dressing.
Dressing for bean salad.
- 80ml olive oil 40ml lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of honey Salt and pepper
- Another great option is to roast drained cooked chickpeas, coat them with a little olive oil, add Cajun spices and roast in a hot oven (190°c) for 7 minutes and allow to go cold.
- Toss them through washed baby spinach leaves and rocket with strips of mixed peppers. julienne of raw carrot for a delicious salad.