Legumes, lentils and beans one of the most commonly forgotten food in a diet, but they need not be. Not only are they highly nutritious, they are a great source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans and they are cheap and easy to cook with. They are also a good source of iron, folate and potassium with 100g of red lentils having more potassium than a banana!
As far as protein goes, ½ a cup of cooked lentils will provide 1.5 times the protein of 1 egg and 1 cup cooked provides the equivalent of an 80g steak, so consider including these beauties in your cooking more often. If you are a family that has meals centred mainly around meat, consider swapping one meal out per week and including legumes as your protein source, your body, the environment and your wallet will thank you.
The cost of one typical 200g porterhouse steak is ~$4-6, which if feeding a family of 5, that will be $20-25 for the meat. Whereas you can buy a bag of du puy French style lentils for 375g is $3.35, which works out to be $8.90 per kilo, and for a family of five a 375g packet would be more than enough for a meal.
Nutritionally, legumes and lentils are also a great source of soluble fibre, which is associated with reducing blood cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. Soluble fibre also helps to keep your insides healthy, keeping you regular and keeping your gut healthy. They are a low GI grain, meaning that they will fill you up and keep you fuller for longer and will also help to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Five dishes you can make with legumes, lentils and beans:
- Homemade baked beans
- Lentil Soup
- Hommus Dip
- Bean, lentil and vegetable soup
Almost any dish that contains meat can have lentils or legumes added in or put in in place of the meat.
Five meat dishes that can have lentils, legumes and beans added to:
- Spaghetti Bolognese – kidney beans
- Slow cooked lamb, beef, chicken – chick peas, cannellini beans, butter beans, lentils
- Lamb shank and vegetable soup – green lentils or chickpeas
- Roast chicken and vegetable salad – chickpeas
- Pulled beef tacos – kidney beans