Legumes: The underrated staple

Legumes: The underrated staple teaser
Legumes have a very high nutritional value, but are often forgotten from people's diet. So, what's so good about them and how can we eat more of them?

Legumes are a group of plant foods which include lentils, split peas, lupin, soybeans, chickpeas, kidney beans and baked beans (navy beans). These foods are packed full of fibre, protein, folate and antioxidants and have a low glycaemic index, meaning they will keep you fuller for longer. Not only are they super nutritious but they are cheap to buy so will help keep your grocery bills down!

Despite this, legume intake in Australia is very low. Surveys indicate that Australians eat on average less than one third of a serves of legumes a week, and only about 35% of people eat legumes regularly.

Including legumes in your healthy eating plan doesn’t mean you have to eat completely different meals. You can buy dry legumes (and soak before cooking) or choose the canned options that are ready to eat. There are lots of ways you can include them in your favourite recipes:
  • For a different breakfast, try Jamie’s popped beans: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/eggs-recipes/baked-eggs-in-popped-beans/
  • Add lentils or red kidney beans to your favourite mince dishes such as spaghetti bolognaise or tacos
  • Use split peas or lentils to thicken soups
  • Try adding four bean mix to salads
  • Roasted chickpeas with a spice seasoning make a great snack
  • Serve humus (chickpea dip) with your favourite vegies
  • Add kidney beans or cannellini beans to muffins and cakes to boost their fibre and protein content
  • Experiment with other cuisines, such as Indian favourites including dahl and chickpea curries and Mexican refried beans
  • Make a Mexican toastie with your favourite beans, cheese, tomato and guacamole 

Check out the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council for some great recipe ideas: http://www.glnc.org.au/recipes/pulse-based-recipes/
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