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Cooking With Legumes

cooking legumes

Today’s the day.  Today’s the day that I’m finally going to do something with those dried Adzuki beans I just had to get after hearing all about the health benefits of them on the Dr. Oz Show.  http://www.sharecare.com/question/health-benefits-eating-adzuki-beans  Problem is, they have to be soaked, and I’ve never had luck soaking beans.  They always end up being hard.

So, before I started, I needed directions and found this info from Dr. Weil.  Such great information I just had to share.

From Andrew Weil, MD.

Legumes, like whole grains, are a low-glycemic-index food and an important part of the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber; delicious if prepared properly; and among the most inexpensive foods you can buy – the ultimate refutation of the notion that “you have to be rich to eat healthy.”

Legumes are the seeds of the plants in the Fabaceae family – a family that includes beans, lentils, soybeans, peas, peanuts, and even alfalfa and clover. They are exceptionally healthy foods for humans and animals, with the added bonus of being excellent for the environment: their roots fix nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for petroleum-based fertilizers.

Legumes in the diet usually refers to pulses – the edible seeds of annual leguminous plants that are harvested dry for consumption. In other words, these are the dry beans and lentils you can find in the bulk bins of any natural food store.

Beans and lentils are rich in folic acidmagnesiumpotassium, B vitamins, complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber, and, at 20-25% protein by weight, are a go-to for vegetarians and vegans.

The American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society all recommend legumes as one of the most important food groups for disease prevention and optimal health. Due to their blend of fiber, protein and nutrients, legumes aid in blood sugar regulation more than almost any other food group, a key quality for diabetics and those concerned with maintaining stable insulin response.

Legumes are also heart-healthy; their high fiber content lowers cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels. A study of over 15,000 middle-aged men across the U.S., Europe and Japan for 25 years found the consumption of legumes was associated with an 82% reduction in risk of death from heart disease. Most varieties of beans and lentils are also high in folate, a vitamin that helps prevent the build-up of the amino acid homocysteine – elevated levels of which are a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Cheap, healthful, versatile and delicious, there’s a reason pulses like beans and lentils are a staple  throughout the world. Whether you enjoy them as dips and spreads like hummus, paired with nutritious whole grains such as the ever-popular beans and rice, or merely to bulk up soups, stews and salads, they deserve a prominent place in your anti-inflammatory kitchen!

General tips on cooking with legumes:
This guide is for cooking dried legumes from scratch, which is by far the most inexpensive, fresh and tasty  way to enjoy them. However, canned beans can be a good choice in a pinch. If you opt for canned, look for varieties that do not contain chemical preservatives, and be sure to rinse them thoroughly to remove excess sodium that may have been included in the canning liquid.

Some dried beans such as black, navy and kidney beans are found in typical supermarkets, but you will have better luck finding more obscure beans, such as adzuki beans and unique lentil varieties at your local natural foods store or ethnic market. For all dried legumes:

  • Opt for organic varieties from the bulk bins of health food stores whenever possible – they have higher turnover rates, which improves the likelihood of freshness.
  • Store in airtight containers in a cool, dry place that is not in direct sunlight. Generally, if done properly, they can be stored up to one year.
  • Before preparing, it is advisable to spread them out on a light surface to check for and remove any small stones, spoiled beans or other debris. Then, place in a strainer and rinse under cool water.

Almost all legumes – split peas and lentils being the exceptions – should be soaked prior to cooking. Soaking improves digestibility and decreases cooking time. Place rinsed, dried beans in a pot and add water until it is roughly three inches above the beans. Cover the pot and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour for small beans, six hours or overnight for larger varieties. Then drain the soaking water – don’t use it for cooking, as it’s full of difficult-to-digest starches that can cause flatulence and other digestive woes.

The instructions in the list below are for stovetop preparation in a pot. But you can also use a pressure cooker for most of these beans, which can reduce cooking times by up to 80 percent. See the instructions that were included with your cooker for details on the amount of liquid needed and cooking times.

You can also cook your legumes in vegetable stock instead of water for added flavor, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice – either will toughen the beans and greatly increase cooking time. As a general rule, wait until beans are done or nearly done cooking before seasoning.

To further reduce the gas-producing properties of beans, add a large strip of dried kombu seaweed to the pot of beans and water prior to boiling. Remove the kombu once cooking is finished. You can find kombu in your local natural foods store or in ethnic markets. Adding a slice or two of ginger or some fennel or cumin seeds can also help. Additionally, skimming and discarding the foam during boiling is also an effective means of gas reduction.

To cook: Refill the pot with fresh, cold water for cooking (three cups per cup of soaked beans is a good general rule, but optimal amounts for each legume variety are provided). Bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilt the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for the designated time. Beans are done when they are tender; though if you desire an even softer texture (useful for some recipes that call for mashed beans) simply cook them longer. Try these legumes as part of a healthy diet plan:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03206/Cooking-With-Legumes.html

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Coping with Thinning Hair? The Hair-Friendly Diet

      

According to a study published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, deficiencies in nutrients including zinc, iron, vitamin D, protein or essential fatty acids can cause hair loss.

Whether your hair is thinning or not, it’s a good idea to eat foods that will help keep your hair at its healthiest.  According to Los Angeles-based dermatologist Dr. Debra Luftman, legumes like kidney beans and lentils are an important part of your hair-health diet.  As well as protein to promote hair growth, they provide iron, zinc and biotin, a B vitamin that’s a key component in strong hair and nails.  Dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli contain both vitamins and iron.

From:  Healthy Living Made Simple July/August 2012

My BLT with Fakin’ Bacon

If you’re like me, summer’s favorite meal was always BLT’s with lots of bacon and Miracle Whip, just a touch of iceburg lettuce and wonderful, juicy tomatoes on Italian bread.  But now that we know better, we do better.  We don’t want all the artery clogging fat from regular bacon (1 slice has 1.1 g. of saturated fat and 2.96 gms. protein.  And have you ever read the ingredients in turkey bacon?  It has mechanically separated turkey.  Sounds too close to what they call pink slime to me.) and mayo or Miracle Whip, and we stay away from anything white (such as white bread, white rice, white flour).

So what is a person to do who is trying to eat healthy but loves BLT’s?  That’s where Lightlife Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips Fakin’ Bacon come in!  If you’ve never had or heard of tempeh,  you really should try it.  Pronounced “tem-pay,”  it is an Indonesian word that means tender-cooked legumes.  The package says they combined Organic Soybeans with Organic Brown Rice and marinated it in a delicious smokey flavor creating a versatile bacon style strip.  Each serving (3 strips) contains 8 g of Soy Protein.  It has 0 g of Saturated Fat.

Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips

So tonight, after all four of us were wiped out from the gym, I used Brownberry Dutch Country Smooth Texture Extra Fiber bread (always pick a bread that says 100% whole wheat and no high fructose corn syrup), 3 slices of Fakin Bacon and instead of iceburg lettuce, we use fresh spinach leaves!  Much more nutritious and so quick and easy.

http://www.lightlife.com/Vegan-Food-Vegetarian-Diet/Organic-Smoky-Tempeh-Strips

http://www.livestrong.com/article/536416-nutrition-of-bacon/

http://www.butterball.com/product/regular-turkey-bacon

http://www.lightlife.com/Vegan-Food-Vegetarian-Diet/Organic-Smoky-Tempeh-Strips

How to Meet Your Protein Needs without Meat

How to Meet Your Protein Needs without Meat

A Guide to Vegetarian Protein Sources

— By Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian and Nicole Nichols, Health Educator
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Eating a vegetarian diet can be very healthful and rewarding. However, most vegetarians—including soon-to-be vegetarians and their meat-eating loved ones—are concerned about getting adequate protein. Most people are accustomed to getting protein from meat, but what else contains protein? Aren’t plant-based proteins “incomplete” or lower quality?Fortunately, with a bit of extra attention, you won’t have any trouble meeting your protein needs just because you give up meat. There are so many protein-packed vegetarian options! Did you know that most foods, including vegetables, have some of the essential muscle-building nutrient? Without looking closely, it is easy to miss some great sources. (Who knew a cup of broccoli had 3 grams!)Nuts, seeds, soy products, cereal, eggs and dairy are all good meatless protein choices. These groups of food each contain different amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and different levels of protein quality. There is no need to consume certain foods in special combinations as nutritionists once thought! When your diet includes a variety of each of these types of foods, you can rest assured that you’re consuming all the amino acids you need for muscle growth and cell repair.

Nuts
Nuts provide a good dose of protein along with some heart-healthy fatty acids and antioxidants (vitamins A and E). They are also packed full of fiber. Take your pick! Many nuts have a significant source of protein ready to work for your body. Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, and pine nuts are among the highest in protein, while chestnuts and hazelnuts, although they do still have some protein, are the lowest. Think out of the box when you’re adding nuts to your diet. They can be grated, toasted, ground or eaten raw and are great when combined with salads, wraps, soups and stews and baked goods. But pay special attention to portion size! Nuts are a great source of many nutrients, but do come with a hefty dose of calories, thanks to the healthy fats they contain. A single serving is just 1 oz! Many nuts are best when stored in a refrigerator, which helps keep their fats from going rancid (for up to 6 months).

Nuts, 1/4 cup Protein Calories Fat
Peanuts, raw 9 g 207 18 g
Almonds, dry roasted 8 g 206 18 g
Pistachios 6 g 171 14 g
Hazelnuts 5 g 212 21 g
Pine nuts 5 g 229 23 g
Cashews, raw 5 g 197 16 g
Walnuts 4 g 164 16 g

Seeds
Seeds are another great way to grab a few grams of protein and many other nutrients. Healthful unsaturated fats, as well as phytochemicals, make seeds a powerhouse for heart disease and cancer prevention. Just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) has 8.5 grams of protein. Add this amount to a salad or eat them plain for a quick snack. Sunflower seeds are easy to add to pasta or salads, or sandwich wraps, while sesame seeds are easily ground and sprinkled onto steamed veggies for a protein dusting.

Seeds (1/4 cup) Protein Calories Fat
Hemp seeds 15 g 232 18 g
Pumpkin seeds, roasted 9 g 187 16 g
Flaxseed 8 g 191 13 g
Sunflower seeds, roasted 8 g 205 18 g
Sesame seeds, roasted 6 g 206 18 g

Legumes
Dried peas, beans and lentils belong to a group of food known as “pulses” or “legumes.” Aside from soybeans, these plants have a very similar nutrient content, which includes a good dose of protein. On average, they have about 15 grams of protein per cup, and tagging along with the essentials protein are fiber and iron. Adding beans, lentils and dried peas to your meals is a great way to replace meat (a beef burrito can easily become a black bean burrito, for example) while still getting your much needed protein. Add pulses to soups, salads, omelets, burritos, casseroles, pasta dishes, and more! Make bean dips (such as hummus, which is made from garbanzo beans, or black bean dip) to spread on sandwiches and use as protein-packed dips for veggies or snack foods.

Legumes, 1 cup cooked Protein Calories Fiber
Soybeans 29 g 298 10 g
Lentils 18 g 230 16 g
Split peas 16 g 231 16 g
Navy beans 16 g 258 12 g
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) 15 g 269 12 g
Black beans 15 g 227 15 g
Kidney beans 15 g 225 11 g
Lima beans 15 g 216 13 g
Pinto beans 14 g 234 15 g

Soy
Soybeans are a complete protein that is comparable in quality with animal proteins. Eating soybeans (and foods made from soybeans) has been growing trend in America for only five decades, but this protein-rich bean has been a staple in Asia for nearly 4,000 years! This plant powerhouse is used to create a variety of soy-based foods that are rich in protein: tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP, a convincing replacement for ground meat in recipes), soymilk and “meat analogs,” such as vegetarian “chicken” or faux “ribs” are all becoming more popular as more Americans practice vegetarianism. To learn more about using tofu, read Tofu 101. To learn how soy may impact your health, click here.

Soy Foods Protein Calories Fat
Soybeans, 1 cup cooked 29 g 298 10 g
Tempeh, 4 oz cooked 21 g 223 13 g
Edamame, 1 cup shelled 20 g 240 10 g
TVP, 1/4 cup dry 12 g 80 0 g
Soy nuts, 1/4 cup roasted 11 g 200 1 g
Tofu, 4 oz raw 9 g 86 5 g
Soy nut butter, 2 tablespoons 7 g 170 11 g
Soymilk, 1 cup sweetened 7 g 100 0.5 g
Soymilk, 1 cup unsweetened 7 g 80 0.5 g

Grains
In a culture that focuses largely on wheat, it’s easy to overlook the many types of other grains available to us. Some of these grains are very high in protein and can be included in your diet for both whole-grain carbohydrates and muscle-building protein. Quinoa is unusually close to animal products in protein quality, making it an excellent grain to replace white rice or couscous. It can also be cooked and mixed with honey, berries and almonds in the morning for a protein-packed breakfast. Other grains high in protein include spelt, amaranth, oats and buckwheat. Choose whole-grain varieties of cereals, pastas, breads and rice for a more nutritious meal.

Grains Protein Calories Fiber
Amaranth, 1 cup cooked 9 g 238 9 g
Quinoa, 1 cup cooked 9 g 254 4 g
Whole wheat pasta, 1 cup cooked 8 g 174 6 g
Barley, 1 cup cooked 7 g 270 14 g
Spelt, 4 oz cooked 6 g 144 4 g
Oats, 1 cup cooked 6 g 147 4 g
Bulgur, 1 cup cooked 6 g 151 8 g
Buckwheat, 1 cup cooked 6 g 155 5 g
Brown rice, 1 cup cooked 5 g 216 4 g
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 4 g 128 3 g
Sprouted grain bread, 1 slice 4 g 80 3 g

Dairy
If you consume milk products, dairy is a great way to add some extra grams of protein to your day. Low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt are easily accessible, quick to pack and fun to incorporate into many meals and snacks. Whether you’re drinking a cup of skim milk with your dinner or grabbing some string cheese before you run errands, you can pack about 8 grams of protein into most servings of dairy. You’re also getting some bone-building calcium while you’re at it! Keep in mind that low-fat varieties of milk products are lower in calories and fat, but equal in calcium to the full-fat versions; low-fat varieties may also be higher in protein.

Dairy Protein Calories Fat
Fat-free cottage cheese, 1 cup 31 g 160 1 g
2% cottage cheese, 1 cup 30 g 203 4 g
1% cottage cheese, 1 cup 28 g 163 2 g
Fat-free plain yogurt, 1 cup 14 g 137 0 g
Low-fat plain yogurt, 1 cup 13 g 155 4 g
Parmesan cheese, 1 oz grated 12 g 129 9 g
Whole milk yogurt, 1 cup 9 g 150 8 g
Goat’s milk, 1 cup 9 g 168 10 g
1% milk, 1 cup 8 g 102 2 g
Swiss cheese, 1 oz 8 g 106 8 g
2% milk, 1 cup 8 g 121 7 g
3.25% (whole) milk, 1 cup 8 g 146 8 g
Low-fat cheddar/Colby cheese, 1 oz 7 g 49 2 g
Part-skim mozzarella cheese, 1 oz 7 g 72 5 g
Provolone cheese, 1 oz 7 g 100 8 g
Cheddar cheese, 1 oz 7 g 114 9 g
Blue cheese, 1 oz 6 g 100 8 g
American cheese, 1 oz 6 g 106 9 g
Goat cheese, 1 oz 5 g 76 6 g
Feta cheese, 1 oz 4 g 75 6 g
Part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 oz 3 g 39 2 g

Eggs
Eggs contain the highest biologic value protein available. What this means is that an egg has a near perfect combination of amino acids within its shell; when assessing protein quality of all other foods (including meat), nutrition experts compare them to the egg. This doesn’t mean that all other sources of protein are less healthful or less important but does mean that an egg is an awesome way to get a few grams of protein. At 6 grams for one large egg, there are endless ways to add it to your diet. Salads, sandwiches, breakfasts or snack—an egg can fit in anytime!

Eggs Protein Calories Fat
Egg, 1 boiled 6 g 68 5 g
Egg white, 1 cooked 5 g 17 0 g
Liquid egg substitute, 1.5 fl oz 5 g 23 0 g

As you can see, protein is EVERYWHERE in our diet, and even without meat you can get enough every day; you just have to look in the right places! For more ideas for using these various plant-based proteins, check out our dailySpark series, Meat-Free Fridays for recipe and cooking ideas!

Selected Sources
Information Sheet: Protein from The Vegetarian Society (VegSoc.org)

Various nutrient profiles from The World’s Healthiest Foods (WHFoods.com)


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About The Author

Sarah HaanSarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah’s articles.

Hold the Red Meat!

Have you heard about the huge study done by Harvard and The Cleveland Clinic regarding the consumption of red meat and health risks? I wanted the first post of this blog to be this study.

The scientists analyzed data from 37,698 men and 83,644 women.  “In these 2 large prospective cohorts of US men and women, we found that a higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, CVD and cancer mortality, and this association was observed for unprocessed and processed red meat, with a relatively greater risk for processed red meat,” the study authors wrote in their study report. “Substitution of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole grains for red meat was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality,” they wrote.

Their analysis showed that for each 1-serving per day increase in the intake of unprocessed red meat (approximately 3oz. of beef, pork or lamb), the participants had an 18% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease during the 22 to 28 year follow-up period of the studies, a 10% higher risk of death during such period from cancer, and a 13% higher risk of death during that period from all causes.

The results were even more pronounced for consumption of processed red meats. For each 1-serving per day increase in the intake of processed red meats (2 slices of bacon, one hot dog, or 1 piece of sausage, salami, bologna, or other processed red meats) the participants had a 21% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease during the 22 to 28 year follow-up period of the studies, a 16% higher risk of death during such period from cancer, and a 20% higher risk of death during that period from all causes.  Red Meat Risk Study

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