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Eating To Live With Organic Legumes + 3 Lentil Recipes That Aren’t Soup

I’ve become a recent organic legume evangelist.  In my quest to find the best diet for my body, I’ve tried a lot of different eating plans.  I’d been eating a low-glycemic raw food diet for a few months and was pleased with how easy it was for me to stay away from sweets once they were out of my diet completely.  The downside was that to feel satisfied and full, I was eating a lot of nuts, seeds and oils and I had some negative side effects from that.  It was a great conversation with a customer about eating vegan that led me to the embrace organic legumes.  She recommended to me the book ‘Eat To Live’ by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating at least one cup of organic legumes per day, along with 1 pound of raw vegetables, 1 pound of cooked vegetables and a few pieces of fruit. I picked up a copy and decided to give it a shot.

I hadn’t been using beans or legumes at all in my diet so it was important to introduce them slowly.  You know that song, ‘beans, beans, good for you heart, the more you eat them…’ you know the rest.  Adding organic legumes a little bit at a time allows the body to adjust so that you don’t have to suffer the gassy fate of that song.  It is true though, that beans really are good for your heart – and they have a multitude of health benefits that everyone, not just vegans, can enjoy.

Organic legumes are a staple food in many regions of the world.  Organic legumes and beans are rich in copper, iron, magnesium and folic acid, nutrients that many of us are deficient in.  Peas as well as dried beans are also a good source of absorbable iron, great for anyone, but especially beneficial for vegans. They are low in fat, high in quality protein and are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. That fiber is what makes beans and legumes heart healthy, by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.  Eating organic legumes and beans is especially beneficial for people with diabetes as the soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugars, keeping blood glucose levels stable.

How To Cook With Organic Legumes

It takes a bit of advanced planning to use dried organic legumes.  You’ll want to sort through the dried beans looking for discolored beans and pebbles.   Once they’re sorted through, rinse them in cold water then soak them for 6-8 hours or longer if it works better for your schedule.  I often soak them in the morning before work and cook them when I come home from work so they’re soaking a good 9 hours.  Soaking is the best way to offset their gas-producing effects; it also shortens your cooking time.  When your soak time is up, skim off any beans that are floating on top, then drain the water and rinse.  Place the beans in a pot and add fresh water.  My quick tip is to use enough water to cover the beans plus two knuckles worth of water.  If you put a finger in the water so that the tip of your finger touches the top of the beans, you should fill the water to your second knuckle.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender.  Depending on the variety it should be about one to three hours.  At this point you can season them however you like.  A bit like tofu, beans take on whatever flavor you add so you can be as creative or as simple as you’d like.  You can use organic legumes as a hot stew or soup, add them cold to salads, or blend them to make a spread for wraps.

organic legumes

Photo credit: Maggie Hoffman / Flickr

Since adding organic legumes to my diet, I am able to fill up easily without adding a lot of fat to my diet.  The versatility of legumes has been a real treat, I can eat them every day and not get bored at all.  My favorite of all of the organic legumes would have to be lentils; here are a few recipes using them in different ways so you can see the versatility:

Red Lentil Dip

1 cup red lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place lentils and bay leaf in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes until tender.  Drain and discard the bay leaf.  Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute until onions are translucent.  Add the remaining ingredients in the list (aside from the lemon juice) and cook for about 5 minutes.  Combine lentils with the onion mixture in a food processor and add the lemon juice; process until smooth.  Enjoy on crackers, pita, with fresh veggies or as a wrap filling.

 

Cold Lentil Veggie Salad

1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 tablesoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Place lentils in a deep pot and cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil them cook, covered, over medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes or until tender.  They should retain their shape.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar.  In a medium bowl, combine cooked lentils, green onion, parsley, red onion, carrot and red cabbage. Add olive oil and lemon mixture to lentils and toss well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.

 

Spicy Lentil Tacos

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup dried green lentils
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup jarred salsa
12 corn tortillas (I like Ezekiel brand)

Sauté the garlic and onion in the oil in a medium pot for 4-6 minutes, or until they become soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir to combine. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.  Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more to allow the mixture to thicken. Mash the lentils with a fork and stir in the salsa.  Spoon the mixture into the tortillas and top with your favorite taco toppings like shredded lettuce and fresh tomato.

 How do you like to use organic legumes? Please share your favorite recipes in the comments!

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