eating simply, simply eating: why we need legumes


Legumes are edible, nutritious seeds in the form of pods and come in many varieties.  They are a class of plant-based food that include beans, peas and lentils and are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, fibre, phytonutrients and quality plant protein. Nearly all legumes are a good source of zinc, B-vitamins, potassium, folic acid, magnesium and essential fatty acids.

Legumes are an integral part of many healthy eating regimes including the Mediterranean diet, vegetarian and vegan.

Legumes: two different types

Legumes are divided into the mature and immature. This doesn’t mean one is akin to a unpredictable and petulant teenager, the other a stodgy adult, but it does relate to their age.

Immature legumes are fresh legumes and include all types of edible pod beans, pod peas and shell beans that have not yet been dried. French beans, snow peas, edamame and fresh Lima also come into the immature category of beans

Mature legumes, more commonly known as dried beans, peas or lentils are a particularly rich source of antioxidants. The mature group include kidney beans, split peas, black beans and lentils. You can buy dry or canned mature legumes. If you buy dry, they will require soaking before cooking. Canned require draining and rinsing before cooking. Both provide nutrition, but it is recommended to follow the packaging instructions and always cook mature legumes fully

Why they are important

A routine nutrition rich in legumes can aid in controlling blood sugar, which is particularly important for diabetics. A good source of dietary fibre, which helps keep the bowels healthy and could aid in the prevention of colon cancer, consuming legumes regularly (at least 4 times/week) has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 21%. Regular consumption can also aid with weight management as the fibre, protein and slow-release carbohydrates aid with satiety.

How to cook smart with legumes

Unfamiliarity can make including legumes a bit of a challenge, but it’s actually very easy to incorporate them into a regular eating routine. In Just Routine there are recipes to help, but here are some simple suggestions to help get you started:

  • Add lentils to homemade vegetable soups
  • Add chickpeas to a salad or a stir-fry for an extra layer of texture and flavour
  • Beans and lentils make tasty additions to casseroles and help save money by reducing the amount of meat required – think beans in chilli
  • Make your own hummus from chickpeas for a delicious dip or spread

Just Routine is our real food app. Designed to be inclusive, to avoid cutting out macro or micro nutrients from our eating regimes, six key food groups lie at its core: Protein, Carbohydrates, Legumes, Vegetables, Fruits, Fats. It’s about eating simply, simply eating.

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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