Luscious Legumes

10 Jan

As a vegetarian I often get asked the most common question, “Where do you get your protein from?”  Most people have the misconception that eating meat is the only way to get your protein.  What they don’t realize is that protein is found in many plant based sources as well.   Incorporating these plant based sources ensures that you are getting quality protein without all of the cholesterol that meat contains.  I prefer legumes  because not only are they high in protein but also a good source of fiber, iron, zinc and calcium.

What are legumes?

Legumes are the seeds found inside pods that hang from the stems of certain plants.  Included in the legume family are beans, lentils, peas, tofu, tempeh and peanuts.  Listed below are some of my favorite legumes with their protein content.

  1. Soymilk  – 10 gLegumes
  2. Black beans  – 12 g
  3. Garbanzo beans  – 12 g
  4. Cannellini beans – 12 g
  5. Black eyed peas – 14 g
  6. Lentils  – 17 g
  7. Tofu – 20 g
  8. Soybeans – 23 g
  9. Tempeh – 30 g

* All values are based on a 1 cup serving


With legumes you usually have two options, canned or dried.  Canned beans are convenient and ready for instant use.  When using canned beans, empty into a colander and rinse before using.  Doing this removes excess sodium contained in the liquid.

Dried beans require a bit of planning ahead but are just as easy to prepare.  Simply soak overnight for 8 – 12 hours, then drain, add fresh water and cook until desired consistency.  Soaking beans actually begins the germination process, promoting enzyme release and breaking down the complex bean sugars making them easier to digest.  Dried beans are also a bit more cost effective, especially if you buy them in bulk.

Meal Ideas

One way you can use beans is to make them into a salad.  This chickpea salad is delicious, easy to make and will keep well if you take it on the go.  There are so many variations that you can make with this recipe, just tailor it to your tastes.  I like to make a big batch of this on Sunday to have on hand throughout the week to use in sandwiches, wraps or salads.


Lemon Dijon Chickpea Salad

Curried Tempeh Salad

1 can chickpeas

1/2 small onion, diced

3 tbsp dijon mustard

2 stalks celery, chopped

Squeeze of lemon

1 tsp garlic powder

Sea salt and pepper to taste

    • Drain and rinse the chickpeas, put into a bowl and mash.  You can use a potato masher or I find that a wooden spoon works just as well.
    • Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well

Beans and lentils make a great substitute for meat when making veggie burgers.  When making veggie burger patties, you will need something to bind the mixture.  Eggs are usually used for this purpose so to make them vegan you can make a flax “egg” instead.  To do this simply combine 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water (which is enough to replace 1 egg); stir and let sit for a minute.  It will absorb the water and get a texture similar to that of an egg yolk.  Here is one of my favorite veggie burger recipes.  I like to up the nutrition of this dish by serving it on a bed of massaged  kale.


Indian Potato Lentil Burgers

1 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted

Indian Potato Lentil Burgers

4 baby red potatoes

1/2 medium onion, diced3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 flax “egg” (1 tbsp ground flax, 3 tbsp water)

Grated ginger

1 tbsp each cumin, coriander, curry powder

Sea salt, to taste

    • Boil potatoes and carrots until soft
    • Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse (I like to keep my patties with some chunky vegetable pieces in it)
    • Form into patties and brush with olive oil
    • Bake at 400 for 15 min, flip and cook for an additional 10 – 15 min

As you may have read in one of my other blog posts, soup is one of my favorite things to make and eat.  Legumes are a wonderful addition to any soup because they make it more hearty and filling.   Here is a spicy soup chock full of white beans.  The addition of broccoli also contributes to the protein content of this dish.


Spicy White Bean Broccoli Soup

1 qt Vegetable brothIMAG1574

3 cloves Garlic, chopped

1/2 Onion, diced

1/2 Jalapeno, diced (use more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

2 cups Broccoli

2 cans White beans

Sea salt




    • In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in a little bit of the vegetable broth for a few minutes
    • Add the rest of the broth and vegetables, simmer for 15 min or until vegetables are tender
    • Mash beans with a spoon or pulse in the food processor, add to soup and stir well. This should give the soup a slightly creamy texture (I like to leave some whole beans in there too)
    • Add the seasonings and simmer for a few min until everything is heated through


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