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The mystery of legumes, revealed!

Inspire Health Event Calendar January 13, 2011

Most of us make resolutions at this time of year, whether to be more kind to our community or to ourselves. Perhaps you have resolved to pick up some new and healthy foods that you have been curious about but haven’t tried before. Although it is relatively easy to put them into your grocery basket, it can be a challenge to then get them onto your plate. I’ve certainly had a few episodes of picking up an interesting, mysterious looking vegetable, fruit, or other food item at the grocery store, only to get home, unpack it and think “Okay… so now what do I actually do with it?”.

Legumes (beans, peas and lentils) might certainly make some of us feel this way. We’ve all likely seen them in dry form, but how many of us have them as a staple in our diet or know how to prepare them ourselves rather than buy them in a can? One simple answer: use your slow-cooker.

Leave larger beans like kidney or garbanzo to soak in the slow cooker overnight, but don’t turn on the heat. Smaller beans, lentils and split peas can be started on high in the morning. Simply add lots of water, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt. When you get home at the end of the day, a lovely pot of legumes awaits. Toss them on your salad, into a soup or pasta or pile high onto a bowl of rice or quinoa. Aim to cook legumes at least once a week and keep the extras in the refrigerator for a quick fix. These superfoods are nature’s most affordable protein source and are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. They also pair well with healthy herbs and spices, so toss in some turmeric, sprinkle on some cumin seeds or chop up some cilantro for a garnish.

Many people often tell me, “I’ve never tried legumes, and I am not sure I even like them,” to which I often respond “what about hummus?” This chickpea-based, Middle Eastern staple is a delicious and nutritious dip for pita, veggies and crackers, or a super sandwich spread and a much healthier alternative to deli meats. Although you can find pre-made hummus in all varieties, it’s also easy to make at home. To ensure the tough chickpea or garbanzo bean skins soften enough to puree, add a pinch of baking soda while cooking. Once soft, pop them in the food processor with cancer-fighting garlic, anti-inflammatory lemon juice and zest and heart-healthy olive oil. Add other flavour enhancers like ground cumin, chili or a little bit of sea salt and purée until you achieve your desired texture. Keep in the refrigerator for an hour to allow flavours to marinate then eat in abundance!

For more grocery and cooking tips, I invite you to visit us in store or come along on an InspireHealth Nutrition Tour. To support the InspireHealth community, we are pleased to offer this exciting, complimentary, new service every other Friday at 11:30am at our Kitsilano location (next tour is Friday January 14th). The key InspireHealth food and nutrition teachings will be put into practice at the grocery store with Choices’ dietitian. You can learn practical tips and techniques for incorporating more healthful foods into your life and also understand more about foods you should be cautious towards. Tours are FREE and open to all InspireHealth members, however registration is required. Please call 604-734-7125 to join the next tour!

Choices Markets’ Nutrition Team is passionate about giving you practical ideas for how to not only buy healthy foods, but also to cook and eat them!

Nicole Fetterly, B.A (Anth), BSc., RD Choices’ Dietitian

Every month, the Choices Nutrition Team compiles a list of their top foods to include in your diet. Their choices are based on what’s in season, what’s new to their shelves or even what the theme of the month is-like Heart Health in February. Please visit us in store for a list of the Dietitian’s Top Choices for January or find them on our website.