While beans may be famed for being the musical fruit, there’s a lot more to them than meets the ears/nose/eye.
Let’s face it, beyond the stockpiling of beans that happened at the beginning of a certain P-word last year, many of us had never picked up a can of beans in our lives. When we did, many of us didn’t know what to do with them. Sound familiar?
Let me tell you that beyond being the backbone of hummus, delicious Mexican chilli and my favourite dish ever, Supercharged dahl, legumes are nutrient-dense and rich in fibre, B vitamins and protein. Plus, they’re beneficial for the health of our heart, gut and waistline.
So, it’s time for the battle of the fittest: Today, I'd love to share with you which bean or legume is the healthiest.
First up, we have chickpeas.
Pros: Firstly, hummus. That’s all we need to know (only kidding). Chickpeas are full of fibre and 19g of protein per 100g. They reduce our blood sugar level, reduce our risk of severe diseases and send our LDL cholesterol into a decline. Plus, the water tinned chickpeas swims in is called aquafaba, which is extremely fun to say and great for replacing whipped egg whites.
Cons: Canned chickpeas can contain a hefty amount of sodium and sugar. To avoid this, opt for canned chickpeas with no added salt or boil them yourself.
How to consume them: Make hummus or use them in my Vegetable Marrakesh Casserole recipe here.
Pros: Lentils offer a decent amount of protein, weighing in at 9g of protein per 100g. They also have 3.8g of fibre per 100g serve. Our gut and heart love lentils, as they help improve bowel function by slowing our stomach emptying rate while reducing LDL cholesterol. Lentils also contain antioxidants that can minimise vascular stiffness.
Cons: They’re not as high in protein or fibre as chickpeas. Plus, large amounts can cause bloating and gas and exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
How to consume them: Dah, try dahl.
Pros: Peas, please. Peas are high in fibre, low in fat and contain no cholesterol. Peas are small but mighty, helping to reduce blood triglycerides and increase fullness.
Cons: Green peas aren’t as high in protein as other legumes, weighing in at only 5g of protein per 100g.
How to consume them: Have a smashing time with my Crispy Salmon with Saffron, Aioli and Smashed Green Peas.
Pros: Coming in at a whopping 24g of protein and 25g of fibre per 100g, kidney beans are the dark horse of the legume world. Kidney beans are high in the mineral’s magnesium, zinc and calcium too. They help slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and reduce blood sugar levels. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, kidney beans are used for their ability to tonify blood and yin, clear heat and resolve dampness – sounds pretty cool to me.
Cons: Like most legumes, improperly cooked kidney beans can cause flatulence, bloating and gastrointestinal issues.
How to consume them: Jazz up your dinner with my Vegetable and Bean Casserole.
Pros: Did you know soybeans, i.e., the bean that tofu is comprised of, is edamame beans! I know! I’ll give you a minute for your mind to be blown. Okay, ready? Soybeans are rich in antioxidants, particularly an antioxidant called isoflavone, which is wonderful during menopause, as it helps mimic the effect of oestrogen in the body. Plus, soybeans help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Cons: While soybeans have an awful reputation for causing man boobs and breast cancer, the jury is out on this one.
How to consume them: Natural and non-GMO soy products – like tofu, tempeh and edamame beans – are perfectly safe and, dare I say it, good for you to consume in moderation. However, please stay away from soy isoflavone supplements and foods made with soy protein isolate. Tempeh is the star of the show in my Vegan Caesar Salad.
Pros: Black beans contain 8.9g of protein per 100g, and in one serve, 64% of our recommended daily intake of folate and 20% of our intake of iron. They’re also a great source of fibre, antioxidants and excellent for our gut and blood sugar levels.
Cons: All beans, including black beans, contain complex sugars that the body can struggle to digest if we lack certain enzymes – causing gas and GI discomfort.
How to consume them: Did someone say Black Bean Burgers?
All beans are excellent and beneficial in their own way. If you’re new to beans, I recommend incorporating them into your diet slowly and seeing how your body reacts to avoid untoward effects.
If you’ve bean (sorry, I couldn’t resist) waiting for a recipe to get you started, I’ve got the perfect one for you. My Black Bean Burgers with Aioli are deliciously nutritious and a total win on the taste factor; even the biggest carnivores won’t know what’s missing.
Black Bean Burgers with Lemon and Garlic Aioli
These burgers are also delicious served with a pesto or wholegrain mustard. If you don’t have time to make your own aioli you can use a store bought one.
Marinade for mushrooms
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 large portobello mushrooms
- 20 g (3/4 oz/1/2 tightly packed cup) rocket (arugula), washed and dried
- 4 thin slices of red onion
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced
Black Bean Patties
- 75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
- 75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 carrot, grated
- 400 g (14 oz) tinned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 chilli, chopped
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground
- black pepper, to taste
Lemon and Garlic Aioli
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra as needed
- 1 tablespoon water
- 310 ml (103/4 fl oz/ 1 1/4 cups) light olive oil
- sea salt, as needed
- To make the aioli, beat the egg yolks and garlic in a small bowl with a wooden spoon.
- Add the lemon juice and water and keep beating. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, beating continuously, until the mixture has the desired consistency.
- Add more lemon juice and sea salt to taste if needed. (Alternatively, prepare in a food processor.)
The aioli will keep in a sterilised, tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Once the aioli is made, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and lightly grease a baking tray.
To make the patties
- Pulse the sunflower seeds and pepitas in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
- Add the carrot and pulse for 10 seconds.
- Add three-quarters of the black beans, the onion, spices, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper, then pulse again for 10 seconds. Stir the remaining beans into the mixture.
- Using your hands, shape portions of the mixture into four small patties and place them on the prepared baking tray.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make a marinade for the mushrooms by mixing the coconut aminos, coconut sugar and vinegar in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved.
- Put the mushrooms in a large frying pan, generously spoon over the marinade, then place over medium heat until cooked through.
To assemble the burgers, place one mushroom on each plate, lay a black bean patty on top, then add the rocket, slices of onion, tomato and cucumber, and top with the aioli.
If you prefer not to eat eggs, try this version of the aioli.
Egg-Free Lemon and Garlic Aioli
- 80 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours
- 2 garlic cloves
- pinch of sea salt
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon filtered water
- Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy. This keeps for 4–5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Why not give this recipe a try and let me know what you think on my Instagram page @leesupercharged or down below 🙂