Legumes and beans: A pantry staple for self isolation

Monday, 6 April 2020

Are you struggling to come up with healthy meals from your pantry staples? Legumes and beans could be the answer to keep you eating well and staying healthy.

Even when the supermarket shelves are bare of some essentials, and you are practising self-isolation, you can still eat delicious and healthy meals.

Canned beans, lentils and chickpeas are a great pantry standby and can be the basis of many delicious meals.

A great pantry staple

Beans and legumes a great panty staple for a number of reasons:

  • they keep in the pantry for a long time.;
  • they’re cheap
  • they can be used in soups, slow-cooked stews, casseroles, pies, and mince-based meal.  These are all great batch-cook freezer options you can make ahead.

Nutritional value

Beans and legumes are the fruits or seeds of a family of plants called Fabaceae.

Legumes provide a range of essential nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins. They are:

  • An economical dietary source of good quality protein and are higher in protein than most other plant foods. Legumes have about twice the protein content of cereal grains.
  • Generally low in fat, virtually free of saturated fats and contain no cholesterol. Soybeans and peanuts are the exception.
  • Rich in energy-giving carbohydrates, with a low glycemic index rating for blood glucose control.
  • A good source of B-group vitamins (especially folate), iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
  • Low in sodium – sodium content of canned legumes can be reduced by up to 41% if the product is drained and rinsed.
  • Abundant in fibre, including both insoluble and soluble fibre, plus resistant starch for colonic health benefits.
  • Contain phytonutrients (e.g. isoflavones, lignans, protease inhibitors). Soy beans are particularly high in phytoestrogens, with research over the last 20 years linking soy foods and/or phytoestrogens to a reduced risk of certain cancers including breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and problems associated with menopause.
  • Gluten free – as such, legumes are suitable for people with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity.

For more information on the benefits of legumes visit the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council

Tasty meal ideas and recipes

You can keep your meals as simple as baked beans on toast, or you can get a bit more creative with ideas like red-kidney bean burritos, pumpkin, pomegranate and chickpea salad, or lentil shepherds pie.

The recipe section of our website is brimming with healthy recipe ideas for legumes and beans. Here are a few to get you started

Written by Kate Battocchio Accredited Practicing Dietitian

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