Using Pulses: beans, peas and legumes, a low-fat, low-cholesterol substitute for flesh foods

Using Pulses: beans, peas and legumes - some of the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They are excellent sources of protein and are a healthy substitute for flesh foods.

Why eat legumes?

Legumes or Pulses — a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils — are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in protein, folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain a group of compounds called ‘phytochemicals’, that studies show may help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition, they are a good source of fiber which acts like a broom sweeping out the colon. A diet high in fiber can reduce your risk of developing diabetes and help lower blood cholesterol levels, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Soybeans, are unique among beans because they contain all of the amino acids needed to make a complete protein. They also contain isoflavones, a plant-based compound that may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Elsewhere we have talked about the many healthy foods which come from soybeans, including:

  • Tofu
    A curd made from soybeans in a process similar to that used for making cheese. Because it has a bland, spongy texture, tofu absorbs the flavor of other foods when you marinate or cook it, making it very versatile. Tofu is available in several different textures, including extra firm, firm, soft and silken. Why do you want Tofu in your vegetarian kitchen? This is a great link to learn more about Tofu's history, different varieties of textures, health benefits and of course Recipes!

  • Soy milk
    A soy beverage made by grinding soybeans and mixing them with water to form a milk-like liquid. You can use soy milk as a replacement for cow's milk. Some soy milk, like Eden’s Extra, come fortified with vitamins and calcium among other minerals.

  • Tempeh (TemPAY)
    Made from fermented soybeans. You can buy tempeh either frozen or refrigerated in a cake-like form. It has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. For some people Tempeh is love at first bite; for others it is a relationship that grows slowly. Our All About Tempeh section will help you determine if Tempeh is for you.

  • TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
    A soy analog which gives certain salads and spreads a more familiar texture.

  • Soy flour
    Made from ground-up roasted soybeans. Soy flour is used in baked goods for added protein, fiber and phytochemicals; and when you can’t find Ener-G Egg Replacer, you can substitute it for eggs in bakery products by using 1 Tbs. soy flour and 2 Tbs. water per egg.

    And then there are Taiwan’s contributions of prepared foods crafted from soy, mushrooms and wheat gluten that defy identification as vegetarian – they are so life-like. Soy Shrimp, Scallops, Veg Ham, Fish, Chicken etc. They can be found at Chinese Grocery stores and on line at VEGEUSA among others.

  • Peanuts
    Commonly thought of as nuts however, they are actually a member of the legume family along with beans and peas. Peanuts are good sources of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, niacin and folate. They're high in fat, but most of the fat is monounsaturated fat — the healthier type of fat.

    Peanuts are a great snack. PB&J wouldn’t be the same without them and neither would Thai cuisine! Add them to stir-fries. Incorporate them in sauces, soups and stews.

    Variety is the spice of life. A steady diet of anything is boring and uninteresting and can also set up sensitivities or allergic reactions in the body. Enjoying a healthy vegetarian diet is easy when you incorporate a wide variety of foods and prepare them in a wide variety of ways.

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