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How to Learn to Love Legumes

Eating more dried beans and legumes can improve your diet quality. But what if you hate them?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,

Although legumes are good for you in all kinds of ways, not everyone cares for beans. Some find the texture off-putting; others don't care for the taste. But with a little creativity, virtually everyone can learn to love (or at least like) legumes. Here's a collection of my best tips.

 learn to love legumes

Texture Tips

  • Tofu is made from soybeans and counts as a legume but doesn't have the mealy or gritty texture that some find offensive. It can be added to creamy smoothies, blended into soups or used to make mock egg salad. See also: Cooking With Tofu  
  • Try pureed bean dips or guacamole made with avocado and pureed soybeans.

  • Many people find the firmer texture (and fresher flavor) of homecooked beans infinitely superior to that of canned beans.    
  • If regular lentils are too pasty for you, try French lentils (aka lentils de Puys). They are firmer and less starchy than regular green lentils.  
  • Don't pass up the chance to cook with fresh shell beans when they are in season (usually late summer). If you've never had a fresh shell bean cassoulet, the flavor and texture will be a revelation.    
  • If you enjoy crunchy snacks, try some roasted soynuts or crunchy chickpeas instead of nuts or chips.

Time Saving Tips

  • Slow cookers make cooking dried beans from scratch super quick and easy. See also: 5 Healthy Reasons to Dig Out Your Slow Cooker
  • When beans won't get soft no matter how long you cook them, the problem is usually old beans. Save yourself the heartache. Throw out any dried beans that have been sitting in your cupboard for months (or years).    
  • Split green peas and lentils cook much faster than dried beans, usually in 20-30 minutes.   
  • When you soak and cook dried beans for a recipe, make more than you need and freeze the rest for future use.

 Flavor Boosters

  • Most beans have a relatively neutral flavor and will readily take on other flavors. Try a spicy chili or an aromatic Indian dahl, fragrant with garlic and ginger.  
  • Hummus (made from chickpeas) is available in dozens of flavors, ranging from lemony to garlicky to fiery. The tahini (sesame paste) in hummus also tempers the beany flavor of the chickpeas.  
  • Falafel (made from fava beans) and these Thai chickpea burgers, both elevate the lowly legume into crave-worthy street food.

Finally, if part of your aversion to beans stems from uncomfortable digestive side effects, here are some tips on how to reduce the gas associated with eating beans.

Do you like legumes? What are you favorite ways to eat them? Weigh in over on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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