Legumes: Chickpeas, Peas, Beans, Lupins And Co. At A Glance

Peas, beans, lentils & Co. have a lot in common: They provide valuable nutrients, vitamins and trace elements – and are therefore an important part of a healthy diet. You can find out more about legumes and their health benefits here.

Legumes are seeds of plants that mature in a shell. The best-known legumes are peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas and lupins. Since legumes provide a lot of vegetable protein, they are a good alternative to meat and an important part of a vegetarian or vegan diet. They are also rich in fiber, minerals and B vitamins. Most varieties are low in fat. Their low glycemic index ensures that the blood sugar level rises slowly and they keep you full for a long time.

Legumes are not only healthy, they are also good for the climate: Legumes bring nitrogen into the soil and increase its fertility. They also require relatively little water.

Legumes: Small, but mighty!

Our overview of the most important legumes shows what’s in these little all-rounders and how versatile they can be prepared. You will find detailed profiles of these six legumes in the article:

  • Chickpeas
  • lenses
  • Peas
  • peanuts
  • beans
  • lupins

1. Chickpeas: Spicy seeds from the Orient

History: Chickpeas are said to have been cultivated in the Near East for more than 8,000 years. From there they spread to Europe via Greece and Italy.

Culture: Chickpeas form their own genus in the subfamily of the legumes and are not closely related to peas. Chickpeas are mainly cultivated in India and Australia as well as in most subtropical countries. Yellowish-beige chickpeas from the Mediterranean region are the main ones sold in Germany.

Chickpeas come in different colours: the annual herbaceous plant forms two angular, somewhat irregular seeds in its almost three centimeter large fruits, which we know as chickpeas. They are not distinguished by variety, but primarily by the color of the seeds (beige, brown, black or even red).

Ingredients of the chickpea: With plenty of fiber, valuable protein, more than 60 percent carbohydrates, but hardly any fat, chickpeas are healthy sources of energy. They also contain B vitamins, vitamins A, C and E and considerable amounts of iron, but also zinc and magnesium. Read more: Are Chickpeas Healthy?

Quality of chickpeas: we wanted to know for sure! ÖKO-TEST therefore recently examined numerous chickpeas in jars and cans. The good news: We can recommend 14 of the 20 chickpeas in the test – and with top marks. However, the commissioned laboratory found the herbicide glyphosate in six doses.

Purchasing & storing chickpeas: Fresh chickpeas are a rarity in this country; there are mainly dried seeds and seeds preserved in jars or cans. The former can score with a higher nutritional value. The latter are already pre-cooked and therefore ready to eat with less effort. Stored dark and cool, they can be kept for months. Chickpea flour is relatively new on the German market.

Preparation of chickpeas: Dried fruit must be soaked for at least twelve hours. Then the specimens floating at the top are sorted out and the soaking water is poured off, because it contains bitter substances. The cooking time for chickpeas is up to two hours. Canned chickpeas cook in minutes.

In international cuisine, hummus and falafel top the list of chickpea dishes. In addition, the mealy fruits with their spicy, nutty aroma are popular in curries, stews and rice dishes. Good partners are strong spices such as cumin and fresh herbs. Sweet or savory flatbread or cake bases can be prepared from chickpea flour.

2. Lentils: A quick ingredient for stews and salads

History: Findings indicate that lentils were used as early as around 6000 BC. in the Mediterranean region, in Asia Minor and in Central Asia. In Central Europe they were from about 4500 BC. BC Part of the first arable crops.

Culture: Today Canada, Turkey, USA and India are the most important lentil producers. The largest European producer is Spain. There are also small growing areas in the Swabian Jura and in Bavaria. The seeds of the flattened legumes vary in size, shape and color depending on the variety.

What lenses are there?

Plate lenses are widespread in Germany. These flavorful, green lentils turn brownish and hard in storage. Their shell easily bursts open during cooking. Plate lentils are typical stew lentils, but they also go well in puree.

Red lentils from India have a mild, delicate aroma. They are already peeled and therefore ideal for quick cooking.

Beluga lentils are considered precious lenses, not least because of their black color. They keep their firm consistency while cooking.

Le Puy lentils from France stay crisp and are good for salads.

Healthy Ingredients in Lentils: With lots of fiber and carbohydrates, lentils are a filling ingredient. Not only vegetarians value them as suppliers of valuable protein. In addition to B vitamins, lentils bring potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. However, anyone who has an elevated uric acid level or gout should avoid lenses because of the purine they contain.

Purchasing & Storage of Lentils: Lentils are available peeled or unpeeled as dry goods. In cans or in jars they are already pre-cooked. Stored dark, cool and airtight, they will keep for many months. Cooked lentils can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Preparing Lentils: Compared to other legumes, lentils are easy to prepare. Even dry goods do not necessarily have to be soaked. There are big differences in the cooking properties of the individual varieties. Red lentils take just under 15 minutes, Le Puy lentils between 20 and 40 and plate lentils up to an hour to cook. The older the lentils are, the darker and harder they are and the longer the cooking time.

Use of lentils: Plate lentils, red lentils and yellow lentils break down easily when cooked. This makes them favorites for stews, purees and spreads. Crunchy beluga lentils and Le Puy lentils are preferred in salads or served as a side dish.

3. Peas: Green balls full of carbohydrates

History: The cultivation of peas started around 8000 BC. occupied. They migrated from Asia to Europe via the Middle East.

Culture: Today peas are cultivated worldwide in many varieties. In Germany, the cultivation of peas is just as insignificant as the cultivation of beans. Dried peas are almost exclusively imported. The main suppliers are Canada, Russia, the USA and France.

Which peas are there?

Green peas are eaten without the pod. The smooth, round grain tastes rather floury due to the high starch content.

Wrinkled peas are also split peas. The less attractive, wrinkled, somewhat angular seeds have a slightly sweet aroma.

Sugar snap peas are eaten with the green pods included. They owe their name and slightly sweet taste to a relatively high sugar content.

Constituents of peas: Peas contain more protein than beans and many carbohydrates. They provide potassium and magnesium as well as B vitamins, vitamins C and E and fiber. They mostly sit in the bowl. People with gout should not eat peas because of the high purine content.

Purchasing & storage of peas: Fresh produce is of good quality with shiny green pods without spots. Wrapped in a damp cloth or in a cling bag, whole pods will keep in the fridge for a few days. Frozen peas should be used up after 15 months at the latest. Dried peas are available in whole and half, yellow and green. They should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. Shelled dried peas last about six months, unshelled several years.

Preparation of peas: Fresh pods are first broken open at the ends and the seeds removed. In the case of mangetout, the base of the flower is removed and the pod is then washed. The cooking time is 15 to 20 minutes – ideal for the wok, but also for salads, colorful vegetable pans and rice dishes. Instead of fresh peas, you can use frozen or dried peas for the stew. Depending on their size, unpeeled dried peas are soaked in cold water for 6 to 12 hours before cooking and then boiled for 30 to 120 minutes. Peeled peas do not have to swell. They are washed, boiled and then cooked over low heat for 45 to 60 minutes.

4. Peanuts: High-fat legumes

History: According to archaeologists, the inhabitants of settlements in the Andes were already familiar with the herbaceous annual peanut plant around 8,000 years ago. From there it spread across South and Central America and finally reached the African continent through the slave trade.

Culture: Today the USA, Sudan, Brazil, Senegal and Argentina together supply around two thirds of all peanuts. Large quantities are also grown in China and India.

The peanut is not a nut! The German name lures you on the wrong track: Botanically, the peanut is not a nut, but a member of the legume family and a close relative of peas and beans. Unlike their relatives, their legumes grow in the ground. And: The woody, net-like covered shell does not open. The curved capsules, which are up to six centimeters long, usually produce one to four, sometimes even six seeds.

Constituents of peanuts: Peanuts have a protein content of around 25 percent. They also contain almost 50 percent fat. The proportion of valuable omega-3 fatty acids is significantly lower than that of nuts. Together with a carbohydrate content of more than 20 percent, the fats are responsible for the high energy value of almost 600 kilocalories per 100 grams. In addition to fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E, peanuts contain numerous minerals. They are among the foods richest in magnesium.

Beware of allergies! Even the smallest amounts can trigger severe or even life-threatening symptoms in those affected. Peanuts must be labeled as an ingredient on the packaging of baked goods and other products.

Purchasing & storing peanuts: Especially from October to December, peanuts are available in the shell in fruit departments, loose or in nets. Then it is important to look for clean and undamaged nuts. A good way to check their freshness is to do a shake test: if the pit rattles in the shell, it’s dried up and old. At home, loose nuts should be stored in an airy, cool and dark place. Under poor storage conditions, peanuts are easily attacked by a mold that produces toxic aflatoxins.

Processed peanut products, especially canned ones with kernels, are bought more often than in bulk form. They can be peeled or unpeeled, salted or natural. Peanuts are usually roasted before they are sold. Only through roasting do they develop their unmistakable taste. At the same time, bitter substances are suppressed.

Preparing peanuts: In the kitchen, peanuts are not used like legumes, but like nuts. Whole or chopped, the crunchy seeds are used in soups and sauces and are a popular way to refine dishes with an Asian touch, such as curries, stir-fried vegetables and all kinds of poultry dishes. Peanut butter or oil can also be used as a supplement or alternative. The latter has a fairly high heat stability and is considered to be more durable than other edible oils.

5. Beans: Variety from all over the world

History: Already around 4000 BC. The Indians are said to have grown beans in the Andes. In the 16th century, the Spaniards brought the fruit to Europe. There are several thousand varieties worldwide today.

Culture: In Germany, almost 50,000 tons of beans are harvested annually on an area of ​​around 4,000 hectares. The most important role is played by the fresh garden beans (princess, wax or string beans), heart beans are grown much less frequently. The outdoor season here lasts from June to October. Frozen, canned and dry beans are available all year round.

What beans are there?

Green beans, which belong to the green beans, are typical green filet beans that are used whole. Their aromatic, fleshy pods, which are almost round in diameter, make up the main part of the vegetable. Green beans are harvested particularly early, so the pod is very tender and the seeds are barely developed. They are good as an accompaniment to pan-fried dishes or in a salad.
Wax beans are similar to French beans in shape, size, and use, but have a yellow pod.
French beans have flatter pods and larger seeds. They are mainly used as a vegetable side dish or in a stew.

White beans belong to the large group of core beans. Their creamy kernels have little taste of their own, but absorb all accompanying flavors well and are suitable for antipasti, soups, stews and casseroles.

Kidney beans form red, kidney-shaped kernels. These do not lose their bite, shape and color even after prolonged cooking.

Broad beans (broad beans, broad beans) are also only used in the kitchen in the form of their seeds. Young, tender seeds can be recognized by their pale green or milky white colour. Traditionally, they are mainly known in combination with hearty bacon. With their slightly nutty to strong taste, they are also delicious as a puree, in a stew, in a quiche, with pasta and meat.

Constituents of beans: The protein content of beans is top at more than 20 percent. However, this protein does not cover all essential amino acids. Depending on the variety, the calorie content is between 20 and 80 kilocalories per 100 grams. Carbohydrates account for around two thirds of the calorific value. Fat is only present in traces. Worth mentioning are the contained minerals (potassium, calcium and iron) and especially the roughage.

Health Advice on Bohen:

The famous flatulence is caused by the polysaccharides it contains. These are only broken down by bacteria in the large intestine and converted into gas. Savory and caraway make bean dishes more digestible. However, beans also contain unwanted content.

Almost all garden beans contain the lectin phasin, which is toxic to humans. It is destroyed when cooked. Garden beans should therefore not be eaten raw.

In addition, large amounts of hydrocyanic acid are contained in lima beans and the urd beans native to India. It is released during soaking and cooking. The soaking and cooking water must therefore be poured away.

Gout sufferers should avoid beans because of their high purine content. People who suffer from the enzyme deficiency disease favism should not eat broad beans.

Purchasing & Storing Beans: Fresh beans should be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of two days. Frozen beans can be stored for up to 15 months. Many core beans are only commercially available in dried form. They can be stored in a dark, cool and airy place for up to two years.

Preparation of beans: Dried beans are soaked in cold water for up to twelve hours. Then they need about an hour to cook. The whole thing goes faster with fresh beans: wash, remove the ends and, if necessary, remove the threads, boil in fresh water and cook over a low heat until the beans are still al dente but can be enjoyed.

6. Lupins: Domestic soybean competitor

History: The white lupine was probably already cultivated in Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquity as a forage plant and green manure and later used as food. The lupine made its way into agriculture in our latitudes in the 16th century.

Culture: Australia dominates the lupine market worldwide with a cultivation area of ​​more than one million hectares. In a European comparison, Germany plays a pioneering role. Cultivation is concentrated in the federal states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt. Three types of lupine thrive in Central Europe: the yellow, the blue and the white lupine. They differ in terms of their location requirements, their ingredients and the recycling options.

How are lupins consumed? Traditionally, the lupine seeds are soaked and then pickled in brine or vinegar and oil and eaten as a snack. Today, processed products such as lupine flour or lupine spreads are more common.

Lupine ingredients: With its exceptionally high protein content (approx. 35 percent) and many minerals, lupine competes with soybeans. At around 6 percent, the fat content is considerably lower than that of soybeans, but it clearly exceeds that of many other legumes and is also cheap in composition. In terms of dietary fiber, the lupine is almost as good as the bean. The concentration of the alkaloids (bitter substances) naturally contained in lupine grains is so low in modern breeds “sweet lupins”) – especially in those from organic cultivation – that there are no adverse effects on taste or health. Compared to other legumes, the purine content is also low, so that the grains are also well tolerated by rheumatism patients.

They are also gluten-free and therefore interesting for celiac patients. Lupine is one of the main allergens and must be labeled on packaging. A cross-allergy to peanuts is particularly common.

Purchasing lupins: Dried or preserved lupine seeds and foods made from processed lupine seeds are primarily marketed in organic markets, in health food stores and on the Internet. In vegetarian cuisine, processed products, for example meat substitutes, are becoming increasingly important.

Preparation of lupins: For use in the kitchen, the grains are first swollen. Salted, they are often served with beer in the Mediterranean region. They are also suitable as an ingredient in salads, soups and stir-fried vegetables. Mixed with conventional flour, lupine flour is processed into bread and pastries.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top