Plant based protein: what’s a legume?
Plant-based protein has been getting a lot of hype over the last couple of years and for good reason.
Legumes are a plant-based protein that is also low in saturated fats and salt. Legumes are high in fibre, folate, potassium, and iron, making them very nutritious.
Legumes are a part of a plant that’s either in a pod or a seed, including soybeans, peanuts, fresh peas and beans, and pulses. For example, soy milk, made from soybeans, is a great complete protein source, meaning it has all the essential amino acids your body requires. Peanuts are a fairly popular type of legume and you may be surprised to know that peanuts are not technically a nut. They are a great source of protein and healthy fats, but as they are more calorie dense than other types of legumes it’s a good idea to eat them in moderation. As for peas, you can’t go wrong with a split pea soup - or try eating fresh beans with hummus as a quick and easy on-the-go snack (both the beans and the hummus, made from chickpeas, will provide the nutritional benefits of legumes).
A newer term that some may not be familiar with is a pulse: this is a category of legumes that includes dried beans, chickpeas, dried peas and lentils. With the winter months rolling in, soup is a go-to for many people, and getting the nutritional benefits of pulses can be as simple as adding in a can of black beans to your regular soup, or roasting chickpeas and adding them like croutons as a crunchy garnish on a pureed soup or a hearty salad. You can also jazz up your salads simply by adding lentils on top of your greens or incorporating kidney beans in a pasta salad. When it comes to including pulses in your diet you don’t have to change anything drastic, but rather you can add them into meals you already enjoy.
Legumes can be added to many of your go-to recipes for a nutrition boost. They are jampacked with fibre, which most Canadians don’t get enough of, and also contain many of different vitamins and minerals. Getting protein from plantbased sources may be a newer concept, especially if you do eat meat, but legumes aren’t just for vegetarians. Anyone can and should be incorporating these foods into their diet as they all contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Try the recipe below as a quick supper or if you’re having company over! It provides lots of plant-based protein from the PC Lentil Bites and hummus, as well as fibre from all the different vegetables.
Middle Eastern Mezza Platter
6 carrots, peeled and trimmed, cut into sticks
5 tsp (25ml) olive oil
2 tsp (10ml) PC Black Label Harissa Spice Blend
4 cups (1L) shredded red cabbage (about ¼ of a head)
3 tbsp (45ml) fresh lemon juice
½ tsp (2ml) freshly ground pepper 2 tbsp (25ml) tahini
1 tbsp (15ml) each freshly chopped cilantro, fresh mint, and fresh parsley
1 pkg (400g) PC Blue Menu Lentil & Bean Bites made with Brown Rice
1 pkg (250g) PC Blue Menu Naan Flatbreads (2 flatbreads)
1 package (227g) PC Hummus Chickpea Dip & Spread
1 vine ripened tomato, chopped ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange 1 oven rack in center and 1 oven rack in lower third of oven.
2. Toss together carrots, 1 tbsp (15ml) of olive oil and harissa in large bowl. Arrange in single layer on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in lower third of oven, flipping carrots once, until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes
3. Meanwhile toss together cabbage, 1 tbsp (15ml) lemon juice, ¼ tsp (1ml) pepper and remaining 2 tsp (10ml) of olive oil in separate large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed
4. Whisk together tahini, cilantro, mint, parsley, remaining 2 tbsp (25ml) of lemon juice, ¼ tsp (1ml) pepper, and 2 tbsp (25ml) of water in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
5.Arrange frozen lentil bites in single layer on greased separate large baking sheet. Bake in center of oven 5 to 6 minutes. Flip bites; bake in center of oven for 3 more minutes. Push bites to one side of baking sheet. Arrange flatbreads in single layer on opposite side of sheet; sprinkle flatbreads lightly with water. Bake in center of oven until bites and flatbreads are hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
6.Stack flatbreads on cutting board; cut into 6 wedges. Arrange flatbreads, lentil bites, hummus, and vegetables on large serving platter. Drizzle with tahini mixture.
Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: Calories 470, Fat 21g (3g saturated), Fibre 11g, Protein 14g, Sugar 10g, Sodium 760mg
Middle Eastern Mezza Platter is a tasty choice filled with protein.