What are Legumes? 

Unfamiliar by this vegetable group, many people ask: what are legumes? Healthy, with a wide-range of culinary uses, legumes include various types of beans that can be used in salads, soups, dips and side dishes.

What are legumes?What are legumes?

What are Legumes?

Legumes are essentially beans; some of the many types include:

  • Adzuki or Azuki beans – found in Asian Cuisine
  • Anasazi – Southwest refried recipes
  • Black beans – often paired with rice; soup and dip ingredient in South American and Mexican Cuisines
  • Black-eyed beans – cowpeas or frijoles; used in Southern dishes
  • Cannellini beans – “white kidney bean;” an Italian staple
  • Edamame – soybean used for snacks, garnishes and soy drinks
  • Fava beans – popular in stews due to a notable chewy texture
  • Garbanzo beans – “chick” peas; used in mutli-bean salads; a common Mid-Eastern staple used in hummus and falafels
  • Kidney beans – red, white and flageolet varieties; used in salads, stews and chili
  • Lentils – brown, black, green, yellow and red varieties; popular in soups and Indian cuisine
  • Lima beans – “butter” or “Madagascar,” waxy, starchy beans hold up well in soups and casseroles
  • Mung beans – called sprouts; used in a variety of Asian Cuisines
  • Navy beans – Yankee or Boston; used in American cuisine, most notably, baked bean dishes
  • Pinto beans – common in Mexican and Latino dishes; used with rice to fill Burritos, mashed and served refried or used for chili
  • Soy nuts – often roasted; considered a complete protein; found in soymilk, yogurt and cheese

Although some sources classify green beans and peas as legumes, they do not contain the same nutritional value as aforementioned – excellent sources of protein.

What are Legumes Nutritional Benefits?

In addition to protein, legumes provide:

  • Fiber
  • "Good" Fats
  • Antioxidants
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamins and Minerals such as
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • B Complex

Legumes contain no cholesterol and low levels of harmful fats.

What are Legumes classified as?

Although legumes are technically a protein, most are also considered complex carbohydrates. If you follow a diabetic or similar diet, keep in mind that legumes count toward your meat/protein and carbohydrate portion – not a vegetable.

What are Legumes and how do I prepare them?

Legumes are an important staple in almost every vegetarian diet, but their availability and wide choice of accessible recipes make them appropriate for almost any diet. Cooking legumes can be as complex as making homemade soups and stews or as simple as marinating canned beans overnight.


Lentil soup is one of many legume recipes that need to cook slowly, but yields a hearty, flavorful soup that can last well over a week refrigerated.

When cooking with legumes such as lentils, you first need to remove any discolored or shriveled beans or small stones. Shift through a handful at a time, rinse under tepid water and place in a colander.

Required Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup brown lentils
  • 1 Medium Vidalia or sweet onion
  • 5-6 Carrots
  • 3-4 Celery stalks
  • Parsley
  • 4-5 Cups vegetarian broth/stock
  • Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • 1 (8oz) Tomato sauce
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Optional: Vegetable Bouillon, Red Wine, Pasta – Spaghetti, Tubettini or Orzo

Finely dice the carrots, celery and onion and add to a medium pot with boiling stock; seasoning to taste; slowly stir in the tomato sauce and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the lentils, adjusting heat to a simmer. Lentils need to cook slowly, until tender. Periodically stir and add water or stock as necessary. If you find that the water has taken away from the flavor, simply add a cube of vegetable bouillon.

Cook the pasta until tender in a separate pot and add right before serving – if you cook the pasta with the lentils, the soup will become starchy.

Recipe varieties include: adding wine to simmering lentils; adding bouillon cubes or fresh herbs for extra flavor; serving with grated cheddar or gruyere cheese.


What are legumes? Even though you do not need meat for protein in recipes with legumes, this one has great flavor with the sausage. As far as being healthy; with the added ingredients I wouldn’t call it healthy but very tasty.

  • 1 Pound sausage
  • 2 Medium diced onions
  • 1 Cup diced celery
  • 1 Can chili flavored beans
  • 1 Can pork and beans
  • 1 Can lima beans
  • 1 Can yellow wax beans
  • 1 Can kidney beans
  • 1 Can green beans
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Cup tomato soup
  • 1 Can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 2 Slices bacon

Sauté sausage with onion and celery until sausage is done; add chili flavored beans and pork and beans.
Drain and add all other beans; add mustard, brown sugar and tomato soup.
Place mix in large greased baking dish; spread tomato paste on top.
Criss cross bacon on the top; bake at 350F degrees uncovered for 1 hour.

What are legumes? Beans that are excellent sources of proteins and essential nutrients with a wide range of recipe options including dips, salads, casseroles, stews and soups – healthy alternatives to meat that can be enjoyed by more than vegetarians.

› Legumes

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