Beans - Good for Your Health and for the Planet


First, let's talk about nutrition and its various benefits for our bodies. Have you ever heard of the blue zones? The blue zones are five areas of the world with the highest concentration of centenarians living longer and healthier lives. What we know from the research undertaken by Gianni Pes and Michel Poula during the last decades is that the food secret of the world's longest-lived people is a diet composed of 95-100% plant-based food. And guess what? Beans are one of them, and they are served daily. Beans come in various shapes and textures (over 20,000 species), and they are packed with more nutrients than any other food. They are inexpensive sources of protein and fibre and provide the majority of vitamins and minerals our bodies need. And when eaten in a well-balanced diet, they can help prevent the development of various chronic diseases as well as support our heart and digestive health. 

If you are reluctant to incorporate beans because you worry about digestion, here are 5 tips you might want to consider:

  1. Start with small portions. 
  2. Soak beans before cooking.
  3. Cook beans with a strip of Kombu seaweed. This seaweed will help break down the enzymes that can make beans hard to digest. 
  4. Don't salt beans while cooking
  5. Add some spices. Spices improve the digestibility of legumes. You can use cumin, turmeric, ginger and fennel.

One of the Planet’s Most Sustainable Protein Sources

According to the Geneva Environment Network, our food system and consumption practices are not sustainable and aren't good for our planet, and in fact, not good for our health either. So, it's time for us to change instead of letting our planet change. Changing how we eat can help improve our planet's resilience by reducing food-related emissions, wildlife loss and agricultural land use. 

A Planet-based Recipe

Flavourful, nourishing and hearty winter couscous full of colourful nutritious veggies. 

Ingredients - 6 persons

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 200-250g crushed tomatoes
  • 4-6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 6 small yellow turnips (can be replaced by celeriac), cut in wedges
  • 1 small red kuri squash, cut into slices
  • 500 g cooked chickpeas
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp ras el-hanout 
  • 1 bunch of freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 bush of freshly chopped coriander
  • salt to taste

For raisins and onions confit

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g raisins
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey

Instructions for the vegetables

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender. Add the crushed tomatoes and ras el-hanout and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. 
  2. Add the carrots, chickpeas, yellow turnip, the red squash kuri and herbs in layers and cover half the contents with water. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the veggies are fork-tender and the flavours are well-developed. 
  3. Serve warm, accompanied with couscous and garnished with the raisins and onions confit, and topped with fresh coriander.
  4. Store cooled leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. 

Instructions for the raisins and onions confit

  1. Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender. 
  2. Add the raisins, cinnamon, honey and a small glass of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated. Then, set aside.

Happy Legumes Day!

Keep well.

Please note: This article is republished with the permission of Laure Sarrazin from the Resilience Institute—our global research partner.

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