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Beans, Lentils and Peas - GFRR Vegetarian Protein

Updated: Feb 22, 2020

I've been following Epicure's Good Food Real Results program since 2015, prior to that I ate Paleo. Eating so many plant-based meals is an enormous shift I couldn't imagine years ago. Like I do with everything, I dove in head first learning and experimenting! Eating plant-based and growing as much as possible myself, has allowed me to save so much money & reduce my environmental footprint. Double Win!

I don't eat canned beans. They're not the same consistency as fresh, they're way more expensive and they're not cooked in a way that works with my stomach. I was convinced beans and lentils weren't good for me because even when eating them regularly I had a sore stomach and excessive gassiness. NOT anymore though, because of how I cook them!

If you're looking for Vegan or Vegetarian Epicure recipes here are some. NOTE, I've discovered MANY of my Vegan and Vegetarian recipes aren't labeled as such, so this is far from a complete list and it could be weeks before I get that corrected. Here are 3 planted based meals from the new Jan 1catalog. Tandoori Cauliflower & Peas, Azteca Soup with Desi Chickpeas and Roasted Tandoori Chickpeas on Sauerkraut and Greens.

This fall I committed to 50% plant-based. I didn't want to eat a lot of soy or dairy (see below) and feel better avoiding gluten... but I wanted an incredibly varied diet. I started with Desi Chickpeas and was quickly obsessed. That lead to bringing home new beans and lentils from my local Indian market so I could experiment with flavors! I fell in love with Black Lentils (Urad). Bean & lentils are so inexpensive that you can try a new variety for under $5 and you'll have enough to try it a couple of diff ways. If you love it, you've got enough for a 6-12 servings and if you don't, it was less than the cost of a latte!

I also cooked my Scarlet Runner Bean 'seeds' and am 100% mad-fan obsessed with those & they will cover every spare inch next summer. Dead Serious!

Here's the Good Food Real Results sub chart with the Vegetarian Protein suggested list. It's such an amazingly flexible plan and one of the things I love the most! I couldn't stick to Paleo due to the restrictions.

Cooking your Beans and Lentils

I highly recommend that if you're open to it, cook your beans and lentils from scratch!

  • 1/5 or even less $ than the cost of buying canned

  • Canned are typically softer / mushier than when you cook them yourself (peas in a can are a pale paste that are barely recognizable 😲 compared to bright green firm frozen peas!)

  • Since beans and lentils have lectins, which can be hard on your digestive system, it’s important they be well cooked. That’s how come you never eat a bean raw or see them as sprouts. Well cooked doesn't mean mushy! Ewww

  • I use my instant pot pressure cook feature for beans and my steamer for lentils because lentils cook up so fast.

  • I soak my beans or lentils for 24-36 hours so they start to sprout, which makes them even easier to digest, reduces their sugars & increases the nutrient content! And I don’t mean sprout as in I turned them into greens, I mean once they start to sprout I cook them. I soak them a day on my counter, change the water, then move them to the fridge until I cook them.

  • I add a 1/2 tsp of my fav salt (Herbed Garlic with Chili's & Garlic seasoning added) for each cup of beans/lentils

  • For each new Bean /Lentil, I cook exactly 1 or 2 cups, then I measure out how much I have once cooked. That way it's super easy to know how much I want to cook next time. I store all my beans and lentils in empty Protein Tubs, Mason Jars, Nut Containers and Adams PB Jars. I write on the cooked quantity right on the container.

  • I've determined that, on average, 3/4 cup raw beans will = 2 x 1 cup servings. After I dropped some cooked ones on the floor one day I discovered my dogs will fight each other for beans and lentils, so I cook extra now to share with them.

  • Most lentils cook up in 15 to 30 mins. I pop them into my steamer, 2-3x water to lentils and put it in for 15 mins, then add more time as needed, after testing one for doneness. This can, of course, be done on your stovetop in a pot. Each lentil has a slightly different cook time, so track how long each one is for your microwave/stove top boil and make a note so you're more efficient next time.

  • I throw my beans in the instant pot with triple water to beans and then cook them on the beans cycle. Often they will take more than one cook cycle although in the past they didn’t, so I think my instant pot isn’t pressurizing as well. Desi Chickpeas ALWAYS take more than one cycle for sure.

  • I basically cook them until I no longer feel the ‘hardness or starchiness’ when I bite them.

  • The occasional time that I overcook them, I use them as a ‘refried bean', soup base or hummus.

  • I use cooked beans and lentils tossed in sauce, like my Smoky Mojo Chick Peas, in soups, roasted, fried, etc. Pretty much how I'd use or season chicken, I'm using beans or lentils. Navy Beans with Buffalo Sauce and Vegan Bacon is my current obsession.

  • Since beans are a bit more work to cook & hold their shape well, I do a few cups of raw at once and then freeze the extra. I'm all about cooking WAY LESS and making a bit extra each time, that's my form of meal prep.

Check out these massive chickpeas, they are a different variety I got at my local Indian market

DAIRY! I LOVE yogurt and cottage cheese, and cream and milk and iceceam. Yum! I made my own greek yogurt for years, obsessed with it. It's sooooo good!!

My iron has been awful my whole life, I had a uterine ablation (a procedure to permanently burn off the uterine lining) to stop my periods. It did improve my iron a bit. I did ALL THE THINGS! I dramatically increased my plant based iron consumption, took every iron pill out there, ate all the high iron foods, cut out gluten. Little change in my iron levels.

When I started playing around with occasional meatless, I ate more dairy instead of other proteins while still eating red meat and lots of high iron veg. My poor iron dropped lower than ever. Then I watched a documentary that shared a link between dairy and iron in some people. I cut it down to butter and occasional cheese & my iron soared higher than ever. So, while I love and do eat dairy I'm noticing my body likes me better when I don't! At 51 I'm finally listening!


A common question I'm asked is, aren't beans, peas and lentils a starch. Yes, they sure are starchy, definitely not for those eating Keto and those with blood sugar issues need to be attentive. While GFRR meals include a starch (per chart above) I often skip it if I'm having my full 1 cup portion of Beans, or Lentils. I find that I often carb crash or feel bloated when I eat both in a meal. The reason we eat starches is for the varied nutrients, fibre and carbs and since I'm getting an abundance of those in these vegetarian proteins I sometimes skip the GFRR Starch and add extra veggies for extra nutrients.

Happy Growing, Cooking & Eating!

XO Dana K

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