Beans & lentils
Beans are a great source of protein, fibers, vitamins and minerals. People often abandon the idea of eating beans because of ... gas production ! They need to be rinsed very carefully before consumption in order to reduce the amount of indigestible sugars that result in gas.
I use those beans in Latin American inspired dishes like tacos, burritos, mexicain soups !
Butter beans (lima)
My kids' favorite, they really taste creamy and buttery ! it's the first food Mila managed to catch by herself !
HUMMUS !!! Also, I use them in indian curries. Roasted and seasoned , they're great as a snack or part of a rice bowl !
When I feel like I need to add a good source of iron in my menu, they're the way to go ! Though frijoles refritos are usually prepared with pinto beans, I prefere kidney beans since they have a bright color. They're perfect in chilies also !
Lentils (black, red, brown)
To avoid chemicals found in cans, I recently made the decision to cook more often beans and lentils myself. Lentils are to start with! They don't require soaking and they cook in about 10-40 minutes (depending on the kind). I often throw a few in a vegetable soup or in Dhal soup. They are also perfect in salads for picnics and lunchs since they stay firm for long.
They are part of the "bean family" even if they are eaten like nuts. I use them to make my own peanut butter, but also as a garnish in asian dishes or in cookies.
A paste made from fermented soy beans, it serves as a stock for my comforting miso soup. I choose the organic non-GMO ones.
Also made from fermented soy beans, I use a gluten-free organic non-GMO brand and add it to many dishes when I need a salty taste, especially in asian dishes, but also in veggie patties, gravy sauce, marinades or millet pie at Christmas.
Tempeh is made from a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds whole (instead of pressed) soy beans together. The very first time I ate tempeh was in Indonesia a couple of years ago, as tempeh satay with peanut sauce. It was so good ! But when I first prepared tempeh after coming back home, I was kind of disappointed. It's almost impossible to recreate the same tastes from street food in other countries... But now I have come a long way with tempeh !
It has a strong fermented flavor and you have to get use to it (a bit like blue cheese). We LOVE tempeh burgers, tempeh "Pâté chinois" (Quebec's version of the shepherd's pie), tempeh meatballs and grilled tempeh. Try to choose organic non-GMO brands.
Tofu has a BAD reputation ! How many times I've heard the famous "It tastes nothing" ! For me, that's actually a great PLUS ! You can make it taste whatever you want ! You just have to add the right seasoning. Be sure to choose an organic non-GMO brand. I use tofu in asian dishes or marinated and grilled. Tofu is a great way to replace dairy in many recipes, like in blossom flowers stuffed with tofu, tofu ricotta lasagna, chocolate soft tofu mousse... the list could go on forever. We used to eat a LOT of it, like every transitional vegetarian. But now we try to reduce our soy consumption in favour of fermented soy alternatives, since it's easier to digest. It's still a ingredient we use 1-2 times a week.