One of the most durable food types is grain. It’s a small seed that is hard and dry and can be eaten by animals, as well as people. It’s something that has continued to be an integral part of our lives and diet for thousands of years.
Image by Jan Nijman
There are a number of health benefits from consuming whole grains including helping to maintain low blood pressure, protection against heart disease, and lowering the risk of diabetes. The main commercial grains can be divided into two different categories – legumes and cereals.
Cereal crops include things like wheat, barley, rye, oats, and rice and are very healthy to eat. Most people will eat cereal for breakfast, and it’s the perfect way to start your day and take in essentials such as vitamins and minerals while avoiding too many calories.
Oats are the healthiest cereal you can eat, and a bowl of these on a cold morning is a great way to get warmed up and ready for the day ahead. Muesli is a very popular cereal filled with different tastes and textures, as is granola, which over the past decade has become a staple breakfast for many people. Farro is another popular grain that people can eat for breakfast, as well as being used in other foods.
Some other types of breakfast cereals are not so healthy, so you will want to avoid all the types with added sugar coatings, pieces of chocolate, and other obvious elements that are going to take away any of the health benefits that you’d get from other simpler cereals.
Legumes include a variety of things such as lentils, peas, fava beans, and chickpeas. They are a type of vegetable that you will commonly know as beans or peas and are grown all around the world, coming in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes.
There are different ways in which legumes are consumed. Pea and beans for example can be eaten straight out of their pods from the vines. Whereas other types of legumes have only edible parts, the seeds (or pulses as otherwise known) in their pods. These pulses can be prepared for eating in several different ways such as drive, split, cooked, canned, or even ground up into flour.
There are a number of health benefits to eating legumes as part of your daily diet. These include the potential to help you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol low, reduce the risk of heart disease, and can protect against type-2 diabetes.
Preparing the Legumes
The variety of legumes allows you to try and out a huge range of different delicious recipes at home. They can be used to create a very tasty and nutritious meal for you and your family, as well as make perfect salads for an afternoon lunch with friends.
When cooking legumes, most of them will require to be left soaking in water overnight. Split peas and lentils don’t require soaking, though if you do, it won’t cause any harm. This helps to reduce the amount of time needed for cooking, and also makes them more digestible.
When we eat legumes, the bacteria in our intestine will break down the sugars, which leads to intestinal gas and bloating. By soaking them overnight prior to cooking them, it dissolves the membrane that covers the beans thus removing the indigestible sugars.
There are three main methods with which you can cook your legumes. These are on the stovetop, a slow cooker, or a pressure cooker / Instant Pot. For most types of beans, the slow cooker is the most popular option, but it does require that you have plenty of time to allow the cooking process to take place.
Unfortunately, not everyone can spend hours each day in the kitchen. Those who are working all day, or may have to pick up and take kids to after school activities will have very little time left in the day to be cooking for hours on end.
The method for cooking legumes that has become much more popular over recent years is with an Instant Pot. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a piece of kitchenware that is a combination of different types of cookers. Combining a pressure cooker, rice cooker, and steam cooker, it allows you to cook your food in a variety of ways but with only a single pot.
Benefits of an Instant Pot
In addition to giving you backspace in your kitchen, and letting you put those other pots you used to use back into storage and out of the way, the Instant Pot will also use less energy than a regular cooker. This means your electricity bill will be a little less than before.
Another great thing about the Instant Pot is that it can cut down the time needed to cook dramatically. Legumes are one such example where you can see a real decrease in the amount of time needed to prepare them.
If you were cooking chickpeas on your stovetop, then you would need between 90 to 120 minutes for them to properly cook. However, if you were using an Instant Pot, you’d only need about 25 minutes. That’s a huge difference in time and is what makes the Instant Pot so attractive as a way of cooking your meals.
The great thing with the Instant Pot is that it has a variety of cooking methods. If you are using it to cook vegetables, for example, the steam cooking that takes place will keep the vital nutrients packed into the vegetables, whereas boiling them would see the loss of a great deal of these.
Some final thoughts
Legumes and cereals are a very important part of our diet, and it’s important to try and eat them on a regular basis. If you are able to serve up a portion of legumes such as chickpeas or lentils a couple of times a week, it’s a great way to get a good amount of vital vitamins and nutrients and enjoy a healthy meal.
And if you are fortunate enough to have an Instant Pot, you will be able to whip up a huge range of different meals throughout the week in half the time. You can find hundreds of delicious recipes online that you can try out at home.