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Seeds, Legumes and Beans


noun le·gume ˈle-ˌgyüm, li-ˈgyüm
1 a: the fruit or seed of plants of the legume family (as peas or beans) used for food
b: a vegetable used for food

2: any of a large family (Leguminosae syn. Fabaceae, the legume family) of dicotyledonous herbs, shrubs, and trees having fruits that are legumes (sense 3) or loments, bearing nodules on the roots that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and including important food and forage plants (as peas, beans, or clovers)

3: a dry dehiscent one-celled fruit developed from a simple superior ovary and usually dehiscing into two valves with the seeds attached to the ventral suture.

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for their food grain seed (e.g., beans and lentils, or generally pulse), for livestock forage and silage, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Legumes are notable in that most of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts and tamarind.

A legume fruit is a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides. A common name for this type of fruit is a pod, although the term “pod” is also applied to a few other fruit types, such as that of vanilla (a capsule) and of radish (a silique).

Nutritional Facts

Legumes are a significant source of protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates and micronutrients, including folate, thiamin, manganese, magnesium and iron, such as for cooked black beans.

Common examples of protein combining using legumes are Indian dal and rice, Mexican beans with corn tortillas, Middle Eastern hummus commonly served with pita bread, and mujaddara, a dish consisting mainly of rice and lentils.

Type of Legume Common Uses
Adzuki beans, also known as field peas or red beans Soups, sweet bean paste, and Japanese and Chinese dishes
Anasazi beans Soups and Southwestern dishes; can be used in recipes that call for pinto beans
Black beans, also known as turtle beans Soups, stews, rice dishes and Latin American cuisines
Black-eyed peas, also known as cowpeas Salads, casseroles, fritters and Southern dishes
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo or ceci beans Casseroles, hummus, minestrone soup, and Spanish and Indian dishes
Edamame, also known as green soybeans Snacks, salads, casseroles and rice dishes
Fava beans, also known as broad beans Stews and side dishes
Lentils Soups, stews, salads, side dishes and Indian dishes
Lima beans, also known as butter or Madagascar beans Succotash, casseroles, soups and salads
Red kidney beans Stews, salads, chili and rice dishes
Soy nuts, also known as roasted soybeans or soya beans Snack or garnish for salads
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