Legumes - part 2

ALFALFA

BROAD BEANS (Fava Beans)

People in the United States commonly call broad beans as fava beans. They are also referred to as English, haba, tick, Windsor, cold, field or even horse beans. Broad beans have been named so because of their seeds that are big and even appearing as extremely big lima beans. The length of these seeds may vary from approximately 0.5 inch to two inches. They are available in a range of colors, including white, black, brown, green, purple and buff.

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Broad beans are a very good supply of nutriments. Among several other nutrients, they have rich folic acid, fiber, magnesium, potassium and thiamin content.

CHICKPEAS (Garbanzo Beans)

There are enough botanical as well as archeological substantiation that let us know that people in the Middle East cultivated the chickpea plants for the first time during the primeval period. Nevertheless, currently India provides as much as 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the entire supplies of chickpeas worldwide. Chickpeas are known by various different names which have been given by people in different regions of the world who now cultivate as well as consume them. Chickpeas are known as Bengal gram in India, while people in countries having Spanish as the main language call them garbanzo. In the Arab world, chickpeas are called hummus or hamaz. In Ethiopia, people call them as shimbra.

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The chickpea plants grow well in places having tropical or temperate climatic conditions and attain a height of approximately two feet. These plants produce inflated pods that are about one inch in length and enclose just one or maybe two seeds having irregular shapes. Normally, the seeds are anything between 0.25 and 0.5 inch across and may be found in different colors, including green, black, brown, yellow or buff. The tender green sprouts as well as the immature green pods of the plant are also consumed.

Similar to several other legumes, chickpeas too are a wonderful fiber resource. Besides, they also contain a high level of magnesium.

COMMON BEANS

As most of us are familiar, nearly all beans are an excellent resource of nutritional fiber. When peas or beans are consumed together or at different independent meals they develop superior quality protein that is basically same as that obtained from the animal sources.

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Common beans are native to Central America. In fact, several archeological remainders of common beans and those of squash and maize have been unearthed from the area. Carbon tests have confirmed that these remains dated back to over 7,000 years. Christopher Columbus and later several Portuguese and Spanish explorers transported these beans to Europe and they were finally introduced to all over Asia as well as Africa.

BLACK BEANS

If you have ever eaten in any Mexican restaurant you should be familiar with black beans, which are served either refried or boiled by these eateries. Black beans are also called turtle beans and form a common element of the cooking all over South America as well as Central America, southern regions of the United States and the Caribbean islands. The name of this variety of beans itself indicates that their color is absolutely black. The flavour of black beans is mild and to some extent sweet.

Black beans provide us with adequate folate and are also an excellent resource of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and thiamin.

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CRANBERRY BEANS

Normally, cranberry beans are approximately 0.5 inch long and have a brownish color with pink spots that fade away when they are cooked. The flavour of these beans is nut-like, while their flesh has an even surface and is cream colored having reddish stripes.

From the nutritional point of view, cranberry beans contain high amounts of folate and are an excellent source of potassium magnesium, iron, phosphorus as well as copper.

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KIDNEY BEANS

The name of this variety of beans itself suggest that they have a shape akin to that of the human kidney. Kidney beans are found in a wide range of hues. In fact, people who have a preference for chillies will easily distinguish the red kidney beans, which are the most ordinary type of kidney beans. They are profoundly red in color and very delicious.

There are different types of kidney beans. A different sort of kidney bean is known as the flageolet. These seeds of flageolet are small, slender and have a light green hue. In the United States, this type of kidney bean is mostly sold dried, frozen or canned. Compared to the USA, the flageolet is more well-liked almost all over Europe. Another variety of kidney beans is called cannellini, which is big and has a white color and its flavour is also further subtle in comparison to the most common variety - the red kidney bean.

From the nutritional viewpoint, all varieties of kidney beans form a wonderful resource of folic acid and they also contain high levels of iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorous as well as thiamin.

PINTO BEANS

In Spanish, the term 'pinto' denotes 'painted'. In fact, this is the most suitable word to depict this particular bean, as they have a beige or pink hue marked with reddish-brown streaks and spots. These beans are very popular among people in Mexico as well as American southwest and form a vital part of their daily cuisine.

Talking from the nutritional viewpoint, pinto beans are basically a wonderful supply of folate as well as an excellent resource of iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, in addition to thiamin.

WHITE BEANS

White bean is not any specific bean, but various beans having pale hued seeds. Therefore, there are many different varieties of white beans and some of them are mentioned below.

Great Northern beans
These beans are smaller in size compared to another variety of white beans - the marrow beans, but taste additionally delicate. These beans are normally cultivated in the Midwest region. Great Northern beans withstand baking well.
Marrow beans
This variety is the biggest as well as most spherical among all types of white beans. They are habitually cultivated in the USA. After cooking, marrow beans become creamy, but dense. This variety of white beans is sold in the form of a dried up bean.
Navy beans
Majority of us are familiar with this variety of white beans, because they are present in canned pork as well as other bean products. Navy beans need to be cooked slowly for an extended period of time and are wonderful additions to baked dishes as well as soups.

All varieties of white beans contain very high amounts of folic acid (folate) and iron. In addition, they also form an excellent source of potassium, phosphorus, copper and magnesium.

DOLICHOS BEANS

The word 'dolichos' has its origin in the Greek expression 'dolikhos', denoting long or lengthened. Therefore, when we talk about 'dolichos beans' in general, we mean legumes that belong to the genus Vigna as well as lablab beans or hyacinth beans. The common beans that are regarded as dolichos beans comprise black-eyed pea, adzuki bean, mung bean and lablab bean.

ADZUKI BEANS (Azuki Beans)

People in Asia have grown as well as taken delight in adzuki beans, also known as azuki beans, for several centuries now. In fact, the Chinese believe that these beans possess supernatural powers and usher in a stroke of luck. This is one of the many reasons why they use the azuki or adzuki beans in foods prepared during their celebrations.

This variety of beans is reddish in color and possesses a rich and to some extent a sweet flavour. Adzuki bean plants produce seed pods that are cylindrical in shape with flat endings, about five inches in length and contain anything between 4 and 12 seeds. Normally, these beans are marketed dry, but occasionally they are also available in the form of immature seed pods that are consumed in the same way as green beans are eaten.

Like many other varieties of beans, even adzuki beans are a wonderful resource of folate (folic acid) and contain high levels of iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper.

BLACK-EYED PEAS

Black-eyed peas have various other names, counting cowpea, cherry bean, Indian pea, China pea, frijol and callivance. This variety of legume has been named such owing to the round black-hued hilum or 'eye' found in the inner curve of the pea - the point where it is connected with the seed pod. In addition to having a black color, the hilum of black-eyed peas may also be red, brown or even yellow. These peas are found in an assortment of forms varying from kidney-shaped to round and may have an even or creased surface. The black-eyed pea plant is cultivated worldwide in places having a warm climatic condition and this plant usually grows up to a height of three feet.

Similar to most other legumes, this variety is also rich in folic acid content and it also encloses high levels of potassium and magnesium.

LABLAB (Hyacinth Bean)

Lablab, also known as hyacinth bean, is primarily cultivated in the USA in the form of a decorative plant. However, this variety of beans forms a well-like food in several places, including South and Central America, Asia and Africa. These beans or seeds are below 0.5 inch in length and they are available in a number of colors - white, black, brown and red, to name a few. Plants of lablab grow on their own in the form of vines and bear big and wide leaves.

Lablab or hyacinth beans are a wonderful source of magnesium and iron and also contain rich amounts of thiamin, copper, zinc and phosphorus.

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