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How To Improve The Digestion Of Beans And Other Pulses

How do you improve the digestion of beans and other pulses?

Last year Daen and I undertook an exciting challenge; we went vegan for a month for Veganuary. With Daen being a degree-qualified nutritionist and personal trainer in London, we were very excited to go full blast on the plant-based diet. Most of our meals and food essentials were already structured around vegetables but this time we really had to make our 31 days, which meant 93 meals, vegan. Furthermore, we had to make sure to eat the right amount of protein, good fats and other essentials needed to fuel our bodies and feel good. Also not forgetting having as much variety in our diet as possible.

Therefore, going vegan meant some of the food essentials (see our guide of vegan food essentials) we are used to eating had to change to a plant-based list of vegan foods. Although beans were already part of our food essentials, they of course became even more handy and frequently used during Veganuary, due to their protein content. I can tell you that by the end of January, I experienced what a lot of people experience with a plant-based diet and an increase of beans in their diet: bloating, wind and an uncomfortable, slow digestion.

We got to talk about it with our vegan friend and fellow nutritionist, Leith Johanson, founder of Nutriactive and Sofa2Stamina. Leith recently published her plant-based lifestyle Ebook.

Here are Leith’s 6 tips on eating beans and improving the digestion of these amazing large seeds:

1. Increase Bean Consumption Slowly

If you are coming from a predominately meat diet, you may run into trouble. As meat has zero amount of fibre, you may not be used to the increase in fibre to your diet. Increasing your bean intake slowly will allow your digestive system to adjust to the change.

2. When Cooking Beans, Soak Them For 24 Hours Before Cooking

Soak your beans up to 24 hours before cooking and once cooked, rinse thoroughly. If keeping them to consume over a few days, keep them in an air tight glass container submerged in water. Rinse well each time you get them out to use them.

3. If Using From A Can, Rinse, Rinse, Rinse

By rinsing beans, you’ll get rid of any starch found on the surface that may be affecting your digestion.

4. Try 1-2 Tablespoons Of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Drink 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in warm water 30 minutes before eating or consume a salad in ACV or something fermented such as sauerkraut at the same time as your meal. These things can aid digestion.

5. Adding Them To A Soup Can Assist In The Digestive Process

Adding them to a soup can also assist in the digestive process. Herbs and spices contain medicinal properties, add them to a bean curry or a bean soup.

6. Eat Slowly And Try To Avoid Drinking At The Same Time

Drinking water whilst eating can dilute the digestive enzymes your body produces naturally, making the food harder to digest.

We hope you enjoyed Leith’s tips and please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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Gnocchetti, Chard & Lemon Soup

Gnocchetti, Chard & Lemon Soup

This gnocchetti, chard & lemon soup is a keeper. If you’re a pasta eater but want to add that healthy touch to it, this soup is perfect. With plenty of nutritious veg, it’s so much better than a big plate of pasta! Versatile and great as a winter warmer as well as for other seasons, we absolutely love it. The addition of lemon adds a freshness which gives it a distinctive taste. As winter approaches this soup is a great option to have in your repertoire to stay warm and keep your food options varied.

Sourced from our favourite people in London Abel & Cole, this soup is straight out of their recipe list. As always we use their seasonal produce to make this tasty and easy soup. It really only takes 25 minutes to make this soup so you can use it as your go-to when in need of something hot, filling and nourishing this winter!

Here is the easy recipe for the gnocchetti, chard & lemon soup

Gnocchetti, Chard & Lemon Soup

Gnocchetti, Chard & Lemon Soup

Credit: Recipe and produce thanks to Abel & Cole

Gnocchetti, Chard & Lemon soup

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Your go to recipe to fill your tummy, stay warm and add that zest!

What you'll need from your Abel & Cole box:

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A handful of rosemary leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 75g gnocchetti
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • What you’ll need from home:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 750ml boiling water
  • A large pan

What to do:

  1. Peel the red onion and finely chop it. Peel and crush or finely chop the garlic cloves. Pick the rosemary leaves off their stalks and finely chop the leaves. Strip the chard leaves away from the stalks. Finely slice the stalks, and roughly shred the leaves. Half your lemon and press the juice into a glass for later on.
  2. Into a large pan, pour 1 tbsp olive oil and bring to a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and chard stalks. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt & pepper and fry for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until soft.
  3. After 10 mins, pour in 750ml boiling water and crumble in the stock cube. Scatter in the gnocchetti and stir well to mix it all together. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 mins.
  4. After 5 mins, add the shredded chard leaves to the pan and stir well. Simmer for a further 5 mins, or until the pasta is cooked.
  5. Grate in the lemon zest in and stir in along with half of the lemon juice.
  6. Have a taste and accordingly add extra lemon juice, salt or pepper.
  7. Serve into deep bowls straight away

Enjoy and let us know how you got on below. You may even have a tip to share!

Nutritionist Tip: Chard is incredibly nutrient-dense and is a great source of vitamins A, C, K & E, as well as minerals, like magnesium, copper, potassium and iron. Each serving of this delicious soup contains 10g of protein and provides you with 1 ½ of your 5 a day. So this dish is great as a starter or side.

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Steamed Artichokes: Perfect As A Side Or Nibble

Artichoke is a super easy vegetable to cook, and no it’s not just another pizza topping! You may also think there’s a tedious technique to eating them but really there are just 2 basic things to know about them. They’re easy to cook, as you just steam them, and there’s actually more “meat” than you think!
Read more

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Love Apples But Can’t Eat Them? Don’t Quit Yet! Apple Compote Recipe

Have you been told or found out apples aren’t for you? I used to really enjoy my daily apple. However, until that day in 2013 when I was told by a nutritionist that that healthy apple may be one of the reasons that causes stomach pain, makes me feel tired in the middle of the afternoon and possibly really upset my gut and digestive system, I went from eating an apple at least once a day to no apple in almost 3 years, until… Read more

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Vegan Shopping Guide


Ready to join us in starting the new year with Veganuary? or start a plant based diet?

Here is a list of must-haves to make sure your kitchen cupboard and fridge are well-stocked. The main things to think about are ensuring you get adequate protein with each meal Read more


Plant Based Diet? We’re Going Vegan For January! #Veganuary


Wanting to play your part, make a little difference and start 2017 making lifestyle changes? We have you covered with Veganuary! Read more