cook grains legumes nutrition tips wholegrains Nov 11, 2020

Do you cook legumes and grains often? Getting your grain and legume to water ratios right is the difference between a dinner being a complete flop or having a winner! I’m sure we’ve all been there when you’ve overcooked your rice or your quinoa isn’t light and fluffy like you see on insta! Follow the below cooking guides to get your grains and legumes just right! 

What are legumes? 

Legumes belong to the Leguminosae family and are a group of foods that includes lentils, beans and peas. You often hear legumes and pulses used interchangeably, but the pulse is the edible part of the seed. 

What are examples of legumes?

  • Edamame

  • Soy nuts

  • Lentils

  • Fava beans

  • Red Kidney beans

  • Chickpeas

  • Peas

  • Black beans

Why are legumes good for you? 

Legumes are a great nutritional food as a strong source of fibre and B vitamins. They form part of a healthy diet and count towards one of the recommended five servings of vegetables a day. Some particular benefits of adding legumes to your diet include: 

  • Important plant based protein source

  • Helps to reduce cholesterol

  • Helps to decrease blood sugar levels 

  • Helps increase healthy gut bacteria

Which legumes have the most protein?

Legumes are an important source of plant-based protein. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan it’s important to ensure you are getting enough protein in your diet as many consume the majority of their protein through animal-based foods. The best legumes to look out for protein-wise include fava beans (26.12 g/100 g is protein), lentils (25.8 g of 100g is protein), split peas (24.55 g/100 g), kidney beans (21.7 g of 100 g) and chickpeas (19.3 g of 100g). 

What are grains? 

Conversely, grains are part of the Poaceae family and are edible seeds of types of grasses. Some common examples include wheat, rice and oats. Grains are a rich source of fibre and high in nutrients. There are a number of benefits of eating whole grains including potentially reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity and supporting a healthy digestive system. 

Examples of grains: 

  • Rice

  • Bran

  • Oats

  • Quinoa

  • Corn

  • Millet

  • Amaranth

  • Barley

  • Buckwheat


Benefit of Pre-Soaking
Pre-soaking grains can break down phytic acid which can make them more easily digestible and increase nutrient absorption, as well as reduce cooking times.  note: This IS NOT essential but a good idea if you have the time - hot tip, I rarely do :P

Grain : Water | Cooking Times

Quinoa 1 : 1.5 | 10 – 15 minutes. 

Buckwheat 1 : 2 | 15 – 20 minutes. 

Brown Rice 1 : 2 | 30 - 35 minutes.

Basmati Rice 1 : 1.5 | 17 – 20 minutes.

Pearl Barley 1 : 3 | 30 – 35 minutes.

Millet 1 : 2 | 15 - 18 minutes. 

Amaranth 1 : 3 | 17 – 20 minutes.

Cooking Method:

1.     Rinse grain thoroughly. 

2.     Add to small saucepan with the required amount of water ratio and bring to a boil.

3.     Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for the above specified time or until all of the water is absorbed (refrain from lifting the lid too much). 

4.     Turn heat off and leave, covered, to sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.


How to cook legumes?

Legume : Water | Cooking Times

Adzuki Beans 1 : 1.25 | 45 – 60 minutes.

Black Beans 1 : 4 | 60 - 75 minutes.

Black Eyed Peas 1 : 4 | 50 – 60 minutes.

Brown Lentils 1 : 3 | 20 - 30 minutes.

Cannellini Beans 1 :3 | 50 - 60 minutes

Chickpeas 1 : 4 | 60 - 90 minutes.

Kidney Beans 1 : 3 | 50 - 60 minutes.

Green Lentils 1 : 3 | 35 - 45 minutes.

Lima Beans 1 : 3 | 45 - 60 minutes.

Pinto Beans 1 : 3 | 75 - 90 minutes.

Red Lentils 1 : 3 | 20 – 30 minutes.

Soybeans 1 : 4 | 60 – 120 minutes.

Split Peas 1 : 3 | 45 – 60 minutes.

Yellow Lentils 1 : 3 | 20 – 30 minutes.


Cooking Method:

1.     Rinse legume thoroughly. 

2.     Completely cover and soak legumes overnight (except for split peas and lentils). Alternatively, if you forget to soak your legumes, simply add them to a saucepan with four times the amount of water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to sit for at least 2 and a half hours. 

3.     Proceed to drain legumes. 

4.     Add to small saucepan with the required amount of water ratio and bring to a boil.

5.     Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for the above specified time or until legumes are tender. 

6.     Drain and serve.

How to eat legumes? 

Legumes are traditionally a part of the Mediteranean diet and there are many delicious and healthy ways to enjoy them. You can find many tasty recipes for legumes on my blog; why not try my pulse pasta with pumpkin, red lentil & spinach dhal, or greens salad.


Dry grains and legumes are best stored in air tight containers in a cool/dry location for up to 6 – 12 months.  Cooked grains and legumes can be stored in air tight containers and refrigerated for 3 – 4 days, or frozen for up to 4 months (note that some will freeze better than others). 

After more Nourishing Articles?


About Steph




Corporate Nutrition

Recipe Development

Partner with Steph




21 Day Detox

12 Day Cleanse

12 Day Nourish




Subscribe to emails

Sign up to have body good food delivered straight to your inbox!

We respect your privacy.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet. The information on this website (including external links) may not be complete or accurate depending on when it was published, and is subject to change. This website and its contents are protected by intellectual property laws and cannot be copied, distributed, or reproduced without the owners permission.

I respectfully acknowledge the Bunurong Peoples’ of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Custodians and Owners of the land on which I live and work. I pay my respects to their Elders, past, present, and emerging, and recognize the continuing connection and rich contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to this country.