The Leguminosae family contains members that bear seeds in a pod. The common food groups in this family are the beans, peas, and lentils. All legumes are high in protein, water soluble fiber (pectin), vitamins and minerals. When combined with grains or cheese, legumes can make a "complete protein." A complete protein contains all 8 of the essential amino acids, which are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, lysine and histidine. They are considered essential amino acids because the body is not able to synthesis them on its own.

The beans with the highest protein content are: soy beans (which also happens to be the only legume that is a complete protein by itself), azuki beans, kidney beans, broad beans, mung beans & lima beans. Dry peas are also high in protein. Most legumes are considered complex carbohydrates. This includes all dry peas and all dry beans except soy beans. Legumes are also rich in molybdenum and zinc.

Black beans are also called ‘turtle soup' beans and frijoles negros, have a subtle mushroom like flavor and contain 23% protein. They are high in iron, calcium and B vitamins.

The following recipe is one of my favorites, especially after a long day of work. I will mix it up the night before and then put it in the crock pot the next morning to cook throughout the day.

• 2 cans black beans, with the liquid!
• 4 roma tomatoes, diced
• 1 red or yellow onion, diced
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon of cumin
• 1 small can tomato paste

1) Turn Crock Pot on low, and throw everything in. You can sauté the onions first in a little oil, but it's just as good when you don't.
2) When it's good and hot (I usually give it at least 3 hours!), serve it over brown rice, or just with vegan cornbread and a good green salad.

Serves: 6-8
Preparation time: 20 minutes