Keto and legumes is an edgy subject and since the springtime is just around the corner, I thought it was a perfect time to write an article about it. In Greece, for generations, all the way back to ancient times, people ate a lot of legumes. Lentils, chickpeas, all sorts of beans, but also – green beans. When we look at the green beans, they actually are quite ok with the carb count, however, do we only care about that?
Keto and legumes from Mediterranean or KMD point of view
As you already might know, on KMD we care about micronutrients and freshness of our ingredients more. Where did we get the ingredients, how do we prepare them and with whom do we consume them? Even if we eat alone, the atmosphere, the activity, the time we spend in passionate preparation is equally important as counting carbs! When it comes to plants, rarely any plant-based food offers nutritional density compared to animal-based ingredients. Things are simple, plant-based diet can result in malnutrition!
This is why on KMD I recommend having vegetables only as a side dish, never as the main ingredient of a meal. In rare cases, you will mix up an equal amount of meat, seafood or eggs/cheese with a type of vegetable to get nutritious and easy to digest KMD meal!
Which legumes should still find a place on our plates?
Well, since we do not want starch and sugars, legumes and Keto don’t combine that well. When I am asked about eating legumes and Keto dieting, I still recommend an occasional meal including green and yellow beans. They are legumes and some people will have problems to digest them, but they do have rather interesting nutrient content.
Legumes have been important crops in Ancient Greece. Their capacity to renew depleted soil was known by the time of Xenophon in the fourth century B.C. As one of the first domesticated products in Greece, legumes are generally discovered at archaeological sites in Greece
I believe they should be enjoyed occasionally, but prepared as Mediterranean people would. However, have in mind, the ancient Mediterranean world was widely divided between wealthy people and slaves. Poor people ate legumes a lot to compensate for the lack of protein that was widely available in the form of meat and seafood to the wealthy classes.
Nutritional value from a Ketogenic point of view
Legumes and Keto can sometimes create so much confusion. First of all, you will want to know how much of the green or yellow beans should we consume in a meal. Well, a portion size of 150 g (5,3 oz) would be more than enough. Let’s see what will this provide us with:
0.55 g fat
5.66 g carbs
2.6 g fibre
1.94 g sugar
1.42 g protein
But as I mentioned earlier, we care about micronutrients and freshness of the ingredients. This is why I never recommend canned products! Here’s the list of micronutrients in 150g of fresh green beans:
17 mg calcium
1.2 mg iron
18 mg magnesium
30 mg phosphorus
130 mg potassium
24 mcg vitamin A
52.5 mcg vitamin K
32 mcg folate
These are some decent amounts of micronutrients. However, to make a balanced KMD meal, we always aim to add good anti-inflammatory fats, such as goat butter and some good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
The dish I asked Roberta to create for this occasion actually combines something unexpected. We decided to create a dish that will be a perfect example of ancient nutrition for the whole family! We combined muscles with yellow beans (you can use green) and created a delicious dish that resembled pasta but gave us very few carbs.
What are the downsides of eating too many green beans?
It’s extremely important to point out that people who are using blood-thinner medications should not suddenly increase the intake of food which contains vitamin K. This vitamin interferes with blood clotting.
Lectins (a type of proteins) bind up carbohydrates are present in all sorts of beans, including green beans. They can create difficulties in our digestive system. Cooking beans can decrease the amount of lectin.
Green beans also contain phytic acid. Now, this is a problem because phytic acid often bonds with minerals and prevents their absorption. If you already have problems with mineral deficiency, green beans should be avoided.
Green or yellow beans with mussels – a Keto Mediterranean dish that resembles pasta
Yes, the texture is quite similar. Most probably due to high fibre content, eating green or yellow beans covered with mussels and herbs in a creamy sauce feels like eating pasta. But have in mind, as KMD calls for slow cooking, you’ll spend some time in the kitchen before presenting this culinary work of art to your family! So, let’s get to the recipe…
KMD dish with green beans and musslesCourse: Main courseCuisine: Keto MediterraneanDifficulty: Medium
200 g (17,6 oz) green or yellow beans (fresh or frozen)
200g (14,1 oz) mussels (without shells)
1 tbsp goat butter or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic
4 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp smoked red paprika powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp onion powder
2 large yolks
1/2 lemon (juice and zest)
4 tbsp grated aged goat or sheep’s cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- If you are using fresh mussles, boil them in a lot of salty water for 10 minutes and remove the shells. Using the same water you cooked your mussles in, boil the green or yellow beans for 20 minutes.
- In a deep saucepan or a wok, saute chopped garlic in coconut oil or goat butter for 3 minutes then add chopped fresh parsley, salt, red smoked paprika, oregano, rosemary and onion powder.
- Mix cooked mussels and green beans and add them to the garlic and spices. Mix well and add 150 ml (5 fl oz) of water.
- Cover the wok with a lid and reduce the temperature to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Whisk 2 yolks with lemon juice in a cup and add this mixture to the wok. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Remove from heat in exactly 1 minute.
- Serve with grated aged goat or sheep cheese and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top. Sprinkle some grated lemon zest.