Celebrate Kids Eat Right Month with the Lovely Legume

Hand holding red lentils.Legumes are the star of this month’s UF/FSHN Taste Something New series! Whether you’re looking to sample a plant-based protein, boost the nutritional profile of your meals, or try a new recipe, we have what you’re looking for right here.

Fruits? Got ‘em.

Vegetables? Of course.

Whole grains? Already on the dinner table.

Legumes? … Wait, what?

As a parent, offering nutritious foods to your kids is part of the job. We know to prepare fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins as part of a healthy diet. Yet when we’re short on time and inspiration, it’s easy to fall back on old favorites that may be less healthy than we prefer.

Enter the humble-yet-powerful legume.

Boiled soybeans and peanuts on two separate white plates on a brown table.
Boiled soybeans and peanuts, enjoyed in China after a long day of hiking.

August is Kids Eat Right Month, and we’re highlighting this nutritional powerhouse to celebrate the Kids Eat Right program. Read on to learn about the benefits of chowing down on legumes as well as simple and kid-friendly ways to enjoy a variety of these protein-rich foods.

The legume family includes:

  • beans (black, navy, pinto, cannellini, kidney, garbanzo, adzuki);
  • peas (green, black-eyed);
  • lentils;
  • soybeans;
  • peanuts.
Why add legumes to your dinner table?

Legumes are packed full of nutrients such as protein, potassium, fiber, B-vitamins, and iron. They are also typically low in calories and contain healthy fats. Finally, legumes are often less expensive than animal protein sources. Therefore, adding legumes to your shopping cart is ideal for kids—and adults—of all ages.

Chickpeas, brown rice, and quinoa in a small bowl with a small fork in the background.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) served over garlic brown rice and quinoa.

The mighty legume is also quite versatile when it comes to preparing food as it can be eaten whole, mashed, or pureed. Add legumes while preparing dishes to boost texture and enhance the nutritional content.

Legumes, especially beans and peas, are found fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. Frozen and canned legumes are ready-to-eat and do not have to be soaked or boiled to make them easier to digest. The nutritional profiles of these different forms are nearly identical, so choose the form that works with your cooking style and budget.

Ready to add the lovely legume to your dinner table? Try one of these tasty and nutrient-rich recipes highlighting several legumes!

Printable recipes

The Versatile Bean and Veggie Chili
Colorful Chickpea and Lentil Curry

Note: All prices are from July/August 2022; items were purchased at Walmart and *starred items are Great Value brand.

Bean and veggie chili served in a small, square red bowl.
The Versatile Bean and Veggie Chili

Time: 30 minutes
Serving size: 1-1/2 cups (6 servings)
Cost: $7.17 total ($1.19 per serving)
^Recipe by Jeanette Andrade

1/2 tablespoon olive oil* (17 oz; $0.09),
3 cloves garlic, minced ($0.17)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped ($1.26)
1 large green pepper, chopped ($0.72)
1 (4 oz) can mild green chilies* (optional; $0.78)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes ($0.78)
2-1/2 tablespoons mild chili powder* (3 oz; $0.05)
1 tablespoon cumin* (2-1/2 oz; $0.05)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano* (0.87 oz; $0.01)
1/4 teaspoon paprika* (2-1/2 oz; $0.10)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper* optional (optional; 2-1/4 oz; $0.37)
1/4 tsp salt* (26 oz; $0.00)
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes* ($0.98)
3/4 cup water
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed* ($0.78)
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed* ($0.78)
1 cup frozen corn* (32 oz; $0.25)


  1. Place oil in a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Add in garlic, onion, green pepper, cubed sweet potatoes, and green chiles; sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add in chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt; stir for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add in crushed tomatoes, water, black beans, kidney beans, and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until chili thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with brown rice or whole grain bread for a nutritious and satisfying meal.

Variations: Swap out the vegetables, herbs, and spices in this recipe with your favorites to make this recipe your own.

Bonus: Many ingredients, like cooking oils and spices, can be used to build your pantry so that the next time you try a healthy recipe, these flavorful additions will already be on hand!

Red lentils in a clear bag.

Colorful Chickpea and Lentil Curry

Time: 20 minutes
Serving size: 1 cup (4 servings)
Cost: $5.58 total ($1.40 per serving)
^Recipe adapted from Lauren Sharifi

1 tablespoon olive oil* (17 oz; $0.18)
1 medium onion, diced ($1.26)
2 garlic cloves, minced ($0.11)
1 cup red lentils (Iberia 12 oz; $0.69)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained* ($0.88)
1 teaspoon ground curry powder* (1.8 oz; $0.37)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder* (1 oz; $0.32)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth* (32 oz; $0.99)
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained* ($0.78)
Salt and pepper, optional


  1. In a large pot on medium-high heat, add olive oil and diced onions. Cook for three minutes or until soft. Add in minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  2. Add in lentils, curry, turmeric, and diced tomatoes, and cook for 30 seconds. Add in vegetable or chicken broth and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in chickpeas and cook for another 2 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add salt/pepper to taste.
  4. Serve over cooked brown rice or with naan. Enjoy!

Dr. Andrade wearing a dark shirt and smiling for the camera.Note on Kids Eat Right Month: During the month of August, Kids Eat Right holds a national, two-tiered campaign through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to encourage parents, community members, and healthcare professionals to participate in efforts to combat childhood obesity and provide information about the importance of nutrition. Support Kids Eat Right by checking out the resources on their website.

This post was written in collaboration with Dr. Jeanette Andrade, UF/FSHN assistant professor and director of the MS/DI program at UF.

^All photos (other than Dr. Andrade’s picture) were taken by Jessie Erwin.

What is your favorite legume? Tell us in the comments!

Jessie Erwin, Nutrition Communications Consultant for the UF/IFAS FSHN department.
Posted: August 18, 2022

Category: Food Science & Human Nutrition, Health & Nutrition, Work & Life
Tags: Chili, Curry, Dr. Jeanette Andrade, Kids Eat Right, Kids Eat Right Month, Kids Eat Right Month 2022, Legume, Legume Recipes, Legumes, Lovely Legume, Taste Something New, Taste Something New Series, UF/FSHN Taste Something New Series

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