Please introduce yourself and tell us about how your work relates to legumes. How did you first fall in love with legumes?
My name is Lena, I’m from Switzerland, and although I come from a completely different field (law!), I started giving baking and cooking classes for legumes a few years ago because I am convinced that we should all eat more legumes in more creative ways.
My bean love story began when I shifted from a vegetarian to a plant-based diet. I started to bake chocolate brownies with legumes, simply because I wanted to eat more proteins so I wouldn’t be hungry all the time. Until then, I had no idea about all the things you can do with legumes – from my childhood, I only knew them from chili and curry. That’s when Linsenlena (German for Lentil-Lena) was born! And since then, no dish is safe from me. I like to challenge people to name any dish so that I can think about how we can enhance it with legumes.
Can describe a project that you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited about?
For my new cooking class, “Legumes in Everyday Life,” I did a lot of research and trial and error in the kitchen to put together a great course. Every time I had a new idea of how to use legumes easily in an everyday dish, I was excited and wondered why I had not come up with this good idea much earlier.
When it comes to legumes, what do you think are the biggest challenges a) for producers and b) for consumers?
For producers the biggest challenge is to find buyers: In Switzerland (and presumably also in Germany and Austria) producers simply cannot compete with prices from abroad. Here, border protection would be desirable, as is the case in Switzerland for other foods (e.g. seasonal fruits and vegetables, milk, meat).
The biggest challenge for consumers is to integrate legumes into their daily diet. In my courses, participants say that they would like to eat more legumes, but simply have no ideas on how to do that. Unfortunately, most people in Switzerland only know legumes from hummus and curry.
What facts about legumes do you think are useful in promoting them?
The fact that legumes help provide long-lasting satiety seems to me particularly important.
It also seems important to me to take away people’s fear of flatulence: Firstly, a healthy gut is active and secondly, the intestine gradually gets used to the consumption of legumes. So you only have to be afraid of flatulence if you eat pulses too rarely.
Do you have a favourite legume? If so, why?
My favorite legume is probably the white bean (like cannellini beans) as it is incredibly versatile, has an amazingly soft texture, and a very mild flavor – the perfect ingredient for baking!