10/02/2012 10:00 EDT | Updated 12/02/2012 05:12 EST

Beans, lentils and tofu cookbook chock-full of healthy wholesome recipes

In a departure from publishing a cookbook by one or two authors, a Canadian publisher has delved into its archives to present a collection of recipes to suit all tastes.

“250 Best Beans, Lentils and Tofu Recipes: Healthy, Wholesome Foods” (Robert Rose, $24.95, paperback) features recipes created by its stable of authors in Canada and the U.S.

“We had been talking about doing such a book for a long time because beans, lentils and tofu are here to stay,” says its editor and Toronto cookbook author Judith Finlayson.

“Most people want healthier foods and the more we hear and read about it, the more we should be eating them because they contain the nutrients we need,” she adds.

Many of the recipes in the book cater to vegans and vegetarians, but meat eaters are not overlooked. Those readers are treated to hearty dishes like Potato and Chicken Stew With Spicy Sausage, Quince-Laced Lamb Shanks With Yellow Split Peas and Baked Shrimp Enchiladas.

Finlayson is particularly fond of the book's roster of a wholesome collection of soups such as Curry-Fried Tofu Soup With Vegetables and Udon Noodles and Firehouse Chili Soup.

“I can always make a meal with soup especially with the range included in the book,” she says.

Besides being economical, beans and lentils are extremely rich in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, a wide variety of B vitamins as well fibre and phytonutrients, like antioxidants, says Finlayson.

Other benefits show that people with a healthy lifestyle who regularly consume legumes as part of a nutritious diet are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

Finlayson, who has written a number of slow cooker cookbooks for Robert Rose, is an expert on the use of this versatile appliance. She heaps praise on its ability to cook dried beans for any of the recipes.

She has developed a recipe on how to cook beans in the slow cooker.

“This recipe is also extraordinarily convenient,” she writes. “Besides, dried beans and other legumes are dead cheap.”

Basic Beans in the Slow Cooker

Small to medium (2- to 3.5-l) slow cooker

250 ml (1 cup) dried beans

750 ml (3 cups) water

Garlic (optional)

Bay leaves (optional)

Bouquet garni (optional)

Long soak: In a bowl, combine beans and water. Soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Beans are now ready for cooking.

Quick soak: In a pot, combine beans and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Beans are now ready to cook.

Cooking: In slow cooker stoneware, combine 250 ml (1 cup) presoaked beans and 750 ml (3 cups) fresh cold water. If desired, season with garlic, bay leaves or a bouquet garni made up from your favourite herbs tied together in cheesecloth.

Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or overnight, or on high for 5 to 6 hours, until beans are tender. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. In either case, drain and rinse before using.

Makes 500 ml (2 cups).

Tips: This recipe may be doubled or tripled to suit the quantity of beans required for the recipe. Cooked beans can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.