Not So Keen On Beans?

Maybe You Have a Legume Allergy

We often hear about nut and antibiotic allergies, but what about those of us allergic to legumes? Allergies occur when the body recognizes a protein in a food as harmful, so the body responds by attacking with antibodies. The legume family, called Fabaceae, contains common allergen proteins: vicilin and convicilin. The legume family consists of peas, lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, licorice, most beans and bean products, and can sometimes include soy. Trace amounts of legumes are often found in bread, crackers, soups, and many other pre-packaged food products because they act as inexpensive fillers.

Symptoms of a legume allergy usually appear in the respiratory system and include sneezing, coughing, asthma, and dry throat. Other reactions may include eczema, headaches, hives, and rashes, ranging to more severe symptoms including anaphylaxis.

Prevention is key with food allergies. If you have a legume allergy, be sure to carefully read labels when consuming pre-packaged foods. Alternatively, if time and resources allow, it would be beneficial to make your own food at home so that you are sure of what’s going into it. When eating out, always make sure to alert the chef and staff of your allergy.

Not everyone has the same allergy to legumes. There are individuals allergic to all legumes, while others are only allergic to a few, or have lesser reactions. There are many food alternatives to legumes for those with an allergy; they include seeds such as flax, chia, pumpkin or sunflower. Tree nuts like walnuts, cashews and almonds are also okay for most people with legume allergies. Moreover, there are plenty of grains such as quinoa, bulgur and wheat berry that provide excellent alternatives to legume based foods!

Craving a delicious meal that won’t send you running for the antihistamines? 

Red Quinoa-Broccoli-Pinenut Pilaf


  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, blanched
  • 1 sprig of fresh or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts


  • Dry toast* quinoa in a pot (2-3 mins).
  • Add 2 cups of water and ¼ tsp dried thyme and salt to quinoa and bring to a boil in medium saucepan with lid.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.
  • Heat olive oil on medium heat.
  • Add onion and sauté until golden.
  • Add garlic and salt and sauté for another 30 seconds.
  • Add blanched broccoli and sauté for another minute.
  • Combine cooked quinoa with broccoli and onion mixture; add pine nuts.
  • Serve hot. May be served as an entrée or side grain dish.

*Note: Dry toast- place the quinoa in a pot after it has been drained (no water added), heat on medium heat until all the water has evaporated and quinoa gives off a light nutty scent.



Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy stems around whole foods. For more information please visit her website

Categories: Allergies & Special Diets