The Year of Pulses!

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United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses

Did you know the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses? Pulses are a fibre-rich, low fat, source of protein that are inexpensive, good for the environment, and easy to add to your diet.

Pulses are part of the legume family and include chickpeas, lentils, dried or split peas, kidney beans, navy beans, mung beans, black-eyed peas, several varieties of lentils, and the list goes on.

Nutrition

Pulses can help you to reach your daily protein goals with approximately 4-5 grams per quarter (¼) cup. They are also high in fibre which helps increase the feeling of fullness, control blood sugar levels, and can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. The fibre in pulses also aids in our digestion by slowing down the passage of food through our system and through feeding the healthy bacteria in our colon.

Eating Tips

  • Make a big bean salad by mixing a variety of pulses with chopped veggies tossed in a bit of vinaigrette dressing and fresh herbs.
  • Add them to soups and stews or puree them and add to pasta sauce.
  • Roast chickpeas for a crunchy snack or add them to a salad in place of croutons.
  • For a satisfying side dish, add lentils to brown rice for some extra protein in each bite.

Cooking Tips

Before cooking, dried beans, whole peas, and chickpeas must be soaked. Split peas and lentils don’t require soaking but should be rinsed. To soak your pulses place them in a large bowl with the ratio of 1 cup of pulses to 3 cups of water and leave them in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to cook, discard the soaking water and rinse.  Place the pulses in a pot with enough fresh water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring them to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and the beans are tender.  Alternatively, you can buy pulses canned which have been pre-cooked and are ready to use. Look for “No Salt Added” on the label, drain, and rinse them well before use.

For more information on pulses, cooking tips, and recipes visit both Pulse Canada at http://www.pulsecanada.com/ and International Year of the Pulses at http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/