What are pulses? Learn more about the nutritional benefits of dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils and get ideas for how to add them to your diet.
I’m putting on my Registered Dietitian hat today to share a little bit about a powerful little group of foods that you may not be super familiar with. Have you heard that the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses? Are you wondering what the heck pulses are? You’re not alone! The goal of the International Year of Pulses is to not only teach people what they are, but to also increase awareness of the many benefits of pulses, including their nutritional profile, environmental and sustainability benefits, affordability and potential to address global food security.
So what are they? Pulses are a term that encompasses dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. They’re a great source of protein and fiber and are rich in important nutrients like iron, potassium and folate. They’re also gluten-free and cook just as quickly as things like pasta and rice! Added bonus? Pulses are very budget-friendly and also have a low carbon footprint.
They’re great for making vegetarian dishes and can also easily be used to replace meat in meat-based dishes or simply added to recipes for an additional nutrient boost. I wanted to give you guys a few simple ideas on ways you can add more pulses to your diet!
5 Simple Ways To Eat More Pulses
1) Eat more hummus! You guys know I’m a fan of this chickpea spread that can easily be found at the grocery store (or made at home!) in a variety of flavors. If snacking on it with veggies for dipping isn’t your thing, try adding a smear to your next sandwich, wrap or burger or mixing some into your tuna salad. Pro tip- mixing salsa and hummus makes a great dressing for pasta salad!
2) Add beans to dips and salsas. I love adding black beans and white beans to kid-friendly dips for Squish to eat. Or making a bean-based dip for an appetizer or snack!
3) Try Pea Protein. You can easily swap it for whey protein in smoothies, energy balls, etc.
4) Use pulses in baked goods -either whole or as flour. I’ve made my Quinoa Breakfast Bars with chickpea flour several times and they turn out great! You can also make desserts like brownies using black beans.
5) Add them to soups and casseroles! Pulses make the perfect addition to both meat and vegetable based soups and casseroles. They’re also great for making vegetarian burgers and meatballs.
I hope this gives you a few new ideas! If you’re feeling inspired to add more pulses to your diet, I encourage you to Take the Pulse Pledge! Simply pledge to eat pulses once a week for 10 weeks and you could win some great prizes. Plus it’s good for your health AND the environment!
PS…If you’re feeling adventurous, grab a bag of lentils and sprout them!