The United Nations pronounced 2016, “The Year of the Pulse.” This does not refer to pumping hearts but a type of grain legume including dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. These foods are not only nutrition powerhouses, but are one of the most sustainable crops grown, fixing nitrogen in the soil and requiring little water. According to the Water Footprint Network, it takes an estimated 15,000 litres of water to produce a kilogram of beef (based on a three-year old cow)and only 3,000 litres to produce a kilogram of pulses.
Pulses are an economical source of protein, fibre, and many vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium and zinc. They also contain “phytochemicals” that may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and disease. Pulses have a low glycemic index, meaning they release their sugars slowly into the bloodstream, and are a good choice for people with diabetes. They are also gluten-free. One cup of cooked pulses provides about 15 grams of both protein and dietary fibre. Although Canadians do not eat many pulses, we are one of the world’s leading exporter of pulse crops. Pulses are an excellent part of a healthy diet throughout the world. Here are some national dishes featuring pulses from around the world that you could try at home:
Brazil’s Feijoada: Slow-cooked stew with black beans, meat and sausages
Costa Rica Gallo pinto: Stir fried black beans and rice with spices
England’s Baked beans: Baked bean stew in a tomato-based sauce
France’s Cassoulet: Slow cooked stew with meat, sausages and haricot beans
Greece’s Fasolada: Tomato-based soup with cannellini beans and olive oil
India’s Dal: Slow-cooked stew of split peas, beans or lentils, and spices
Israel’s Falafel: Deep fried ball of smashed chick peas, fava beans and spices
Italy’s Minestrone: Tomato-based soup with cannellini beans, vegetables and pasta
Mexico’s Chili con carne: Slow-cooked stew with beef, red kidney beans and spices
Morocco’s Harira: Tomato-based soup with lamb, lentils, chickpeas, yellow split peas and spices.
Or Quebec’s Split pea with Ham soup!
“If you want more recipe ideas, visit www.pulsepledge.com
-Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.