World Pulses Day is Feb. 10. How will you celebrate it? A pot of chili? A bowl of split pea soup? A smear of hummus? Maybe every day is pulse day in your household. If so, congratulations — you are statistically way above average.
As for the rest of us, we really should make an effort to eat more of the dried beans, peas, and lentils that, collectively, are known as pulses.
A pulse is an edible seed that grows in a pod. The word comes from the Latin puls, which refers to a thick porridge.
Pulses are nutritional powerhouses: high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals; low in fat and cholesterol. The high fiber increases the feeling of fullness which could result in lower food intake and weight loss.
Pulses are both easy on the pocketbook and on the planet. Local farmers love them. You can read all about the varieties grown in Eastern Washington in Kate Frey’s Valley Farms feature in this issue (see page 13, “A healthy pulse”).
Despite all the good reasons for eating more pulses, if we’re really going to change our eating habits, pulses need to appeal to our appetites not just our consciences.
Here are a few flavorful suggestions for incorporating more pulses into your diet:
Make your own hummus: Ubiquitous as a dip for crudité and pita, hummus is also handy as sandwich spread, a thickener for soups and stews, or as a base layer for servings of grilled proteins or vegetables.
Homemade hummus is easily prepared in a food processor or blender, and is generally creamier and more delicious than store-bought.
You can sub out the traditional chickpeas for red lentils, white beans. Try adding roasted red peppers (Mama Lil’s peppers if you’ve got them), cooked beets or sun-dried tomatoes while pureeing for a boost of color and flavor.
Explore heirloom beans: Andy’s Market in College Place has an impressive selection of heirloom varieties like scarlet runner, Christmas lima, and yellow-eyed beans.
You won’t find these beans canned so it’s a good excuse to use that new Instant Pot or cook them in the traditional way: an overnight soak followed by a slow simmer in a flavor-infused broth.
Try out new pulse-based products: Try out some of the new products on the market that feature pulses. Some of my favorites are Bada Bean Bada Boom fava bean snacks; Banza chickpea pasta (gluten-free); and vegetarian Beyond Meat burgers made, primarily, from dried peas, mung beans and fava beans.
Keep lentils or canned/cooked beans on hand: Incorporate into other dishes — stews, soups, curries, fillings and salsas.
Give the recipe for a roasted vegetable and lentil salad a try and use it as a springboard for your own salad creations.