You may have heard that the UN Generally assembly has declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. The point of this campaign is to shine alight on the nutritional and environmental benefits of eating more pulses.
If you are not sure what exactly a pulse is, let alone why you should eat more of them, we’ve got you covered! Here is our quick and easy guide to understanding pulses and (perhaps more importantly) how to eat more of them with fewer digestive symptoms.
-dried peas (yellow, green)
-lentils (red, green)
- They contain a high amount of nutrients for a low amount of calories
- They are high in fiber
- They help regulate blood sugar levels
- They are incredibly versatile
One of the great things about pulses is that they come in various forms: whole, split or ground into flours. These flours can be an alternative to all-purpose flour, and can be used to make baked goods such as breads, muffins and cakes.
- They are environmentally friendly
- Wash dried pulses thoroughly and soak overnight. Changing the water often helps improve their digestibility
- Dried lentils or split peas do not need to be soaked overnight because they are smaller
- Boil dried pulses in fresh water
- Remove the foam that comes to the surface while boiling
- Cook until the pulse becomes tender (it may take 1-2 hours). Cooking time will depend on the type of pulse so it’s a good idea to check the package
- Smaller pulses are easier to digest and tend to cause fewer side effects. If pulses are a new addition to your diet, start with lentils or split peas.
- Rinsing canned pulses well and eating only a ⅓ of a cup at a time can also cut down on any embarrassing side effects. But don’t worry! The more you eat beans, the fewer side effects you will feel. Our gut bacteria become used to the high amounts of fiber and your body adjusts.
- If you are prone to feeling bloated or gassy, avoid eating anything sweet like fruit or other desserts at a meal where you are eating pulses. This tend to make gas production worse.
- Of course, if you really feel uncomfortable eating pulses, consider using Beano to help relieve your digestive symptoms.
- Try mixing them with the meat in your favourite recipes. Rather than change a recipe completely, try using half the amount of meat and replace the other half with pulses. This works particularly well in a Shepherd’s pie, Sloppy Joes, chili, meatloaf or hamburgers.
- Mix them into your grain product. Rice and beans is a traditional favourite in many cultures around the world. Quinoa and bean salads are also very popular these days
- Try interesting flavors from around the world to awake your senses. Indian flavors like coconut, cumin and coriander go very well with the flavors of pulses. So does the spicy flavors of Spanish foods and those from Mexico.
- Don’t salt the water when soaking beans. Doing so will result in harder, and possibly inedible, beans. Instead, add salt after reconstituting the dry beans and midway through the cooking process.
- Use canned pulses to save time.