6 Easy Ways to Incorporate Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas and More into Your Diet
2016 has been the year of the Centennial Cup and the Rio Olympics. The whole world has come together to celebrate sports, athletes, and the community they build.
On the nutrition side of things, many might be surprised that 2016 is also the international official celebration year of black beans, fava beans, chickpeas and lentils, among other pulses. So what’s the big deal about eating chili and hummus?
According to Pulses.org, pulses are cultivated in 173 countries – with hundreds of varieties. The UN declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses (IYP). The key messages the IYP wants to convey about pulses go beyond health benefits. Pulses are economic (way less expensive than meat and chicken) and contribute to food security. Pulses promote sustainable agriculture as they increase soil health and use less water than other crops. In turn, they lower the greenhouse garden effect. They also promote biodiversity.
Being a mineral-packed, low-fat protein source that can help prevent cancer, lower blood pressure and blood sugars, pulses are also high on registered nutritionists’ recommended eating lists. Moreover, they’re an inexpensive, tasty treat!
In other words, including lentils, chickpeas and other beans in your diet improves your health, is easy on your budget as well as helps the environment and the farmers who grow them. #LovePulses is all over twitter and social media sites to promote pulses, eating pulses, and the international farmers who grow pulses. So why not join in the IYP celebration?
By substituting a lentil or bean dish once a week for an animal protein, you add fiber, improve your health and reduce your carbon footprint all in one meal. And by adding pulses to your regular recipes, you’re also being heart smart.
Here are 6 easy ways to incorporate pulses in your diet.
- Use slightly undercooked lentils, pulsed in a food processor, to replace ground beef in your pasta or chili recipes. It’s easy to overcook lentils, though, so add at the last minute so they don’t get mushy and lose that sought-after texture.
- Use strong spices to help boost flavor. The flavor of meat, smoked and fatty, is sometimes what we most miss when we cut back. Hickory smoked salt or paprika are great ways to add the hefty, meaty flavor we sometimes crave.
- Bulk up your salads by adding pulses. Feta cheese, spinach, apple and chickpeas make for a delicious twist on a Greek salad. Or go Caribbean with a black bean, pineapple, mango, chili, garlic, and lime sauce salad.
- Olé! Change up your regular nachos or fajitas. Instead of using shredded meat or chicken, make spicy Mexican fajitas with kidney or black beans and chopped red peppers. Make nachos with lentils, guacamole, onions, black olives, chili peppers and more. You will have the bulky, meaty feel with the spice you crave.
- Change potato chips for edamame. Though not technically considered a pulse, edamame is a great way to snack with all the health benefits while lessening our carbon footprint. Cook edamame in boiling water until bright green, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Soups, stews, and broths are ideal for using pulses. Black bean, minestrone, sweet potato and split pea sausage – pulses give the rich, meaty texture to soups and stews. They’re a cozy home food meal. Especially now that we’re on the cusp of fall and winter, check out some great soup recipes.
For more recipes from around the world, go here.
Make the world better, improve your health … eat a pulse! It sounds too simple. But sometimes the best things in life are just that … simple.