With a goal of heightening public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition, the UN General Assembly declared 2016 the “year of pulses” and with good reason. These nutritional powerhouses are eaten all over the world as an economical and easy-to-prepare vegetarian staple.
What Are Pulses?
Pulses include lentils, chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), kidney beans, mung beans, lima beans, and more. Pulses are crops that are grown and harvested for their dry seed (unlike green beans, which are considered vegetables).
Pulses are commonly used as meatless swaps or simply enjoyed in their own right. If you enjoy Mexican, Mediterranean or Indian food, you probably love pulses!
How to Use Pulses
Most pulses need to be soaked overnight to be ready for cooking, so plan ahead. After soaking, they are drained and then cooked in water or broth until soft. The cooking time will depend on the variety of pulse, so take note of any package directions.
You can cut down on prep time by purchasing canned, boxed or even frozen cooked beans, peas and lentils, but be sure to rinse canned and boxed pulses to remove excess sodium and film. Be sure to also pick through your soaked pulses to remove any debris or shriveled beans.
Here are some great ways to use pulses:
- Add cooked pulses to your favorite green salad recipe (lentils are awesome for this, but try mung bean or adzuki beans, too)
- Make our Lentil Sloppy Joes
- Use as a topping for hearty nachos
- Stuff into tortillas with fresh vegetables for tasty tacos
- Mix with cooked rice for an easy, traditional meal
- Blend into creamy soups such as Creamy Black Bean Soup
- Make a grain-based salad and incorporate pulses and nuts
- Cook and freeze large batches ahead of time so you have a ready-made meal component
- Mash for sandwich fillings — hummus pita, anyone?
- Purée into flavorful dips (and double up on pulse power with our Lentil Crackers)
For more inspiration on pulses, check out our favorite pulse recipes.