First of all, you’re probably wondering: what’s a pulse? Isn’t that my heartbeat that I feel in my neck or wrist? Well, yes, but pulses are also dry edible seeds in the legume family. The ones most people are familiar with include lentils, chickpeas, dry beans, and fava beans. Wait! Aren’t those legumes? Well, kinda.
In North America, we use the term legumes broadly. While all pulses are legumes, not all legumes are pulses. More importantly, pulses are nutritious, filling, affordable, environmentally sustainable, and did we mention really, really yummy?
Why Are Pulses Good for You?
If you’re trying to eat gluten-free, sodium-free, or cholesterol-free, pulses are your best friends.
They’re also a nutrient-rich power food! They fuel the body with:
- Protein. Pulses have twice as much protein as whole grains like wheat, barley, or rice.
- Folate. Chickpeas have three times more folate per serving than kale.
- Fiber. High-fiber foods help decrease and control cholesterol and blood sugar. All pulses have four times more fiber than brown rice.
- Vitamins. Pulses are a great source of iron, potassium, and B vitamins.
- Antioxidants. Believe it or not, red kidney beans have a higher antioxidant content than blueberries or pomegranate juice!
How Are Pulses Good for Your Grocery Bill?
Need a cost-effective protein to feed your family? The cost per serving of lentils is 10 cents, compared to $1.49 for beef!*
Pulses can also help bulk up a hearty chili or stew and stretch a meal a little further. They keep well in a pantry for a long time, making them a great emergency dinner staple.
*Cost per serving data sourced from ERS calculations, based on average prices from The Bureau of Labor Statistics and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Data, as reported by the USDA, July 2015.
What Makes Pulses Good for the Environment?
If you want to make food choices that are eco-friendly, look no further. Pulse crops have one of the smallest carbon footprints of any food source in the world.
They don’t take up a lot of nitrates in the soil, making them a popular choice for crop rotations in sustainable agriculture. Pulses hold up in drought-like conditions, are frost-hardy, and require little or no irrigation. Pretty cool!
How to Start Cooking with Pulses?
Try adding pulses to your cooking once a week. Look for ways they can be substituted for a protein in soups, stews, or pasta dishes. These can be especially hearty and satisfying during the long winter months. You can even use pulses in baking. We have a delicious Flourless Oatmeal Bar recipe that uses chickpeas instead of flour.
Here are a few more hearty fall recipes to try!
- Lentils: Kale Lentil Sausage Stew
- Chickpeas: Easy Harissa Chicken Dinner
- Black Beans: Easy Black Bean Chili
- Red Kidney Beans: Chunky Beef & Bean Chili