2016 has officially been declared the year of pulses – try cooking with some of the healthiest crops out there.

Move along quinoa, the next big superfood is here. We’re talking about pulses, the edible dried seeds of legume crops. By no means a ‘new’ crop, if you’re not familiar with the term pulses are better known as dried beans, chickpeas, lentils and dried peas. Ringing some bells?

Chances are that your parents snuck them into many meals as a child. They knew what was going on long before this humble crop was rebranded as a trendy ingredient.

The United Nations (UN) officially declared 2016 the year of pulses, and it’s about time the world took notice of this ancient, yet underrated, crop. The UN recognizes the role pulses play in meeting future food requirements, contributing to global food security, nutrition, human health and environmental sustainability. And thus, in partnership with pulse producers from around the world, they are aggressively promoting on an international scale. The best part of all?

It just so happens that our home and native land is the largest producer and exporter in the world. Canada makes up 35 per cent of the global pulse business – which includes 95 per cent of the world’s lentil production – shipping to more than 150 countries each year. Canadian consumers can feel good knowing that we’ve done our part to support local farmers and the economy.

Densely packed with all the right nutrients, with a low carbon footprint and a long shelf life, you can rest assure these delicious legumes are great for your health, the environment, and your wallet.

To summarize just how good pulses are for the human body, they can help control and prevent diabetes, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help with weight management, cholesterol reduction and anaemia prevention – sounds like a no-brainer. It’s time to rediscover this versatile harvest and reimagine new ways of incorporating them into your diet.

Available canned or dried in several varieties such as black, kidney, pinto, navy, fava, lima, black-eyed peas and more. Add to chilli, hearty winter soups, cassoulets and salads.

Dried peas are available in green and yellow varieties, either split or whole. Try adding pea protein powder to your morning smoothie for an extra healthy start to your day.

Lentils are easily accessible, either dried or canned. With approximately 14 varieties, colours range from yellow to green, red, brown and blue-black. They vary in size and can be found with or without skins, whole or split. Try substituting lentils for ground meat in lasagne or shepherd’s pie, or even try lentil flour in your baking. 

Also known as garbanzo beans, you can find the larger Kabuli or the smaller Desi at any supermarket, either canned or dried. Common uses include chickpea flour, hummus and falafel. 

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