It’s official, 2016 is the year of the Pulse! What’s a pulse you ask? Well, a pulse is the edible dried seed of plants that belong to the legume family. Common pulses include beans, chickpeas and lentils.
Pulses are quick and easy to prepare and absorb the flavours and seasonings of the foods they are being cooked with. They provide a reliable source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals and are low in fat. Specifically, pulses contain iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, folate and B vitamins such as thiamin and niacin.
Beans are a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps decrease cholesterol and control blood sugar while insoluble fibre aids digestion and helps keep you regular. According to Pulse Canada, eating ½- ¾ cups of pulses daily can lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels by 5%, which means a 5-6% decrease in related events such as heart attacks and stroke. Just a ½ cup serving provides 7-17g of fibre. With a daily intake recommendation of 21-38gms/day, ½ of beans per day can certainly get you close to meeting those needs.
Beans are also a low fat vegetarian source of iron and protein, which may be of interest to anyone seeking to add more nutrient dense vegetables or vegetarian mains to their diet. A ½ cup serving of kidney beans, lentils or chickpeas offer 7-9 grams of protein and 2-4 grams for iron. When combined with a grain such as quinoa or rice, beans comprise a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids similar to meat.
Not only do pulses provide valuable nutrients, consumption of pulses helps support our Canadian farmers. According to Pulse Canada, Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of dry peas and lentils. Farming pulses also contributes to a more sustainable food system by using ½ the non-renewable energy inputs of other crops, has a lower carbon footprint and improves the sustainability of cropping systems. Additional information can be found at www.pulsecanada.com.
Many people may experience difficulty digesting beans. To aid in their digestion and to decrease associated bloating and gas, rinse canned beans thoroughly before using. If using dried beans, soak beans for a minimum of 4 hours and discard soaking water before cooking. Cook beans in fresh unsalted water twice by following theses simple instructions. First place beans in a pot of unsalted water and allow the beans to come to a boil. Next, discard boiling water and rinse the pot and beans again. Finally, refill the pot with fresh water, add the beans and cook fully.
The boiling and rinsing of beans helps remove some of the starches that contribute to bloating and gas. Ensure beans are fully cooked as under cooked beans also contribute to bloating. With continued exposure and ingestion of beans, your bodies will become better equipped to breakdown these starches with minimal effects.
I will leave you with a quick and easy Italian dish, Pasta e Faggioli. This dish was adapted from David Rocco’s recipe. I prefer to add brown rice pasta or quinoa. You can also serve it with a slice of warm crusty bread and a side salad for an easy vegetarian main. Use up any leftovers for a quick lunch the following day too.
Pasta e Fagioli
- 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil,
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups pre-soaked black eyed peas (or canned white/cannellini beans)
- 1 14oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups of vegetable broth
- 1/2 pound of whole grain pasta
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Fresh parsley, finely chopped
In a large pot, heat up the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic, onion, carrot and celery for about 7-8 minutes. Add the rosemary and continue stirring until the onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the beans and the can of diced tomatoes and continue to cook. I like to mash up the tomatoes into smaller pieces at this point. Add the broth and continue cooking for about 15-20 minutes, if using canned beans, or 60-75 minutes if the beans were dry. Once the beans are cooked, mash up about ¼ -1/2 of the beans with the back of a fork and continue to simmer for a few more minutes and allow the soup to thicken.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the pasta if using. Drain the pasta and add it to the soup. Let the soup rest for 10 minutes off the heat. Add the freshly grated Parmigiano cheese, parsley, and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm.
Linda @ The Wholesome Kitchen