5 Reasons Dried Pulses are the Undercover Superfood of the World
Pulses are the edible seeds from a legume plant. We’re talking chickpeas, lentils, black beans, butter beans, peas, fava beans, kidney beans, cannelini, pinto etc. Best stored dried to prolong their shelf life - these humble ingredients come with numerous benefits for both people and planet.
1. Soil health
Legumes fix nitrogen into the soil through their roots and leaves by pulling nitrogen from the atmosphere and turning it into a form of nitrogen that all plants can use. This improves soil health and reduces the need for man-made nitrogen fertilisers. They are known as ‘nature's fertiliser factories’.
2. Nutritional powerhouses
Pulses are nutritious powerhouses - high in fibre, protein, iron, B vitamins, potassium, zinc and polyphenols. Like many other fruits and vegetables they contain no saturated fat (the type of fat that raises blood cholesterol) which in turn reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease - the second leading cause of death in NZ.
3. Low emissions
They create significantly lower emissions than meat. Producing 100 grams of protein from beef emits nearly 90 times more carbon than the same amount of protein from peas.
4. No refrigeration needed
Pulses don't need refrigerating, making them a convenient ingredient for places without power, and it means they are much less likely go go off. The don't even need to be stored in any fancy packaging - a plain old potato of coffee sack does the trick. Pulses have an exceptionally long shelf life (multiple years) if stored in a cook, dry, dark place.
5. Low cost
Legumes are cheap ($0.51 per 100g serve (dry weight)) of brown lentils from Pak n Save.
How to cook them:
Put them in a slow cooker overnight, cover well with water (they will soak up a lot of water) and 6-8 hours later they'll be done. Drain, rinse and freeze into portions. Do this in bulk every couple of weeks or as required to have an accessible supply of pulses. Alternatively you can soak them overnight in cold water, then simmer for 15 - 90 minutes (the larger the pulse the longer the cook time). Soaking beans in water before cooking increases the bioavailability of nutrients.
- Cajun fried chickpea tacos
- Butter bean puree, chargrilled broccoli, lemon juice and zest
- Jamaican black bean stew
- Red wine and lentil bolognese, sun-dried tomatoes, crispy sage
- Chickpea, garlic and baby corn stir fry
- Yellow split pea banana and coconut curry
- Savoury lentils, mashed potatoes, salad
Fears about getting gassy?
Pulses are prebiotic – this means that they boost the growth of good gut bacteria - a really good thing which in turn provide additional health benefits.
If you increase the amount of pulses you eat, your body will get used to them and any increase in wind is likely to be temporary. Your body should adjust after about a week and gas be gone! What may help is to give them a really good rinse before adding to a meal to wash away the concentrated cooking liquid.
- The Sustainable Food Co.
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