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Help your pulse with pulses

Published: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 10:06 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 10:26 a.m. CDT

Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. The most common pulses are dried beans, chickpeas, lentils and dried peas. Both economical and sustainable, pulses are a great way to add filling protein and fiber to your diet. Pulses’ unique fiber makeup has been linked to lowering bad LDL cholesterol, improved blood sugar control, weight control and improved regularity. In addition, regular pulse consumption has been linked to a lower blood pressure. Adding pulses to your daily diet is a great way to keep your heart in check during National Heart Month and beyond. Speaking of pulse, February is a great time to check your blood pressure and pulse rate. Contact your Newton Hy-Vee dietitians for details and to set up a quick check-up.  

Cooking Pulses

Dried beans and chickpeas require soaking before cooking; lentils and dried peas do not. Pulses can be cooked on the stovetop, or you can use a slow cooker or pressure cooker to reduce the amount of hands-on time required. Red lentils cook in as little as 10 to 15 minutes, but most pulses take 45 to 60 minutes to cook. Cooked pulses can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for several months. Canned pulses contain the same nutrition as dried pulses, and are a time-saving option to add them to your daily diet. Look for no-salt-added canned varieties to keep your blood pressure in check. You can download a complete guide to cooking pulses on the Pulse Canada website at www.pulsecanada.com. Find a variety of pulses in the bulk bins of your Newton Hy-Vee HealthMarket. 

Five ways to add pulses to your daily diet

Start your day with pulses — Lentils can be cooked with your morning oats or eaten alone cooked with milk, nuts and a drizzle of honey and cinnamon. Cooked beans can be seasoned, mashed and spread on your morning toast.  

Add to soups and stews — Add one or more cups of cooked beans to your favorite soup to add color and filling fiber. See below for a recipe for Chickpea, Chorizo & Spinach Soup, a great weeknight meal for a chilly winter night.  

Stretch your meat budget with lentils. You can swap half the weight of ground meat for cooked lentils when making meatballs, tacos, spaghetti sauce and more.  

Use in baked goods — Garbanzo bean flour has a mild taste with a variety of uses. It can be used alone to make flatbread, or used in combination with other flours to make muffins, breads and more. Cooked beans and lentils can be pureed and used to add fiber to sweets including cookies and brownies.

Great for Snacking — Many companies make roasted and seasoned pulses like chickpeas and peas. Their satisfying crunch makes them a great swap for potato chips, and their protein and fiber content will keep you feeling full. Enjoy hummus, which is made with chickpeas, with raw veggies for another filling snack option. 

The Magical Fruit? Pulses contain fiber that is fermented in the gut, which can cause bloating and gas. Fermentation is a good thing for gut bacteria, but may not be so great for your social life. To reduce gas, gradually add pulses to your diet, and be sure to drink plenty of water. Rinsing canned pulses, and not using the soaking liquid to cook pulses will reduce their gas-producing effects. Lentils contain the least gas-producing compounds, and chickpeas contain the most. Typically after two weeks of eating pulses these side effects will be decreased. 

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