Did you know that 2016 is IYP?
That’s International Year of Pulses for you.
The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been nominated to facilitate the implementation of the Year in collaboration with Governments, relevant organizations, non-governmental organizations and all other relevant stakeholders. The IYP 2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition. http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/
What does this mean for you and me? Well, to me it means I will be looking closer at the humble bean family and putting more effort into incorporating a variety on meat-free days.To most of us it also means re-educating ourselves and removing, in our minds, the poverty status beans and pulses have in our society. It’s time to elevate beans to their rightful super food status.
What are pulses?
Beans, peas and lentils, collectively known as pulses, are the dried seeds of the legume family.
Nutrient value of pulses
Science backs up what our grandmothers have told us : BEANS ARE HEALTHY!
They are a rich source of proteins and can be used as a meat substitute. Since they provide incomplete protein, they pack a more powerful punch when consumed combined with nuts, seeds and whole grain cereals. Soya beans, however, are one of only a few plant foods that provide all the essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein like meat.
Pulses provide us with both soluble and insoluble fibre. While soluble fibre helps to decrease blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels, insoluble fibre helps with digestion and regular bowel movement.
Most pulses contain about 1% fat, with the highest fat content being from soya beans. These are the good fats which contribute to our daily energy needs and provide us with essential fatty acids.
Pulses are rich in vitamins and minerals while being relatively low in calories. Some of the key minerals in pulses include iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also particularly abundant in vitamin K, E, B vitamins including folate, thiamine and niacin.
- Promotes healthy hearts: The fiber in the pulses may improve heart health by lowering cholesterol levels. The potassium in pulses can lower blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium.
- Assist in managing diabetes: Pulses are a low-glycaemic index food. People who include more low GI foods in their diet have lower rates of diabetes. Those who already have diabetes can manage their blood sugar better by including pulses in their diet.
- Contributes to a healthy digestive system: The fibre in pulses can help prevent constipation and keep you regular.
- Can prevent cancer: the phytochemicals, saponins, and tannins found in pulses have antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic qualities.
- Can contribute to weight loss: The high amount of fibre and protein in pulses keeps you fuller for longer, reducing the need to snack in between meals
What about the music?
Those who find that pulses lead to gas and bloating may find the following tips useful:
- Soak them before cooking and remember to change the soaking water once or twice before cooking
- Do not use the soaking liquid to cook the pulses
- Cook pulses thoroughly as undercooked starch is harder to digest
- Thoroughly rinse canned or pre-soaked pulses before cooking.
- Start by eating small amounts of pulses, and gradually increase your intake.
- Drink lots of water
Cooking with pulses
There is more to beans and pulses than the bean stew we grew up with. Explore. Look for mouth-watering recipes in vegetarian books and websites. My latest addiction is the chickpea and lentil burger I created basing it on Jamie Oliver’s Best Vegan burger which uses lentils and corn. For some strange reason I have not taken a picture of my creation (or maybe it was too good I could not wait to take a photo), so today I will share the recipe from Jamie Oliver. I promise to share my adaptation soon. If you have favourite vegan recipe using pulses, please share here.If not, I challenge you to create one and I will feature the recipes throughout the year.