Monday, April 4, 2016

Meatless Monday: International Year of Pulses

In March the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (edible seeds  of plants in the legume family), calling pulses “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future.” The UN limits the term “pulses” to crops harvested solely for their dried seeds; lentils, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, and pinto beans are some familiar examples of pulses. By this definition, soybeans and peanuts (although legumes) are NOT pulses, since they are often turned into oils. Neither are green peas, because they are normally eaten fresh.

Pulses have been part of the human diet for centuries; agricultural production of beans, chickpeas, and lentils dates back to 7000-8000 B.C. Pulses can be stored for months without losing any of their high nutritional value. They are a highly water efficient crop; it takes 50 liters of water to grow 1 kg. of lentils vs. 13,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of beef.

Pulses are touted as a “powerful superfood.” With zero cholesterol and a low glycemic index, they are high in iron and zinc, rich in other minerals and B vitamins, and an excellent source of dietary fiber. Check out this infographic for more on these and other surprising pulse facts.

And after you have studied up, you can test your knowledge of pulses with a fun quiz

I invite you to take some time to explore the UN site. It is full of valuable information including: recipes, tips on how to get kids to eat pulses, and the many health benefits of incorporating more pulses into your diet. Pulses are great for your budget, too — one more pulse plus!

With most of the Year of Pulses still ahead of us, you can be sure that we will be trying lots of new pulse recipes in our house. Check back often for ideas, and feel free to share some of your favorites!  

Happy Monday. Have a great week!

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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