Wellness CLub — National Family Meals Month with Pulses

Wellness CLub — National Family Meals Month with Pulses
Abingdon, VA. - Tuesday, Sep 1, 2020.

Written by: Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN, Food City Registered Dietitian

Trying to include more plant-based proteins in your family’s meals? Look no further than pulses, which includes peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Pulses are nutritionally-dense, edible seeds of legumes that pack a serious punch when it comes to their health benefits. Rich in fiber, protein, folate, potassium, and iron, these versatile foods are easy to prepare and incorporate into delicious family meals.

Pulses are a part of the legume family but they are different from soybeans and peanuts, which are legumes, but not pulses. The origin of the name comes from the Latin word “puls” referring to a thick soup that was traditionally created by beating these seeds into a paste. Pulses are a sustainable crop with a significantly lower carbon footprint than many other food sources. Pulse crops grown all around the world even when they are untended. They are great for soil and use very little water to grow; about one-tenth of the water used by other proteins. Rather than deplete the soil, they replenish it with key nutrients and are known as “nitrogen-fixing” plants.

Pulses are ecologically and economically friendly, but they are also a time-saver since most can be prepared in the same amount of time it takes to prepare pasta, quinoa, or rice. If you are short on time, try canned or frozen options.

When it comes to nutrition, pulses are a good source of protein and potassium and an excellent source of fiber and folate. Pulses have four times as much fiber as found in brown rice and just one serving of dried peas contains as much potassium as a banana. Pulses are iron-rich and high in antioxidants; with more antioxidants than blueberries or pomegranate juice.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to these pantry staples. Add them to cooked pastas or salads to boost protein and fiber or puree them to add density and nutrition to moist baked goods. Pulses also taste great whether prepared in sweet or savory dishes and are a budget-friendly option for lasagna, tacos, casseroles, and chili. Serve as a vegetable or meat substitute to complete any meal.