You’ve probably heard the term “pulses” before. But if you’re thinking about the pulse you take on your wrist to make sure you’re still alive, well, think again! These pulses have everything to do with food and culinary trends, and we bet you’ll be cooking with them in no time. Well, what are they?
Pulses are part of the legume family. They are the edible, dried seeds of a pod. Think beans, peanuts, lentils and peas (split pea soup, anyone?). They come with lots of versatility, in terms of both nutrition and preparation. Here are five reasons why you should be cooking with pulses right now.
1) They’re a sustainable crop
A popular crop and staple around the world, pulses are one of the most sustainable crops to farm. They grow with less water compared to soybeans and contribute to soil quality. They have a low production cost and a small carbon footprint. So, you can do your part and help the Earth with your pulse purchase.
2) They give you good bang for your buck
Pulses are inexpensive! They are a smart way to stretch a meal or stay on budget. (Try these tasty lentil tacos.) Your family will not be disappointed and won’t even miss the meat!
Test Kitchen tip: Buy them in the bulk section to get an even better value.
3) They’re nutritionally dense
If you ask me, this is why pulses have gotten so popular lately. They provide many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and heart disease risk. They are full of protein—which makes them perfect for meat eaters and vegetarians—and are gluten free. Not only that, they’re loaded with fiber and digest slowly, helping you maintain your blood sugar (important for diabetics) and keeping you feeling full longer.
Test Kitchen tip: Try adding unflavored pulses to your smoothie or breakfast burrito for a morning protein boost.
4) They’re convenient
Pulses are available in a variety of forms, so depending on how much time you have to spend in the kitchen, there is an option that’s right for you. Look for them in the freezer section, and in the canned and dried bean aisles.
Test Kitchen tip: If you’re using the canned variety, look for versions with no added salt. Canned goods can be pretty full of sodium. (Find out how else you can cut down on sodium, here.)
5) You can freeze them
Have a long weekend and want to prepare some dried pulses ahead of time? No worries—pulses are perfect for that! Just cook them as you see fit, let them cool, pop them in freezer containers, and freeze. Then, when you need them, remove from the freezer and add to your soup or side dish.
Test Kitchen tip: They also work well in the slow cooker!