Pulses are the dry, edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They’re a category of superfoods that include chickpeas, lentils, dry peas, and dry beans.

Eating pulses can help with weight management and studies suggest that, if eaten regularly, pulses help lower the risk of heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Inclusion of pulses in a heart-healthy diet has also been shown to reduce elevated blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

These health benefits are due to the incredible nutritional profile of pulses:

  • 9 grams of protein per ½ cup
  • Gluten-free and vegetarian
  • High in fiber
  • Potassium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, iron, folate and antioxidants

Pulses also meet my cooking criteria of being easy, affordable and healthy!

Here are some quick ideas for adding ½ cup to your daily diet:

  • Toss cooked lentils or chickpeas into a leafy green salad to increase its protein and fiber.
  • Enjoy minestrone, split pea, black bean or lentil soup for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
  • Spread sandwiches with hummus instead of mayonnaise.
  • Add cooked pulses to whole grain side dishes such as quinoa, barley and brown rice pilafs.
  • Stir cooked white kidney beans or Great Northern beans into a tomato-based pasta sauce for a Mediterranean inspired meal.
  • Make chili with chickpeas and black beans in addition to kidney beans.
  • Add cooked black beans or pinto beans to tacos and burritos. Use half the amount of lean ground meat you normally would and make up the difference with beans.

Recipes to try:

Black Bean Salsa

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 can (15 oz.) BUSH’S® Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups pineapple tidbits, drained with juice reserved
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Toss and serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 141 calories; 3g fat; 28g carbohydrate; 5g fiber; 5g protein; 256mg sodium

Source: www.bushbeans.com

Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini

Makes 4 servings

  • 8 oz. whole grain penne pasta, uncooked
  • 1 (14-1/2 oz.) can Italian diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 2 Tbsps. sliced black olives
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta cooks, combine tomatoes and remaining 3 ingredients in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon tomato mixture over drained pasta.

Nutrition information per serving: 363 calories; 3.6g fat; 67g carbohydrate; 6g fiber; 18g protein; 458mg sodium

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

To add a nutritious pulse boost to your diet go to www.pulsepledge.com to take the pulse pledge and receive delicious recipes and tips.

Courtesy: Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, Nutrition & Culinary Consultant

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