As a self-proclaimed foodie, I was shocked and dismayed when I saw “pulses” listed as a possible trendy food in 2016—I had no idea what that meant. What is this strange “pulse” thing, and how can I get ahead of the game?
Thanks to Google, it didn’t take me long to catch up. It turns out, pulses are in the legume family and specifically include dried peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils. They are high in protein, fiber, and many vitamins. I also discovered that the UN has declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses, so if there’s ever a time to get chummy with chickpeas, the time is now.
Health benefits aside, why would the UN go so far as to dedicate the year to this branch of crops? Apparently, sustainability is a big factor. According to the International Year of Pulses website, “Pulse crops are one of the most sustainable crops a farmer can grow. It takes just 43 gallons of water to produce one pound of pulses, compared with 216 for soybeans and 368 for peanuts. They also contribute to soil quality by fixing nitrogen in the soil.”
Fantastic. They’re good for me and they’re good for the earth. Anything else? Let’s talk money.
As a broke college student who genuinely cares about what goes into my body, I’ve whole-heartedly embraced pulses. Not only are they filling, full of nutrients, and easy to prepare, but they’re CHEAP. It doesn’t cost much at all to buy them dried in bulk. For the sake of convenience, beans and chickpeas are also extremely easy to find canned, which cuts out a lot of prep time.
Once you’ve purchased some form of pulses, the next question is this: what should I do with them?
I like whipping up quick batches of hummus with my immersion blender (best birthday gift ever, thanks Mom), which can be eaten with veggies, chips, on toast, or on sandwiches.
Luckily, the possibilities do not stop at hummus. Think bean burritos and baked bean dips, piping-hot split-pea soup, lentil dhal, curries, and misir wot (an Ethiopian red lentil stew). If you need more ideas, check out this awesome database of pulse recipes, compiled in association with the International Year of Pulses movement.
Also, if this matters to you, Beyonce eats them.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s some leftover curried split pea soup in my fridge, and it’s calling my name.