2016 has been designated International year of pulses by the United Nations which is great news for health, food security and sustainability. Pulses include peas, beans and lentils that are harvested as a dry crop and are a cornerstone of nutrition for many cultures. The link between beans and grains is not only in growth where the soil is improved by rotation as their roots have nitrogen fixing nodules, but also nutritionally where beans and grains combine to make complete proteins.
Nutritionally pulses, as well as being an important source of protein, are mineral rich with iron and zinc (important for the prevention of anaemia), and a good source of fibre for gut and heart health. According to the research on the Year of Pulses website they also contain bio-active compounds that show some evidence of helping to combat cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Some research indicates that eating pulses regularly can help control and combat obesity as well.
Dried pulses mostly require soaking prior to cooking to breakdown seed coats and aid digestibility. This is especially true of kidney beans that contain toxins. By changing the soak water and cooking thoroughly, they become more digestible and essential for such dishes as chilli con carne. Guidelines to cooking are widely available in cookery books.
Lentils, aduki beans (the easiest pulse to digest) and mung beans do not require soaking. A good rinse is advisable to remove any small stones or debris from this natural resource.
Canned beans are store cupboard essentials for quick meals and easy for those new to pulses who may be nervous about cooking and soaking times.
Each bean has a unique texture and flavour making them diverse in use. At Down to Earth, we carry about 24 types of pulses in dry and canned form. Many are also carried in our flour ranges and as ingredients in many branded goods. In our fridge, we carry Tofu and Tempeh (Soya bean curd). Soya is the highest vegetable protein source but in its natural state is the hardest to digest so this is a good alternative. Keep an eye out for recipes during the year and explore this colourful world of wholefoods. For lots of information go to: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=international+year+of+pulses&oq=international+year+&aqs=chrome.2.69i59j0l2j69i57j0l2.7113j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8