The Year Of The Pulse

Contributed by Winona Benson

Did you know that this is the year of the Pulse? Pulse is another term for bean. The bean is an edible seed with many nutritional benefits.

“I was determined to know beans.” - Henry David Thoreau, The Bean-Field

How about you? How well do you know beans?

Creamy cannellinis, meaty garbanzos, sweet adzuki, tender pintos, and so many more. Beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around. 

Consider This: Beans are packed with tons of fiber, as well as plenty of iron and protein. They are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are low in calories. 

Plus, studies have found them to lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

What to Do With Beans:

Many people avoid beans because they just don’t know what to do with them. Are you one of them? Keep reading: 

•    Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots and red peppers) with vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.
•    Blend cooked beans with tomatoes, onions and your favorite seasonings to create a yummy bean soup. 
•    Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite bean.
•    Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt and your favorite seasonings. Voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread.

•    Include 1/3 cup of beans with your other favorite toppings next time you make stuffed baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
•    Add 1/4 cup of pureed beans to your favorite pancake, waffle, muffin or cake recipe. You’ll be surprised at how moist and springy baked goods are when baked with beans. 

If you’re new to cooking with beans, try these tips for delicious and well-cooked beans:

•    Be sure to wash and clean the beans first.
•    Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking (hint: cut a bean in half; if the center is still opaque, keep soaking).
•    After soaking, rinse, fill pot with fresh water, bring to a boil and then skim off the foam.
•    To aid digestion, add Kombu, a bay leaf, cumin, anise or fennel to the water.
•    Cover and simmer for the suggested time.
•    Remember: Only add salt at the end of cooking (about 10 minutes before the beans are done) or it will interfere with the cooking process. 
•    Quick tips: For speedier prep, boil dried beans for 5 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours. Or use canned beans instead (some people find them even easier to digest!).  Be sure to avoid canned beans with added salt or preservatives and rinse thoroughly once removed from the can.

For more information on the year of the pulse, visit:

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