Valentines Day is all about love. Why not show your love by preparing and sharing heart healthy meals?! Demonstrate your love by preparing delicious, plant based foods and save your loved ones from threats of chronic disease by eating more pulses! 

Whoa. What?

Yes! This kind of pulse is not our heart rate type pulse, but healthy, delicious sustainable pulse, otherwise known as dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cow peas, pigeon peas, and lentils. These are crops harvested as dry grains versus green vegetables like corn, tomatoes, squashes etc. Pulses can be, and have been, eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner for thousands of years.

We have been eating pulses for over 11,000 years! In the 8th century BC, Homer mentions beans and chickpeas in his infamous poem Iliad. In the 6th century BC, chickpeas (same as garbanzo beans) were grown in France, while in the 3rd century BC the Romans brought broad beans to what is now Britain. By the 1st century AD, black eyes peas’ spread from their native West Africa to the Mediterranean, India, and Asia. During the age of exploration, 15th century Spanish explorers brought beans back from Mexico. Green peas were introduced to King Louis XIV court in the 17th century, and in the 18th century a coffee substitute was made of ground up roasted chick peas. The beat goes on!

From 1980-2010, international pulse production doubled to 70 tons per year. Pulses are considered healthy and sustainable. By 2050 global pulse production could double again, providing the rapidly growing world with a much needed source of healthy, sustainable protein! Seriously, when we have 9 or 10 billion people in the world … how will we feed everyone?

Good question! I bring this up a lot in my educational video program.

Currently, our animal based, agriculture food model is not sustainable. Aside from calamitous health issues, we do not have the land to raise grass fed, happier, yet more methane producing animals. The industrial meat industry is shockingly cruel and filthy. Antibiotics abuse is rampant and causing more of us to become resistant to life saving medications. Animals live tortuous short lives for people to eat them. Enough said for now on that. The beat goes on.

Pulses totally rock! Typically, I cook with beans and lentils, augmented with whole grains, and all sorts of colorful vegetables. Here are a few of my favorite pulse based meals:

  1. Baked Beans on Whole Grain Toast – Totally British & totally delicious. No recipe required for a fast meal any time of day.
  2. Burgers – For the past 10+ years we have eaten a lot of plant based burgers. The recipe are endless: use lentils, beans, or chickpea as your base. Add more soft plant based ingredients to bind it all together perhaps a bit of grain like oatmeal, add spices, herbs, bake. Yum!
  3. Chili – Again a staple for year round, savory, spicy goodness; red, black or white, it’s all good.
  4. Kibbeh is my new obsession. It is baked cracked wheat (bulgher) Middle Eastern casserole with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lots of cumin, cinnamon, raisins, bit of green, onions, and handful of nuts.  Easy, inexpensive, delicious!
  5. Lentil and Grain based salads are amazing on hot summer days, add fresh fruit like apricots, peaches, or almonds for pizzazz.
  6. Muffins – Who doesn’t love a good muffin? Savory or sweet, they can be part of a main meal or just a healthy snack. Play with different kinds of flours, grains, fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
  7. Pancakes – As a kid we had pancakes for dinner on Friday nights. It was such a treat and a fun, family ritual. Now I use garbanzo bean flour. Who knew?!
  8. Shepherd’s Pie – This classic dish is simply a hearty bean or lentil casserole with mashed potatoes on top. It’s easy, filling, and the possibilities for top and bottom are endless.
  9. Soup – Spilt pea is a staple at our house as is lentil, well… navy bean/miso soup is too! We love a good soup especially in winter. Pull out that crock pot and feel smart about making dinner.
  10. Finally, handheld food is always a must in our grab ‘n’ go world. Wraps, Pizza, Burritos, and Tacos are all enhanced with beans and lentils, both as the handheld outside and scrumptious inside.

Classic sources for plant based cooking include T. Colin Campbell’s’ Center for Nutrition Studies. Recipes on Dr. Colin Campbell’s site are guaranteed to be healthy and deliciously nutritious!  VegNews is completely vegan and has a large data base of recipes. Other good recipe sites include Thug Kitchen (expletive deleted!) and personal fav Post Punk Kitchen by fabulous and funny Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Click here for a boat load of fantastic Year of the Pulse recipes from around the world.

Although the Pulse website is not completely plant based. It’s easy to “veganize” family favorite recipes by leaving the meat and dairy out of any recipe.  To veganize: omit animal based ingredients and substitute others. I will blog about that soon. There are so many excellent plant based recipe sites; do a search and see what works for you and your family.

Whatever you do, get with the beat and try out some more pulses this year, this month, week, or today! Not only will you be helping your loved ones’ heart, waistline, and overall health, you will be saving animals’ lives and helping combat climate change. Every bites does matter and we do have a choice. The beat does go on!

Photo: Thank you!
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