In celebration of National Nutrition Week: ‘Love your beans – eat dry beans, peas and lentils’ (9 to 15 October), we chatted to a few dietitians to find out why these foods, also known as pulses, should form an essential part of our diet.
To find out more about why beans are good for health, how to cook them, how to prepare them, snack ideas and great recipes, join the #LovePulses Twitter Talk on Wednesday, 12 October at 1pm (SA time) – follow our @ADSA_RD Twitter handle or the hashtag #LovePulses.
- “Pulses are very economical in this tough economic time. Add pulses to meat dishes like mince and stews to bulk up your dish and make it go further”, says Registered Dietitian and ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson, Monique Piderit.
- Beans, peas and lentils add a great variety to meal preparation, are affordable and good for our earth. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
- Pulses are a good, inexpensive source of protein. – Kelly Schreuder, RD (SA)
- Pulses help to keep your blood sugar steady (making them a great option for diabetics) and lower your cholesterol. – Zelda Ackerman, RD (SA)
- Pulses are high in soluble and insoluble fibre, aiding good digestion and keeping you regular. – Mpho Tshukudu, RD (SA)
- Beans, peas and lentils are low in sodium, and provide important minerals like potassium and calcium, which can improve blood pressure. – Jessica Byrne, RD (SA)
- Pulses are a good source of plant-based iron and have a low glycemic index, keeping you fuller for longer. – Cath Day, RD (SA)
Cooking tips for pulses
- Tinned chickpeas, beans and lentils are just as nutritious as the dried versions. Stock up on tinned pulses for quick emergency meals, e.g. chickpeas and tuna, mince with tinned lentils or add tinned beans to your favourite salad. – Monique Piderit, RD (SA)
- Soak in the morning (ahead of cooking in the evening) using boiling water or use canned varieties to cut down on cooking time. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
- Add salt at the end of the cooking process. Adding it at the begin increases cooking time and hardens the skins. – Mpho Tshukudu, RD (SA)
- Soaking and rinsing dry beans before cooking, as well as rinsing canned beans in water, can help to reduce hard to digest carbohydrates, which could cause flatulence in some individuals. – Jessica Byrne, RD (SA)
- Rinse tinned legumes well before serving, as this increases your tummy’s tolerance to beans, lentils and chickpeas. – Cath Day, RD (SA)
Great, easy snack ideas for pulses
- Drain a tin of chickpeas and place in a roasting pan drizzle with olive oil, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Roast for around 40 minutes for a quick and easy roasted chickpea snack. Store in an airtight container for a quick snack on the go. – Monique Piderit, RD (SA)
- Pulses can be used to make tasty dips, e.g. pureed chickpea and butternut, or white bean dip (flavoured with a little vegetable oil, garlic, lemon juice, sprinkling of salt and herbs). Dips can be enjoyed with veggie sticks or crackers. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
- Or keep it even simpler and just mash or blend pulses with garlic, herbs and spices for a delicious, healthy spread or dip. – Kelly Schreuder, RD (SA)
- Lentils are quick and easy to cook together with your brown rice, pearled barley or crushed wheat. – Zelda Ackerman, RD (SA)
“Pulses should be a regular part of a family’s healthy eating plan and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Aim to include them in your diet at least four times a week,” says ADSA spokesperson, Jessica Byrne.