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Pulses - Beyond the Seeds

Jul 26, 02:11 PM

Food and Fitness Fundamentals

As you may recall from my last blog, the topic of discussion was pulses, the edible seeds found inside the pods of legume plants. As a continuation, here are more unique and unusual ways to incorporate pulses into your culinary endeavors. For example, in addition to consuming pulses as reviewed in the last blog, they can also be purchased in flour form.

Pulse flours have up to two times the protein content of whole wheat flour, and three times the content of rice. They can be used in lieu of traditional flours for breading meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. Substituting pulse for conventional flours increases many vitamins and minerals; and due to the higher fiber content may facilitate eating less due to increased satiety. Your imagination is the only limit for the culinary uses of pulse flours. Consider using them not only for breading food prior to baking, but also for use in making crepes, flat breads, pizza crust, bread, biscuits, cookies, and dessert toppings. Here are some recipes to try using pulse flours along with a great breakfast muffin recipe.

Pureed pulses are another way to incorporate legumes into your daily meals. Adding them in this form to meatloaf, casseroles, stews, pasta sauces, dips and spreads gives a meaty texture, and acts as an excellent thickening agent, providing an increase in protein, fiber and micronutrients. Along with the obvious benefits of replacing the fat typically used in many recipes, this method also increases the moisture content of baked goods such as muffins, cakes, brownies and tea breads without altering taste.

Pulses do not contain gluten, therefore they are ideal food choices for the estimated 3 million Americans diagnosed with celiac disease and 18-20 million who have gluten sensitivity and other autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Many gluten-free diets are deficient in fiber, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Pulses are rich sources of these nutrients which help address this concern. Additionally, replacing dietary fat with pureed pulses in gluten free products not only improves texture but also extends the shelf life.
Beware that some pulses should not be eaten raw or undercooked due to the presence of potential toxins. Examples of these are red kidney beans and soy beans. When cooked or processed at high temperatures, the toxins are destroyed making them completely safe to eat.

In summary, consider pulses the seeds of life. Their culinary uses are only limited by one’s creativity. Pulses are rich sources of nutrition and can be added to practically any ethnic dish. So the next time you pull out your favorite recipe, try adding pulses to the ingredients in order to boost the flavor, texture and overall nutrient value.
For more information and recipes on pulses, check out these links: Passion for Pulses, Dried Pulses and Cooking with pulses.

Until next time, here’s to healthy eating!

Lori Dodds, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department.

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