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Nutrition Notes (PCN Spring 2016) MAR 29 2016 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Debra McLennan, RD, APG Food & Nutrition Coordinator

Have you taken the Pulse Pledge to eat 1/2 cup (125 mL) pulses per week for 10 weeks? Make it easy to include pulses by following us on Twitter @AlbertaPulse where we will be featuring a different pulse each month. Here’s a sneak peek for the rest of the year!

  • January: Cranberry Beans
  • February: Green Beans
  • March: Navy Beans
  • April: Pinto Beans
  • May: Red Lentils
  • June: Black Beans
  • July: Yellow Peas
  • August: Chickpeas
  • September: Faba Beans
  • October: Great Northern Beans
  • November: Kidney Beans
  • December: Green Lentils

It’s easy to include pulses in your diet on a regular basis. With the versatility of pulses, they can be used almost interchangeably in many recipes. Wondering what to use when a recipe calls for “white beans”? Try Great Northern beans or navy beans, which are also known as white pea beans; in a pinch you could also use pinto beans or chickpeas. Other white beans that can be used interchangeably are cannellini beans and white kidney beans; cranberry beans could work here too.

Red beans, dark or light red kidney beans and pinto beans can be substituted for each other in many recipes. You often find these pulses in Cajun, Mexican and Southwest cuisines. These beans are common in a number of chilis, but are also tasty additions to soups and salads.

Red, green and brown lentils are all interchangeable in recipes. Split lentils will cook faster and can get mushy and break down if cooked too long, so if you want to keep the integrity of the lentil, watch the cooking time or use whole lentils.

Let’s not forget the peas! Yellow split peas, with their mild flavour and smooth texture can be used in place of white beans, lentils and chickpeas. The next time you make hummus, try using yellow split peas; no one will taste the difference!

Simply adding whole, cooked pulses to salads and soups makes them more filling and adds plant-based protein and fibre. Other whole pulse substitutions to try: replace half the meat with lentils in lasagna, tacos, casseroles, chili, meatloaf, meatballs or burgers; mix 1/2 cup (125 mL) to 1 cup (250 mL) cooked and mashed white beans into chicken salad, tuna salad or egg salad sandwich fillings. Roast whole cooked chickpeas, beans or lentils and add to trail mix, granola or granola bars or have as a snack on their own.

Pureed pulses can also be the secret ingredient in your baking. Adding pureed pulses to baked goods adds moisture and fibre as well as increases the protein content. You can replace half the amount of oil in a muffin recipe with an equal amount of pureed lentils. Replace half the butter with a white bean puree; use chickpea flour to replace up to half of the wheat-based flour in any baked product. Pulses improve the texture and extend the shelf life of baked items as well!

Did you know that it takes the same amount of time to prepare lentils and split peas as it does to prepare pasta, quinoa or rice (15-30 minutes)? If you’re running short on time to prepare dry pulses, use canned pulses; they’re just as nutritious, but need to be thoroughly drained and rinsed to remove up to 40 per cent of the sodium or better yet, look for no salt added canned pulses.

Looking for pulse recipe inspiration? Check out the Alberta Pulse website or the International Year of Pulses recipe website for more great ways to use pulses everyday!

Have you got a question about pulse nutrition? I would love to hear from you! You can contact me at or 780-986-9398 ext. 6.