The Year of the Pulse

This is the year of the pulse.

Not your heart beat, of course, but dried beans, peas and lentils.


  • They are a great source of protein and fibre.
  • They help to reduce cholesterol and control blood sugar levels (that is good news for diabetics and those with hypoglycemia).
  • They are also rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins including folate, thiamin and niacin.
  • They are a wonderful substitute for animal protein and very easy to grow.
    • They are more sustainable.
    • By using only half of the energy input of other crops, they reduce the environmental footprint.
    • It takes far less water to grow pulse than to raise cattle or pigs.

However, most people are shy about cooking pulses because, as we know, not everyone can digest them. Proper cooking is necessary.

“Beans, beans, good for your heart. The more you eat ’em, the more you fart!”

Lentils, split peas and mung beans are easy to cook and soaking is not necessary. However, beans and chick peas have to be soaked for at least 6 hours prior to cooking.

One method of reducing the starches that cause gas is to: bring the beans to boil, pour the water off, rinse and boil again. I won’t go into further detail, because I no longer bother to do this.

There is, instead, a much easier method: cooking with a seaweed (yes, you read right) called Kombu. The Kombu renders the beans very digestible (and no, you do not taste the seaweed).


Since I am hopeless at recipes I asked my good friend, vegetarian chef and cookbook author, Nettie Cronish, to provide me with one. (Nettie has just recently co-authored a new book on beans, nuts and seeds called Nourish.)

Pot-Luck Chili

Prep Time:  30 minutes

Cooking Time:  1 ½ hours

Yield:  10 servings


1 ½ lbs dried pinto or kidney beans

4 tbsp  olive oil

2 onions, chopped

7 cloves garlic, minced

3 pieces, kombu

1 tbsp ground cumin

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp dried basil or oregano

1 tsp salt

1 red pepper, seeded and diced

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

1 can (28oz/784g) diced tomatoes

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

½ cup chopped fresh basil

1 cup roasted cashews


  1. Soak the beans for 6 hours.  Drain and rinse carefully, checking for rocks or alien beans.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil over medium heat in large stockpot.  Sauté 1 onion with 4 cloves garlic for 5 minutes, or until soft.
  3. Add beans, 10 cups water and kombu.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, skimming and stirring occasionally for 1 ¼ hours, until beans are tender.
  4. Mix  cumin, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, basil and salt together in a small bowl.
  5. In a second stockpot, heat remaining oil and cook remaining onion, 3 of the garlic cloves and peppers for 5 minutes.
  6. Add spices and sun-dried tomatoes.  Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add water if necessary to prevent spices from sticking.
  7. Add canned tomatoes. Bring to a simmer; cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring often.
  8. Add tomato-peppers sauté to beans.  Continue simmering for 30 minutes or until beans are soft, stirring frequently.
  9. Add vinegar, basil and cashews just before serving.
  10. Serve with pita, cornbread, or bagels.

Note:  1 ½ lbs dried beans = 3 x 19 fl oz (540mL) cans beans

Nutritional Facts:

Calories:  316;   protein: 17g;   carbohydrates: 49g;   fat:  8g; calcium:  128mg;   iron:  7mg;  zinc:  3mg

If you still find the whole soaking thing daunting or, like me, due to time restraints you cook impulsively (no pun intended!), there is a brand of canned pulse that is prepared with seaweed.


Oh!   you have heard that canned foods are bad for you – well this one is  BPA free.


So, remember, if you want to keep your heart pulse healthy eat your dried pulse!


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