Thursday, 11 November 2010

Perfect pulses

Being brought up on french home cooking it's not surprising that I developed a taste for pulses from an early age. I'm particularly fond of lentils and flagolet beans but I know that pulses aren't so popular in english cuisine.

If you don't regularly eat pulses there are plenty of reasons why you should which is why pulses are the last entry on my superfood list:

- they are rich in fibre helping digestion, detoxification and the balance of hormones

- they are a good source of b vitamins, zinc, iron and magnesium

- pulses have a particularly low glycemic index when compared to other carbohydrates meaning they provide a slower more consistent release of energy and don't encourage the over-production of insulin that can lead to weight gain and diabetes. This makes them a particularly good choice as a carbohydrate side dish when eating red meat or any other fatty proteins.

- pulses are higher in protein than most other carbohydrates, making them more filling and less disruptive on blood sugar levels. If eaten with rice they also make a complete protein, that is to say they provide all the essential amino acids.

Pulses are extremely easy to prepare and cook with. I can't be bothered with soaking and cooking pulses but canned pulses are so readily available there's no excuse not to have some to hand.

Lentils and kidney beans can easily be added to stews, bologneise and chilli con carne to add fibre and reduce the meat content. Chickpeas can easily be made into hummous or this can be shop bought - a great mid-afternoon snack when eaten with crudites or wholemeal pita bread. Lentil dahl is also delicious and easy to make from split red lentils and I always order a portion when eating at an Indian restaurant.

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