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Why Pulses are Winter's Must-Have Ingredient

PulsesDidn’t you hear it was the ‘International Year of Pulses’? Yep, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation officially gave 2016 this title in a bid to give some added PR to this underutilised food source.


So what are pulses? They’re seeds that grow in a pod and include pinto beans, chickpeas, split peas, lima beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, adzuki beans and more.


While a great addition to your diet all year round, pulses make the perfect winter companion to soups, stews and warm winter salads thanks to their high protein and fibre content, which will keep you full and satisfied, while also helping keep your waistline in check.


But it doesn’t end there.


The UN is celebrating the humble pulse for its sustainability claiming “pulses are leguminous plants that have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment.”


Here, a few rules to live by when incorporating pulses into your diet.


1. Remember to soak them

Like grains, pulses (and legumes) contain phytic acid that needs to be neutralised before consumption. Soaking them a few hours (or overnight) before cooking them does the trick, and makes absorption of nutrients and digestibility much easier.


2. Start off slow

Pulses have a reputation for causing increased gas and bloating, which can largely be helped by pre-soaking. That said, they’re very high in fibre, so if your system can’t tolerate too much fibre, start off slow with about half a cup per serve and work your way up.


3. Boost their nutritional value

Food combining is a great way to get maximum benefit out of your food and pulses are the perfect place to start. Take chickpeas for example: they boast high levels of iron, but unlike the easily absorbed haem iron found in animal products, the non-heam iron from chickpeas is harder for your body to absorb. The key? Combining chickpeas with a food source rich in vitamin C, which is known to aid iron absorption. Try making hummus with red capsicum or enjoying a sauteed kale and chickpea salad.


4. Get creative

Pulses aren’t just a savoury food, they’ve been used for centuries as an Asian dessert offering with delicious results. Looking for inspiration? Try this Black Bean Brownie recipe from food blogger, Chocolate Covered Katie.


You’ll need:


  • 1 1/2 cups black beans
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (10g)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave (or honey, but not for strict vegans.) (75g)
  • pinch uncut stevia OR 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil (40g) (See nutrition link for substitution notes)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g) (Not optional. Omit at your own risk.)



Preheat oven to 180 C.

Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.)

Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan.

Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. 

Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look a bit undercooked, you can place them in the fridge overnight and they will magically firm up!

Makes 9-12 brownies.



Words by Yasemin Trollope, image featured from Chocolate Covered Katie.

Yasemin Trollope is a health and beauty expert with over 10 years of experience in print and online media. She’s studied at IIN and believes that true health comes from listening to your body’s needs rather than following a script. Currently pregnant with her second child, she embraces wholefoods while occasionally indulging in Gelato Messina. Because life is about balance, right? You can follow her on Instagram @yaz_trollope. 

The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your doctor or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and wellbeing or on any opinions expressed within this article. The information and opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and may not necessarily be the views of API or Priceline. API or Priceline will not be responsible for any actions taken by a reader as a result of this article.