15 Perfect ways with pulses

Pulses include beans, lentils and peas, and we happen to think they're underrated! They're so delicious, nutritious, versatile and affordable that you can use them to create a wide variety of healthy dishes from salads and stews to soups and even dips.

When shopping for pulses, you'll usually find it is cheaper to purchase bags of dried beans and lentils – try to buy fresh stock as they will require less soaking and cooking time before use. Tinned pulses are a great, quick alternative; they're still affordable and ideal for those days when you're really pushed for time but still want to make good food choices. You can keep cooked beans, lentils and peas in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze them (in sauce or liquid) for up to three months.

They also count as one of your five-a day, are a low-fat source of protein and are packed with vitamins, fibre, minerals and iron – did you know that they can even help to lower blood cholesterol (1)? They're a great protein source for anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet. So we've gathered together 15 of our favourite recipes to inspire you to cook with pulses this winter.

#1. Spicy Root and Lentil Casserole

Is this the perfect vegetarian supper? We think it could be! It calls for white potatoes, but you could sub sweet potatoes for slower energy release. The addition of curry powder turns this into a lentil daal type dish and the red lentils ensure you'll feel satisfied all evening long. Serve with brown rice or naan bread, for a healthier alternative to a takeaway curry.

#2. New Year Smoky BBQ Chilli

This fab recipe from Oh She Glows cooks slowly to bring out the flavours and uses black eyed peas, black beans and chia seeds, with plenty of tomatoes, spices and the addition of spinach or kale. You won't miss the meat with this hearty bean chilli, great for lovers of Mexican food!

#3. Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato and Kale Soup

Dairy-free, gluten-free and delicious! This recipe uses coconut oil, a source of healthy fat, and it's spiced with cumin, smoked sweet paprika, coriander, chilli and cayenne pepper. Red lentils provide satisfaction and fill you up, whilst kale gives you a dose of vitamin C.

#4. African Sweet Potato and Red Bean Stew

We're huge fans of this warming, sweet peanutty stew that infuses simple ingredients with African flavours. It uses Aduki beans, but you could replace these with kidney beans if you like. Sweet potatoes, nut butter and lime juice create a sweet, spicy flavour that is very moreish!

#5. Black Bean Brownie

Pulses aren't just for savoury dishes. We're a bit obsessed with healthy brownies, and this recipes uses black beans for a yummy, moist texture. Black beans are really good for you – they can decrease your risk of coronary heart disease and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (2). As if you needed a reason to satisfy your sweet tooth!

#6. Pesto Butter Bean Salad

Deliciously Ella's divine recipe uses homemade pesto, rocket, pumpkin seeds and of course butter beans, studded with colourful pomegranate seeds. For a quick post-workout dinner or lunch, used tinned butterbeans, but if you do have time to soak beans overnight, this works out cheaper for those on a budget.

#7. Spicy Chicken With Lentils

Pulses can be used in meat-based dishes too, like this Moroccan chicken dish, which has a spicy apricot sauce seasoned with Raas al Hanout. The red lentils up the protein and fibre content, making this the ideal evening meal if you wish to avoid late night snacking.

#8. White Bean Dip

Using dried beans works well for this dip, but make sure you get them from new stock. Tinned beans can be used for last-minute dip-related emergencies! Use good-quality olive oil (a healthy fat) and fresh herbs as well as plenty of garlic to flavour this tasty dip. We love serving it with homemade wholemeal pitta chips or raw celery, cucumber and carrots for dipping.

#9. Baked Beans on Toast

You might be wondering what a recipe this simple is doing on our list – surely you can just open a tin of beans and serve them on toast? Many varieties are loaded with additives, preservatives, sugar and salt, so make your own and avoid the added nasties. You only need a few ingredients and this turns humble beans on toast into something a bit more special.

#10. Borlotti Bean, Tomato and Spinach Soup

A great way to use up some of those tomatoes you have been growing, this recipe uses Borlotti beans, but you could sub flageolet or canellini beans. Simple ingredients such as iron-rich spinach, antioxidant packed tomatoes and immune boosting garlic and onions make this the perfect soup for when you're feeling unwell and have the sniffles.

#11. Three Lentil Burger

Why use just one type of lentils, when you could use three? This tasty, fibre-packed burger uses red, green and puy lentils for a triple whammy! Delicious served with nutty tahini sauce, plenty of salad and maybe some warm pitta bread.

#12. Curried Red Lentils with Cauliflower and Peanuts

This simple dish can be served alone or makes a great accompaniment to chicken or salmon. Cauliflower is a super-healthy vegetable that we love here at Expertrain – take a look at some of our other cauliflower recipes! This recipe combines some of our favourite flavours to create something hearty and healthy.

#13. Lentil and Almond Stir Fry

A stir fry with lentils? Hmmm, we weren't sure either! But this recipe is so delicious. The sweetness of dates, nutty Brussels sprouts, black lentils, earthy potatoes and almonds make this dish flavoursome and packed with vitamins, fibre, protein and carbs. The sauce, made from mint, chilli, honey and lemon may sound surprisingly simple, but it's really moreish and we reckon it would taste great with other stir fries too!

#14. Turmeric and Lentil Soup

Deliciously Ella has done it again with this recipe which includes red lentils, cannellini beans, creamy coconut milk and warming turmeric. Turmeric is a strong antioxidant and has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which can help reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and other conditions caused by inflammation (3). One of our favourite soup recipes right now!

#15. Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goats Cheese

Smitten Kitchen's recipe has us smitten! We're huge fans of squash, especially at this time of year, and when it's roasted with cumin, it really brings out the natural sweetness. This is a great way to eat more vegetables, whilst the protein and fibre from the lentils will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Yum!


READ THIS NEXT: 25 tasty ways to include chickpeas in your diet

Works cited:

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/pulses.aspx

  2. http://www.doctoroz.com/article/after-40-nutrition-surprising-health-benefits-beans

  3. http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 27th Nov 2014 at 09:44
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