January 23, 2017

9 Reasons to Love Pulses

Take the “Pulse” of Your Eating Habits

by Rob Fischer

Looking for an easy way to lose weight, protect your heart and spend less money doing it? The answer is found in a food that’s been around for millennia. You may even have some in your pantry.

I’m talking about “pulses,” a not-so-well-known term for dried beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. It seems that these exceptional, tiny foods have nearly disappeared from the American diet. But their importance in nutrition and in the rest of the world has prompted the UN to name 2016 the International Year of Pulses.

Year of the pulsesWe Americans are neither big producers nor consumers of pulses. And even though our neighbors to the north make the list of producers at 6.7% of the world’s production of pulses, the majority of what Canada produces they export.[1] Indeed, pulses comprise a staple in many third world countries where rice and beans may be their only meal of the day.

When was the last time you had pulses for dinner? If you’re like most Americans, you may not be able to remember. In fact, most of us wouldn’t have even recognized dried legumes by the name “pulses.” Some of the more common pulses sold in the US include: navy, pinto, kidney, lima, and black beans; dried peas, lentils, and chickpeas (or garbanzo beans).

Recently, we had dinner with a couple who spoiled us with their delicious smoked, baked beans. They almost tasted too wonderful to be good for you! Yet, each tiny bean is packed with a treasure trove of nutrition and mouthwatering flavor! So let’s take a closer look at these heavenly morsels.

9 Reasons to Love Pulses

1. Pulses help you lose weight.

One study revealed that when people added more pulses to their diet and changed nothing else, they lost the same amount of weight as those who cut 500 calories from their diet. Additional research has demonstrated that those who consume the most pulses, lose the most weight.[2]

2. Pulses are high in protein.

That’s a lot! Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply want to vary your sources of protein, dried beans, peas, and lentils offer a power-packed alternative to meat. Additionally, pulses contain little or no saturated or trans fats.[3]

3. Pulses are packed with dietary fiber.

Just one serving of the average dried legume offers 50 percent or more of your recommended daily fiber needs.[4]

4. Pulses offer high levels of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

Pulses are inexpensiveAnd for those who suffer with celiac’s disease or sensitivity to gluten, pulses are gluten-free. Among those most prevalent vitamins and minerals are vitamin A, folate, potassium, magnesium and iron.[5], [6], [7]

5. Pulses help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

The high levels of fiber in pulses help lower bad cholesterol.[8] Additionally, pulses are low glycemic, which is great news for your blood sugar levels. A regular diet of these dried legumes could lower your risk for diabetes.[9]

6. Pulses are one of the least expensive foods to buy.

No other food that are as nutritious as pulses are as inexpensive as they are. For a couple of bucks you can buy a bag of dried beans, feed a large family and still have leftovers! No wonder that pulses comprise nearly 75 percent of the diet in developing countries.[10]

7. Pulses have an indefinite shelf-life.

If there are any “preppers” reading this, they already know what many of us don’t. Dried legumes, if kept dry, last indefinitely. Even if their color fades over time, their flavor will not.Pulses are good for the environment[11] In fact, you may want to rifle through your pantry right now to see if you still have that half bag of lentils or dried peas!

8. Pulses are good for the environment.

Legumes represent a unique crop that literally enriches the soil with nitrogen, one of the key ingredients in fertilizer. As a result, pulses require little to no fertilizing and they actually boost the yields of other crops when rotated.[12] Additionally, growing pulses requires very little water compared with other crops.[13]

9. Pulses are extremely versatile.

Dried beans, peas, lentils and garbanzo beans can replace meat in a dish, make great protein-packed soups, porridges and other hot dishes, garnish salads, create delicious dips, and even form the base for some tasty desserts.

Magic Beans

Dried beans may not get you a beanstalk with a goose that lays golden eggs, but with all of these great benefits, why do we consume so little of these nutritious legumes? Perhaps the number one reason is convenience. In our fast-paced culture, we think we don’t have time for lengthy food prep. And we consider preparing dried beans to be very time consuming.

So let’s tackle that impression and look at some more convenient ways to introduce the versatile pulses back into our diet to keep you feeling satisfied and energized.

Pulses are available in the grocery store in a variety of forms including: dry in plastic bags, boxes, or bulk, and canned and ready to use. Dry pulses must be cooked before eating. And while dried beans require soaking before cooking, dried split peas and lentils do not. Canned beans require no pre-soaking and can be used immediately.

Below are a few general tips for cooking pulses:

  • Rinse dried pulses before cooking and remove any foreign debris.
  • Soak beans (including chickpeas or garbanzo beans and whole dried peas) in a large bowl or pot overnight in fresh water. (How easy is that?!)
  • Discard water in which beans were soaked.
  • Cook pulses in fresh water without salt or other ingredients until they are ready, then add other ingredients such as salt, meats, vegetables and spices.

Cooking lentils

  • Add 2 ½ cups of water for every cup of dried lentils
  • Bring water to a boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes
  • This yields about 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils

Cooking dried split peas

  • Use 2 cups water for every cup of split peas
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes to desired tenderness
  • Yields about 2 cups split peas

Cooking dried beans, chickpeas or whole peas

  • Soak in fresh water overnight
  • Drain and rinse beans
  • Add 2 cups water for each cup beans
  • Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, then use in your favorite recipes
  • Yields about 2 cups cooked beans to every cup of dried beans

Hummus Recipe Recipes – Read on for delicious recipes that make delicious use of these little nutrition powerhouses. They are great for extending meals, so throw in a handful to casseroles, stews and soups to provide extra nutrients and stretch a meal further.

Hummus – This is a healthy, delicious dip served as an appetizer or great addition to a party or meal.[14]

Ingredients

  • 2 cups drained, well-cooked or canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), keep liquid
  • ½ cup tahini (sesame paste), with some of its oil (optional)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin or paprika (or to taste) plus a sprinkling for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lemon or more as needed to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Preparation

  1. Combine all ingredients except the parsley in a food processor and process. Add some of the leftover chickpea liquid or water as needed to create a smooth puree.
  2. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Serve, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cumin or paprika and garnish with parsley.

Black Bean Salad – This is a colorful, delicious and nutritious salad that doesn’t require cooking and makes up quickly![15]

Ingredients

  • 2 cans black beans, drained (about 30 oz.)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of corn drained
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • ¼ cup diced pineapple (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 4 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cumin

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for one hour.

How about you? Will 2016 be the year of the pulses for you? Why not take advantage of these delicious, nutrition-packed foods, save some money, lose weight, and protect your heart in the process?!

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

 

Sources:
[1] Madhoo Pavaskar, “Pulses Market: India & World,” India Pulses and Grains Association, 2012, http://www.ipga.co.in/pulses-market-india-and-world.
[2] Stephanie Eckelkamp, “This Food Can Supercharge Weight Loss—And You’ve Probably Never Heard of it Before,” Prevention, January 29, 2016, http://www.prevention.com/food/pulses-are-the-hot-new-protein.
[3] North Dakota State University, “Pulses: The Perfect Food,” June 2012, https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1508.pdf.
[4] North Dakota State University, “Pulses: The Perfect Food.”
[5] North Dakota State University, “Pulses: The Perfect Food.”
[6] Jill Corleone, “Heath Benefits of Pulses,” Livestrong, November 3, 2013, http://www.livestrong.com/article/481362-health-benefits
of-pulses-food-grains/
.
[7] Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet, Pulse Canada, http://www.pulsecanada.com/uploads/18/80/18803bffce32141f8806c00cde430149/14-Oct-28-Gluten-Free-Booklet-FOR-WEB.pdf.
[8] Pulse Canada, “Pulses Can Reduce ‘Bad’ Cholesterol,” 2016, http://www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/nutritional-benefits.
[9] Jill Corleone, “Heath Benefits of Pulses.”
[10] Natasha Geiling, “With Twice the Protein as Quinoa, the Pulse Might Be the Year’s New Hot ‘Superfood,’” Think Progress, January 6, 2016, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/01/06/3736145/year-of-pulses-2016-beans-lentils-chickpeas/.
[11] North Dakota State University, “Pulses: The Perfect Food.”
[12] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “International Year of Pulses 2016,” 2016, http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/.
[13] Natasha Geiling, “With Twice the Protein as Quinoa, the Pulse Might Be the Year’s New Hot ‘Superfood.’”
[14] This recipe compliments of Epicurious.com. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/hummus-237832.
[15] This recipe complements of Guy Fieri, The Food Network.com. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/black-bean-salad-recipe.html.

 

The Forgotten Ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet

by Rob Leighton

Research spanning over four decades has shown that a traditional Mediterranean diet sharply reduces many health risks. People following this style of eating have:

  • Lower levels of heart attacks
  • Lower risks for diabetes and cancer
  • Reduced forms of dementia, and even Alzheimer’s

You may associate the Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil and red wine, but it is far more.   It is the way the people of this region eat, beginning at breakfast and ending with the last bite taken each day.

  • Forgotten mediterranean ingredientsVegetables, fruits and grains serve as the dietary foundation.
  • Beverages, particularly tea, coffee or wine, provide other health-full nutrients.
  • Red meat, dairy and eggs, seafood and poultry are added to this foundation to make some meals more delicious and the weekly meal plan more interesting.

But let me tell you about the forgotten ingredients of the Mediterranean diet.  It’s blended spice and herb.

The benefits of spices extend beyond great flavor. Spices and herbs are Mother Nature’s most potent forms antioxidant compounds.

  • Cinnamon, thyme, turmeric and oregano, for instance, deliver 20x more antioxidant power than blackberries or blueberries.
  • Rosemary provides more than 15x the antioxidant power of cranberries.

This list goes on, but here is the challenge. Many modern cooks simply do not understand how to use spices and herbs, each and every day – breakfast, lunch and dinner.   This is a lost opportunity to support long term, vibrant living while elevating the pleasure of eating.   Let me show you how to harness the power of spice blends for the best disease-fighting nutrients available.

Antioxidants:  What Do They Do?

So, what do antioxidants do?  There is lots of chemistry here, but what’s important to understand is that our bodies’ naturally create oxidized compounds. These oxidized compounds are by-product of generating energy within every cell in our bodies. Left uncontrolled, they cause damage, contributing to heart disease, cancer and even aging itself.

Smoking and pollution increase the levels of these harmful compounds.  We are also eating more foods that deliver the harmful compounds, like deep fried foods and flame-broiled meats.  When plain meat is cooked, lots of harmful, oxidized compounds are created. When the meat is marinated with herbs and spices, or cooked with herbs and spice (like you might in a stew), the levels of harmful compounds created are sharply reduced.  You see, herb and spice antioxidants are already working before you put the food in your mouth!

Similarly, when oils and fats are heated – even the health-full omega-3 oils – oxidized compounds are a by-product of high temperatures. Again, herbs and spices are the natural neutralizers and actually enhance the your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Now, here is what we also know.  Different antioxidants work to support your health in different parts of the body. For example,

  1. Cinnamon supports healthier blood sugar levels.
  2. Cocoa supports a healthier cardiovascular system.
  3. Turmeric contributes to healthy brain function.
    A leading spice in curries, turmeric intake may help explain the low rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India. Among people aged 70 to 79, the rate is less than one-quarter that of the United States. Turmeric also is widely used in North African cooking, a Mediterranean cuisine.

Globalization – Driven by the Spice Trade

World trade has been defined by the spice trade.  Cinnamon, imported from Southeast Asia, can be found referenced in the Old Testament and in Egyptian documents dating to 2000 BCE.   Spices initially came to the Mediterranean via overland trading routes and then by ship sailing around the Horn of Africa.  The search for alternative trade routes led Columbus to venture west to the Americas.

Here is the key!  Study after study is proving that the power of these plant-based nutrients is made many times more effective when they are used together.   That is exactly what spice and herb blends do. They deliver multiple types of antioxidant compound.

And here is the tragedy.  Most people cooking in the home today do not know how to use herbs and spices in ways that can really support health.

Spicing the Mediterranean Way

Antioxidant supports health differentlyWhen I am cooking, I am not simply looking to create a healthy recipe, I am looking to create a healthy meal!

I may have one very delicious recipe that is far from healthy, but I surround it with other dishes that bring a healthy balance to the meal.  The meal itself is health; the one indulgence adds deliciousness.   A Mediterranean diet builds on this philosophy.

Many Americans take the opposite view. They approach the meal with the view that one healthy dish, perhaps a side salad, is sufficient to make an unhealthy meal, healthy.

This is a daily eating mindset. For example, start in the morning with a healthy bowl of oatmeal. Move through the day with a salad at lunch and a few health snacks.  Arrive at dinner believing the right to splurge has been earned – pizza and coke, fettuccine Alfredo, mac and cheese, steak and potatoes (with butter and sour cream), or sushi with lots soy sauce and white, sweetened rice.

But remember, a Mediterranean diet defines how one eats from the first bite in the morning to the last bite at night.  It certainly makes room for all forms of delicious foods, but it keeps the right balance – at every healthy meal.

As I take my clients on a journey toward healthier eating, I take a similar view of spice and herbs.  These flavorful ingredients are not something we look to add to a few recipes each week.  We find ways to enjoy these ingredients throughout the day.

My commitment to spice has had another benefits, as well.  It has helped me and my clients break free of eating habits that push up cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation levels, while adding pounds to the waistline.   A commitment to spicing will help you find new and delicious ways to satisfy the love of food, healthfully.

I wrote Mediterranean Spice Blends:  The Forgotten Ingredients of a Heart Healthy Diet, to help my clients create healthier and tastier foods with spice blends.   We start with 5 different spice blends, delivering 25 different natural herbs and spices (how’s that for a multivitamin!). No salt, no sugar and no MSG.   At least five different recipes are provided for each spice blend. In the book you will find recipes for appetizers, soups, vegetables, whole grains, chicken, fish and even dessert and breakfast.

Here are some of the recipes that you will find in the e-book:

  • Roasted Spiced Salmon
  • Marinate Chicken Kabobs
  • North African Spiced Sweet Potatoes
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
  • Spice Bean Salad
  • Brown Rice Pilaf with Onions & Lentils
  • Barley Pilaf with Smoked Paprika, Hot Pepper & Sweet Spice
  • Artichoke, Red Pepper Pizza
  • Brussels Sprouts, White Beans, Pasta & Pine Nuts
  • Apricot Lentil Soup
  • Spiced Poached Pears
  • Dark Chocolate Truffles with Cinnamon and Cocoa

Another Mediterranean Diet Secret – Start the Meal Right

In Mediterranean-style eating, the meal often will start with medley of vegetable dishes.  A variety of fresh, marinated, grilled or roasted vegetable recipes is prepared.  Each is seasoned differently.  Two, three, four or more may be served.

  • In Italy, these dishes are part of the antipasto.
  • In Phoenicia (modern day Israeli, Lebanon and Syria) and North Africa, these salads are part of the mezze.
  • In Spain, these are part of the tapas tradition.

Together, they deliver a highly satisfying course – and you may well find yourself filling-up on health-full foods.

These dishes also have a great place in busy life.   Many can be made ahead of time and stored for a few days.

Kardea_Mediterranean Spice BlendsHere’s another benefit!  Great chefs all over the world are showing how spice blends cut the need for salt.  Spice, herbs and spice blends impart the more intense flavor that meats, grains and vegetables often lack.  Salt does enhance subtler flavors of blander foods – spices and herbs can be used instead to add flavor intensity, especially when blended with acidic ingredients, like vinegars, wines and lemon.  Many of the recipes I’ve put together combine these power house ingredients in marinades and sauces.

In Mediterranean Spice Blends, you will find great recipes to get you started, and I send all my readers more recipes to keep every healthy meal interesting and delicious.

So discover how to use the forgotten ingredients from one of the world’s healthiest diet, in  Mediterranean Spice Blends: The Forgotten Ingredients of a Heart Healthy Diet.  

 

 

Rob Leighton from Kardea NutritionRob is known as a food passionisto and life’s magic moments occur over meals with family and friends. He happily wanders the aisles of gourmet food stores, farmers’ markets and ethnic delicatessens, preferring to end the day with a good cookbook. Rob brings a career as an executive in food and nutrition to reduce his cholesterol levels to the point where no medications are necessary. He wrote The Kardea Gourmet, Smart & Delicious Eating for a Healthy Heart, with Mayo Clinic-trained cardiologist, Dr. Richard Collins, also known as the Cooking Cardiologist. Rob is the founder of Kardea Nutrition. Kardea, which means heart in Greek, combines a love food with a deep knowledge on how to use the best natural solutions to support heart health.

 

 

Make Your Water More Nutritious and Delicious!

By Amanda Box, N.D.

Can water really be improved upon?  Yes, it can – very much so! The main complaint I get from those who don’t drink much water, is they don’t like the taste.  I find this ironic because water really doesn’t have a taste.  Unfortunately, society has bombarded us with sugary flavored drinks that have caused our taste buds to dislike the very essence of life: pure water.  Fortunately, there are ways to not only improve the taste of water, but also add nourishment!

See below for our recipes for natural, healthy and homemade kefir water, berry water, probiotic water plus a video on how to add nutrition to your daily water intake.

The Vitamin Water Hoax

One of the biggest money makers right now in the beverage industry is vitamin water.  It is touted as a nutritious drink that gives you all the vitamins you need.  The truth is, that most of these vitamin “waters” aren’t really waters at all.  There are just hyped up sports drinks under the disguise of being water.  Most contain a ton of sugar and synthetic vitamins.  I recommend two healthy alternatives.

Coconut Water

This is the water contained inside of young coconuts.  It’s gaining more and more popularity as a healthy sports drink alternative.  I began drinking it several years back during my pregnancy.  It’s high potassium and magnesium levels helped my pregnancy induced tachycardia and restless legs.  I also brought it to my son’s birth to drink after labor.  I raved about it to my midwives and they now keep it on hand for new mothers instead of Gatorade!  This is nature’s TRUE vitamin water!  It contains nothing synthetic, just nature’s creation.

Homemade Vitamin Water

Making your own flavored waters is very easy to do and incredibly delicious.  When you infuse your water with herbs and different fruit combinations, you are infusing it with natural vitamins and minerals.  This is fantastic for those who hate the taste of plain water.  Below are some of my most favorite homemade vitamin water recipes.

Note: Many people are making their vitamin water in a quart size mason jar.  I use a larger sun tea jar. If you do this be sure and increase your ingredients.  Anything glass works. Recipes are designed for 1-quart servings.

Cucumber, Lemon, and Mint Water

Probably the most popular homemade vitamin water combo is cucumber, lemon and mint.  I like to mix it up a bit and use basil for a refreshing nutritious drink.  Cucumber and lemon lend a great flavor, and also help detoxify the body!  Mint soothes the stomach, as well. Directions:

  • 1 quart fresh filtered water (not distilled)
  • 2 chopped cucumbers
  • 1 sliced lemon or lime
  • A few leaves of mint or basil (Don’t go overboard. Less is more with herbs.)

Berry Berry Delicious Water!

I’m a huge berry fan, so this water has been my favorite.  You can add several drops of stevia to sweeten it if you like, as it can be a tad tart. This tastesthe closest to a natural Kool-Aid, so your kids will most likely enjoy it.

  • 1 quart fresh filtered water (not distilled)
  • 2 cups of organic mixed berries (you can use frozen)
  • 1 sliced orange
  • 2 hibiscus tea bags
  • Stevia to taste

Stress Busting Pineapple Water

This homemade vitamin water combines anti-inflammatory pineapple with Tulsi (or Holy Basil) which is known for it’s stress reducing properties.

  • 1 quart  fresh filtered water (not distilled)
  • ¼ of a pineapple cut into small triangles
  • 4 bags of Tulsi tea

Place all your ingredients into your glass container and place into the fridge.  The flavor is best after 6 hours, so I recommend making it in the morning.  These recipes stay fresh for about 2 days.

Probiotic Water

One of the best ways now to get your daily dose of healthy probiotics is from water kefir!  I even prefer water kefir to kombucha.  Both contain a good amount of life giving bacteria, but water kefir has a much milder flavor.  Kombucha can taste slightly vinegary.  Water kefir has no vinegar taste.  Plus, you can have delicious homemade water kefir in a matter of 2-4 days, whereas kombucha can take a couple of weeks.

Kids seem to really enjoy water kefir as well.  Its fizziness lends itself to tasting more like soda.  I actually call it our “pop.”  Because my children don’t drink soda, they believe they are getting quite the treat! Drinking kefir water can help with your digestion, fight bacterial and fungal infections, improve your immune system, and improve your overall health and well-being! Making kefir water is more tedious than making vitamin water, I must admit. But, once you get into the process of making it and feeling it’s benefits, you will see that it is a nutritious drink well worth the process.  And it literally costs only a few cents to make!

Here is a step-by-step instruction video on how to make water kefir at home over the course of a few days.

Water Kefir Recipe

The first thing you have to do is get a hold of some water kefir grains.  Milk kefir grains will not work!  Ask around to your friends first.  With kefir’s growing popularity, one of your friends may know of someone looking to give away some of their grains.  Otherwise, here are some great places to buy some grains from.  Once you get started, you shouldn’t ever have to purchase grains again.  They multiply rapidly and you’ll be giving them away to your friends! Buy your grains HERE. If you buy these, you will have to rehydrate them.  Follow the directions on the package.

The 2 Step Fermentation Process

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