2016 is International Year of Pulses

Recipe Swap: Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwiches, Lentil Macaroni And Cheese and The Ultimate Can‘Eh’dian Salad

A new year always begins with resolve to eat better, shed a few pounds, and become healthier.

2016 just might be the year more make good on those intentions.

The United Nations has declared 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP) to get people around the world rethinking a healthy diet — for the good of all of us.

It’s a year to put pulses at the heart of world conversation on how to change our diets to reduce obesity, increase food security, improve nutrition and build more sustainable agricultural and food systems, said Hakan Bahceci, chair of the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) IYP Committee, at Food and Agriculture (FAO) ceremonies held in November to jump-start the year.

That’s high hope for what some might still call a bunch of beans. True, it will take far more than one year for those with little knowledge of pulses and their dietary attributes, let alone motivation to dial down old food habits and adopt new for the sake of the planet.

2016 is a year to begin at the beginning. By increasing awareness, demand, utilization and production of pulses around the world, UN declaration aim is that more of us will know about pulses, and by year’s end have made a good start towards eating more of these crops that use less water and fertilizers and increase soil fertility by fixing their own nitrogen.

That’s a resolution that will make both us and the planet a little healthier.


The world’s cooks have put together an incredibly rich recipe collection for cooking with beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils. Soups, stews, falafal, hummus, dal, tacos, curry are all delicious as are all these wonderful international dishes. They were created by creative cooks who eventually produced signature national foods. Nowadays, that recipe experimentation continues, as pulses become a common ingredient in many more foods such as breads, noodles, snacks and many gluten-free foods.

To make it easy to make many more of our meals with pulses, the Global Pulse Confederation has launched a ‘How Do I Cook Pulses?’ link to its website where you can find many recipes from countries around the world. You’ll find falafal from Lebanon, masala roti and dal from India, Boston baked beans from the U.S. and a Canadian ingredient-inspired salad — the ‘Ultimate Can‘eh’dian Salad. Here are a few from the website to inspire you. You can find many more logging on to pulses.org.

Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

  • 1 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tbsp. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, or more for taste
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread

In a bowl, smash together chickpeas and avocado with the back of a fork until you get the texture that you desire. Mix in Greek yogurt, lime juice, green onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Spread onto two slices of bread and top each with another slice of bread. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe source: Global Pulse Connection

Lentil Macaroni And Cheese

  • 1/2 c. lentils
  • 2-1/2 c. elbow macaroni
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2-1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. aged white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1-1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
  • 3 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
  • 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese

Place lentils and three cups water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside. Cook macaroni according to package method, drain well. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add three tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted whisk in the flour. Add the nutmeg. Cook for two to three minutes, whisking constantly, or until flour mixture smells nutty. Add the milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk.

After sauce has thickened, turn heat to low and whisk in the cheese. Once the cheese is melted add in the fresh rosemary and spinach. Turn heat off and add the cooked macaroni and lentils to the pan and stir until the noodles and lentils are well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the mixture into a casserole dish.

In a small bowl mix together the melted butter, bread crumbs, quinoa and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Bake at 350 F until bubbly and crust is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe source: Global Pulse Connection

The Ultimate Can‘Eh’dian Salad

  • 1 c. cooked black beans
  • 1 c. cooked green lentils
  • 1 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1-1⁄2 c. cooked pearl barley
  • 2 c. baby arugula (or spinach)
  • 1-1⁄2 c. diced red bell pepper (approx. 1 whole pepper)
  • 1⁄2 c. dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. finely sliced green onion (approx. 1 whole onion)

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄4 c. canola oil
  • 2 tbsp. whole grain mustard, salt and ground black pepper to taste

Garnish (optional):

  • 1⁄4 c. toasted sunflower seeds

Toss prepared pulses, barley, arugula, pepper, cranberries and onion together in a large bowl. Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl until fully combined. Toss the prepared vinaigrette with the salad. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with toasted sunflower seeds and enjoy!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves 8

Chef’s notes: this salad is great with multiple pulses, but if you only have one kind simply substitute and the recipe will still work well. The pulses and barley absorb much of the vinaigrette. Taste and season the salad accordingly with cider vinegar and salt and pepper before serving.

Nutrition Facts: Per 1 cup serving: Calories 261 kcal, Protein 7 g, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Carbohydrates 35 g, Sugars 11 g, Dietary Fibre 8 g, Sodium 274 mg

Recipe source: Global Pulse Connection

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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