{skip the foreplay and head straight to the recipe}

Maybe you’ve heard or maybe you haven’t, but the UN declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses.  Now, we usually think of a pulse as the palpitation of our heartbeats that lets us know we’re alive and signals how vigorously we’re exercising.  While this kind of pulse is definitely worth celebrating (something Andy Grammer did last year singing Good to be Alive), the UN is focusing on the other kind of pulse: Legumes. Agriculturally, a pulse is a crop that is harvested only for its dry grain.  Therefore, pulses include crops like chickpeas, lentils, beans, and split peas. These are edible seeds that grow in a pod and should be cooked before they are eaten.  In contrast, vegetables are crops that are harvested for green food and (obviously) can be eaten raw or cooked.

So, why’d the UN decide to highlight pulses this year?  Because pulses aren’t just a win-win.  They’re a win-win-win: They’re cheap, nutritious, AND they have positive effects on the environment! The nutrition profile differs based on the specific pulse, but generally speaking, legumes are a good source of plant-based protein and are high in iron, folate, and potassium.

In an effort to celebrate the year of pulses, each month (or so…) I will post recipes highlighting various legumes and their nutritional greatness.  First up: chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans.  Chickpeas are a great source of fiber, protein, iron, and a number of B Vitamins.FullSizeRender

Chickpeas can be used in many ways, but the most common way you’ll see is mashed up and combined with tahini and oil to create hummus.  I’m a huge hummus fan.  It makes a great dip for veggies and a tasty sandwich spread.  There are a number of really good store-bought hummus brands.  When buying from the store you want to aim for about 150mg sodium per serving.  This will allow you a little sodium wiggle room in case you plan to enjoy your hummus with 1/2 a serving of pretzels or pita chips in addition to your veggies (carrots, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, snap peas etc are all great options). You’ll feel fuller after snacking on hummus and veggies than on hummus and pretzels or pita chips.

Another thing I really like about hummus is the variety of flavors it comes in. Be careful here though because the different varieties can result in a nutrition loss just as easily as a nutrition gain…the levels of vitamins as well as sodium, sugar, and fat can vary between varieties. When you make hummus at home, though, YOU have control of how much salt and oil you put in, and your flavor options are limitless!  This sunshine hummus recipe, for example, has curry powder, garlic, and turmeric which really kick up the antioxidant profile of the dip.

I was given this recipe from the Nourishing Kitchen program at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.  Started by Jackie Topol, RDN, Nourishing Kitchen is a really unique cooking demo program that teaches inpatient oncology and cardiology patients and their families diet-appropriate recipes and cooking tips they can use when they get back home. IMG_5739

This hummus recipe is intended for oncology patients, but is delicious for everyone!  One of the side effects of cancer treatments is a weakened sense of taste and loss in appetite.  Besides containing powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds these patients need, the curry, turmeric, and garlic are also really strong flavors which enables oncology patients be able to actually taste their food.  This goes a long way in getting these patients to eat during treatment, a critical component of their success.

Sunshine Hummus Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
  • Print

*Recipe from Jackie Topol, MS, RD, CSD, CDN, The Nourishing Kitchen, New York Presbyterian Hospital

1 (15.5oz) can low-sodium chickpeas, rinsed
1 large clove of garlic
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
sea salt to taste

1. Place all ingredients into a food processor or strong blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Adjust the spices to your taste.
3. Enjoy with cut up vegetables.











2 thoughts on “2016: The Year of the Pulses

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