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[Trend Spotlight] Pulses Gain Prominence

Posted by janethelm
December 03, 2014
Featured in: Trend Spotlight
[Trend Spotlight] Pulses Gain Prominence

by Janet Helm, MS, RD 
[photo credit: Fruity Baked Beans by Hidden Fruits and Vegetables]

You may think 'check your pulse.'

That's different. I'm talking about the type of pulse you eat -- which are actually good for your heart and pulse rate.

Pulses are a variety of legume that includes dried beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils. The word is from the Latin puls that means soup or potage, and if you're not familiar with the term now -- it won't be long.  The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. The goal is to raise the profile of pulse crops to celebrate their role in feeding the world.

You may not see the term "pulse" used often, we tend to call everything beans or legumes.  But here are a few lessons in legume lexicon:[Trend Spotlight] Pulses Gain Prominence

Pulse is a word describing the edible seeds of several leguminous plants.  As defined by the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), pulse is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry seed. This excludes green beans and green peas, which are considered vegetable crops. Also excluded are crops that are mainly grown for oil extraction (oilseeds like soybeans and peanuts), and crops which are used exclusively for sowing (clovers, alfalfa).

The FAO recognizes 11 different crops as pulses; you can find the variety of pulses here.

Visual courtesy of Global Food Forums

Pulses are a primary source of protein for much of the world's population, and they're increasingly being recognized here in the U.S. as a valued plant-based protein. I recently returned from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo where pulses were a major trend on the exhibit floor -- featured in a range of new products like crackers, chips, pasta, flavored hummus, meat alternatives, nut-free butters made with golden peas, and gluten-free baked goods made with lentil flour.  I wrote about the trend in a recent post for U.S. News & World Report Chickpeas are the new chia, lentils the next kale.

Healthy Aperture bloggers have been cooking up all sorts of wondrous creations with pulses.  We've already shared some of these amazing recipes in previous posts, including Bean-Based Desserts, New Love for Lentils, and Falafel Finds New Followers.  The variety of dishes are incredible.  How about pulses for breakfast?  You may think of the traditional English breakfast of beans on toast, and we have that too, here and here.  But check out these delicious ways to wake up to pulses.

[Trend Spotlight] Pulses Gain Prominence

For the bean breakfast recipes:

Fiesta Baked Eggs with Farro and Baked Beans by Domesticate Me 
Black Bean Breakfast Burrito by Prevention RD 
Marinated Pork, Black Bean and Tortilla Strata by Buttercup and Bourbon 
Refried Beans and Cheese Molletes by Hot, Spicy and Skinny 

Healthy Aperture bloggers have been busy cooking up pulses in casseroles, tacos, tostadas, burritos, soups, stews, chilis, dips, spreads, sandwiches, wraps, veggie burgers, salads, protein bowls, snacks, smoothies and desserts. Check out these creations:

[Trend Spotlight] Pulses Gain Prominence

For the recipes:

Chickpeas and Avocado Tostadas by Mommyhood Diary
BBQ Chicken Tacos by Lovely Little Kitchen 
Black Bean Wraps with Cashew Cream by Food Fanatic
Middle Eastern Lentil Bowls by Apples and Sparkle
Mung Bean Lentil Salad-Stuffed Avocado by C it Nutritionally 
White Bean and Mozzarella Sandwich by So, How's It Taste? 
Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes by Lemons and Basil 
Vegetarian Zucchini White Bean Burgers by Lemons and Basil
Cilantro-Lime Avocado Rice Bowls by The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Pulses are not only an affordable source of protein, they're rich in fiber, B vitamins and beneficial plant-based compounds.  These mighty morsels have been widely studied for their role in reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Because pulses are low in fat and help keep you full for longer, they may be valuable for weight management.  If you want to learn more about pulses, visit:

American Pulse Association 
U.S. Dry Bean Council 
U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council
Bean Institute


Janet Helm is the author of the FOOD TRENDS Feature on HealthyAperture and is a registered dietitian who wears multiple hats – as a public relations executive, blogger and nutrition journalist. Currently, she is the Chief Food and Nutrition Strategist in North America for Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm. Janet is also the co-founder of Healthy Aperture, founder of Nutrition Blog Network and author of The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook. She blogs at Nutrition Unplugged and for WedMD and is a former media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and nutrition, and a master’s degree in dietetics from Kansas State University. Janet lives in Chicago with her husband and 10-year-old twins.
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