2016: The Year Of The Dried Bean

By: Nikki Sepe on Jun 13, 2016

Red lentil penne, chickpea rotini and black bean spaghetti have all increased their shelf space in supermarkets for 2016.  What do these all have in common? They are made with the inspiration of the United Nation’s declaration of this year as, “The international Year of the Pulse”.

First Things First, What is a Pulse?

A pulse is a grain legume which refers to chickpeas, dry beans, dry peas and lentils(1).

Why Add These to Daily Meals?

Fotosearch_k25611037.jpgAside from being a gluten-free pasta alternative, pulses are low-fat and packed with protein, fiber, iron and other nutrients such a magnesium, potassium, zinc and b-vitamins.  Though high in carbohydrates, the low glycemic index of pulses does not spike blood sugar, which is helpful for those on a diabetic diet.  The high concentration of vitamins, minerals and protein can augment a vegan or vegetarian diet (2).

Since legumes are an energy-dense food packed with phytochemicals, studies suggest they are helpful for a weight management diet and should be added to meals to prevent obesity and lower risk of cancer and other associated diseases (3,4).

How Are Pulses Cooked?

Soaking dried beans is recommended to reduce cooking time.  This can easily be achieved if set into a pot of water and then rinsed and boiled the next day.  To cut down on the time, place pulses into a pressure cooker without soaking and depending on the variety, will be fully cooked within 30-45 minutes. 

Check out the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council for exact cooking times

Conserve Water and Help the Environment

Legumes are beneficial to the fertility and health of the soil due to their nitrogen fixating properties thanks to a symbiotic relationship with diazotrophic bacteria in their root nodules.  The 43 gallons of water used in the production of 1 pound of pulses is significantly lower than the 800-1800 gallons needed for 1 pound of animal protein (5,6).

Get More Creative With Healthy Meals

Various dishes can be made with pulses including soups, rice, hummus, black bean burgers, brownies, roasted chickpeas, lentil lasagna, chili and more!

More diverse pulse recipes can be found on PulsePledge.com

IFT 2016 Annual Meeting & Food Expo

Heading to IFT this year? Stop by our booth and explore the many innovations Watson has in store for you!  See more information about what we are showing at the 2016 IFT Food Expo on our IFT Trade Show page.


1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2016. Pulses: Nutritious Seeds for a Sustainable Future. Access:http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5528e.pdf 

2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2016.  Nutritional Benefits of Pulses. Access: http://www.fao.org/3/a-c0049e.pdf

3. Julie Garden-Robinson. 2012. Pulses: The Perfect Food. Northern Pulse Growers Association. Access: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1508.pdf

4. C.J. Rebello, F.L.Greenway and J. W. Finly. 2014.”A review of the nutrition value of legumes and their effects on obesity and its related co-morbities.” Obesity Reviews. 15:(392-407)

5. M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra.  The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.. 2010. Institute for Water Education. (1). Access: http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report47-WaterFootprintCrops-Vol1.pdf

6. M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra.  The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Crops and Derived Crop Products. 2010. Institute for Water Education. (1). Access: www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1.pdf