Part 2: Incorporating Pulses Into Your Family’s Diet

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Feb 22, 2016

In Part 1 of our series, we introduced you to Pulses and explained why the United Nations has chosen to spotlight them in 2016 for their nutritional and environmental benefits. Now in Part 2, we unveil some family-friendly tips for incorporating pulses into your daily diet.

We hope you choose to make these powerhouse foods part of your next great meal!

How to prepare dry beans

Buying bags of dried beans is both an economical and healthy way to introduce more beans into your daily meals. Although canned beans are convenient, you may be surprised to find out that cooking dry beans at home can be just as easy and they freeze well for later use.

To prepare dried beans at home, follow these guidelines from Pulse Canada:

Long, cold soak, overnight

  • Place 1 cup of dried beans in a bowl and cover with 3 cups of water, place in the refrigerator to soak for 12 hours
  • Rinse, add fresh water and boll gently until tender

Quick soak

  • Bring 1 cup of pulses and 3 cups of water to a boil.
  • Boil gently for 2 minutes
  • Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour


  • Combine 1 cup of pulses and 3 cups of water in a microwave bowl
  • Cover and microwave on high for 10 -15 minutes, let stand for 1 hour

How to include more pulses in your diet

Now that you know just how healthy beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas are, take on the challenge and be creative with these ingredients in your kitchen. Here are a few ideas for including more pulses in your meals and snacks:

  • Add pureed beans and lentils to baked goods such as cookies, muffins and brownies
  • Add cooked beans, lentils or chickpeas to green and grain salads for a boost of protein and fibre
  • Add cooked kidney beans, Romano beans or lentils to tomato sauces for protein boost to your pasta dishes
  • Toss a variety of beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas into soups instead of a grain such as rice or noodles
  • Try a bean dip such as hummus for snacks in between meals. Serve with cut up veggies or whole wheat pita
  • Replace ½ of the meat in chili recipes with beans or experiment with vegetarian chili recipe including a variety of beans
  • Add black beans to your tacos or burritos instead of or in addition to lean ground meats
  • Make recipes gluten free by using bean flours in place of regular wheat flour
  • Beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas make great purees for babies first foods. Puree and serve on their own or added to other foods such a grains or vegetable

Worried about gas and bloating??

Everyone knows that pulses such as beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas can sometimes lead to gas and bloating which can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing.

To reduce gas and bloating try the following tips from Pulse Canada to prevent these foods from being a musical fruit:

  • Change the soaking water 1-2 times before cooking dry beans
  • Do not use soaking liquid to cook the beans, always drain the water and use fresh before boiling
  • Cook beans thoroughly, undercooked beans are more likely to lead to gas and bloating
  • When using canned beans, rinse well before using in a recipe or consuming (this also helps to get rid of excess sodium in canned beans too!)

For more recipes and ideas for including more pulses in your family’s meals, check out to access a free online cookbook!

Melinda Lamarche has been working as a Registered Dietitian for just over 10 years.  After completing her dietetic internship at the University Health Network in 2005 she went on to complete a Masters degree in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Toronto.  Melinda has experience working with Toronto Public Health and various Family Health Teams in the Toronto area.  Melinda recently completed a Culinary program and is using her new skills to prepare yummy and healthy dishes for her husband, daughter and a baby on the way. 


Part 1: Why Pulses are the Family-Friendly Food of 2016

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