Catching the pulse of beans and lentils

LOGO_IYP-en-high-horizontal int year pulses 2016 horizontal

An opening haiku to celebrate this International event:

Pulsing energy,
rich nutrients of the earth,
Lentils and beans dance.


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is celebrating  pulses this year. Pulses are dried beans and peas, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, split peas, fava beans, and black-eyed peas.

So what?  What’s the big deal about beans? 

Ο they are nutritious, high in protein, fiber, and minerals; low in fat and gluten free.

Ο they are friends of sustainable farming, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides–for example, with the aid of certain bacteria they restore soil by taking nitrogen from the air and adding it to the soil (called ‘nitrogen fixing’). 

Ο as cover crops they prevent water and wind erosion, and restore soil nutrients.

Ο climate resilient strains are potential food sources as global warming brings hotter growing conditions.

Ο bean crops offer solutions for hunger and poverty–they store well, can be processed locally, and yield more income than cereals alone (and rotating cereal and bean crops keeps the soil healthy).

The following bean quotes are excerpted from some of my favourite cookbooks:

There are basically five different kinds of meat and poultry, but 40-50 different kinds of commonly eaten vegetables, 24 different kinds of peas, beans, and lentils, 20 different fruits, 12 different nuts, and nine grains. The variety of flavor, of texture and of color lies obviously in the plant world…

Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet, 1975, Ballantine Books, New York, p.63


Cooking vegetarian book

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.   Albert Einstein

As quoted by Carollyne Conlinn, Past President (1995) Canadian Dietetic Association in Foreword to Cooking Vegetarian, by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest, 1996, Macmillan Canada, p. vii


Does cooking beans from scratch sound time-consuming? Well, they pretty much cook themselves!  You just soak them overnight, change the water, and boil them until very soft, generally 1 to 3 hours, depending on the variety. You may also wish to keep some canned beans on hand, as they are convenient and ready anytime the mood strikes you.  Just be sure to rinse them—rinsing canned beans reduces sodium by one-third…

Neal Barnard, MD and Robyn Webb, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, 2010, Da Capo Press, PA, p. 44

Some more cooking tips:

  • You can cook beans overnight in a slow cooker—some chefs use a pressure cooker for faster results.
  •  Lentils cook fairly quickly.
  • Rinsing canned beans removes not only salt but also a foamy liquid that promotes flatulence.
  • When cooking beans, skim off any foam.
  •  For ultimate gas reduction, soak overnight, bring to a boil in cold water, rinse, then re-cover with fresh water and cook until tender.


Beans can be appropriate to every course in the meal, as evidenced by their international popularity in soups, dips, stews, casseroles, fritters, salads, and even sweet bean pies for dessert.

Nikki and David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine, Over 1300 Meatless Wholesome Recipes From Short Order to Gourmet, 1983, New American Library, p.12.

My current bean and lentil recipe favourites include:

  • Hummus (chickpea dip: available at the grocery store with other dips, or make at home using a food processor);
  • Fiesta Bean Dip (baked bean and  melted cheese dip, a hit at family gatherings–as home cooks usually do, I  modify the recipe, using meat-free maple beans, marble cheddar for the grated cheeses, and home-blended taco seasoning);
  • Summer bean salads such as Black-eyed pea salad;
  • Baked beans or lentils for winter and summer (slow cooker or oven baked);
  • Rice or quinoa and beans such as Red Beans and Quinoa ; and
  • Veggie burgers such as Mushroom and Lentil Sliders.


Nourished blood pulses,
 with rich earth nutrient beat,
Lentil and bean dance.


Thank you to What the Ducks! and Palm Rae Urban Potager for hosting Blogger Action Day in celebration of  ‘Year of the Bean’, February 17, 2016.

As this is Wednesday, I am also linking this post to Writer’s Quote Wednesday at Silver Threading. If you enjoy reading quotes, I suggest a visit to  SilverThreading for Colleen Chesebro’s weekly quote post and links to posts by other participants.


©2016, All rights reserved by

33 thoughts on “Catching the pulse of beans and lentils

  1. Great post, Janice! I love the haiku. I love the tip “for ultimate gas reduction”. When I get that slow/pressure cooker you’ve convinced me is worth using, I’ll definately give some of those recipes a go. Glad I saw your post ahead of this as I thoroughly enjoyed doing the write up in celebration of IYP2016! Happy year of pusles to you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 I am a little slow in reading everybody else’s entries because I was outside shovelling all day. It’s like we received a winter’s worth of snow all in one day. Anyway I ‘ll be dropping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it does get the sweat going. The optimum temperature is just below freezing. Above that, the snow is heavy and the snow scoop doesn’t slide as well –thinking about posting some pics–

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I just love lentils and beans 🙂 I normally use pressure cooker for lentils, 3-4 whistles for smaller lentils and they r done 🙂 , for chickpeas and red beans I soak them overnight and then pressure cook them..the taste varies a lot if you cook it yourself or buy a can from super market, we have a lot of indian dishes with lentils /chickpeas/beans so one cannot really get bored of them..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Home cooked beans definitely taste better than canned and have a firmer texture. When I first became a vegetarian decades ago I was into Indian cooking..the spice blends are delicious.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. When I first started cooking beans I used a pressure cooker something that I don’t have anymore but I don’t want one because a slow cooker needs absolutely no supervision. I love that aspect. 🙂


  3. It’s good to know that it is the year of lentils. Last evening there was a programme on french tv about the prospect of a meatless future. There seems to be a slow movement beginning here. They are currently far behind in awareness, but I hope programmes like this will change it. I do have an issue with the amount of energy needed to cook beans so tend to go with lentils and fresh beans instead. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Lentils are easier to work with and are packed with nutrients. Glad to hear about the show you saw on TV .. Animal agriculture does consume resources such as water and crops that could be used more efficiently to feed everybody.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really comprehensive–wow!!! Thanks so much, Janice, for participating and promoting our Blogger Action Day! I don’t have a pressure cooker (yet!) but don’t mind babying my beans, especially on a cold winter’s day. You inspire me to look into other methods, though. And thanks for the reminder about skimming the foam. My mom taught me how to do that but I never knew why. (PS, we got through this without any jokes. How did that happen?!!!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the event– it was fun and I am looking forward to checking your post and other entries. We had a big snowstorm yesterday dropping at least a couple of feet of snow so I have been out most of the day today shovelling…no jokes? We must be a ‘mature’ bunch 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Doing the article fired my enthusiasm too, reviewing some of my favourite recipes. I had just cleared through my supplies so am freshly stocked with lentils, black beans, chickpeas, and navy beans. That should keep me busy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed reading about beans 🙂 I like making refried black beans myself. Actually made a layered dish shown in the food gallery using that — it’s called Mexican Lasagna and uses soft tortillas instead of pasta.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. I guess a lot of the salt is in the canned liquid.. I hadn’t thought of that when rinsing as my main focus was to get rid of the gas making substances. Saying that, one of the reasons I generally avoid canned beans is the high salt content.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed this post. I have dried and canned beans all over it feels like. You’ve inspired me to start using them more. I often wonder how much nutrients go down the drain with that overnight soak water. And I’m about to stop being so skiddish about using canned beans. Thanks:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. If you check the link at the bottom of my post for ‘what the Ducks’ you’ll find a sum-up post for the challenge. I have just started going through them myself– very inspiring . In the first one listed, he explains the benefits of soaking. Have you tried lentils? They just require a good rinse and much less time to cook. About cans — not really my first choice because of the can linings but they are great for backup or for treats (canned maple beans for example which I use in a baked bean dip). Have a great weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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