The healthy pandemic pantry: Beans are the new superfood

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Aberdeen News

Columbia Grain International (CGI) is one of the largest processors and exporters of high-quality pulses in the United States, supplying the world’s pantry with a plethora of these nutrient-dense powerhouses.

But, first, what are pulses? Pulses are the dry, edible seeds of plants in the legume family, a category of superfoods that includes chickpeas, lentils, dry peas, and beans. Pulses are unique because they have distinct health benefits apart from other legumes. Unlike legumes like peanuts and soy, for example, pulses are low in fat and very high in protein and fiber. As an affordable, nutritious, and shelf-stable plant-based protein, pulses are overflowing from grocery carts across America.

Meat shortages, environmental concerns, and a desire to eat a healthier diet are among the top reasons people cite for their increased interest in plant-based foods as a result of the pandemic.

Vice President of the CGI Pulse Division Tony Roelofs reports a surge of over 200% in pulses since February 2020. He says lentils and chickpeas are still leading the pack.

“Pulses are the perfect food for this type of situation because dried, they have a nearly indefinite shelf-life (2-plus years), can be easily rehydrated to make delicious meals, they’re affordable, and they have incredible nutritional benefits. We’ve noticed that consumers are filling their pantries with all kinds of pulses, but they’re at a loss for how to make the most of them, let alone cook them.”

CGI keeps their customers and social media followers apprised of the many benefits of pulses by circulating new and exciting recipes. They recommend clicking here to learn how to cook pulses properly. Their efforts support a wide-reaching network of over 1,000 pulse farmers throughout North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Idaho, and Washington. They’ve gone beyond typical pulse recipes like soups and chilis to introduce creative and surprising dishes like Lentil Tacos, Bean Burgers, pulse-packed salads and grain bowls, smoothies and even desserts, like Lemony Chickpea Cake.

CGI has been supplying grains, beans, pulses, and oilseeds to companies that manufacture consumer brands in over 80 countries for more than 40 years. They are now looking to make a direct connection with the consumer through their upcoming small pack pulse line, which will be sold online.

“We’re excited to tell the story of how growing and consuming pulses helps the planet and fuels our bodies. Pulses are a sustainable crop. When farmers include pulses, like lentils in their crop rotations, they’re also decreasing greenhouse gases. That’s because lentils, with the help of symbiotic bacteria, fix nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is a nutrient that organisms need to produce proteins. Nitrogen is captured and converted into a form that plants use to grow. This activity increases soil health so that the next crops planted in the same field reap the benefits the pulses left behind. Pulse crops also require less water to produce than other protein sources, such as livestock,” said Pulse Marketing Manager Jo Clark. “We want to expand the consumer’s knowledge of beans and pulses and help them feel more confident in the kitchen. We want consumers to realize how simple, wholesome foods like pulses can nourish their bodies and also fuel creativity in the kitchen.”

CGI Pulses:

Beans

• Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

• Pinto Beans

• Black Beans

• Adzuki Beans

• Great Northern Beans

• Dark Red Kidney Beans

• Small Red Beans

• Navy Beans

Peas

• Whole Green Peas

• Split Green Peas

• Whole Yellow Peas

• Split Yellow Peas

• Austrian Winter Peas

Lentils

• Red Lentils

• Pardina Lentils

• Small Green Lentils

• Medium Green Lentils

• Large Green Lentils

The U.S. Government’s Dietary Guidelines urge adults to consume three cups of cooked dry beans a week, while most Americans don’t even eat one cup in a week. Unlike meat-based proteins, beans are naturally low in fat, are free of saturated and trans-fat, high in fiber, and are a cholesterol-free source of protein. Research shows that a diet, including beans, may reduce your risk of heart disease, aid in blood sugar management, enhance energy and vitality. Beans are high in iron, magnesium, and folate as well as essential vitamins and minerals needed for cell growth, the formation of bone (for a healthy pregnancy), and immunity[3]. And who couldn’t use a little more immunity these days?

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