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by Steph Mercados

You may have heard about increasing your intake of pulses but found yourself wondering what that might actually look like? At Global Gardens , we had the chance to talk a bit more about pulses, what they bring to the table nutritionally and how eating more can help support good environmental practice. Most importantly though, we had the chance to cook and taste some of them. Pulses are wonderful on their own; full of fibre, protein, and micronutrients, like folate, potassium, vitamin K and C, zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium. Composition can vary in different pulses, how they are prepared and they're maturity, but the key is variability, by including different pulses in your diet. They also count as a portion of your 1 in 5 fruit and vegetables a day. Balance them out with nuts and wholegrains for a well balanced source of protein. Some pulses are also rich in phytonutrients/polyphenols/antioxidants which have been suggested to protect against certain cancers, such as breast cancer .

Some research has also found them to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol which in turn can reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. They are nutritionally and taste wise, packing a punch. We don't tend to eat much of them in a Western diet. But many countries have found their own way to eat pulses regularly; hummus and falafel in the Middle East, dhal in South Asian cuisine and probably more notably to us in the U.K., the humble baked beans. We spoke about using pulses like green lentils as an alternative a Bolognese as a quick fix to increasing pulses in your diet.But if that feels a little far from where you're at, a 50% pulses 50% minced meat approach to your favourite staples, is a good place to start. Pulses help environmentally as they are nitrogen fixing and require less land, water and resources than animal based sources of protein. Pulses like fava tend to grow easily in British soils and don't have to do much in the way of travelling to get to our plates. With all that in mind, we focused on cooking British grown pulses from Hodmedods, including the carlin pea and fava (faba, broad bean) beans in our session. We prepared 'parched peas' , a simple recipe of soaked and boiled carlin peas, salt, pepper and olive oil. It was a hit with everyone that tried it, a Northern dish that is usually eaten on Bonfire night. It can be found here on the Hodmedods website for a nutritious and tasty take on history. Using british grown split fava beans , I made an Egyptian alternative to the ever favourite hummus - ful (fava) nabed , adapted from the Hodmedods website.

Fava nabed 1) Boil ~ 250g of dried split fava beans in a big pot of water , boil and then simmer for 30 - 45 mins. 2) Whilst that is cooking, roast around 3 onions cut in half , with half a bulb of garlic (still with the skin), place a cover/lid on your roasting. Alternatively, just roast your garlic, then chop the onions finely in strips and slowly dry fry onions in a pan for ~20 minutes. 3) Afterwards, wash , wash and wash the fava beans with cold water and drain. 4) Add your cooked fava beans, onions, garlic (remove skin), 2 tablespoons of excellenet tahini and olive oil (each), the juice of two lemons, 1 large teaspoon of smoked paprika, and if you have it, 2 teaspoon of oak smoked Halen Mon salt - into a food processor and blend until you have a smooth consistency to your liking. Add salt to taste. 5) I topped mine with good Zataar , toasted sesame seeds and served with breaked. But adding herbs in the mixture would also be a welcome addition. I hope this article and our session has inspired you to try some more pulses! I know we'd love to hear how you've been having pulses since our session, share with us #festivalofpulses


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