Pulses and legumes- a healthy addition to your family’s diet

Pulses and legumes……what on earth do we do with those in our diet? What are they? Aren’t they just for vegetarians? These are common misconceptions on these marvellous, nutritious and economical little sources of protein.

Beans, peas and lentils are also known as pulses. Legumes refer to pulses and soy beans. Legumes are rich and economical dietary sources of good quality protein, carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble dietary fibre components and a variety of minerals and vitamins. Pulses have a low energy, fat and sodium content.Legumes are an excellent source of dietary fibre and have been shown to help improve the nutritional status of both undernourished and overnourished South Africans.They have also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer and osteoporosis.

How you can easily add them to your diet:
Dried or tinned products are both good to use.Tinned may be more convenient for
a busy lifestyle

  • Add lentils or beans to mince, casseroles, stews and curries
  • Add chickpeas and lentils to salads
  • Add bean sprouts to salads
  • Add lentils to brown rice

Meal ideas that incorporate pulses and legumes:

  • Chili con carne (use red kidney beans)
  • Lentil salad (see recipe below)
  • Baked beans on a baked potato with a green salad
  • Spaghetti bolognaise with tinned lentils
  • Baked beans on low GI toast
  • Couscous with chick peas, mint and roast vegetables
  • Chicken casserole with white beans and brown rice
  • Lamb stew with butter beans, mashed potato and vegetables

These are just a few ideas to get you started! Try to be as inventive as you can and remember to always enjoy your food!

(Source: South African Food based dietary guidelines, SAJCN, 2001).

Summer lentil salad
2tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions
1 bag baby spinach/ mixed greens
2 cups chopped cucumber
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups (1 tin) lentil
½ cup reduced fat feta
2 fresh mint leaves
Salt and black pepper

Whisk together vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Add spring onions. Set aside and whisk before serving.
Combine cucumber, tomatoes, lentils, feta and mint.
Toss with dressing and season Serve on bed of spinach or any green leafy vegetables e.g. lettuce, rocket