Pulses - Beans, Peas and Legumes

Pulses and Protein Complimentarity

A grain based diet is designed around a single basic concept, that of protein complimentarity. Simply put, that means making sure that all seven essential amino are present in our diet. Now that can sound daunting but traditionally, people of the various cultures around the world have understood that from time immemorial.

For example the Asian diet is centered around rice and beans – soy beans in the form of tofu or bean sprouts. In India and Pakistan the diet is centered on pulses or legumes and beans in the form of daal or a thick soup and rice and wide variety of flat wheat breads – called puri, chapatti, parantha and roti. The Middle East and the Mediterranean diet is centered on wheat, legumes and beans and yogurt. Africa gives us kamut, teff and the groundnut or peanut which is a legume and not a nut at all. Throughout Europe we find barley, spelt, millet, rye, oats and buckwheat along with peas and lentils and dairy products – milk, cream and exquisite cheeses. Corn and wild rice are the gifts of the North American continent where they are married to lima beans, navy beans and kidney beans. South America adds quinoa, which is the only grain to contain all of the essential amino acids in itself, and amaranth along with the pinto bean and the black bean. Each culture has traditional foods that serve as the staples of their diet consisting of grain and pulses, or beans, legumes and peas or dairy products.

Even here in these United States this is not a new concept. When you think of children’s lunches – PB&J – right? In New England the traditional Saturday evening meal consisted of baked beans and brown bread, Wednesdays were reserved for macaroni and cheese, and there was always one supper that consisted of spaghetti and grated cheeses. Americans love their pizza suppers too – again that is based on wheat and cheese. So it goes around the globe.

We should also keep in mind that most of the largest animals on the planet – elephants, moose, and bison -- are grain eaters. We should also keep in mind that most Americans eat considerably more protein than they need.

Why eat Legumes?
Legumes are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They are excellent sources of protein and are a healthy substitute for flesh foods.

Here is a quick referrence list of the many varieties of pulses

From Adzuki to Soy Beans to Yellow Split Peas, this list will be helpful when deciding on which bean, pea or legume to use when preparing meals in your vegetarian kitchen.

How to select the right Beans, Peas or Legumes
Now that you have a quick reference list, make sure you pick the pulse that wins them over!!

Learn the basics about preparing pulses: beans, peas and legumes
Most dried pulses need to be soaked overnight before cooking. It makes a tremendous difference in how they taste and how they react in your digestive tract. Since they come to us........

Return from Pulses to Your Vegetarian Kitchen Home Page