You may have heard by now that 2016 has been designated as the International Year of Pulses (IYP2016) by the United Nations. Their intent is to help position pulses as a primary source of protein and other essential nutrients throughout the entire world. It’s really a big deal for Canada because our farmers grow approximately 32% of peas and 38.5% of lentils grown worldwide (and Saskatchewan grows 95% of all the lentils in Canada! [Lentils.ca]). The amount of pulses grown accounts for approximately 35% of global pulse trade each year, reaching a value of nearly $2.7 billion in 2011 [IYP2016.org].
So, what are pulses and why should they be an important part of everyone’s diet?
- Pulses are dried beans and peas, fava beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
- Pulses are affordable: US cost per serving is $0.10 when a serving of beef is $1.49, Pork is $0.73, and chicken is $0.63.
- Pulses store for long periods of time and are non-seasonal.
- Pulses are high in Protein, Fibre, Folate, Iron, Potassium, and anti-oxidants.
- Pulses are sodium-free, cholesterol-free, and gluten-free.
- Pulses are a sustainable way to feed the world’s growing population because they are drought tolerant and frost hardy.
- Pulses have a carbon friendly environmental footprint, make excellent natural fertilizers, and use very little water to grow.
Are you excited about introducing or adding more pulses to your diet yet? Our family sure is! We eat quite a lot of beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils already but I’ve decided to add even more to our diet by taking the Pulse Pledge. I resolve to prepare a delicious pulse-based dish once a week for the next ten weeks, starting with this delicious Lentil and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad for week number one.
I was excited to find the recipe for this salad in my copy of Homegrown (by Mairlyn Smith) which celebrates the Canadian foods we grow, raise, and produce right here in our own country. What better way to kick off the International Year of Pulses by than by using a Canadian cookbook which highlights Canadian grown lentils and Edamame?
Lentil and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
- 1 large sweet potato; peeled and diced into 1 cm pieces
- 1/4 cup + 2 tsp canola oil; divided
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 1 cup cooked edamame
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss sweet potatoes with 2 tsp canola oil, salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a large bowl. Spread them onto the prepared pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
- Measure lentils and place in small pan with double the amount of water. Simmer until they are slightly soft, but not mushy.
- Using the large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup oil, vinegar, honey, cumin, coriander, curry powder, salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.
- Add cooled sweet potatoes, lentils, edamame, onion, and cranberries to bowl and toss to coat.
- Chill at least an hour to blend flavours. Add in chopped cilantro and toss just before serving.
To find out more about the International Year of Pulses and to take the Pulse Pledge click here.