How Alberta Pulses Can Power Up Your Next Meal

By Debra McLennan

Debra McLennan is a registered dietician and the food and nutrition coordinator for Alberta Pulse Growers, one of AMA’s Backyard BBQ partners.

What are pulses? They are the dry edible seeds of pod plants in the legume family that include dry peas, dry beans, chickpeas and lentils. The name “pulses” comes from the Latin word “puls” which means potage or thick soup. Canada is one of the largest pulse producers in the world and we export over 85 percent of our pulses to feed the world. Canadian pulse-growing regions include Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. We have 6,500 farmers growing pulses across Alberta. Look for “Product of Canada” on the label of dry and canned pulses at your grocery store to support our local pulse farmers.

Do you have some pulses in your pantry and not sure what to do with them? Here is some recipe inspiration to help you add peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas to your meals tonight!

Split peas aren’t just for soup anymore!
Green and yellow split peas are the largest pulse crop in Alberta. They add great colour and texture, plus protein and fibre to many meals and they don’t need to be soaked before you cook them. They are a delicious addition to summertime salads, like our rainbow salad or green split pea salad with rice and cranberries. Our green split pea pesto dip and yellow split pea hummus are a tasty twist on the traditional hummus and great with fresh veggies and pita chips or as a spread in sandwiches and wraps. Surprise your family with Vietnamese pickled yellow split peas on your charcuterie board or as a side or burger topping with your next barbecue meal.

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Red and green lentils are the second largest pulse crop in Alberta.
Lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking and are the fastest cooking of all the pulses. Have fun in the kitchen with your kids making your own lentil salsa. How about a Greek lentil salad for the perfect side or main dish? Adding our red lentil and roasted carrot dip to your appetizer tray will have everyone asking for the recipe! Did you know you can bake with lentils? They add fibre and protein while reducing the fat content, and no one will know you’ve added them to these cranberry orange muffins or lentil naan bread.

Alberta grows a variety of beans, primarily in southern Alberta.
Our bean crops include black beans, pinto beans and Great Northern beans. You can enjoy all of these in our slow cooker three bean beef chili, a delicious make-ahead meal for the family camping trip. These black bean burgers are a delicious vegetarian option for the barbecue. Our beans and rice master mix will take your nachos from snack to meal in minutes! You can bake with beans, too. White beans are the mystery ingredient in chocolate chip oat cookies and we dare you to find the beans in these black bean brownies!

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Chickpeas are Alberta’s smallest pulse crop, grown mainly in the southeastern part of the province.
Great tasting and easy-to-make recipes featuring chickpeas include BBQ chickpea flatbread and masala chickpea mango and spinach salad. If you have a can of chickpeas, you can make your own chickpea hummus in less than 10 minutes!

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the Alberta Pulse Growers website for great tasting recipes as well as tips on preparing pulses. You’ll be a “pulse pro” before you know it!