How will you be celebrating new year? I’ll be reaching for the lentils in the hope that they’ll bring me good luck and prosperity in the new year. Well that’s what the Italians believe. Lentils are thought to resemble coins so are eaten as part of new year celebration meals in Italy.
I’ve enjoyed a long-standing love affair with pulses (in simple terms dried beans, peas & lentils). I just can’t get enough of them. I think my love of them goes back to when I was a child. I didn’t like meat but thankfully my Mum was happy to accommodate her fussy daughter’s vegetarian needs! Our shelves were already full of cook books but new ones appeared by authors such as Rose Elliot, Sarah Brown & David Canter (Cranks) and so she set about making some fantastic vegetarian food. No one else I knew ate like we did. We loved shopping at Rainbow Wholefoods (a Norwich institution) for dried beans such as black-eyed, mung and aduki. I loved the smell of the shop – a combination of herbs, spices, fresh bread, spiced vegetable-filled pastries, sticky date oat crumbles and more. The shop still smells the same now and it brings back such happy memories.
I’m not a vegetarian or vegan. I love fish and I succumbed to meat when I was 30 but I only eat it occasionally and choose high welfare, locally reared meat. I suppose I’m a flexitarian. Some days I only eat plant-based foods, not on purpose, it just works out that way. Dairy products don’t really agree with me but I love veg, grains, beans, lentils and peas so that’s what forms the majority of my diet. When cooking meat I often add beans to make the dish go further and provide extra nutrition.
So, getting back to pulses. I’ve been reading a book called “Pulses – Nutritious Seeds For A Sustainable Future”. Pulses really are incredible – they’re naturally packed with low-fat protein and fibre, they’re rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. They are excellent antioxidants that counteract our natural ageing processes (great news!) and we digest them slowly because they are high in complex carbohydrates and fibre. This gives us a feeling of satiety but also helps to stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels by reducing spikes after mealtimes. Pulses make an ideal choice for people with diabetes or those trying to manage their weight. On top of that they’re cheap and great for the planet. They require little water to grow and naturally improve the fertility of the soil that they’re grown in.
We use British-grown pulses in our bace products after discovering a company called Hodmedod’s who source and supply pulses from British farms. I love that Hodmedod’s offer little known pulses which aren’t readily available in supermarkets. We use red haricot beans, carlin peas, split fava beans and green split peas from their fantastic range. If you haven’t heard of carlin peas before they’re like chick peas but smaller, nuttier in flavour and I think are superior in taste and texture.
January for me is a time for change, reinvention and learning. In January I’ve set myself a challenge of eating pulses every day. I’ll be exploring different cultures and how people cook with them, I’ll be searching out new pulses and cooking them up with new found flavour combinations. Follow me on Instagram to see daily updates and witness my love affair with pulses take on new heights! I can’t wait to get started…
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