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Lentils consist of different varieties of small lens shaped dried edible seeds, and are one of the pulse crops grown by farmers. Lentils generally grow two to a pod, and are yellow, red-orange, green, brown, cream colored, or black (black beluga© )in color. Source: Dave Oien, Timeless Seeds, Conrad, MT. They are sold whole or split and are used for stews, such as Dal, which is a thick stew served with rice in India and neighboring countries. Many other regions like those in South Asia, West Asia, and the Mediterranean also use lentils as a mainstay in their diets. Many countries use lentil flour for making pasta and baked goods. Dry peas consist of different varieties of dry peas which have been grown in farm fields and allowed to dry in their pods. There are two main varieties of dry peas that are used for food: yellow and green peas. Split means that the whole pea has been split in half, which is done so that they cook faster. Dry split peas are used in soups, like split pea soup! Dry peas are often found in stir fry, salads, dips, and casseroles. Dry peas are also ground into flour. In China, dry yellow pea flour is used to make vermicelli noodles. Dry Beans raised by farmers consist of different varieties of beans which are related to the green beans we grow in gardens for vegetables. Dry beans are the dried seeds from the pods of bean plants. Dry beans include black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, fava beans, mung beans, and many more varieties. They are used in soups, casseroles, dips, and for bean flour. Dried beans can be soaked in water and then cooked, making them a very good value. Beans may also be purchased as canned goods. Chickpeas grow in pods like other pulse crops. There are two main types o chickpeas: Kabuli and Desi. Kabuli chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are large and white. Kabuli chickpeas are grown in northern plains states as well as Idaho, California, Oregon, and Washington. They are the main ingredient in hummus, and are also used in salads and vegetable dishes. Desi chickpeas are smaller and dark, are used mainly for Dal, and are grown in India. Chickpeas should be eaten cooked. Dry chickpeas can be made into baking flour. Some cultures grind chickpeas up for a coffee substitute after they have been specially prepared. BUYING AND PREPARING PULSES Pulses are available in grocery stores in different forms, including canned, prepackaged in dry form, and/or in bulk. You can find chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with other ready-to-use canned beans. Lentils and split/whole dry peas are generally stocked near the rice and dry beans. Pulses should be cooked before eating. Unlike dry beans and chickpeas, lentils and dry peas do not require soaking prior to cooking. Use unsalted water because adding salt to the cooking water may cause the lentils to toughen during cooking. Add acidic ingredients (such as tomatoes) later in the cooking process because they may slow the cooking process. Food safety experts recommend that cooked pulses and cooked dishes containing pulses should spend no more than two hours at room temperature due to their protein and moisture content. Refrigerate leftovers at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and use leftovers within three days. Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit prior to consuming. Dietary Guidelines are depicted on the www.myplate.gov website Why Pulses are Super Foods Pulse crops are high in protein, high in fiber, have a low glycemic index, and contain significant amounts of micronutrients that have very favorable nutritional attributes which can address health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, weight control, digestive tract health, some types of cancer, food allergies, and pre-natal health. Pulse crops also contain high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble dietary fiber can reduce intestinal absorption of fat and cholesterol. Besides the benefits to cardiovascular and digestive tract health, fiber helps prevent large swings in blood sugar levels. A serving of cooked split peas provides 10 grams of dietary fiber compared to the 1 – 3 grams provided by a serving of most commonly consumed grains, fruits, and vegetables. Due to their high protein levels, they are often used in pet foods too. Nutrients Pulse crops are good sources of important minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese. They also contain significant amounts of B vitamins, including folate. Adequate folate intake is important for fetal development because folate is necessary for the formation and development of new and normal tissue. Folate helps break down an amino acid associated with heart disease, improves metabolism functions, and may reduce asthma and allergy suffering. Lentils and chickpeas boast among the highest concentrations of folate. A single cup of lentils or chickpeas provides over a third of the recommended daily allowance of folate. Food allergies: Pulses are gluten free which makes them suitable for those that are allergic or sensitive to gluten. One of every 133 people are gluten intolerant in the U.S. Pulse protein concentrates can also be used to replace eggs as a food ingredient in some applications. Eggs are the fourth most common food to trigger allergic reactions in adults in the U.S. Pulse ingredients may also be used to manufacture products targeted at people with lactose intolerance and allergies to soy products. NUTRITION pulse investigations...
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