The Royal Botanical Gardens is a wonderful resource, especially for people in the Hamilton and Burlington area. It has four gardens contained within a 1100-acre natural area, lots of trails and educational programs. The Nature Centre houses a Mediterranean garden and greenhouse as well as special exhibits. The reason I share this is because in 2016, when the boys were 12, 8, and 4, we were at the RBG for a visit—it is close to where we live so we would visit the Nature Centre in the winter months as they always have an amazing special exhibit.
In addition to attending the regular exhibit, there was a display panel that shared information about pulses, as 2016 was the International Year of Pulses.
It was an amazing revelation! Pulses are the dried seeds of legumes, and include dried beans, dried peas, lentils, and chickpeas, although they come in many different shapes and sizes.
Pulses are a miracle food in a number of different ways:
- They are extremely healthy, and part of the Mediterranean diet. They are high in fibre, low in fat, and a good source of protein.
- They are very affordable!
- They produce very little greenhouse gas emissions.
- They require less water to grow than many other crops and can adapt to semi-arid conditions.
- They are good for soil health.
- They store for a very long period of time.
Pulses are consumed around the world, and are very diverse. My advice, though, is to make sure that you are following a recipe if you are learning to cook more with pulses. After our trip to the RBG, we came home and I made some sort of creamy chicken casserole dish. Thinking that chickpeas would go well with chicken (being slightly tongue-in-cheek there 😅), I drained a can of chickpeas and stirred them in. As soon as they sat down for dinner they boys loudly protested at the addition… And when they ate the dish they protested even more! It has become one of those family stories … “remember when Mom began cooking with pulses…” I defended the dish just the other day, and John said “well I don’t complain about any food, but I complained about that.”
So, please, don’t do that. There are many amazing and delicious ways to cook pulses. Take a look at this excellent website about pulses, that includes information, recipes, and some cooking tips (yes, I should have taken a look at this before jumping in with the chickpea chicken casserole). And of course pulses are one of the items you can find in the bulk section of your local store, so it means you can reduce packaging if you are able to bring your own container!
Pulses aren’t one of the ‘sexy’ foods people get excited about, but they are definitely something to celebrate: in fact, February 10th is World Pulses Day as designated by the Food and Agricultural Association of the United Nations. The goal of the day is to highlight the importance pulses can play in creating a sustainable future: the theme for 2024 is Pulses: nourishing soil and people.