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Fiber-Rich Pulses to Try Now (Plus Recipes!)

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    It's the Year of the Pulses

    Trend reports are calling 2016 the "Year of the Pulses," and the new 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest eating more of these protein-rich pulses, which include beans and lentils.

    "It's easy to incorporate a variety of pulses in the diet, thanks to their versatility," says Jessica Fishman Levinson, M.S., R.D.N., who is partnering with USA Pulses to spread the word about making these guys a regular part of your diet. USA Pulses is encouraging people to take the Pulse Pledge, commiting to eating pulses at least once a week for ten weeks. Need inspiration to get started? Try these recipes from me and some dietitian friends.

  • Amy Gorin Nutrition

    Lentils

    Lentils are a good source of protein, offering about 9 grams per 1/2 cup cooked, about 17 percent of the daily requirement for a 150-pound woman. A serving also provides 8 grams of fiber, which is 36 percent of your daily need. I love tossing lentils with fruit, red onion, nuts, oil, and balsamic vinegar. They're also great in the form of noodles, either with tomato sauce and veggies or in a casserole. Tolerant Foods, for example, makes penne and other "pasta" with green or red lentils as the only ingredient.

    Get the recipe: Sweet Cranberry & Apple Lentils

  • My Menu Pal

    Black-Eyed Peas

    This pulse isn't just for good luck on New Year's Day. In addition to offering protein and fiber, black-eyed peas also contain bone-building calcium as well as iron, which helps cells transport oxygen throughout the body. Add to a salad (like in the recipe below), or cook as a side dish with onions, canned tomatoes, and spices.

    Get the recipe: Black-Eyed Pea Salad

  • Nutritious Eats

    Chickpeas

    Also called garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a staple of Mediterranean cooking and can be used as a base for falafel, veggie burgers, and more. You can also bake chickpeas for a crunchy snack, which can be used in place of croutons as a salad topping. Chickpeas are a good source of iron, as well as folate, especially important for pregnant women.

    Get the recipe: Falafel Veggie Burger with Feta Yogurt Sauce

  • Emily Kyle Nutrition

    Pinto Beans

    These beans offer up almost 8 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup cooked—and a study in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that eating a high-fiber diet can help with weight loss, especially when high-fiber foods like pinto beans are substituted for foods with a minimal amount of fiber. Pinto beans make a great filling for stuffed portabella mushrooms or peppers, as proven in the recipe below.

    Get the recipe: Greens & Pinto Beans Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

  • Skinny Louisiana

    Kidney Beans

    These red beans provide blood-sugar supporting manganese, as well as potassium, which assists in controlling blood pressure. Work kidney beans into a dip, or make traditional red beans and rice with some added veggies, of course.

    Get the recipe: Skinny Red Bean Dip

  • Abbey's Kitchen

    White Beans

    In addition to providing up to 8 percent of your daily recommended value of calcium, a half of a cup cooked white beans includes up to 41 percent of your daily dose of iron, too. Cook white beans with garlic and onion, or use as a base for healthy meatballs.

    Get the recipe: Vegetarian White Bean "Meatballs" with Low-Carb Noodles

  • The Nutty Nutritionist

    Black Beans

    A Mexican food staple, black beans can add bulk to soups and salsas—yummy recipes for both below—helping to fill you up with each bite. The beans contain many health-promoting minerals, including manganese, copper, magnesium, and iron.

    Get the recipes: Corn Tortilla Soup with Black Beans + Black Bean Salsa