Posts Tagged ‘legumes’

From a nutritional standpoint, the term “pulse” refers to the edible seed of plants in the legume family. Examples of pulses recognized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization include dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cow peas, pigeon peas, lentils, Bambara beans, vetches and lupins.

Pulses are low in fat and a great source of protein and fiber. They also contain important vitamins and minerals. In fact, studies have shown that people who eat at least ½ cup of pulses every day have higher intakes of fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium while having lower intakes of saturated fat.

If you have never cooked with pulses before, canned pulses are a great way to start! They are precooked and very convenient. For those who are watching their sodium intake, canned pulses can be drained and rinsed to reduce sodium that was added during the canning process. Low and no-sodium versions of canned pulses are often available, too. Canned pulses are great for tossing on salads and mixing with other proteins or grains for a complete meal.

There are usually more options available in the dried pulse section of the grocery store, but since they are not precooked they require some advanced planning. If you’re buying dried pulses, look for batches that are uniform in color, size and shape, and that have smooth and unblemished seed coats. Generally dried pulses need to be soaked for 8-10 hours prior to cooking. Package instructions often include “quick” soak methods as well. When you are cooking with dried pulses, add salt and acids, such as tomatoes and vinegar, after the pulses have already softened. Acid and salt both cause the seed coat to harden and slow down the cooking process.

While pulses offer an inexpensive protein source, it is important to note that they are considered an incomplete protein, meaning they lack at least one essential amino acid. All proteins are created from variations of twenty different amino acid building blocks. Some of these amino acids cannot be produced by the human body and must be supplied to us from our food; these are called essential amino acids. It is recommended to eat pulses in combination with grains and other protein sources to make sure the body receives all of the essential amino acids necessary for good health.

World Pulse Day is coming up on February 10, 2023. Get a head start with your celebration by trying out these great recipes!

Writer: Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Tuscarawas County, kendle.4@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu


American Pulse Association. About Pulses. https://www.usapulses.org/. Accessed January 12, 2023.

Global Pulse Confederation. What are Pulses? https://pulses.org/what-are-pulses. Accessed January 12, 2023.

United Nations. World Pulse Day. https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-pulses-day. Accessed January 12, 2023.

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picture of nut butter spread with berries

Do you remember when peanut butter was the only nut butter available on the grocery store shelves? Options included creamy and chunky, and eventually low sodium and natural, too.

Today, the nut butter market has grown exponentially, for a variety of reasons! People with peanut allergies want alternatives to peanut butter, and some schools have gone nut free as a precaution for students with nut allergies. Additionally, consumers like to look for new and exciting flavors to jazz up traditional snacks like PB&J sandwiches.

Most nut butters are made from either tree nuts like almonds, cashews or hazelnuts, or from seeds (e.g. sunflower seed butter), since peanuts are actually a legume. However, chickpea butter now exists as an alternate legume-based spread, and its creators claim it has a similar texture and nutritional profile to peanut butter.

When looking for a nut butter to try, variables to consider include taste, texture, spreadability and nutrition content. To see how nut butters stack up nutritionally, keep in mind that a 2 Tablespoon serving of peanut butter has 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of sugar. Many peanut butter alternatives have more sugar and less protein than peanut butter, so your best bet is to look for options that are comparable to peanut butter in nutrition content. A good rule of thumb is to avoid flavored or sweetened nut butters, like chocolate hazelnut spreads and cookie butters, as these tend to be the highest in sugar.

One nutritional benefit of mixing up your nut butter selection is that while most nuts are similar in fat and calorie content, they contain different vitamins and minerals. Cashews are rich in copper, for example, and almonds are a good source of Vitamin E. So, consuming a variety of nuts – as long as you don’t have a nut allergy – can help provide you with the different vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive.

Don’t forget about portion control when consuming nuts and nut butters, though. A serving of nut butter is only 2 tablespoons, and a serving of raw nuts is ¼ cup- about the size of the palm of your hand. It can be easy to overspread and overeat nuts and nut butters, and the fat and calories contained in these foods can add up quickly. Read your food labels and use measuring utensils to practice portion control, and you’ll get the nutritional benefits of nuts and nut butters without overindulging.


Ettman, L. (2017). Here’s what you need to know about sugar in nut butters. Nutrition Action. https://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/sugar-in-food/sugar-in-peanut-butter/

Nurture Life (2016). Top 7 Kid Approved Peanut Butter Alternatives. https://nurturelife.com/blog/top-7-kid-approved-peanut-butter-alternatives/

USDA (2012). Household Foods Fact Sheet: Peanut Butter, Smooth. https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/factsheets/HHFS_PEANUTBUTTER_100395Oct%202012.pdf

Warren, R.M. (2016). Best nut butters to eat right now. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/nut-butters/best-nut-butters-to-eat-right-now/

Watson, E. (2018). Nut butter… minus the nuts? The amazing chickpea offers a pulse-based alternative. https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2018/04/05/Nut-butter-minus-the-nuts-The-Amazing-Chickpea-offers-a-pulse-based-alternative

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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