Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In Praise of Pulse

I have been preparing and cooking pulses lately and find them very satisfying on several levels.  I am an O blood type  and high protein meals suit me just fine but....when I do too much meat and vegetables I can get constipated still.  Adding into my diet some cooked pulses everyday, seems to keep things moving very nicely and I get the necessary nutrition from the pulse if processed correctly.  

Picture shows cooked grains; amaranth, quinoa and flax seeds, then cooked adzuki beans and walnuts.  All are pulse foods.

What is a pulse?  It is cooked legumes like beans, lentils peas and peanuts but in combinations.  Legumes/pulses have high amounts of plant protein but are lacking in one....one essential amino acid; methionine.  So, if you combine 1 or more legumes with 1 or more grains you get a better balanced plant protein.  The grains, wheat, spelt, quinoa, rice, corn, millet amaranth, etc also have proteins but are lacking in lysine which the legumes have and the grain has higher methionine.  

Vegetarians have been "combining" for years to get the protein they need from plants.  Poor populations also "combine" because legume and grain foods have been less expensive and readily available.   Vegetarian and vegan diets are not optimal healthy diets in the long run....and taken to an extreme can actually harm health.  From the Blood Type Diet, by Dr. Dadamo, blood type As have the best chance to succeed with a vegetarian diet if it contains some animal products, than Os or Bs who thrive on high protein; meat (Os &Bs) and milk( Bs) based diets. 

Some traditional combinations; dal (peas)+ rice, beans + corn, tofu (fermented soybean) +rice and  the American favorite, peanut butter + wheat bread. 

As an O blood type, I am always looking for ways to get legumes and grains into my diet without it causing sluggish bowel problems or weight gain that normal starchy foods cause.   Pulses properly prepared, solve both problems for me. 

I introduced the idea of combining for each blood type in an older post titled, "Plant Protein Pilaf".  I listed all the ingredients and proportions of legumes and grains that would be good for each blood type.  You might refer back to that post with a little effort.  It was a bit overwhelming for most people from what I heard back.  

My concept today is to make it a little less complicated and yet I expect the results to be just as satisfying.  

First ingredient in a good combination is rice it can also be wheat or spelt kernals.  I like basmati brown rice, but any rice will do.  Although, white rice will cook faster and has less nutrition. 
Next is a legume that you like or a couple of them. My latest mix uses crushed split peas, tiny green lentils and small navy beans.  The ratio is 2 to 1.  Two units of rice to 1 unit of combined legumes.  I choose legumes that are small or crush them so they will cook up about the same time as the rice, brown rice. (crushing; in a hand grain grinder, or powerful blender)
You can also combine within the grain part and add a little quinoa, amaranth, or millet.  You can also throw in seeds like chia or flax or walnuts. 

Soaking is the next very important step.  You must soak (chlorine-free) water, the rice with the legumes at least 8-12 hours, overnight.  The amount of water is usually  3 1/2 parts water to 1 part dry combined legumes. I like to use a bit more water than that.

 Soaking neutralizes the phytic acid on the grains, legumes and all seeds. Phytic acid is anti-nutrient.  It binds nutrients in the gut so you do not get them.  Water neutralized the acid. No need to pour off the water unless soaking goes longer than 12 hours.

Heat the soaked pulse in a pot with a tight lid up to almost boiling, reduce heat and secure lid and cook low and slow for almost an hour.  Stir a few times, add more water or broth (like my own bone broth) and add salt towards end of cooking.  A successfully cooked pulse will furnish the basis of a nice hot meal at the time, and the left over can be kept in the refrigerator for many days.  I can use some cooked pulse in the morning heated up with my eggs, or warmed with some honey and raisins and kefir, or lunch with some home canned salsa heated up with it, or evening meal with sauted vegetables and meat. 

 Cooked pulses are satisfying and nourishing and do not "bind" me up (just the opposite) and in moderation do not put on pounds.    

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