How to power up your meals with pulses


Legumes and pulses are being hailed as planet-friendly nutrition powerhouses- but let's face it - they can taste pretty plain by themselves. Here are some fresh ideas and clever tips on how to incorporate them into your meals.

Plant-based eating is experiencing a comeback, and all the better for you, because nuts, fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients and minerals. It’s easy enough to persuade yourself or your family to eat colourful and readily accessible foods like carrots, cucumber and berries, but what about more homely legumes and pulses?

Bean there, done that?

Pulses are a part of the legume family, and these humble seed pods include dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. If your imagination stretches as far as defrosting a handful of peas, rest assured - there are many ways you can add legumes to meals you already make.

But first, learn how to prepare dried legumes by soaking them. This step rehydrates them for more even cooking, removes the indigestible carbohydrates that can cause bloating and flatulence, and shortens the cooking time. Else, pop open a can and rinse the contents thoroughly to wash off the excess salt. Then try some of these ideas:

How to include more legumes in your meals

  • Add lentils to your own vegetable and mince recipes.
  • Chuck some chickpeas into stir-fries.
  • Add split peas to soups, casseroles and meat sauces to extend the meal and add extra texture and flavour.
  • Throw some red kidney beans into your lasagne.
  • Oven roast chickpeas for a super snack.
  • Use four-bean mixes as a salad base, then add vegetables and a little oil-based dressing.
  • Serve hummus (puréed chickpeas) with vegetable crudité for a delicious snack.
  • Top toast or make a toasted sandwich with baked beans.
  • Use lentils or mashed chickpeas as a base for patties or vegetarian burgers.
  • Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork.
  • To freeze cooked beans for later use, immerse them in cold water until cool, then drain well and freeze.
  • Freeze puréed beans in ice trays and use to thicken soups or stews.
  • Cooked beans can be refrigerated for at least four days and frozen for up to a year without loss of quality.

We asked Discovery dietitian Terry Harris for her top tip, and she said: "When preparing legumes, remember to only add acidic ingredients, such as vinegar, tomatoes or juice, near the end of the cooking time, when the beans are just tender. If these ingredients are added too early, they can make the beans tough and slow the cooking process."

Learn more handy tips on how to plan and prepare healthy meals by chatting to a dietitian, who can help you with ideas, resources and personalised nutrition goals.

Discovery products recommended for you

Verve up your veggies

Plant-based foods are rich in minerals, fibre and phytonutrients. Embrace the abundance of the earth with the HealthyFood Studio Versatile Vegetables courses, and learn how to turn a variety of vegetables into much-loved meals.

Book a Versatile Veggies course now!

Turn pulses into fine dining

Want trusted recipes to help you turn legumes and pulses into tasty, healthy dishes fit for guests? Look no further than the Discovery Vitality HealthyFood Studio - an exciting teaching and dining experience, which is located in Sandton, Johannesburg and open to the public.
Book today to sign up for a fun and interactive cooking class that will help ignite a life-long love of healthy, appetising cooking

Related articles


Replace those resolutions! (with small, effective habits that last)

How many times have you made a New Year's resolution to "get healthy" that didn't last a month? Don't worry, we're not judging. Fact is - it's pretty tough to stick to resolutions. And according to behavioural economists, it takes a lot more than sheer willpower.


10 ways to eat better every day

Finding it difficult to keep up a healthy diet? Try these 10 easy-to-remember hacks to help make healthy eating consistently achievable and fun!


Take a chance on an unusual veggie this Heritage Day!

There are many lesser-known veggies that are often overlooked, but are just as good for you as those cool cucumbers and showy carrots! Here are some, and ideas on how to use them.

Log in

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id