Incorporating pulse grains (dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils) into your diet provides a low-fat, high-fibre source of protein. One cookbook that shows ways to put pulses just about any kind of recipe is Spilling the Beans – Cooking and baking with beans and grains every day by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan, published by Whitecap.
The first section of the book is a primer on beans and grains – the different types and general cooking methods. The chapters arrange the recipes by type – for example, breakfasts, salads, one-dish meals, sides and (my favourite) baking with beans.
Even recipes that fall along traditional beany lines have interesting twists. For example, there are two chili recipes. One has a traditional base of ground beef and kidney beans but adds salsa, barley and cocoa powder, which they explain intensifies the flavours. The second chili is a vegetarian offering, featuring black and kidney beans and chipotle chile along with sweet potatoes.
A recipe that my daughter recommended is the Stir-Fried Chickpeas and Asparagus with Brown Rice and Lemon Tahini Dressing. This recipe is a great main or side dish. I made a double recipe of it for a dinner party last Easter and there were no left-overs.
In the baking section, red lentils and white beans are the pulse grains of choice. Imagine banana bread or carrot cake with extra fibre from white beans! To save time, beans and lentils can be soaked and cooked in big batches and then frozen for use in the recipes. The authors suggest several fruit crisp variations incorporating lentils with the oats and flour for the topping. I’ve tried this several times with great results and the consumers of the crisp none the wiser.
The book doesn’t offer any nutritional analysis of the recipes but it does offer some advice about the benefits of fibre, how to avoid flatulence and other useful information.
Spilling the Beans retails for about $30. Check http://www.whitecap.ca/books/spilling-beans for availability.