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6 Healthy Recipes That Will Turn You On to Pulses

Get Pulsin'

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The United Nations (UN) has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses—so, uh, what are pulses exactly? Unlike other superfoods that seemingly came out of nowhere and skyrocketed to health food superstardom, you might already be eating pulses. At the very least, you'll recognize them. Pulse is basically a fancy word for bean—the distinction being that pulses are the dry, edible seeds of legumes. This includes kidney beans, navy beans, mung beans, split peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, and chickpeas. Not only are they super healthy, providing tons of protein, dietary fiber, minerals, and B-vitamins, as well as being low in fat, but they're also sustainable. (Don't worry—we still love beans. We've got 9 Healthy Recipes That Turn a Can of Beans Into a Meal.)

Pulses can be stored for long periods of time before they start to lose nutritional value. Agriculturally, they improve soil quality and reduce the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and they offer profitable employment opportunities in rural areas, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN. Plus, they're super affordable! Restaurants, chefs, and bloggers are taking notice too—check out these tasty new recipes from cookbooks that know a thing or two about healthy eating.

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Middle Eastern-Inspired Salad

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Pulses are naturally gluten-free, so they make perfect sense in this celiac-friendly recipe from Ella Woodward's new cookbook Deliciously Ella Every Day (out April 2016). Use a baking sheet large enough to spread out the cauliflower and eggplants, so they get crispy, not soggy.

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Photo: Clare Winfield

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

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You won't miss the meat with this hearty soup from 100 Best Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson. It brings the spice—but has a surprising kick of sweetness with the addition of mango. Robertson suggests serving it over freshly cooked quinoa or rice for even more staying power.

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Photo: Lucy Schaeffer

Lemon Herb Barley Salad with Fava Beans

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Yes, you're going to have to shell beans by hand for this recipe, but the mindless task affords a real sense of accomplishment when the job is done, says Megan Wolf, M.S., R.D., in her new book Great Meals With Greens and Grains: Over 80 Easy Recipes For Delicious and Healthy Vegetarian Dishes. Still not a fan of shelling? Edamame or peas work well in this dish too, says Wolf.

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Photo: Megan Wolf

Poblano Chiles Pinto Bean Soup

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Pulses are essential for vegans because they are such a great source of protein—made up of about 20-25 percent protein by weight. And because they don't have a ton of flavor on their own, they work well when paired with spices, like in this fiery soup from The Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook by Ginny Kay McMeans. Bonus: This soup is easy to freeze and will last up to three months in the freezer.

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Photo: Ginny Kay McMeans

Ribollita

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This classic Tuscan soup from Eating in the Middle by Andie Mitchell feels more like a meal than a starter with the addition of crusty bread and Parmesan on top. Plus, it's super healthy, clocking in at just 277 calories for two cups.

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Photo: Aran Goyoaga

Moroccan Cauliflower, Chickpea, and Quinoa Bake

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This simple weeknight dinner from The I Quit Sugar Cookbook by Sarah Wilson will become a favorite for nights you're on the verge of ordering takeout. It takes just 25 minutes tops, and you're done!

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Photo: Robert Palmer

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