You may or may not have been as excited as I was to hear the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.). Yes, they make a great meat substitute, but before you flip the page in anger at another vegetarian trying to reel you in to the not-so-dark side, let me tell you that pulses could be your wallet’s best friend.
At less than $2 for a standard can of beans (which will give you multiple servings), they make a super cheap staple food that can be incorporated into endless dishes. Whether you are a vegetarian or not, pulses make great additions to curries, chilies, stir-fries, wraps and burritos, lasagnas, salads, side dishes, and more for a great source of protein, fibre, and micronutrients.
If being good for your wallet and body isn’t enough, these little suckers are also an asset to the environment. Besides acting as a meat alternative (thus requiring much less water, producing much less pollution, and saving more trees), pulses return more to the soil than they take out. As they grow, pulses fix nitrogen into the soil, which turns inert nitrogen into biologically available nitrogen. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. Plus, they are largely grown right here in Canada, so your consumption is more than likely local, and CO2 reducing—not bad for a burrito.
If you’ve bean having trouble imagining a satisfactory meal without meat, this simple and super flexible recipe is a great place to start. Feel free to change up the veggies and bean types (mixed, black, chickpeas, etc.) or add some rice or quinoa. Eat it on the go or at home.
- Four 10-inch flour tortillas
- 1 can mixed beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 avocado, cubed or mashed
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- A couple strands of cilantro
- A few scoops of salsa
- A couple handfuls of spinach or kale, chopped
- ¾ of an onion, chopped
- Tablespoon of some sort of cooking oil (I prefer olive or coconut)
- Some shredded cheese to taste
- A pinch of cumin
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Add cooking oil to a medium-sized frying pan on high heat.
- Add onions and let sizzle until translucent.
- Add bell pepper, spinach or kale, and beans.
- Season with cumin and cayenne pepper. Let cook until the vegetables reach your desired tenderness.
- Lay out tortillas and put even amounts of salsa and avocado in a line down the middle of each.
- Next, put even amounts of bean and vegetable filling in lines down the middle of each tortilla.
- Garnish with cilantro and cheese to taste.
- Wrap it up and fold the ends. Tip: To keep it together, I throw it on my cheap George Foreman grill for a minute or two, which seals it together and gives the tortilla a warm and crispy finish. But, if you don’t have a grill:
- Fold the sides in so they nearly touch (but not quite).
- With the sides folded in, use your thumbs to bring up the bottom of the tortilla. This is almost like wrapping a present; tuck in the ends while bringing up the bottom flap.
- Bring up the bottom of the tortilla and pull it tightly.
- Roll the bottom of the tortilla tightly all the way.
- Wrap in parchment if on-the-go.