I love creating recipes that include unexpected ingredients. That’s why I had so much fun developing and testing recipes for my newest book, Slim Down Now, which stars pulses. If you’re not familiar with word "pulses" in a culinary context, it’s the umbrella term for lentils, peas, chickpeas, and all types of beans. I love pulses because they’re naturally gluten-free, rarely a trigger when it comes to allergies or intolerances, and rich in nutrients (hello, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!).
Pulses also have a long list of health perks: Studies suggest that eating them regularly may help curb cholesterol, protect against certain cancers, improve athletic performance, support weight loss, reduce belly fat, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and boost overall nutrient intake.
Pulses are also incredibly versatile. They’re used in nearly every cuisine around the globe, and can be incorporated into both savory and sweet dishes. On the sweet side, I’ve experimented with adding pulse flours—like chickpea or fava bean flour—into baked goods and dark chocolate truffles. I also use pureed pulses, like beans or lentils, in smoothies, puddings, and other better-for-you goodies.
But if you're looking for an uber simple pulse-based treat, try the recipe below for cherry-chia-chocolate popsicles. A quarter cup of white beans whips right in with the other ingredients (including bananas and coconut milk), lending a thicker texture to the mixture—not to mention extra nutrition. White beans may sound like an odd choice for this recipe, but because they don’t have a strong flavor, they actually blend quite well.
The use of beans in dessert recipes is a well-established tradition in Asian countries (think red bean ice cream, mooncakes, and yokan)—and one that's long overdue for adoption in the U.S. You won't be disappointed, promise.
Chocolate-Chia-Cherry Pulse Popsicles
Makes: 4 posicles
¼ cup banana slices
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (the kind in the dairy case, not canned)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
¼ cup white beans (canned, drained, and rinsed)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup frozen pitted cherries, sliced
¼ cup chopped 70% dark chocolate
In a blender or food processor, combine banana, coconut milk, chia seeds, beans, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Stir in cherries and chocolate. Spoon into four BPA-free pop molds and freeze overnight. (Note: for best quality eat within two weeks.)
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.