It’s the only protein-packed food group that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It costs a fraction of its meaty counterparts, has a miniscule environmental impact, multiple health benefits and is known as one of the genuine chameleons of the food world. Oh yes, please put your hands together for pulses.

The United Nations has designated 2016 International Year of Pulses and if 2013, the Year of Quinoa, is anything to go by, you’re going to see an awful lot more of these fabulously flexible, delicious and nutritious foodstuff. Sales of that grain subsequently increased by 160%.

For those who aren’t absolutely 100% sure but are maybe too shy to ask, we’re talking about lentils, dried beans and peas. And the options are pretty much endless.

The Gate Restaurant in North London played host to the official UK launch of the year and demonstrated the phenomenal array of amazing dishes you can create with pulses. Guests were treated to a fabulous array of delicious dishes demonstrating pulses’ huge flexibility.

Egyptian Faba bean and chickpea falafel, American red kidney bean burgers, Chinese crispy won ton baskets with sprouted mung beans, Aduki bean koftas, Chocolate Brownies (made with pea and lentil flour) – these were just some of the extraordinary variety of platters and bowls on offer. And that’s not to mention the Jalapeno Margaritas with tequila infused Pinto beans. Did you know you could use pulses for cocktails?

You can find more amazing, delicious recipes on the official website.

If it’s stats and facts you’re after to convince you of the benefits of these amazing, nutritionally dense legumes, then here we go:

  • Lentils deliver double the protein per serving of quinoa
  • It takes 43 gallons of water to produce 1 lb. of pulses
  • It takes roughly 800-1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 lb. of meat

And if you’re after one final argument to pop the chickpea on top of the cake – then how about the cost – a serving of lentils costs about 7p – compared with £1 for beef.

So, sustainability and affordability covered. What about the health benefits?

Pulses are packed with nutrients and are a fantastic source of protein. They are made up of about 20-25 percent of protein by weight, which is double the protein content of wheat and triple that of rice.

Pulses have a low fat content and contain zero cholesterol. They are a significant source of dietary fibre – packing in four times more than brown rice. Since they don’t contain gluten, they are an ideal food for coeliacs. Additionally, pulses are rich in minerals and B-vitamins, all of which play a vital role in health.

If you’re one of the increasing number of people looking to dial down your meat consumption for both health and environmental reasons, even just a small amount, then consider a few creative tips from food writer Jenny Chandler, author of Pulse, who recommends smart but simple, creative ideas like swapping half then mince in your shepherd’s pie for lentils or substituting cream with blended beans when making soup.

As Jenny told guests at the launch party, using affordable pulses for a number of meals leaves you with money in your pocket buy really good quality meat. It’s time to show that you #LovePulses.

Apart from The Gate, you can find pulse joy at a number of other Food Made Good restaurants, including Leon, Thali Café, Dishoom and Wahaca. All of them turning these humble peas and beans into scrumptious dishes. They’ve all got their finger on the pulse – have you?

You can find out more IYP here about and here.