How do I get grains and pulses into my diet?

How do I get grains and pulses into my diet?

There’s been plenty written about how we should be eating more grains and pulses in the quest for a healthier diet, but often it’s not clear how you can introduce them into your daily meals. Here are my top ten tips for doing just that.

How do I get grains and pulses into my diet

Use a tin!

If you don’t have time to soak and boil pulses, use tinned (as long as they’re only in water, and not added flavourings).

Lose the spuds!

Instead of plain old spuds, why not make some spicy chickpeas in a slow cooker (see recipe) and serve with a piece of chicken, fish, or a steak.

Spicy Chickpeas

Serves 2 with leftovers!


  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 small sweet potato, finely chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp red lentils
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 chicken or veg stock pot (or crushed stock cube)
  • Pinch of chilli flakes


Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Mix well and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

Plan ahead!

Instead of making single portions, cook in bulk, and then freeze the extra for lunches or quick dinners.

Switch your spirals!

Buckwheat pasta is widely available in health food shops, and is really easy to use. Keep an eye on it when cooking and make it al dente so it doesn’t feel slimy.

How do I get grains and pulses into my diet

See red!

If you’re cooking tomato based sauces for curry or pasta, add some red lentils for texture. They don’t need pre-soaking, and don’t take too long to cook.

Lunch it!

Use cooked quinoa (keen-wah) as a base and add a tin of beans or chickpeas, roasted veg or tuna (or all of the above!). Dress with a glug of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, and you’ve got a tasty lunchtime salad.

Flip ‘em!

Buckwheat flour can be used to make tasty pancakes. Fill them with spinach and cheese for a different dinner option.

How do I get grains and pulses into my diet

Bung in some beans!

Add borlotti, cannellini or butter beans to stews, casseroles, mince dishes and soups.

Replace the rice!

Try using freekah, quinoa or buckwheat as an accompaniment to your curries or chilli con carne. Buy them pre-cooked if you’re not sure what to do with them, as they’re now available in supermarkets.

Bring on the bircher!

Why not knock up a Bircher muesli for breakfast? Mix quinoa, oats and buckwheat (you can find these pre-mixed in the cereal aisles of most supermarkets) with grated apple, goji berries, Greek yoghurt and milk. Leave to soften overnight and bingo!