Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Sarah Najera

Organization: FAO
Country: Italy
Field(s) of expertise:
I am working on:

I am an intern at FAO working on the food composition team. I am currently working on the phytic acid database and giving some support on the yield factors for the fish database.

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    • Please find below two recipes using pulses.

      Vegan Beany Brownies

      Brownies, who does not know what they are? They are originally from the USA, however, this recipe is a variation from the usual brownie recipe to offer a healthier sweet dessert. This delicious combination of beans with chocolate is low fat, loaded with fiber, and with some other rich nutritents that allows you to eat them with no guilt! Everything you know about brownies will change after trying this recipe!

      • Ingredients:

      - 2 cups of beans (red kidney beans or black beans - Can or freshly cooked) 

      - 2 tbsp Flaxseeds 

      - 4 tbsp water, boiled 

      - 1/2 cup peanut butter 

      - 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

      - 1/2 cup quick oats (flakes or pulverized, either work great) 

      - 2/3 cup coconut sugar  

      - 1/4 cup coconut oil 

      - 1 tsp vanilla extract 

      - 1 tsp baking powder 

      - Dash of salt 

      * If the dough is too dry add 1/4 cup of bean water

      *Optional for Frosting:  

      - 1/3 cup unsweetened chocolate, chopped 

      - 1/4 cup almond milk  

      - 1/2 tsp Margarine 

      - 1 tbsp powder sugar 

      • Method/directions
      1. Preheat oven at 350° C and let the magic begin. 
      2. Mix together the flaxseeds and water. Set aside. 
      3. For this step, using a food processor is optional but highly recomended since it helps the dough become creamier. Combine all the ingredients in the food processor: beans, peanut butter, cocoa powder, quick oats, coconut sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Pulse until smooth and creamy (if your food processor is too small, make sure you divide the ingredientes to mix them up equally). 
      4. Add into the dough, the flaxseed mixture. Pulse the food processor again until everything is well mixed. 
      5. Grease a 8-inch cake pan and pour in the beany dough.   
      6. Bake for about 15-20 min until set. 

      * Optional directions for Frosting:  

      1. Mix together all the ingredients: chocolate, almond milk, margarine, powder sugar.  

      2. Microwave for 40 seconds. Stop every 10 seconds to stir the mixture until you complete the 40 seconds (If prefered, you may melt the chocolate and butter over a hot-water bath; and then add the rest of ingredients)  

      3. Cover your beany brownies with the chocolate frosting.

      • Total cook time: 30 minutes
      • Servings: Serves 6 or 8 
      • Type of dish: dessert 
      • Tools and equipment: Food processor 



      Cevichochos is a typical dish prepared in the Ecuadorian Andean highlands. This dish can be found either in parks or restaurants, and it is consumed by locals as a snack or main dish during lunch time. The name of this dish (cevichochos) stands for 'cevi' from ceviche and 'chocho' for its main ingredient: the andean lupine, known as Chocho in the region.

      To complete the dish it is combined with lemon juice, together with tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Once it is prepared, people can decide to acompany it with chifles (fried plantains), toastado or chulpi (fried maize), avocado and/or ají (spicy sauce).


      • Ingredients 

      - 1 ½ cup chochos* (with seed-hull: all the important minerals are here) 

      -2 Medium tomatoes: 1 chopped in squares; 1 to make juice 

      -6-8 lemons, juice 

      -1 medium red onion, chopped thin slices 

      -1/3 cup cilantro, chopped 

      -1 Teaspoon Olive oil 

      -1 cup water, boiled 

      -1 Tablespoon Salt 

      -Salt and pepper to taste

      • Method/directions
      1. Wash chochos throughtly and set aside. 
      1. Combine onions, boiled water and salt; set aside for at least 10 min. This process will remove the strong flavour of onion. 
      1. In a blender, add one tomatoe with the juice of 3 lemons. Blend until a juice consistency. 
      1. Strain onions and wash them throughly. 
      1. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining lemon juice, tomatoe juice, chopped tomatoes, strained onions, olive oil, cilantro and chochos. 
      1. Add salt and peper to taste. Set aside for 15 min either in the fridge or a fresh area. 
      1. You may serve this dish with chulpi, tostado, chifles, avocado and/or ají.                                                   
      •  Total cook time: 30 minutes
      • Servings: Serves 4  
      • Type of dish: Starter or Soup 
      • Tools and equipment: Blender, Strainer
    • It is clear a lot of work has been done around pulses. However, I consider most of it stays within the same community. In my case, I was able to participate in the international lupine conference last year in Milan, where all the work related to this field was exposed. Contributions and research has been done, but all the new contributions were not shared with the general public.

      I consider pulses should be used in specific target groups. For example, some innovations should be looked within athletes. Most of the products athletes consume are not natural and in most cases the end product consumed is not natural based. They are people in need of food sources like pulses, but the lack of education or products reduces the chance for pulses to become their first option in diets.

      In a very specific case, lupines (considered as "the food of the poor" just like most pulses), have a very interesting story case in Ecuador. For years this legume was consumed in rural areas, but people within cities would never consider this as an option of food source. Thanks to governmental efforts to promote the nutritional benefits and due to product innovation, the country has reached the level were local production cannot fulfil the countries demand. How did they manage to do this? A big campaign around how nutritious they are, mainly as a snack for kids; doctors started recommending them to women and athletes for its protein and calcium content; and product innovation were chochos (lupines) are presented on a ready-to-eat version in all supermarkets.

      I consider pulses need to modernize. The global trend has changed and most people will not take their time to cook them in a traditional way. Finally, global communication with social media will help a lot with this task. Social media together with gastronomical innovation can help pulses become 'the next quinoa'.