How to get kids to eat pulses

Pulses are a highly versatile ingredient to cook with—as either a main meal or a side dish, they are the perfect complement to even the boldest of flavours. But just like any new ingredient, convincing the pickiest eaters in the family to try these nutritious beans, peas and lentils can sometimes prove difficult. Below you will find some fun and creative suggestions for getting your kids excited about eating their pulses.

Start with the familiar

Hummus is a widely popular dip made of chickpeas and many children love it. But did you know you can make it with almost any kind of cooked pulses? Using your favourite hummus recipe, simply replace the chickpeas with cooked lentils or beans. Try serving with toasted pita or sliced veggies, or spread on a sandwich.

Burgers and meatballs are also a popular food with children, and lentils, beans or a mixture of the two can be substituted for meat to make delicious, homemade veggie patties and meatless meatballs. 

Eliminate mushiness

Many kids hate the “mushy” texture of beans. This can be eliminated by cooking with dried beans instead of canned beans, which produce a much more palatable texture. Dried beans should be soaked overnight before cooking.

Take the hands-on approach

Getting kids involved in the cooking process can make them excited about trying the dishes they helped create. Take a trip to the market together and let your children choose the pulses that they want to eat.

When making veggie patties with pulses, let kids help you mix and shape the patties. You can also let kids build their own burritos or tacos using beans as an ingredient.

Play with your food

Beans, peas and lentils are easy to arrange on a plate to create different designs. Shape your beans into happy faces or your lentils into shooting stars—or let your children design their own plate of pulses.

Mix into your favourite soups and sauces

Cooked lentils, beans and peas can easily be pureed and stirred into soups, stews and even sauces. They not only add depth and flavour, but also help thicken your soups and stews to make them heartier and more nutrient-rich.

Save room for dessert

Many desserts incorporate beans, as they have a mild flavour and can add richness and moistness to baked goods. In East Asian cuisine, sweet bean pastes are used often in desserts such as mooncakes and steamed buns. You can easily add beans into your own desserts by making a sweet bean paste from pureed red beans and brown sugar. Cooked black beans can also replace eggs in many chocolate cake and brownie recipes—and your kids will never know the difference!