Fava beans are a type of pulse which, in turn, is the dry edible seed within the pod of a legume.
Legumes include soy, peanuts and green beans. Unlike these seeds however, pulses are low in fat and very high in protein and fibre.
Essentially, peas, beans and lentils are all common varieties of pulses. If you've ever eaten Baked Beans (made with navy beans), hummus (chickpeas), a burrito (black beans), chilli con carne (red kidney beans) or dahl (lentils) with your Saturday night curry, then you're a pulse pro! Welcome.
Growing pulses can have a number of positive impacts on the environment:
- Pulses are nitrogen fixing meaning they take nitrogen from the atmosphere and "fix" it into the soil meaning they can help improve the fertility of the top soil, leaving it healthier upon harvest than when they were sown.
- This essentially means they "produce" their own fertilizer (nitrogen being the main component of most commercial fertilizers) and therefore reduce the risk of polluting chemical run-off entering the water cycle.
- Pulses also have a very low water footprint compared with other protein sources and can be grown (as a result of their nitrogen fixing abilities) in very poor soils where other crops cannot be cultivated.
- To put this into perspective, to grow 1kg of animal protein (bovine meat), 15,415 litres of water is required. To grow 1kg of pulse protein, it's 4055 litres. That's 112 litre of water per gram of bovine protein vs. 19 litres per gram of pulse protein (waterfootprint.org)
Not only are pulses good for a healthy planet but including pulses in your diet can have numerous benefits for healthy people:
- Pulses contain vitamins and micronutrients.
- They can help you to manage blood sugar levels and diabetes because they don't cause blood sugar levels to spike as much as sugary or starchy foods that are low in fibre.
- Pulses are complex carbohydrates which take longer to break down compared with other carbs (sugars) providing longer lasting energy.
- Research has shown that eating pulses can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and help with body weight management - which are all risk factors for heart disease.
THE HUMBLE FAVA BEAN
This is all great news but what about the fava bean. The fava-bulous core of PULSÍTOS.
The fava bean is from the same species as the broad bean - arguably more commonly known - which comes with its own particular baggage of not producing such fond memories for some people... In particular for me. My grandmother used to boil every last sinew of goodness out of those big green beans and put them on a plate with a tiny bit of meat and some equally sad looking carrots. No gravy. Just the simple "wartime" food that she'd grown up eating. Thus for me, the memories of broad beans has never been that positive!
Fava beans on the other hand are nothing like those monstrous green lozenges. Smaller and left on the plant to dry before being harvested in early autumn, fava beans are far more palatable.
The cultivation of fava beans originated in the Middle East reaching Britain at some point during the Iron Age around 1200 years ago (there's a fascinating story there somewhere...imagine a bedouin trader travelling from Jordan or Israel with a handful of favas in the pocket of his aba. The camel caravan bringing him and his family from the fertile crescent to the Eastern Mediterranean. From there the beans would have been traded down through Eqypt, across North Africa, up north through Spain and Western Europe before finally making it across the channel and into the hamlets of Iron Age Britain).
Fava beans would became a primary source of protein that could be harvested and stored all year round. However, the agricultural revolution and improved standards of living saw fava beans fall out of year and become supplanted by meat protein (for those who could afford it). However the falling out of love with fava beans wasn't replicated in other parts of the world.
In the Middle East and Mediterranean fava beans continued to be a dietary staple - remaining so even to this day.
PULSÍTOS - modern meets ancient
Our goal is to bring pulses back to your diet by giving the humble British fava bean a Mediterranean makeover.
Spending time in Barcelona showed us that pulses don't need to be boring. It's all about how you eat them.
The majority of pulses require quite a lot of preparing. Usually bought dried in plastic bags of either 500g or 1kg, we wanted to make pulses more accessible so we decided to make them into a grab&go snack.
We take the finest British grown fava beans, roast them and season them with tastes of the Mediterranean to make a nutritious, delicious and guilt free snack.
We want more people to eat pulses, not only because it's good for you but because it's good for the planet too.
Will you join us?
As a reward for getting to the bottom of this blog post, enter the code FAVABULOUS into the checkout for a well deserved discount!