You're in luck if you like lentils, beans and chickpeas because the UN has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses.

With food prices — especially meat prices — going up, chefs say incorporating more pulses into your diet will help with your grocery bill too.

"Super easy, super inexpensive, tasty, flexible, these things hit all the marks," said chef Michael Smith, Canada's Year of the Pulses Ambassador.

Pulses are the edible seeds of the legume family and mainstream ingredients in many people's recipe books.

Pledge to eat pulses

Smith, who is also a judge on Chopped: Canada, is urging Canadians to go to pulsepledge.com and sign up to eat half a cup of pulses each week for 10 straight weeks.

lentils

The UN has declared 2016 the year of the pulses. (Westend61/Getty Images)

"It's an amazing way to get started, to remind yourself this is not complicated stuff," he said.

He says it's as simple as buying a can of beans and sticking to low-sodium versions.

"With the canned stuff, just rinse them. All the good stuff you're there for in the first place, you're not going to lose."

Most importantly, pulses are good for you, said Smith.

"Pulses are packed with micronutrients. We know they are loaded with fibre and protein."

Eating local

Pulses are a good option if you want to eat local as well. Canada is a leader in all things pulses, according to Smith.

"We grow the world's pulses right here in Canada. Across the prairies, we're the world's leading grower, producer, and exporter of these things."

The crops are also great for the environment.  

"They actually return more to the soil than they take out. A lot of farmers plant pulse crops as that sort of rotating alternative crop."


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: How to mark the Year of the Pulses.