It’s hard to describe the feelings I had walking through these historic doors of the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Deep down I know I missed my chance to explore this in my college years. I went the business and communications route, but I always dreamed of culinary school. So when I had the chance to role play student life for a weekend, for the Love Pulses event, my heart was singing. It was as beautiful and inspiring as I thought it would be.
The Love Pulses event was hosted by the American Pulse Association, the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Pulses. The magical weekend was coordinated by the lovely and talented ladies of Maxwell Public Relations. Food bloggers, farmers, media professionals, chefs, and nutritionists were brought together to learn about these nutritional powerhouses. From sustainable farming practices to dietary trends and cooking demos, I learned more than I could of imagined.
Let me introduce you to pulses with a few factoids:
- Pulses are dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas.
- Pulses contain 9 grams of protein per 1/2 cup cooked serving, that is twice the protein from quinoa. And unlike many protein rich-foods, pulses are low in fat.
- Pulses deliver high levels of potassium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamin and iron. One serving of black beans has 1.5 times the amount of iron as flank steak, plus three-time the folate of kale, and as much potassium as a banana.
- Pulses have been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce blood cholesterol and blood pressure, thus reducing the risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
- Pulses are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, helping with staying regular, losing weight, and feeling fuller longer–score!
- Pulses are excellent source of folate, a B vitamin important during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects. Folate is also essential to brain development.
This was the demo kitchen, my type A personality had to sit in the front row, of course. We watched vegan chocolate mousse come to life. It was glorious.
I enjoyed my daily breakfast at this sweet little table with my kind and talented friend Michelle Stern, from What’s Cooking with Kids. We’d talk about life and played with ‘are you smarter than a CIA Greystone student’ cards, answer: no.
My first day of class was with Master Baker and Chef Steve….he was informative, easy-going, and brilliant with breads. I was lucky to meet Daniel Ahern, the Chef of Gluten Free Girl. Daniel is quiet, humble, funny, and a genius in the kitchen. When Daniel took his turn at “whipping” something up with fresh seasonal ingredients, it was one of the most delicious meals I had during my stay there. Daniel is photographing our gluten-free pizza dough tutorial with Master Baker Steve.
The CIA kitchen on the third floor was full of beauty and whimsy. I loved this zen your mise en place sign, and the “Hello, is it me your cooking for?” by Lionel Ritchie. It was awesome.
Here is a vivid scene I will always remember. When you bring a bunch of food bloggers together to cook, you get quite a feast. For real. It was endless, and I didn’t even come close to sampling everything. Irvin Lin from Eat the Love made incredible cookies with pulses, and Sean Timberlake from Punk Domestics rocked the falafels. The room was filled with iPhones and food. Yep, food bloggers in the house.
Pulses can also do amazing things for desserts. Much healthier than standard dessert fare, and just as tasty, I promise.
Pulses also do fantastic things for bread. This sourdough black bean bread was moist, flavorful, and oh, so delicious. Look at the color on that…swoon.