Are you looking for a recipe for “pulse” – that Biblical food favored by Daniel the prophet? Do you simply enjoy healthful food that nourishes your family? Either way, you may want to give pulse a try for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
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If you’ve ever read the Old Testament, you may be familiar with the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. The lion’s den story doesn’t involve pulse, but it is probably the story for which Daniel is best known. The short version is: Daniel, the prophet, angers the king’s other servants by being too righteous and so they plot to have him thrown into a den of lions to be eaten. Seem harsh? Pretty typical, for the times.
Veggie Tales, the Biblical videos for children, has a version that is more my speed, though. In their story of Daniel, the wicked servants plotting Daniel’s punishments sing, “We could use him as a footstool or a table to play Scrabble on then tie him up and beat him up and throw him out of Babylon!” That’s fierce.
Daniel’s Gut Health
My favorite story about him, though, is about the health of Daniel’s gut, and it took place when he was much younger. This is the one that involved pulse – and a whole foods showdown Bible style.
When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel, as was common at the time, he retained the most intelligent, the “fairest”, the most talented of the royal houses of the Israelites to serve him in his court. Everyone else was sent to toil in the mines or the quarries or the fields.
We don’t know who Daniel’s parents were, but we do know that he was included in this this group of royal favorites (as were his three friends who became Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego of fiery furnace fame). Living at court meant that Daniel was allowed a portion of the “king’s meat”; there’s no record of what that specifically was but apparently Daniel felt that food was unworthy to consume and that it would “defile” him (Daniel 1:8).
Whole Foods Showdown
Daniel proposed an experiment to his overseer, Melzar: “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenances of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat and as thou seest, deal with thy servants” (Daniel 1:12-13).
So, for ten days, Daniel and his friends ate pulse and drank water while all the other servant ate the king’s meat. The results?
“And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat…” (Daniel 1:15)
What is This Pulse?
Pulse is any number of leguminous crops – beans and lentils, that sort of thing. It can also be any edible seed, like grain. (Stay tuned for a recipe for pulse below.)
My reason for sharing this today is not to advocate a vegetarian lifestyle or to suggest a pulse cleanse or any such thing! I’m merely fascinated by this obvious connection between what we eat and our “countenances.” Daniel’s gut was kept healthy and so his body was “fair.” Is it any wonder the scriptures talk of health in the navel first and then marrow in the bones!
I don’t believe it was only Daniel’s physical body that appeared healthier either, but that his mind and spirit were kept clean by his decision to eat only that food which he felt was clean. Daniel went on to use his spiritual clarity to interpret dreams, stand for truth and righteousness and inspire several conquering kings to respect and even revere his God.
Daniel’s personal integrity inspires me and makes me wonder what, in my own diet, could be hampering my physical and spiritual well being.
Some foods I’m already aware of as being inappropriate for me to eat: refined and processed sugars, refined and processed grains, any product containing GMOs, and even some grains like wheat that haven’t been properly prepared.
What does your list look like? Have you thought about it before? Prayed about it?
Even as I analyze my list, I have to ask if there are more items I need to be on the watch for. How can I know what I should and shouldn’t eat?
How do I know?
After all, that’s how I discovered the other items on my list were harmful for me. I also read, read, read! I look forward to further exploring this connection between Daniel’s gut, my gut and “countenance”, including my spiritual well-being.
My religion has a law of health called The Word of Wisdom and one of the promises attending those who follow this law is that they will “find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge…and shall run and not be weary and shall walk and not faint.”
I could use a little of that!
A Recipe for Pulse
This is a very mix and match recipe and it has evolved in our house over the years. In fact, if you’re a reader who’s been with us for awhile you may notice that this recipe is different from our original one. Meals and palettes change and it was time for an update of this simple and nourishing dinner recipe!
You can change any of these ingredients to suit your family’s tastes as long as you keep the ratio of dried beans and grains to liquid about the same. The add-ins and add-ons are completely optional and you can come up with your own. I’ve tried to keep the suggestions here as Biblically accurate as possible. However, dinner isn’t scripture, so feel free to experiment and find what will nourish your body tonight. In fact, feel free to eat this for breakfast, if you’re looking for a non-sugary meal!
Doubling and Soaking
For my family, I double this recipe at the very least. If I want leftovers to upcycle into taco filling, pita stuffing or casserole mixture, then I’ll triple or quadruple it. Bear in mind that dried beans and grain will usually double in size once they’re hydrated in water. So, what starts out as one cup of beans will become roughly two cups once it’s been prepared.
You can prepare this recipe in a slow cooker (my preferred method) or on the stove top. Please be sure to read the notation in the recipe about PRE-SOAKING your beans and grains. To learn more about the benefits of soaking beans and grains, please read this article from Nourish Kitchen – click here.
This is a very mix and match recipe and it has evolved in our house over the years. You can change any of these ingredients to suit your family's tastes as long as you keep the ratio of dried beans and grains to liquid about the same. The add-ins and add-ons are completely optional and you can come up with your own. I've tried to keep the suggestions here as Biblically accurate as possible. However, dinner isn't scripture, so feel free to experiment and find what will nourish your body tonight. In fact, feel free to eat this for breakfast, if you're looking for a non-sugary meal!
- 12 oz usually about one bag or 1 1/2 cups mixed dried beans like pinto, black and navy
- 12 oz lentils and/or split peas
- 1 cup whole barley and/or wheat an ancient variety like spelt or kamut, if you want to stay authentic
- 1/2 cup millet amaranth or even quinoa
- 1 tbsp whole mustard or 2 teaspoons powdered mustard
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp cumin
- Sea Salt
- 2 cups Bone broth or vegetable broth optional
- Toppings like chopped leeks sliced olives, sautéed garlic, freshly chopped dill or mint, chopped nuts, chopped dates, fresh pomegranate, dried figs, raisins, fresh milk cheeses like feta, grilled or sautéed meats
- Unleavened bread like naan or tortilla for scooping
The first step is to pre-soak all grains and legumes the night (or at least six hours) before meal preparation. I recommend keeping the legumes in one bowl and the grains in another. If you're using quinoa or amaranth, I suggest you soak them in separate bowls.
After soaking, rinse the contents of each bowl and place into a slow cooker insert or a large soup pot - reserve the quinoa or amaranth, if using. Be sure to rinse the legumes and grains until the water runs clear and there are no longer bubbles (especially on the quinoa and amaranth).
Pour the broth over the beans and grains, if using.
Cover beans and grains in water and add a pinch or so of sea salt. Cook on low heat until the beans and grains begin to soften. Cook times will vary, but plan on several hours. I like to use my slow cooker so that I don't end up scorching the pulse mixture as it cooks.
Add the mustard, turmeric, garlic, coriander, cumin and bay leaves. Feel free to play around with the amounts - I often change them depending on my mood and even the season of the year. Sometimes I even add a cinnamon stick or some anise. Go crazy.
Add the quinoa and amaranth, if using, and another cup of water or broth. Simmer a half hour to an hour. Stir occasionally and keep your eye on the moisture level. You may like your pulse a little on the dry side, or you may enjoy eating it more like soup. If you prefer it dry, strain (if needed) and serve your pulse when the beans have reached the desired consistency. If you prefer the pulse more like soup, keep your liquid level just above the pulse and simmer until the spices have mingled well and the pulse has reached the desired consistency.
Serve hot and top with any of the above ideas.
You can prepare this recipe in a slow cooker (my preferred method) or on the stove top.
Please be sure to read the notation in the recipe about PRE-SOAKING your beans and grains. You can also add rice to this mixture but it can mess up your moisture and be a pain in the pattooty. If you want to eat rice with your pulse, I suggest you prepare it separately. You may also prepare the wheat and barley on the side, if you prefer. You can also omit the grains altogether if you want to go gluten free.
If you want a vegetarian evening, don't use bone broth.
Remember to ask a blessing or say Grace before you dig in!
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Cover photo credit gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.