5 Surprising Ways to Use Pulses

Healthy pulses products chick-pea, lentil, beans and peas, top view

Healthy pulses products chick-pea, lentil, beans and peas, top view

Last year was The International Year of Pulses. Never heard of the term? You’re not alone. Pulses include dry peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Chefs throughout the world have been experimenting with these babies and have come up with new and creative ways to use them.

The Nutrition Lowdown on Pulses

Pulses are a good source of protein: Lentils deliver double the protein per serving of quinoa. They’re also an excellent source of fiber, and contain four times more fiber than brown rice. They’re also rich in antioxidants, iron and folate, and are a good source of potassium. Pulses are also naturally free of sodium, cholesterol and gluten.

So how exactly can these superfoods be used in cooking and baking? I had the opportunity to learn from chefs at the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America in Napa, Calif., who have been experimenting with pulses. Here are five creative ways you’d never think of using them.

Photo by: Todd Patterson

Todd Patterson

Tapenade

Instead of just using olives in your tapenade, add lentils to up the protein and fiber. The type of fiber found in lentils is called soluble fiber, which has been shown to help reduce cholesterol.

Chocolate Mousse

A new trend, called aquafaba, is when you use the liquid of the pulse. Most folks toss the liquid from canned or soaked pulses, like chickpeas. Instead, whip the liquid with almond milk until it becomes thick like whipped cream. Add melted chocolate for a delicious chocolate mousse.

Tater tots

Tater tots

©Mark Stout

Mark Stout

Potato Tots

Instead of using shredded russet or sweet potatoes for tots or pancakes, combine them with pureed garbanzo beans for a boost in protein and fiber.

Chocolate-banana Loaf cake on paper

Chocolate-banana Loaf cake on paper

Chocolate Cake

Use a lentil puree (a combo of pureed lentils and water) to sugar, oil and eggs. Combine with a dry mixture of all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda and salt for a moist, chocolatey cake.

Naan Bread

Combine bread flour with yellow pea and baby lima bean flour to make the dough for naan bread. These flours can be used in a variety of gluten-free baking recipes, but take a little time to get used to, since they don’t have the same consistency as traditional gluten-filled all-purpose flour.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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