If your favorite pastime involves cupcake tins, a spatula, and an impressive spice rack, that doesn’t mean you can’t also take steps towards living a healthier life. Thanks to naturally gluten-free pulse flours—which are made from things like peas, lentils, and chickpeas—you can eat your cake and have it, too. Literally!
These mild-tasting flours are teeming with antioxidants and minerals like folate, iron, and potassium. Plus, they’re protein-packed and contain nearly 30 more grams of fiber per cup than traditional white flour. Not to mention, they’re super affordable, versatile, and easy to find. Most Whole Food’s and local health food stores carry the stuff or you can simply order it on Amazon.
So whether cutting gluten from your diet is a mandatory sacrifice or you just want to give the trend a try, switching wheat flour for pulse flour is a total go in our book. But don’t go substituting the entire amount of flour your recipe calls for with chickpea or bean flour. If you’re a pulse flour first-timer, roll up your sleeves and prepare to experiment, because not every recipe requires a cup for cup swap. To keep things simple, start by subbing half of your usual flour for pulse flour. Once you’ve approved of your pulse-spiked recipes’ taste and texture, you can go ahead and substitute a greater amount. Give some of our healthy ideas below a go, and if you happen to become a fan of gluten-free baking, sift through these other 20 Gluten-Free Flours for some major kitchen inspo.
Healthify Your Desserts
Brownies benefit from a black bean flour batter while chickpea flour renders better blondies. In fact, just a quarter-cup of nutty chickpea flour packs 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of satiating fiber, making your favorite dessert a bit less sinful.
Eat This! Tip
Before measuring out your pulse flour, make sure to whisk it. It tends to be denser than its wheat alternative.
Bake More Satiating Breads & Muffins
Rather than grabbing a nutrient-void blueberry muffin from the deli for breakfast, make a homemade version instead. Experiment using a pea, bean, or lentil flour in lieu of wheat flour to create a morning bite that will actually tide you over until noon.
Eat This! Tip
When making bread or muffin batter, add ¾ teaspoon of xanthan or guar gum per cup of pulse flour to keep the final product from crumbling. And to avoid a soggy bottom, allow the baked goods to let off some steam on a cooling rack rather than leaving them in their hot dish.
Swapping half the beef or turkey meat in your burgers for lentil or bean flour can stretch your meat dollar further and also lend your patties extra moisture and a satisfying texture. You can even use pulse flour in lieu of breadcrumbs the next time you pan fry chicken fingers or fish n’ chips. It’s not as healthy a move as avoiding frying altogether, but it is a step in the right direction. (To make the dishes even healthier avoid the oil bath and bake 'em instead.) If you’re more into vegan fare, try adding a few tablespoons to your veggie burger mix to create a sturdy foundation for all of your healthful toppings.
Add Protein to Your Pizza
Pizza and flatbread lovers, rejoice! There is good news: you can enjoy your favorite cheesy fare without sacrificing your beach bod. Choosing pulse flour over refined white will slash some calories while adding a healthy dose of hunger-quelling protein and fiber. Just add two teaspoons of xanthan or guar gum for every cup of pulse flour to keep the crust together. And instead of tainting your slice with fat-laden cheeses and meats, opt for making one of these Healthy Homemade Pizzas instead.
Harness Its Thickening Powers
If your Thanksgiving gravy lacks substance, forget the cream and butter and add some pulse flour instead. Soups and sauces also benefit from a few tablespoons of the stuff. You can even add the powder to protein shakes for added creaminess and an extra punch of muscle-building protein.