25 Recipes and Ideas for Pulses
By Olivia Tarantino
Pulse your way to a better body with these little superfoods that are big in flavor—and even bigger in versatility.
We recently introduced you to these 10 Pulse Pastas You Need In Your Life. But for the uninitiated, pulses are a group of dry seeds that include split peas, lentils, chickpeas, and dried beans. While they all boast a high micronutrient density, the greatest assets of pulses come in the macronutrient department. Packed with both soluble and insoluble satiating fibers, pulses break down slowly in your gut to keep you fuller longer and improve your gut health. These dry seeds are also a superb source of plant-based protein, a macronutrient that helps boost metabolism and build muscle while scorching fat.
Despite being incredibly affordable, tasty, and immensely nutritious, their claim to fame also comes from the fact that they're so versatile—pulses can be used in everything from dips and salads to smoothies and cookies. Using whole pulses in soups, salads, or meat-based dishes will boost the fiber and nutrient content while reducing the cost of the meal. When you puree or powder them, pulses become gluten-free flour alternatives or smoothie-boosting, protein powders that offer a seamless way to get more vitamins and protein into your baked goods and drinks.
The many varieties of pulses and endless possibilities of preparing them make these seeds an essential addition to your pantry, especially if you're participating in Meatless March. So what are you waiting for? Get pulsing with these 25 ways you can start using pulses at every meal.
Use Them In Desserts
Black Bean Brownies
Nutrition: 226 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 159 mg sodium, 37 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 25 g sugar, 7 g protein (calculated with 60% dark chocolate chips)
"It may sound strange, but adding black beans to brownies is an easy way to increase fiber and protein to your brownies," says Rebecca Lewis, RD. "It also makes them gluten-free. Simply swap one cup of flour for one cup of black beans." For more tips on how to make your brownies healthier, check out these 20 Best-Ever Tips and Swaps for Brownies.
Get the recipe from That Oven Feelin'.
Red Bean Hamantaschen
Yields: 26 cookies
Nutrition (per cookie): 170 calories, 8 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 2 g protein (calculated with double the bean filling and ¾ cup sugar; did not calculate oatmeal filling)
A hamantash is pocket-like, filled cookie recognizable for its triangular shape. And while hamantaschen are a Jewish treat, this blogger transforms them by using traditional Asian ingredients like Adzuki beans, also known as red beans. Adzuki beans are rich in free-radical-fighting antioxidants, including anthocyanin and catechin, which have been shown to reduce fat accumulation and inflammation, according to a study in Nutrition Research.
Get the recipe from My Name is Yeh.
Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: 24 cookies
Nutrition (per cookie): 121 calories, 4.4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 59 mg sodium, 16.6 g carbs, 3.6 g fiber, 6.1 g sugar, 5 g protein
We know what you're thinking: "Chickpeas? In cookies?" Yes. These beans might be perfect in savory foods like hummus, but they also make a great, protein-packed gluten-free substitute for flour. Just one of these cookies has five times the amount of protein than Udi's gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. For more ways you can use chickpeas in dishes, check out these 20 Amazing, Surprising Ways to Eat Chickpeas.
Get the recipe from Begin Within Nutrition.
Replace Your Meat
Grillable Veggie Burgers
Nutrition: 427 calories, 18 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 652 mg sodium, 53 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 14 g protein (calculated with 3 tbsp BBQ sauce, and 1 whole wheat bun per serving)
If you've ever made a veggie burger from scratch before, you probably know they're fairly fragile, and you wouldn't dare think to put them on a grill. Well that all changes with this recipe from Minimalist Baker. She creates a binder from omega-3-rich walnuts and panko breadcrumbs, sweetens it up with sauteed onion and smoky BBQ sauce, adds protein with mashed black beans and slow-releasing starches from brown rice. Spice it up with chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika, and you've got yourself a killer griller.
Get the recipe from Minimalist Baker.
General Tso's Chickpeas
Nutrition: 473 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 694 mg sodium, 80 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 15 g protein (calculated with canola oil, low sodium soy sauce, no optional topping, ¼ cup brown rice per serving, and 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce)
It might be light on your fork, but General Tso's chicken is certainly heavy on regret — and sauce. The chicken is breaded, deep fried, and then coated in a fatty, sugary sauce, making General Tso's one of the least healthy dishes on Chinese restaurants' menus. (But not as bad as the #7 dish from P.F. Chang's that makes it on our list of 10 Sugariest Meals in America.) That all changes by subbing out the deep fried chicken for sauteed, equally protein-rich chickpeas and by using the natural sugars and their accompanying fiber from apricot jam rather than blood-glucose spiking refined sugars.
Get the recipe from Well Plated.
Nutrition: 300 calories, 8.6 g fat (3.8 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 44 g carbs, 6.9 g fiber, 8.2 g sugar, 9.8 g protein
How many times did you cheer when mom said she was making meatloaf? None? We thought so. Well, one bite of this recipe would certainly change your mind. It still has all that glistening, sweet tomato glaze on top, but it's full of our man of the hour, chickpeas, along with celery, carrots, and a surprise addition, flax seeds. These little seeds are full of inflammatory-fighting omega-3s and have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties.
Get the recipe from Connoisseurus Veg.
Lentil and Sweet Potato Empanadas
Nutrition: 287 calories, 18 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 8 g protein (nutrition includes sauce)
After one bite of these vegetarian empanadas, you'd guess that lentils, chipotle peppers, sweet potatoes, and goat cheese were meant for this recipe. Love and Olive Oil uses black beluga lentils in this recipe because they keep their shape and texture better than other varieties. Named after the beluga caviar they resemble, these black lentils possess anthocyanins, the same potent antioxidants found in blueberries that help stymie free-radical cell damage, offering some protection from diseases such as cancer.
Get the recipe from Love & Olive Oil.
Crunchy Chickpea Tacos
Nutrition: 464 calories, 14 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 495 mg sodium, 56 g carbs, 16 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 17 g protein (calculated with 2 yellow corn tortillas per person and no xanthan gum)
These tacos are packed with flavor and easy to toss together in a pinch — like a 15-minute pinch. Mashed chickpeas are tossed with carrots, cabbage, red onion, poblano peppers, chili powder, lime juice, and a dollop of homemade vegan mayo (made with cashews!) before being nestled into crunchy taco shells and garnished with avocado and cilantro.
Get the recipe from Blissful Basil.
Serve Them As A Side
Boston Baked Beans
Nutrition: 273 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 397 mg sodium, 60 g carbs, 15 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 14 g protein (calculated with 1 tsp salt)
Navy beans are the perfect pulse for baked beans. Their small size and hearty texture allows them to stand up to the long cooking time that allows the beans to soak up such spicy and sweet flavors. This barbecue-worthy side is a great treat for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Get the recipe from Oh My Veggies.
Nutrition: 352 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 214 mg sodium, 60 g carbs, 12 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 15 g protein (calculated only the pilaf)
Protein-pack your pilaf with chickpeas! It might be a lowly side, but this dish will serve up as much protein as a 3 oz serving of cod. Besides basmati rice and chickpeas, this pilaf is flavored with wonderful spices from garam masala and aromatics like garlic and onions.
Get the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.
Fiesta Corn & Bean Salsa
Yields: 4 cups
Nutrition (per ½ cup): 214 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 296 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 9 g protein (calculated with optional jalapeno pepper)
While we can't rag on tomato salsas — they are rich in lycopene, a phytonutrient that has been shown to decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers — we'll certainly sing praises of this fiesta salsa. One bite will offer you a taste of everything from black beans to corn to diced tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, and plenty of avocado. You'll be happy the nutritionals are so healthy because the variation in textures and pops of flavor are addicting.
Get the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.
Sweet Potato Chickpea Tots
Serves: 8 (5 tots each)
Nutrition: 229 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 141 mg sodium, 41 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 11 g protein
We could have stopped at sweet potatoes — their nutritional credentials are impressive enough carrying 11 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, a nutrient that aids immune function, vision, reproduction and cellular communication — but this blogger took these sweet potato tots one step further: she added chickpeas. Just five tiny tots serve up 11 grams each of protein and fiber, accounting for 20 percent of your DV of protein and 44 percent for fiber.
Get the recipe from My Whole Food Life.
Chipotle White Bean Dip
Nutrition: 231 calories, 16 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 184 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 6 g protein
You're probably familiar with chickpea hummus, but did you know that every pulse can make a flavorful, creamy dip? If you're not willing to invest in tahini — an ingredient commonly found in hummus — try this chipotle white bean dip made with cannellini beans, chipotle, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and some spices.
Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.
Make Them The Star
Rice and lentil curry bowls
Nutrition: 441 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 271 mg sodium, 67 g carbs, 16 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 16 g protein
Just calling this a rice and lentil curry bowl doesn't do it justice. It's really a "Rice and Lentil Curry Bowl with Spicy Roasted Carrots, Avocado, and Cashew Cilantro Sauce" and it is de-li-cious. Load up on healthy fats like heart-strengthening monounsaturated fats from the avocado and flab-banishing polyunsaturated fats from cashews. Getting the right kinds of fats in your diet will increase your satiety, maximize your metabolism, and allow your body to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins.
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dal
Nutrition: 349 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 173 mg sodium, 70 g carbs, 18 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 17 g protein (calculated with ¼ cup brown rice per serving)
Dal is a traditional Indian stew prepared most commonly from red lentils, but you can use any pulse; this recipe recommends a combination of lentils, yellow split peas, and mung beans. It's full of warming spices like turmeric, cardamom, fennel, cumin, and mustard seeds. Turmeric, a classic addition to many Indian foods, is one of the healthiest spices on the planet because it's full of curcumin — a powerful antioxidant shown to release its anti-inflammatory goodness to almost every cell in the body, boosting the immune system and treating a host of maladies from indigestion to cancer.
Get the recipe from Cafe Johnsonia.
Lentil Split Pea Falafel with Tangy Tahini Dressing
Nutrition: 295 calories, 20 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 458 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 12 g protein (calculated for just falafel and dressing with 1 tbsp chickpea flour, ½ tsp salt for the falafels)
You probably see most falafel made with chickpeas, but you can really use any pulse to make the classic Middle Eastern treat — and this blogger uses two! Both lentils and yellow split peas come together in these falafel balls. But the best part may be that they're baked, which means they're free of the inflammation-inducing, omega-6-laden frying oils you'll find in many restaurants. So feel free to lay on the delicious spiced tahini dressing! Want more ways to eat falafel? Try them in #23 of these 30 Healthy Bowl Recipes.
Get the recipe from Vegan Richa.
Chickpea and Potato Curry
Nutrition: 378 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 433 mg sodium, 55 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 13 g protein
If you're looking for a delicious, authentic Indian meal that's, dare we say, easy to make? Well, you've come to the right place. This is a real proper curry — made with spices you're likely to have on hand — and comes packed with a great depth of flavor and nutrients. Just a couple bites in and you'll already start to feel full and satisfied thanks to the protein- and fiber-rich chickpeas. Odds are you'll finish it all off and won't even realize it's completely vegetarian.
Get the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.
One-pot creamy spinach lentils
Nutrition: 394 calories, 9.6 g fat (2.7 g saturated fat), 283 mg sodium, 55 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 22 g protein
Feel young again with this bowl of humble ingredients like celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, thyme, spinach, and lots and lots of brown lentils. Lentils are a fountain of nutritional youth thanks to their high levels of folate. These pebble-like pulses contain more of this important B vitamin than any other unfortified plant food, which has been shown to help protect against coronary artery disease.
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Add Protein to Salads
Roasted Carrot Lentil Salad With Radishes and Tahini Dressing
Nutrition: 384 calories, 15.8 g fat (2.2 g saturated fat), 643 mg sodium, 48 g carbs, 15 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 14 g protein (calculated with only 1 ½ teaspoons salt total)
Who said you need lettuce to have a salad? If the gorgeous, bright colors from the rainbow carrots didn't attract your attention enough, maybe the fiber count will. This super-nutrient fills you up with fewer calories and slows the rate at which you digest, keeping you satiated longer and significantly aiding in your weight loss efforts. Feeling sleepy lately? Turns out, without enough fiber in your diet, seesawing blood sugar levels can leave you feeling lethargic. Wake up with these 30 High-Fiber Foods!
Get the recipe from A Beautiful Plate.
Mediterranean Chickpea Lentil Salad
Nutrition: 346 calories, 22 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 529 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 11 g protein (calculated with 3 handfuls of arugula, 3 oz feta, ¼ tsp salt, 1 tbsp dressing per serving)
The five Mediterranean-inspired toppings bring a wide variety of textures to your plate. Chickpeas are meaty, lentils are small and add a little bite, feta is moist and tart, avocado is soft and filling, and olives are bright and briny. They all combine perfectly with peppery arugula and the acidic, tangy, and savory shallot dressing to offer you a satisfying and nutrient-dense not-sad-desk-lunch.
Get the recipe from Edible Perspective.
Use Them In Soups, Stews, and Chilis
Slow Cooker Chili
Nutrition: 321 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 783 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 29 g protein (calculated without toppings)
Not only is this chili delicious and super filling, it'll also help you reach your body goals. Because the body has to work harder to digest protein than carbs or fat, eating a protein-heavy meal like this one can help you burn calories. And to rev your metabolism even further, sprinkle on some extra chili powder. The spice gets it heat from a compound called capsaicin, one of nature's most potent fat burners.
Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Split Pea Soup
Nutrition: 305 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 146 mg sodium, 38 g carbs, 16 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 22 g protein (calculated without optional toppings)
It's a classic for a reason. Dried split peas are cooked up with flavorful, smoky ham hocks, along with eye-protecting, vitamin-A-rich carrots, and leeks. This soup is truly a warm, satisfying meal that deserves a place on your go-to list. But the next time you make it, you'll now know it's made with a pulse! For more soups that pack a muscle-toning punch, check out these 26 Best High-Protein Soups for Abs.
Get the recipe from Simply Recipes.
Coconut Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger
Nutrition: 320 calories, 4 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 483 mg sodium, 56 g carbs, 22 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 18 g protein (calculated with 7 cups vegetable stock, light coconut milk, no extra garnishes or rice)
If you like the soup you get from your favorite Thai place, you're going to love this. Not only does it come together in about 20 minutes, it's also packed with more flat-belly nutrients than you'd get in a normal restaurant dish that comes with a sodium-laden broth. Red lentils provide an ample amount of iron, zinc, protein and satiating fiber, and pumpkin is a natural appetite suppressant and fat-burner which doubles down on the fiber and protein front and also lend its natural sugars as a sweetener.
Get the recipe from Cafe Johnsonia.
Have Them For Breakfast
Skillet Huevos Rancheros
Nutrition: 469 calories, 23 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 653 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 21 g protein (calculated with whole wheat tortillas, low sodium vegetable broth, 1 cup cheese)
We'd invest in a 6-inch cast iron skillet for these Huevos Rancheros. They're that good. The tortillas get nice and crispy on the bottom and then are smothered with a thick layer of protein-packed beans, cheese, and a homemade ranchero sauce. It's all topped off with a baked egg to offer its high content of choline, a required nutrient essential for cell signaling and proper muscle function. We're not really sure why people are still asking if they should eat the yolk.
Get the recipe from Love & Olive Oil.
Savory Lentil and Quinoa Protein Pancakes
Nutrition: 296 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 14 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 15 g protein (calculated without toppings)
Check out that protein count again. That's right: 15 grams of the stuff. In pancakes! Red lentils and white quinoa are soaked overnight to soften and then blended with a variety of spices and seasonings. If you're not a fan of the savory trend, no problem. Substitute the peppers with a traditional medley of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.
Get the recipe from Blissful Basil.
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