Pulse flours are made from pulses, which are the edible seeds of legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peas, etc). These gluten-free flours are packed with protein, fiber, and are typically very low in fat. All of these qualities make the flour more nutritious and filling, which can help fuel healthy digestion and a strong immune system. Pulse flours also contain powerful nutrients such as folate and iron, important for growth, energy, and red blood cell formation and regulation.
We’re breaking down all of our top picks for plant-based pulse flours and why they are so darn good for you! Let’s get into it.
Found at most grocery stores, chickpea flour is most commonly used by the RD community. It has a light, nutty flavor and is high in fiber and protein. Though you may currently want to use chickpea flour for banana bread and other baking adventures, it’s quite versatile and is used often in Indian, Italian, and French cultures.
For something new, try making Farinata, an Italian chickpea flour pancake.
Nutrient Profile (1/4 cup): 120 calories, 21g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 5g protein, 1.5g fat.
Lentil flour is the most nutrient-dense of the bunch, with a mild flavor and low glycemic index. If your goal is controlling blood sugar, choose lentil flour to bake with. It’s even higher in iron, potassium, fiber, and protein, making it a super filling option. You’ve likely seen it in pasta form most often, but lentil flour can be delicious for both sweet and savory recipes.
Pea flour is the lowest carbohydrate and lowest-calorie option, yet still fairly high in fiber and protein. It contains iron, zinc, and thiamin, as well as almost 70% of the daily recommended amount of folate. Green pea flour is the only type currently sold, but you can also grind up split and yellow peas if you prefer them. With a slightly sweeter taste, pea flour is best for baking. However, similar to how kale turns your smoothie green, green pea flour will do the same to your muffins and cakes.
Nutrient Profile (1/4 cup): 100 calories, 18g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 8g protein, 0g fat
Lupin flour is made from ground lupini beans, which are in the peanut family. The least well-known, this flour has risen in popularity alongside the keto diet, given its low carbohydrate content. If you’re trying to control blood sugar and keep carbohydrates on the lower side, lupin flour is 40% protein and 30% fiber, with 1 gram of “net” carbs, so it’s quite filling and a great source of vegan protein. If cooking with lupin flour, blend up to 40% lupin four with a non-pulse flour like almond or coconut because lupin flour can have a slightly bitter taste on its own. Lastly, because lupini beans are in the peanut family, consult with your physician if you have nut or soy allergies, and buy pre-ground, commercially sold options instead of grinding your own.
Nutrient Profile (1/4 cup): 110 calories, 12g carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 11g protein, 2.5g fat
If you’re experimenting without a recipe, start slow, as these flours are denser and can absorb more moisture than white flour. Work up from a 25:75 ratio of pulse flour: other flours to make sure you enjoy the texture and taste. If you’re at all unsure, try buying a pre-made mix at the store and go from there.
Looking to make even more of a healthy change in your day-to-day life? Bring your wellbeing full circle and book a consultation with an Exhale Nutritionist and gain the guidance you need when establishing the best eating habits for you and your body.