Ask Shelley Case: Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet

I’ve been told to incorporate more pulses into my diet for added fiber and nutrients.  What are pulses? Do you have any tips and recipes for using them in the gluten-free diet?

Pulses (aka legumes) include all types of dried peas & beans, lentils and chickpeas.  Frequently overlooked, pulses are one of the most nutritious and versatile foods. They are high in fiber, protein, B vitamins (especially folate), and a variety of minerals-plus they are low in fat and sodium.

Another benefit of pulses- they are readily available and low cost- a real bonus for those on a gluten-free diet. And the ways to use pulses are endless. They can be included in appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes, baked products and, believe it or not, even desserts!

Incorporating pulses in your gluten-free diet is easy. Here are a few suggestions…

–    Do the Salsa! Toss in ½ cup of black beans into gluten-free salsa. Add a splash of fresh chopped cilantro & a squeeze of lime juice for a quick and easy dip for fresh veggies or corn chips.

–    Humor them with Hummus! Hummus and fresh cut veggies sticks are a great snack or lunch option. The extra fiber and protein will boost your energy in the day.

–    Soup & Salad Time: Throw a handful of chickpeas or beans into your favorite family soup recipe or toss into a salad for a different twist.

–    Creative Sandwich: Mix ½ to 1 cup of cooked and mashed white beans into chicken, egg or tuna salad – The creaminess is surprising and a low fat alternative to mayonnaise!

–    Get Saucy: Add 1 cup of cooked whole or pureed chickpeas or lentils to your spaghetti sauce or chili, and reduce the amount of hamburger you use. Results- lower fat and added fiber!

In addition to adding cooked beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas into the diet, pulse flours such as yellow pea, chickpea, white bean or black bean flours can be used in a wide variety of gluten-free baked recipes.  They are healthy options for baking as many gluten-free flours and starches including white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch and corn starch are low in fiber, protein, iron, B vitamins and other nutrients. And gluten-free baked goods made with these refined grains and starches are not enriched with vitamins and minerals like most of the gluten-containing products. That’s why when I bake, I use pulse flours like Best Cooking Pulses yellow pea flour. Some delicious dessert recipes using this pea flour include Best Chocolate Brownies, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Apple Crisp. Note: To purchase this flour, check out this link on – Best Whole Yellow Pea Flour, 35-Ounces Pouches (Pack of 2)

I am also excited to share with you a wonderful new resource- hot off the press- called Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet that culinary expert Carol Fenster and I developed for Pulse Canada. This FREE downloadable resource contains nutrition information; buying, storing and cooking pulses; creative ideas for using pulses including 26 delicious recipes using dried and canned pulses, as well as pulse flours.  Enjoy!

Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Visit Shelley and get more gluten-free tips & info at:

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6 Responses to “Ask Shelley Case: Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet”

  1. Christine B. Says:

    I love all types of pulses but can’t eat them. They have to much fiber for me. I am always in the bathroom. Any suggestions?

  2. Jenn Says:

    I LOVE beans. However, my concern about beans is that a lot of the dried beans are processed on the same equipment with wheat. SIGH. I’m hesitant to think that just rinsing them off will be enough, as even the smallest amount of gluten affects me. Wondering if there is a way around this problem (and I don’t like canned food!).

  3. Shelley Case, RD Says:

    Pulses are “musical fruit” for some people. Start slow in small portions. Remember to discard soaking water or liquid from canned pulses by placing in a strainer and rinsing well with water. This washes away some of the carbohydrates and sugars that cause gas. Remember to drink lots of water when increasing your fiber intake to help aid digestion.

    Ideally in a perfect world it is best to purchased dried pulses from companies that do not handle gluten-containing grains in the facility and/or purchase products that are labeled gluten-free. However this is not always possible so it is important to put the dry pulses on a cookie sheet to inspect for and remove wheat, rye, or barley kernels. Then rinse well after sorting.

    I am encouraging producers of pulses to grow them on dedicated fields without gluten-containing grains and harvest/transport in dedicated equipment (just like those producing pure, uncontaminated gluten-free oats). Then we need to get companies to process and package them on dedicated or cleaned lines and do gluten testing. I know of many farmers here in Saskatchewan (largest producer of lentils and many other pulses) that only grow pulse crops and canola and/or flax. So it is possible to move in this direction. But like everything in the gluten-free world, this takes time!

  4. Paula in Eugene Says:

    Shelley & Carol, you did a great job on the Pulse and the Gluten-free Diet book. Very informative, beautiful photos and graphics. Thank you! 🙂

  5. Jenn Says:

    Do you have any brands you can recommend as safe?
    THANK YOU for encouraging producers to grown them on dedicated fields. That’s wonderful!!!!

  6. Heather Says:

    yes, we need to know the names of growers and manufacturers who grow and process without gluten contamination please tell us what you know I am happy to call farmers and buy directly if that’s what it takes.

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