Pulses, including lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans, are surprising, yet simple, ingredients that can bulk up the protein of baked goods and snacks. Pulses provide 10 grams of protein for every gram of fat, and a one-cup serving size provides more than 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber. As an added benefit, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas are sodium-free and cholesterol-free, and those grown in the U.S. are non-GMO.

Many manufacturers are realizing the benefit of using pulse flours to meet the growing demand for gluten-free products that are also nutritionally sound. In addition to being a gluten-free flour option for customers with specialty diets, pulse flours can be mixed with traditional flours in nearly any recipe to provide a protein boost and fill traditional nutrient gaps in sweet and baked goods.

But protein-powered snacks and bakery items aren’t limited to those made with pulse flours. I also love the addition of lentils, peas and chickpeas to baked goods, in their whole or puréed form. These Lentil Apple Muffins, for example, make a delicious grab-and-go breakfast, and the extra boost of protein and fiber from lentil purée means anyone who enjoys one will stay satisfied until lunch.

This recipe was created using pardina lentils, but it will work with any type of lentils, and all will offer a hint of nutty flavor to the muffins, which complements the apples. Pardina lentils are also known as Spanish brown lentils, and they’re small, with a brown exterior and yellow interior.

The main point to note is that different lentils require different cooking times. Both pardina lentils and green lentils, two of the most-common lentil varieties, will work with these cooking instructions and are easy for bakers to source. Other options include decorticated yellow or red lentils, which take about 20 minutes to cook compared to the 45 minutes outlined in this recipe.

lentil apple muffinslentil apple muffins