Also known as pulses, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are nutrition powerhouses packed with protein, fiber and other essential nutrients. Pulses can be found in everything from lentil flour to hummus. They work well in all kinds of recipes. In addition, pulses benefit the soil and work well in many crop rotations.

Raise Your Pulse!

In the Palouse region, which straddles both Washington and Idaho there are more than 150,000 acres producing chickpeas today, up from about 12,000 acres in 2000, said Todd
of the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, the trade group for the nation’s growers.

Ancient Food

Pulse is the Latin word for porridge. For centuries chickpeas and lentils have been an important part of the Meditaranean, middle-eastern and Indian diets. But the US demand for these foods has been exploding recently. According to the USA Dry pea and lentil council 20% of health-concious Americans enjoy eating hummus at home, a delicious spread made from chickpeas. Check out a great recipe here.

Pulse Crops for Healthy Kids

U.S. Sen Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, helped pass the 2014 Farm Bill which will provide  funding to study and quantify the human health benefits of chickpeas and other pulse crops like peas and lentils. Once those health benefits are firmly established, Washington state will most likely increase the acreage devoted to the crops.

The Farm Bill also includes a pilot program in which the USDA will purchase pulse crops to use in school lunches and breakfasts. Chickpeas, peas and lentils are high in fiber and protein, making them an attractive, affordable ingredient for school menus. Expect these crops to continue to grow in popularity as students are introduced to them in their school meals. Currently lentils, chickpeas and dried peas are ground into tasty flours and added to breads, pasta, tortillas and even brownies and cakes.

Pulses Provide Jobs in Washington

Currently the state's pulse crop industry employs an estimated 5,000 people in processing, growing or moving crops according to Sen. Cantwell. Eastern Washington has about 1,000 farm families and 22 processors who work in pulse crops. We should expect those numbers to increase as the country demands more foods made with pulse crops.

Natural soil builders

Plants need nitrogen to thrive. Pulse crops make soil more productive by working with natural bacteria in the soil to capture nitrogen from the air, process it in the leaves and stems and deposit it into the soil around the roots. After the crops are harvested, the old, dried plants are turned under the soil. This makes the soil  better able to retain moisture and provide air to roots. Because of the ability of these healthy food crops to also improve soil, the United Nations has declared 2016 the Year of the Pulse as a method to provide nutritious food and improve farm soils across the planet.

Pulses Do a World of Good

Irresistible Dessert 

Lemony Chickpea Cake

Tender, moist and delightfully lemony, this cake is equally suited for a coffee break or the end of an elegant meal.

Servings: 10


1 15-ounce can USA chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 2 cups boiled)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 egg yolks
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a blender or food processor, purée chickpeas with lemon juice, oil and lemon zest. Add egg yolks and blend well. Turn mixture into a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1⁄2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add to puréed chickpea mixture and mix well.

In another medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1⁄2 cup sugar in a slow, thin stream, beating until whites form peaks that are stiff but not dry.

Fold beaten egg whites into chickpea purée. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a rack, then turn cake out of pans and onto racks. Cool completely.

Dribble one tablespoon lemon juice over each round, and sprinkle tops with powdered sugar.