If dried peas don’t strike you as something to use when you’re baking, you probably haven’t heard about the flour made from them.
Green split pea flour, whole yellow flour and chickpea flour are a line of Manitobamade flours now passing taste tests in kitchens around the country as home bakers hear about their health benefits, try them, and discover they make a darned good cookie, muffin or brownie.
The recently launched organic flour products, plus a pea fibre, come from Best Cooking Pulses, a Portage la Prairie company owned by sisters Margaret Hughes and Trudy Heal. They’ve been test marketing at places like the St. Norbert’s Farmers’ Market and in schools’ human ecology classes. Now a major Canadian distributor is picking them up this spring.
Unusual as a flour made from peas might seem, it’s not such a new thing. Pulse flours were commonly used in England early last century.
That’s how long the family business Margaret and Trudy carry on has been around too.
Best Cooking Pulses was founded by their grandfather in 1936 and has been active in the international pulse trade since. In the 1980s, their father developed the processing equipment at the Portage plant to mill peas into a fine flour that he supplied to overseas markets, said Margaret. The flour was first picked up by pet food markets across North America; its food-grade quality eventually also attracting a U.S. bakery customer too.
Word of this made-in-Manitoba flour really began to spread after mid-2000 when researchers, through a Pulse Canada initiative, started looking into the health benefits and potential new markets for pulse foods.
Best whole yellow pea flour and pea fibre were sought by the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals to make pea-flour and pea-fibre muffins for use in clinical trials.
Subjects ate two muffins a day
4 c. boiling water
4 tsp. vegetable bouillon
3/8 -1/4 c. Best whole
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk vegetable soup base and pea flour into boiling water, stirring for about 1 minute. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Alternatively, add 1/2 c. each carrots, potatoes and/or minced celery to boiling water and cook 3 to 4 minutes, then add pea flour and proceed as above.
VERY QUICK PEA SOUP
Delicious and filling pea soup with no need to soak dried peas overnight!
containing whole pea flour, fractionated pea flour (pea fibre) and white wheat flour. After 28 days of supplementation the researchers noted improvements in the insulin levels among those eating the muffins supplemented by the pea flour. Furthermore, fat around the waist and abdomen (android fat) was lower in the whole pea flour group compared with the wheat flour group. Decreased insulin and fat around the belly are both contributing risk factors for diabetes.
The study attracted a lot of attention and further boosted the appeal pea flour is having among food makers as a low-cost source of protein, fibre and other dietary benefits. More commercial bakeries are now using Best’s flours. U.S.-based Mary’s Gone Crackers company, specializing in gluten-free products, now makes cookies made with Best’s yellow pea flour.
Health-conscious consumers like these flours but it’s also meeting the need of a growing number of persons who can’t consume wheat flour and are looking for healthier alternatives than rice flour for baked products.
“These flours can be used by anyone but have particular relevance to those with conditions such as celiac disease (and) wheat intolerance,” said Margaret.
Pulse flour can be used in bread, bagels, tortillas, crackers, cakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, and make a nice alternative for a breadcrumb coating for fish, chicken and chops too. They were a hit last fall when the sisters spoke at the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference. They’d sold out within minutes there, said Trudy.
yellow flour or Best green
split pea flour (depending
on preferred thickness)
2 oz. unsweetened
chocolate or 2/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. butter or
1 c. sugar
“These were all people who bake and they were really interested in them,” she said.
A word of advice before you try them. Pulse flour can have a bitterness to the batter as you’re preparing it. Don’t worry about it. It will disappear when you bake it.
“There’s a certain point in the heating process where all that bitterness is transformed and it is gone,” said Margaret.
Curious to try some yourself? Look for Best’s one-kg gold packages containing either whole yellow pea flour, pea fibre, chickpea flour, or a green split pea flour in these local stores. But do call ahead! The yellow pea whole pea flour is popular and wasn’t available the first time I checked at Vita Health and Organza Market in Winnipeg.
Where to find Best flour
A Sense of Manitoba-Beausejour Family Foods-Portage and Stonewall Federated Co-op-Portage Gramma Carol’s-Selkirk
Main Bread and Butter-Steinbach Two Farm Kids-Brandon Dreams Health Store-Winnipeg Eatit.ca -Winnipeg
Humboldt’s Legacy-Winnipeg La Grotta-Winnipeg
Marcello’s Meats-Winnipeg Meyer’s Drugs Ltd.-Winnipeg Nutrition Plus-Winnipeg Organza Market-Winnipeg Vita Health-Winnipeg Prairie Fire-Winnipeg Food Fare,Wolseley Ave. and Portage Ave. -Winnipeg
Best CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
1/2 c. Best Whole Yellow
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
Melt the chocolate and butter/margarine on low heat. Remove from heat and add the sugar and flour. Beat each egg before adding to the mixture. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt. Pour into a greased 8 by 8-inch pan. Cook for 25 minutes at 375 F. This recipe can be doubled, tripled and quadrupled with no ill effects.
Box 1794, Carman, Man. R0G 0J0
or email [email protected]
Recipes for using Best pulse flours can be found on the company’s website –www.bestcooking pulses.com. You can also sign up forPea Snaps a monthly newsletter created by Margaret and Trudy to share recipes and other information on the health and nutrition as well as the enviromental benefits of pulse-based diets. Here’s a selection of recipes from Best Cooking Pulses website to help you try each of these flours as well as the pea fibre.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH Best PEA FIBRE
This recipe was developed by University of Saskatchewan researcher Carla Flogan for conducting studies on fibre fortification of foods for kids with constipation. She used Best pea fibre to boost these cookies’ fibre and folate content.
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp. salt
1/3 c. Best Pea Fibre
1/2 c. chocolate chips
Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and Best pea fibre. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the white and brown sugars. Cream until fluffy. Beat in the egg, and then the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and beat until well mixed, adding the chocolate chips halfway through. Shape the dough into 15 g balls (for 44 cookies) and place on greased/coated baking sheets. Squish the balls down with a fork. If the dough is too soft to work, cover and refrigerate until firm. Place the cookie sheets on a rack above the centre of the oven, and bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.
In England during the 1920s and 1930s, pea flour was widely used for cooking, baking, and car repairs! If your car blew an engine gasket and a replacement couldn’t be found, the mechanic would sometimes use thick brown paper and pea flour paste as an alternative. Apparently, it worked just fine!
– Source:Pea SnapsSeptember 2010 newsletter
HUMMUS WITH Best CHICKPEA FLOUR
2-1/2 c. water
3/4 c. Best Chickpea
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c. tahini (ground
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. Tabasco sauce
1/4 c. vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. olive oil
Bring 2-1/2 cups of water to boil on medium heat. Whisk the Best Chickpea Flour into the boiling water. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking for five minutes. Let cool. In the meantime, purée the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce and vegetable broth in a food processor until smooth. Fold the puréed mixture into the cooled chickpea mixture. Add the ground cumin, salt and pepper before stirring in the olive oil. Pour into dipping bowls and serve at room temperature.