Strategies for Promoting Pulses

Strategies for Promoting Pulses

November 28, 2018

By Julie Harrington, RD

As registered dietitians, no one has to tell you twice about the health benefits of pulses, but how can you break down barriers keeping consumers from adding pulses into their grocery carts making them part of their everyday eating habits? As a retail dietitian you can make an impact by helping your customers gain confidence with knowledge and strategies to include more pulses in their meals with new and creative ideas. Just because 2016 was the “International Year of Pulses,” doesn’t mean we have to stop there. Let’s keep the momentum going!

Breaking Barriers
We know pulses are beneficial for gut health, but how do you tackle those with digestion discomfort? Teach customers about kombu.

What is kombu? 
Kombu is a sea vegetable (seaweed), which contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase. This enzyme breaks down the oligosaccharides (complex carbohydrates) in beans. Without alpha-galactosidase in our digestive tracts, these oligosaccharides reach the lower intestine largely intact, and in the presence of anaerobic bacteria ferment and produce carbon dioxide and methane gases, resulting in side effect like bloating or gas. 

You might be familiar with Eden Organic canned pulses. They cook their pulses with kombu. Take a look at the ingredient list on their nutrition label. If customers don’t want to cook dried pulses with kombu themselves, steer them toward this canned convenience item. 

Help customers gain confidence in the kitchen using pulses.
What’s stopping consumers from cooking dried pulses? Time? Unsure how to cook them? We are sure you’ve heard many reasons why. They are one of the most budget friendly sources of protein. Help your customers feel confident cooking dry pulses in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Utilize this simple guide to educate your customers, making dried pulses less intimidating. Tie in cross promotion opportunities with a non-foods pressure cooker or Instant Pot next to dried pulses with information like recipes, and cooking tips.

Start a new year’s challenge! 
Utilize the ½ cup habit materials to challenge your shoppers and employees to incorporate more pulses into their recipes by showing them through in-store demos and cooking classes. Are your customers social media savvy? Create a designated hashtag you can follow for customers to share their success. 

Take your customers on a grocery store tour highlighting where you can find pulses in your store. Use the guide below to create a route within your store.  Share ways to adapt recipes utilizing dried, canned, flours, and frozen pulses.

For more information, please contact the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council/American Pulse Association at

About the author:  Chef Julie Harrington, RD, is a New Jersey-based chef and registered dietitian, specializing in culinary & nutrition communications. Using a food-first approach, Julie helps people gain confidence in the kitchen to make more healthful choices through cooking classes, writing, and developing healthy recipes. Connect with Julie on Instagram and Twitter @ChefJulie_RD and get her recipes and nutrition tips at