Impressed by the texture and nutritional value of her workout buddy's roasted chickpea snack, Linda Kim began experimenting with making her own. Eventually, she started a company, Pulse, to sell them. "I wanted a name that represented a heart healthy snack, she says, "and it just happens to mean beans."
There are three flavors available at the moment, which were developed to complement the chickpeas' natural flavor: lightly salted Original, Balsamic, and Spicy Lemon Zest. A fourth, Chocolate Cayenne, is on the way. Since Kim chose to work with chickpeas in large part because they make a healthful snack, she works hard to flavor them in ways that don't add a lot of sugar or sodium. She explains, "they are high in fiber, a great plant-based source of protein and naturally gluten free. I don't want to compromise the nutritional value for taste and vice versa."
She adds, "To bring sweet flavors that, I rely on ingredients like organic balsamic vinegar and organic coconut sugar that are low on the glycemic load. Chickpeas are low on the glycemic index, so it only makes sense to avoid adding ingredients that would disrupt this health benefit."
Kim works out of an incubator kitchen in the Bronx, roasting 150 pounds of chickpeas a week. Like many small business owners, she wears many hats, doing all production, R&D, sales, demos, and business-related tasks herself, working long days, and getting little sleep. "It's worth it though," she says, "because there's been positive growth on a business and personal level."
About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.