Pulse recipes upsized | Nutritionists prepare pulse recipes for use in cafeterias, health care
Need a chili recipe for 500 people, a Greek pulse and pasta salad for 250 or enough black bean brownies for 100?
The Saskatoon health region and Pulse Canada hope their new large scale pulse recipes will put more pulses in long-term care facilities and cafeterias and on wedding banquet menus.
Charlotte Pilat Burns of the Saskatoon Health Region’s food and nutrition services department said the region has wanted to add more nutritionally dense pulses to its food menus but needed a push to develop the recipes.
The project was initiated after Saskatchewan pulse grower and former Pulse Canada board member Vicki Dutton visited her sister in an Alberta long-term care facility.
Like many residents of these types of facilities, the combination of food, medication and lack of exercise had forced her to take even more medication to help lower blood pressure and relieve constipation.
“She was an extremely health conscious person. She was the leader in our family on diet and nutrition,” Dutton said about her sister, who was in the long-term care facility because of a stroke.
Instead of medication, Dutton asked officials at the centre if they could add more pulses to the menu. Pulses are natural laxatives and overall healthy foods.
However, Dutton discovered that making changes to the menu of a long-term care facility is not a simple process.
After returning to Saskatchewan, she met with Saskatoon Health Region officials who were keen to add pulses to their facilities’ menu, partly because the province is the number one producer of pulse crops.
“I do think it’s undervalued and there is a lack of knowledge on how to use pulses,” said Dutton.
With the help of Pulse Canada, the Saskatoon Health Region developed 14 large-scale recipes ideal for institutional facilities.
The recipes include beet and bean borscht, rustic lentil soup, southwestern turkey chili, barbecue glazed meatloaf and black bean brownies.
All 14 recipes can be prepared for 50, 100, 250 and 500 batch sizes.
The lentil soup recipe was based on one of Dutton’s own soup recipes.
Pilat Burns said dietitians were surveyed about what kind of recipes they believed would be suitable for institution and cafeteria menus, and the recipes were then upscaled.
Putting more pulses on the menu and getting residents to eat more pulses are not the same. The most common comment was “it’s different,” said Pilat Burns.
Just like cooking with their own families, the dietitians had the best luck when they hid the pulses in food. Adding pureed beans to brownies or pureed white beans to mashed potatoes was the most successful strategy.
Dutton believes most facilities will likely start adding pulses slowly by putting pulse flour in cookies or muffins and lentils in meat.
Canadians often link pulses to East Indian dishes, but the recipes developed by Pulse Canada and the Saskatoon Health Region are designed for the domestic palate.
Dutton believes more education and awareness are needed to increase pulses in Canadian diets.
“It’s a conversation, one person at a time,” she said.
Pilat Burns said one of the biggest problems was finding pulses in different forms. They could find some of the pulses dried, others canned and others in flour but not in πall three forms.
She believes it will only be a matter of time before suppliers make all pulses available in all forms for the food service industry.
Pulse Canada will help promote the large-scale recipes to cafeterias and institutions.