Pulses dressed up as treats

Mission Impulseible | Annual competition asks food students to find new ways to use pulses

EDMONTON — It’s unlikely children could resist pulse pops and neither could the judges at a student food development competition.

Pulse pops, a snack on a stick made from chickpeas, peanut butter, black beans, chocolate and coconut, won the Mission Impulseible food competition.

The challenge for the winning group wasn’t creating a new food.

“The biggest barrier was the stick,” said Anastassia Astrakhantseva, who was also on last year’s winning team.

The four University of Alberta food and nutrition students created the truffle-like snack and beat out five other recipes.

The goal of the competition is to challenge food and nutrition students at the university and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to create new food using pulses. The hope is they will use pulses in restaurants and food industry jobs in future.

This year’s competition was aimed at children and youth.

“Kids think they’re getting a treat rather than a healthy snack,” said Astrakhantseva.

“Nobody is going to turn this down, even if it is healthy,” said Stacey Seufert, another pulse pop team member.

Team member Diana Nguyen said students learn about the health benefits of pulses like beans, lentils and peas in class but few others seem to know about them.

“It’s underutilized for a crop that is grown in Canada,” said Nguyen.

NAIT students Emily Berthelot and Kari Marchand said their Besan Bites, a crispy pretzel-like cracker made with chickpea flour, were designed for active youth who need a boost of protein without extra fat.

“Kids love them,” said Marchand.

Grace Hubert, a registered dietician and contest judge, said creating healthy, low fat, high protein, high fibre snacks is a simple, easy way to sneak protein into a diet.

“I spent every day encouraging people to eat more protein, especially in the morning, so kudos to you,” said Hubert.

The Dalroghee, another entry, was also a hit with Hubert, who said traditional perogies “really spike blood sugar” and are not good for diabetics. The pulse ingredients are however ideal for diabetics.

The Indian-Ukrainian fusion perogy was made with chickpea flour and filled with a combination of spices and mung beans.

Jeffrey Olberg developed a microwave ready pulse chicken pot pie, a savory pie with pea and chickpea flours in the crust and kidney beans, split peas, green lentils in the filling.

Hubert said her daughter loves chicken pot pie, but with a mother as a dietician, isn’t allowed to eat the existing fat-filled alternatives.

The chocofruitter cookie is a watermelon slice-shaped cookie made with chickpea flour. Aoran Liu, among the creators, said the watermelon flavour was chosen because it’s one of the top fruit flavours for children.

“We wanted to make it different from the rest on the market,” she said.

Tip Tops pea butter cups are made from dry pea flour, egg whites and sugar and chocolate. By toasting the pea flour, the students were able to make a peanut butter taste for those with allergies.

Allison Ammeter, Alberta Pulse board member, said events like this are a way to encourage the use of pulses.

“We would like more Albertans eating pulses in stead of shipping the stuff overseas,” she said. “Peas are the number one pulse grown in Alberta,” Ammeter said. “I love the ingenuity we’re getting to see here.”

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