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Pure Prairie Eating (PCN Spring 2014) MAY 5 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.

The Pure Prairie Eating Plan was a project sponsored, in part, by the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission. It is an eating plan that has been developed in the form of a cookbook by Dr. Catherine Chan and Dr. Rhonda Bell who are both professors of Human Nutrition, at the University of Alberta.

The Pure Prairie Eating Plan hopes to improve nutrition and physical activity in people at risk of developing or currently diagnosed with diabetes. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to support future diabetes research.

The Pure Prairie eating plan features easy to prepare menus that use local ingredients that are commonly found on the prairies. It was developed in part by translating the recommendations of Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and putting it into a four week meal plan.

The meal plan features three meals and snacks per day with grocery lists, cooking tips and information on specific ingredients are features in the recipes. Each day is broken down into suggested servings, number of servings, as well as nutrition information for the day. Substitutions are also commonly recommended making the dishes either lower in calories, higher in fibre, or with increased antioxidants. Often, vegetarian options are also often suggested.

“The Pure Prairie Eating plan is a Mediterranean themed eating plan developed for people who live in the Prairies,” said Dr. Catherine Chan. “The Mediterranean diet is focused around eating olive oil, lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains (including pulses). We thought we could translate this type of eating pattern into something that would utilize foods Albertans are more familiar with.”

One example of this is substituting olive oil with canola oil. Canola oil has the closest fatty acid profile to olive oil. There are other commonalities between a typical Mediterranean diet and that of the average Albertan diet. The grains and pulses that are consumed are largely the same and there is a good source of fruits and vegetables seasonally available in Alberta. Although prairie grown products were featured wherever possible, Chan acknowledges that in today’s reality importation of certain products has influenced consumer trends.

This project is heavily focused around people with Type 2 Diabetes. Dr. Chan explains “Lowering saturated fat and increasing fibre are two of the main recommendations of the Canadian Diabetes Association. There are between 25 and 50 grams of fibre consumed per day on average. As well, it is recommended that weekly averages of less than 7.5% of calories from saturated fats are consumed”.

The simple, easy to follow recipes ensure that one does not need to be a culinary master to follow this eating plan. “People who have purchased the book are finding out that they are much better cooks than they thought.” Additional segments also scattered throughout the book feature using spices to achieve flavour without increasing sodium content.

The Pure Prairie Eating Plan is now available at select local bookstores as well as Amazon. For more information, visit