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APG’s New Food and Nutrition Coordinator Thrilled to Land Her “Dream Job” (PCN Summer 2015) JUL 2 2015 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.

The Alberta Pulse Growers welcomes Debra McLennan as its new Food and Nutrition Coordinator tasked with teaching more Albertans how to benefit from including dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas in their diets.

“We are thrilled to have a staff member dedicated to educating consumers about the benefits of eating pulses, especially a dietitian with Debra’s knowledge, experience and enthusiasm,” said APG Executive Director Leanne Fischbuch. “Nutritious and delicious, pulses are surprisingly good for you and your health. The addition of Debra to our team will help to get the word out to more Albertans about the benefits of eating pulses as we prepare for International Year of Pulses 2016, as declared by the United Nations.”

McLennan is a University of Alberta alumnus who has been designated as a Registered Dietitian for 25 years.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity – it’s a dream job for me,” McLennan said. “I have always been a big fan of pulses and the concepts behind them. I’m excited to be more involved in the hands-on food side of promoting pulses and supporting farmers. It’s a great team that I am joining. To be one of the pieces of the puzzle to educate people about the value of pulses to human health is very exciting.”

Some of McLennan’s favourite memories include visiting her grandfather’s farm near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Her previous work experience includes developing and reviewing menus for various clients, and working in the continuing care sector for the last seven years. She has always promoted pulses and looks forward to teaching even more people about the nutritional value and versatility of pulses like dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils.

“There has been a lot of research done to support the benefits of eating pulses and there is so much opportunity to connect,” she said. “APG has programs in the schools and I’m looking forward to doing even more outreach. The next step is figuring out how we can best reach out to restaurants and chefs. It’s slowly coming but more work needs to be done. My focus is on reaching out to consumers.”

McLennan practices what she preaches by enjoying pulses as part of her family’s diet. Her favourite pulse dish is a black bean soup that she first tasted on a trip to Disney World. Loving the taste was much easier than finding the recipe.

“It has rice on the bottom, and it’s garnished with sour cream and cilantro,” she raved. “For years I searched for a soup recipe that would come close, and I finally found one but I doctor it a bit.”

Her second favourite pulse dish is “regular old hummus.”

McLennan was contracted to organize the Alberta Pulse produced provincial MISSION: IMPULSEIBLE Student Food Product Development Competition for the last two years.

“I like the concept that we are promoting a product that is locallygrown,” McLennan said of the competition. “I like the fact that we get postsecondary students involved and I’m always blown away by the creativity. If the competition opens their eyes to using pulses and cooking more and where their food comes from, that’s a great mission in itself.”

The St. Albert resident said that she has maintained the status quo for the provincial MISSION: IMPULSEIBLE competition so far as a contractor, but now that she is APG’s Food and Nutrition Coordinator she will really make the event her own.

“Now that I will be seeing the big picture for it, I will look at ways to entice the students to participate even if they aren’t given class time to prepare,” McLennan said. “I will be looking at what we can do to help promote this to a different audience and a different group of students. I think it will continue to be a fantastic experience for all who are involved.”

Please see page 36 for more information about this year’s MISSION: IMPULSEIBLE competition.

McLennan can be reached at