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Nutrition Notes (PCN Winter 2017) JAN 4 2017 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Debra McLennan, RD, APG Food & Nutrition Coordinator

International Year of Pulses 2016 (IYP) provided an unprecedented opportunity to talk about pulses in our province. As one of the newest members of the APG team, IYP opened many doors for me to have conversations about Alberta pulses with health professionals and educators, chefs and foodservice operators, as well as consumers. IYP also guided Mission: ImPULSEible and our resource development to further enhance our good news pulse story.

The past year has been a busy and productive one. Starting with the IYP launch in Toronto, Chef Michael Smith and social media kicked off IYP with a bang! Little did we know the level of interest pulses would have, but with pulses trending on Twitter that evening, we would soon find out that it wouldn’t take long for Canadians to jump on board with our pulse message and take the pulse pledge!

The requests for pulse presentations started to pour in. I provided talks to a variety of groups including growers, women’s conferences, seniors groups and even a horticultural society! Consumers were looking for information on pulse nutrition and how to prepare pulses, and they were fascinated that we grow pulses right here in Alberta and that they contribute significantly to Alberta’s economy.

Health professionals were looking for pulse information and resources for IYP. APG provided sponsorship and resources at the Dietitians of Canada continuing education event, Keep it Local, at Get Cooking in Edmonton.

After finding out that the Dietitians of Canada national conference was in Winnipeg, I put together a proposal with Pulse Canada to have a concurrent session on pulses to talk about the health benefits, pulse brand and cooking with pulses.

APG provided sponsorship at the annual Food Matters conference in Edmonton where 350+ dietitians and health care food service professionals heard our pulse story as well as tasting some new pulse recipes! You could also find the APG booth at the Canadian Diabetes Expos in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Medicine Hat this past year, sharing the health benefits of pulses in a diabetic diet.

Additionally, I provided a pulse food demonstration at the Edmonton and Area Diabetes Educator Section for nurses, dietitians and pharmacists that work with diabetic clients. We started to see more uptake in our Community Cooking Class program as well as more groups were cooking with pulses to highlight IYP in their communities.

The APG Pulse Classroom Support program continues to have a strong presence in our Alberta classrooms as teachers use the $25 gift card to purchase pulses for food demonstrations with our recipe resources. With the IYP partnership of Pulse Canada and Ag in the Classroom, teachers had access to pulse specific lesson plans on the APG website that they could use to talk about growing pulses, health and nutrition, food security and sustainability.

I was also able to provide pulse food demonstrations in a number of classrooms in Southern Alberta this fall with our Alberta Ag in the Classroom consultant and two producers to share the message of pulse environmental sustainability and health and nutrition.

APG was present at Calgary’s Aggie Days, Amazing Ag in Edmonton and City Slickers in Stony Plain to help connect students with agriculture and pulses. I am presenting a pulse food demonstration at the Career and Technology Education Council (CTEC) annual conference, so we are certainly seeing more connections this year with teachers.

Likewise, chefs and those working in other foodservice operations were looking for more information on pulses this year. I was fortunate to be able to share our pulse story at the Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals Edmonton branch meeting, as well as at their national conference in Kananaskis. Food distributor Sysco requested pulse presentations for their clients in Calgary and Edmonton, and Alberta Health Services was given information on the use of pulses in food fortification.

Our partnership with the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance (ACTA) provided a number of excellent opportunities to highlight pulses with the chef community through activities such as the Juno Awards reception, Sunshine Skillet, and our two signature events, one in June with the Food Processing Development Centre and the other in October with the Taber Pheasant Festival and a tour of the Taber Bean Plant. Pulses were also showcased through our participation with Taste Alberta in the Prairie on a Plate series as well as Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Lastly, who could forget Mission: ImPULSEible? What a year! First, the Alberta competition in Edmonton at Ernest’s with BiotaGelata taking the top prize, then the national competition at the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology annual conference in Burnaby, BC where the Alberta team placed second.

Then, surprise! Everyone loved BiotaGelata and the innovative use of pulses it represented, so the Alberta team was invited to the Love Pulses Showcase in Chicago at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo where the product was a hit! Thanks again to APG for providing the financial support for the students to attend this event of a lifetime!

It was a busy, successful year promoting Alberta pulses and International Year of Pulses started the momentum that will guide the APG food and health plan in the year ahead. Issues of food security and pulse education are the focus of the plan this year, and I look forward to building on the successes that were achieved in Alberta through IYP.

Do you have a question about pulse nutrition? I would love to hear from you! You can contact me at or 780-986-9398 ext. 6.