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New ways to eat pulses

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Containers of curry dip

If you seldom eat beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas, your kids will probably someday wonder what you were eating.

All kinds of pulse-based foods are popping up on store shelves, and are increasingly popular among a younger generation trying to eat healthier and smarter than their parents.

That might have sounded like mission impossible not so long ago. Even just a decade ago many food makers remained unfamiliar with pulses’ health benefits or how well they could work in food formulations, but many are now testing and trying them out.

Pulse Canada has encouraged this product innovation in many ways, including by hosting an annual competition to get the best of the best new ideas for pulse foods into the spotlight.

Mission ImPULSEible began in 2009 to get more university and college students interested in using pulses and pulse ingredients in the development of new food products. Now some of the best minds in food science vie in provincial and national events to create innovative, tasty and marketable food products containing whole pulses or pulse ingredients.

To give you an idea of just how intriguing some of those edibles actually are — last year’s top prize went to a University of Guelph team’s “Nutrisnaps,” which were crackers made with lentil, pea and pinto bean flours, and second place to a Culinary Institute of Canada team for “VegaMax,” an all-natural, strawberry-flavoured chickpea milk.

The competitors’ mission is to come up with the best kid-friendly pulse-based foods. Judges in provincial events have seen products like “Garbanzoo,” an animal-shaped cookie made with, you guessed it, and “Vega Pockets,” a pizza pocket packed with a white kidney bean purée, and Sweet Pea Cakes from yellow and green peas.

We won’t see these cool ideas hitting store shelves right away, of course, but the whole idea behind Mission ImPULSEible is to get them out there and hopefully attract the interest of food product makers who can make that happen.

Manitoba’s provincial Mission ImPULSEible takes place April 25 in Winnipeg at the Red River College Paterson Global Food site. You can view all 2014 competitors’ ideas online at

Meanwhile, there’s more evidence to convince all ages to eat more lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas every day.

Researchers in Canadian and U.S. universities and hospitals have recently quantified the amount of pulses actually needed in a daily diet to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

It’s about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup per day, a conclusion drawn from careful analysis of more than two dozen trials looking at how pulses lower blood cholesterol.

This means we can now say more just recommend pulses are part of a healthy diet, says Dr. John Sievenpiper, lead researcher for the study.

“With these results, we now have a recommended amount we can promote as having specific cardiovascular health benefits.”

Does 1/2 cup a day of pulses seem like a lot? Try using pulse purées or pulse flour to add nutritional value to your baked goods or snacks.

5-Minute Curry Lentil Dip

Here’s a super-easy low-fat dip to enjoy with crackers.

  • 1 19-fl.-oz./540-ml can lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. fat-free ranch dressing
  • 1 tsp. hot curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic

PLACE all ingredients into food processor or blender. BLEND, adding water if necessary, to desired consistency.

Serving Size: 1/3 cup Makes: 2 cups (6 servings)

5-Minute Hummus

One more yummy dip — 159.3 calories per serving.

  • 1 19-oz./540-ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. reduced-calorie sun-dried tomato and herb salad dressing
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 2 cloves garlic

PLACE all ingredients into food processor or blender. BLEND, adding water if necessary, to desired consistency.

Serving Size: 1/3 cup Makes: 2 cups (6 servings)

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

There’s a cookie reviewer’s description on the Pulse Canada’s website of a delicious treat they feel good about eating. Keep the cookies in a sealed container to stay soft.

  • 1/2 c. 125-ml can of navy beans, rinsed and drained OR 1/2 c. of canned lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-1/3 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Purée beans with egg until smooth in blender. In a medium bowl, beat canola oil, sugar and vanilla using electric mixer until smooth. Add bean and egg purée and continue beating until well combined. Add chocolate chips and oats and use wooden spoon to combine. Sift together flour and baking soda over wet mixture and stir until well combined. Drop by rounded teaspoon, two inches apart on prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool on pan two minutes then transfer to cooling rack. Makes: 24 cookies

Cherry Almond Biscotti

  • 1-1/2 c. chickpea flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. berry sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. slivered almonds
  • 3 tbsp. chopped dried unsweetened cherries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, using electric beaters, beat sugar and eggs together until thick and pale yellow in colour. Beat in vanilla. Stir in flour with wooden spoon and add almonds and cherries until well combined. Mixture will be very sticky so as best you can, divide the mixture in half and shape into two logs about six to eight inches long and two inches thick at least four inches away from each other on prepared pan. Wet hands could help the dough not stick to oneself while doing this. Sprinkle logs with a touch of cinnamon. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 275 F. Cut the logs on the diagonal about 1/3-1/2 inch thick and spread out in a single layer onto the same pan. Bake again for 20 to 25 minutes, turning over biscotti once, until biscotti is firm and dry to your liking. Let cool on pan completely before serving. Biscotti can be stored in the freezer for several months or in a airtight container for three to four weeks. Makes: 18 pieces

All the above recipes courtesy of Pulse Canada

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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