Squeals and cheers rang out as a team of four University of Alberta students won first prize for their creation, the Pulse Pop, at this year’s Mission ImPULSEible competition.
The Pulse Pop — made from black beans, chickpeas, coconut, peanut butter and chocolate — is a frozen alternative to the popular cake pop.
“We wanted it to be very kid friendly and kind of look like a sucker or lollipop, anything on a stick that is attractive to kids,” said Stacey Seufert.
“I found a recipe for a truffle that was really healthy and made out of black beans,” added teammate Anastassia Astrakhantseva.
“From there, we came up with the idea that we could make a layered product with different pulses. It’s really cute and it’s a dessert, but we also made it healthy.”
Chickpea crackers, a fusion perogy, and a pea butter cup were among the other entries in the six-year-old competition for innovative foods made from pulses.
Most of the country’s pulse crop is exported, but the contest is a way to encourage more consumption in Canada, said Allison Ammeter, vice-president of the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission.
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“These students are going to go into restaurants and food-service industries, and they’re going to have so much knowledge about how to cook with pulses,” she said. “It’s not just the students that win, it’s all the restaurants and food-service industries that hire these students, which means farmers win.”
It took several trials before the winning team — all fourth-year Nutrition and Food majors — found the right formula.
“The biggest challenge was getting things to stick on a stick,” said Astrakhantseva. “That’s why our product is frozen. If we were to leave it at room temperature, the stick would fall out, because our ingredients are kind of soft.”
The Pulse Pop team won $1,500 and will work with a staff member in Leduc’s Food Processing Development Centre to take their product to the commercial development stage. They will also compete in the national Mission ImPULSEible event in Saskatoon in July.
A NAIT culinary arts team won second prize with a pretzel-like cracker called Besan Bites, while the Chocofruitter chickpea cookie, also created by a U of A team, took third.