Pulse Day 2021
by Maggie Flinn
BSc (c) Applied Human Nutrition

On Friday, October 22nd, the MSVU Applied Human Nutrition Department hosted Pulse Day 2021 and Mission Delicious 2021: Focus on Pulses. During the afternoon, several presentations focused on pulses were enjoyed.

MSVU’s Dr. Bohdan Luhovyy began the afternoon by giving a swift introduction to pulses and their applications in food products.

Dr. Matthew McSweeney from Acadia University discussed his research on the sensory perception of pulses. The first study was regarding a chicken and yellow pea burger with varying amounts of yellow peas. The second study was regarding gluten-free, pulse-based bread. Dr. McSweeney concluded by suggesting pulses be incorporated into food products due to their health benefits and sustainability, but novel methods to reduce off-flavours and improve texture are needed to improve overall consumer acceptability.

Dr. Priya Kathirvel from MSVU presented next on pulse flours and the role of their particle size. Dr. Kathirvel discussed her research on the effect the navy bean and lentil flours varying in particle size have on the gastrointestinal digestion of carbohydrates mimicked using in vitro methods. This research demonstrated that as the particle size of the flour decreases the more glucose is released from complex carbohydrates. Future directions regarding particle size of pulse flours and their application were discussed.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Susan Whiting from the University of Saskatchewan presented her lecture entitled: The Power of Pulses: from food, nutrition, and education to community engagement. Dr. Susan Whiting is an established professor with over 40 years of teaching. Over the last 10 years, Dr. Whiting has been doing research with pulses in Ethiopia. During her presentation, Dr. Whiting compared various food, nutritional and educational aspects related to pulses in Canada and Ethiopia. Both countries produce a large number of pulses, but consumption is very low. Raising awareness on the benefits of eating pulses with regards to their nutrient and chronic disease risk reduction, education via food guides and national nutrition programs, and community engagement with regards to the processing of pulses and providing recipes can improve consumption rates worldwide.

Following the presentations, Dr. McSweeney, Dr. Kathirvel, and Dr. Whiting participated in a panel discussion where audience members were able to ask questions regarding pulses and their research applications.

Dr. Alex Martynenko presented online later during the afternoon on his research regarding the processing of pulses with hydro-thermodynamic cavitation technology known as HTD. This technology may provide multiple benefits including the processing of pulses into pulse-based pureed products, reduction of undesirable flavour, and the changes in macro- and micronutrient composition after HTD.

After a short break, student teams began preparing for their presentations for Mission Delicious 2021: Focus on Pulses. Over the last decade, MSVU AHN Department has hosted nine regional student product development competitions including six Mission ImPULSEible events supported by Pulse Canada, and three Mission Delicious competitions. Over the years, MSVU has hosted students from the Mount Saint Vincent, Acadia, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, and Holland College in PEI as the event is open to all post-secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada. This year, teams were challenged to create a food product incorporating at least 25% pulses or pulse-based ingredients. Three teams participated in the event, each presenting their product within 20 minutes followed by a Q&A session. Product samples were given to guest judges Dr. Matthew McSweeney (Acadia University) and Mr. Steve Owen (National Research Council), and audience members to enjoy.

The first-place title and $300 cash prize were given to a team from Dalhousie University Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences Faculty of Agriculture supervised by Dr. Vasantha Rupasinghe. The students in the team were Tharindu Lakshan Suraweera Arachchilage, Wasitha Praveen de Wass Thilakarathna, Vandana Tannira, Cindy Yu, Flavia Adais Rocha dos Santos, and Mandumani Amararathna. Their product was IMPULSE: Chickpea and lentil instant soup cube which is a plant-based, vegan-friendly soup made from chickpea flour, red lentils, dehydrated vegetables, spices, and herbs.

The second-place title and $200 cash prize were given to Gowshigga Thamotharampillai from the MSVU MSc AHN program. Gowshigga’s product was Pulse Pizza, a gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly pizza made from lentil flour, chickpea flour & gluten-free flour blend, topped with tomato sauce, onions, herbs and spices, cheddar and mozzarella cheese blend, red and green bell peppers, black olives, mushrooms, and black beans.

The third-place title and $100 cash prize were given to a team of two students, Ngoc Xuan Thao Nguyen and Ngoc Thao Vy Hoang from MSVU AHN and Dalhousie University Medical Science programs. Their product was Mung Bean Milk with pandan juice and coconut milk. The team created a sugar-free and less-sugar version. It was suggested the milk be served with oats or cereal to create a complete amino acid profile.

On behalf of the MSVU Applied Human Nutrition Department, we would like to thank all guest speakers, judges, student competitors, and audience members for participating and making Pulse Day 2021 a huge success.

Pulse Day 2021 was supported by the Exchange grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, and by the Springboard Atlantic.

Special thanks to AHN Student Volunteers including Jennifer Keating, Kari Lyn Carew, Asma Hafeez, Amy Walker, Zhizhou Fang, Sana Dhawan, James Frederick, Megan White, Bin Zhou, MacKenzie Fancey, Jayden Snortland, Lauren Hawthorne, Rylee Whyte-Jordan, and Hannah Gray.

Watch Pulse Day 2021 video: