Only the first place winners were scheduled to get an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago for the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo to showcase their innovative food product, courtesy of the competition sponsor Pulse Canada as it marks the International Year of Pulses with this extra benefit for 2016.
But the judges were so impressed by the flavours, textures and novel concept behind the students’ gelato that the provincial industry body, Alberta Pulse, decided to provide support for this team to attend, too.
“This is the students’ chance to make contacts in the industry as well as potentially find a company or food processor who might be interested in their innovative pulse product,” Debra McLennan, food and nutrition coordinator at Alberta Pulse.
Indeed, the event is one of the largest food expos in the world, where more than 20,000 attendees from the food industry can view and taste new products, including this unusual product — which is officially titled a “gelata” because gelatos contain real milk.
The ALES students were intent on creating something that didn’t just add pulses to existing food but actually used them in a manner not tackled before, said Neil.
The team also took to heart the advice of Lech Ozimeck, its academic advisor, who told them that sometimes the best idea is to simply replace a singular ingredient and do it well.
They decided to replace regular milk with beans fermented for several hours as the gelato’s base.
“The fermentation process worked to break down the volatile beany compounds and turned the bean milk into a liquid that tasted like yogurt,” said Neil.
In addition to being packed with the nutrients of pulses (which include fibre and protein, high levels of iron, zinc and phosphorus, and B-vitamins such as folate) the gelato has the potential to appeal to a whole new customer segment — those seeking dairy-free foods.
It also met the challenge set for this year’s competition, which was to create a delicious and healthy food product using pulses (whole dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas) that exhibits an innovation in traditional foods, in order to celebrate the International Year of Pulses.
Recently, ALES food science students have had a terrific track record with the Mission IMPULSEible competition that’s now in its ninth year.
In 2014, a team from ALES won the $2,500 national prize with Pulse Pops, a frozen treat consisting of chickpeas, peanut butter and soy nuts, wrapped with black bean and cacoa and rolled in chocolate and coconut. In 2011, another nationally winning team from the faculty developed gluten-free pulse chips.