Saturday, October 15, 2016

Celebrate World Food Day with Pulses

Date:  October 14, 2016
Event: World Food Day #WFD2016
Location:  Planta Toronto - Yorkville
Host:  Chef Michael Smith & Pulse Canada

Special Guests:
Nick Saul, CEO, Community Food Centres Canada
Dr. David Jenkins, Founder of Glycemic Index
Chris Martinageli, Director, of Pulse Canada
Dr. Joyce Boye, Special Ambassador for International Year of Pulses
Lee Moats, Chair Pulse Canada, Pulse Farmer Denis Tremorin, Director Pulse Canada

In Honour of World Food Day I was invited to a great private event at the new Plant Based Restaurant - Planta in Yorkville at the former Pangea Restaurant space on Bay Street, for cocktails and a little bit of information about what Pulses can do for the World.  Pulses are Peas, Beans, Lentils and Chickpeas.  2016 is the International Year of Pulses.

Chef Michael Smith who is a strong supporter of using more Pulses to feed people everyday was the Host of the event.  He did a whole series for Pulse Canada on the use of Pulses around the world.  We produce more pulses than anyone and export more than anyone.  I bet if you visit India you will be eating Canadian Pulses.

The event took place at the highly anticipated Plant-based Restaurant called PLANTA in Yorkville.  I think it's the perfect spot for this restaurant and the perfect time where the trends have been crazy but at the same time I think people are getting tired of eating food that is bad for them and the planet.  I heard about this restaurant not long ago and it was on my radar for places to check out because I love vegetables when prepared properly.  Most vegetarian/vegan restaurants really don't make the food that exciting.  Yeah we all know about Kale salad but what else can you do.  Enter Chef David Lee who has adopted a plant based diet in his own life so naturally it made sense for him to have it crossover into his professional life. In partnership with the Chase Group who is well established they scooped up the prime location in Yorkville and I don't think they did too much to renovate the space but the menu is nothing like anything else in the city.

Although I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian I eat far less meat than I used to and actually enjoy a wide range of vegetables and I have been looking for more ways to introduce pulses to my diet because I have always had vegetables because of my parents European background but less so the pulses,  I had them less often as my mother's knowledge about what to do with them was limited as it is for most people.  This is where Food Education in schools could be used to really make a change.  If kids were taught simple recipes in schools and the nutritional value of cooking with pulses, I am sure it would be shared for generations.

*Pulses are good for so many things.
  • For farmers they are great because they are a sustainable crop that actually enrich the soil instead of depleting it.
  • Good Source of protein
  • Iron rich - one serving of lentils contains 1.5 times as much iron as 3 oz. serving of steak.
  • Good source of potassium
  • Excellent source of folate - chickpeas contain 3x more folate than a serving of kale
  • And fibre - all pulses have 4x more fibre than brown rice.
  • Gluten free
  • Sodium free
  • Trans Fat-free
  • Crops are Drought-tolerant
  • Produce a low carbon footprint
  • Pulses require 19L of water to produce 1gram of protein compared to Meat which requires 68L of water to produce 1 gram of protein
* source Pulse Canada

The Cost per serving of lentils is $0.16 Canadian compared to:
Beef - $1.36, Pork - $0.92 and Chicken $0.55

Lentils and peas take not longer to cook than pasta or rice.

The guest speakers:
  • Nick Saul, CEO, Community Food Centres
  • Lee Moats, Chair, Pulse Canada Pulse Farmer
  • Denis Tremorin, Director, Sustainability Pulse Canada
  • Dr. David Jenkins, Canadian Research Chair in Nutrition & Metabolism and Founder of the Glycemic Index
  • not pictured:  Chris Marinageli, Director, Nutrition Science and Regulatory Affairs, Pulse Canada
  • and Dr. Joyce Boye, my photo wasn't good enough to post.. she is FAO Special Ambassador for the IYP for North America, Director, Research, Development and Technology Transfer Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Nick Saul, CEO of Community Food Centres who said, "the act of cooking is political", that stuck with me because you choose what you want our governments and corporations to do by what you choose to buy and eat and it contributes to what happens around the world.

Dr. David Jenkins talked about how we need to switch to eating more pulses to sustain the environment because we are losing species because we can't sustain the food system.  He basically spoke about the benefit to the world in the environment and health.

Dr. Joyce Boye spoke about how the population will increase in the next 20 years.  We are already having problems feeding everyone in the world and if we don't start making changes we won't be able to feed the increasing population around the globe.

Farmer Lee Moats spoke about how growing pulses is great for the economy because of the amount we export and how it is the best crop for farmers to grow because it uses less water and yields the best soil for crop rotation.

As you can see it's a Win Win thing.  Families can be fed for little money using pulses and improve their health by getting plant proteins instead of meat proteins which have other health risks with increased allergies and all of the antibiotics and other issues that come from eating meat.  While i still love the taste of meat I think it really makes sense to limit the consumption and switch to more consumption of pulses instead.

As you can see there is a lot of information about this subject.  It really is a domino effect,  eating pulses will not only sustain the environment it will lower the cost of health care in the future with a tiny adjustment in what we plant and eat.

Now let's talk about the taste of the food.  It always comes back to that.

I wish I had better and more photos of the food we sampled because it was amazing.  You really didn't miss the fact that there was no meat in it because it was full of flavour and had the mouth feel or Umami that you crave and get from all the fat, sugar, salt etc in less healthy food.

We tried:

  • Chickpea Fries with za'atar and lemon aioli
  • Queso Dip, black beans, pickled vegetables, cashew crema on tortilla chips
  • Cauliflower Tots, truffle parmesan, lemon aioli
We also had a carrot cake smoothie.  All the appetizers were perfectly seasoned with spices to enhance the flavour.  I am the Queen of Spice and really that makes the biggest difference when making vegetables go from boring to fantastic.  What's a tomato without basil?

Yes this is a long post but the statistics are incredible and I am only skimming the surface of this subject.

For more information:
Pulse Canada's website:
Chef Michael Smith recipes:

Hashtags #lovepulses

Support Community Food Centres Canada at:

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