Tag Archives: Sustainability

Treat Yourself to Pulses: Recipes

For more information on International Year of Pulses, check out Part One of our blog series.

Want to harness low-cost, eco-friendly pulse-power in your diet? If so, you are in for a treat! Pulses are so flexible that you can find them in a vast variety of recipes and it may surprise you what you can make in your own kitchen.

(Credit Peamon Tart team)

For example, 2015’s Mission ImPULSEible national winners and UAlberta alumni Minghua Yu, Kaixing Tang and Andrea Roman were kind enough to share their recipe for a lemon tart with a gluten-free crust made from a mixture of canned pulses.

PULSE winners 2015

Peamon Tart Recipe

Mixed bean paste crust

  • 1 cup mixed bean paste (red kidney beans, chickpeas, Romano beans and great northern white beans)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 113 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons pea protein

Crust cooking instructions

  1. Preheat the oven at 425 F.
  2. Insert the bean mix or chickpeas in the grinding attachment of a stand mixer. Place 113 grams of butter into an electric stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1.5 teaspoons of xanthan gum into the stand mixer, continue beating until all ingredients are well incorporated into the mix.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest into the mixer, continue to mix.
  4. Add 1 cup of bean paste into the mixer and beat at a low speed until all ingredients are well combined. If the crust appears to soft and sticky to handle, place in the freezer for approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Take about 1 tablespoon of dough and place it in the centre of 1-inch muffin tins; press dough onto the bottom and the sides.
  6. Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork.
  7. Place the pan in the centre of the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown; approximately 13 to 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let the crusts cool down at room temperature for approximately 5 minutes.

Cream-cheese lemon filling

  • 140 g of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • ½ tablespoon of cornstarch

Filling instructions

  1. Place 140 grams of cream- cheese into the electric stand mixer bowl and beat until smooth. Add ½ cup of sugar into the mixer and continue to bean until it is well incorporated. Add eggs into the mixer and continue beating. Add ½ cup of fresh lemon juice and 2.5 teaspoons of lemon zest into the mixer, mix until a uniform filling is made.
  2. Pour filling into the pre baked tart shell and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until filling starts to bubble.
  3. Cool the tarts for about 5 minutes in the freezer; transfer to a baking pan and refrigerate until well chilled, approximately 2 hours.

Other recipes

Looking for more pulse recipes? Here are a couple of favourites from the Office of Sustainability staff:

If you want to make yourself popular with a crowd, try these Vegan, Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies that Jasmine brought to the office.
Black-Bean-Brownies-Recipe

(Credit: Minimalist Baker)

 “I like this recipe because it’s a secretly healthy, yet delicious dessert with more texture than regular baked goods.  I also enjoy making people guess what unique ingredients I’ve merged with desserts.”

Jasmine, Outreach Assistant

If you’d rather make everyone jealous with how delicious your lunch smells, try making Spicy Chickpea, Coconut & Tomato Soup which Emma enjoys.

spicysoup2

(Credit: Julian the Thinker)

“I love this recipe because it’s very tasty, vegan-friendly and inexpensive to make. I like to blend the soup and then freeze it in muffin tins, making it easy to portion and bring for lunches.”

Emma, Project Planner – Green Labs

Want a substantial meal with pulses? Eric is a pro at getting a full meal without animal products, so it’s no wonder that he enjoys a Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burger.

Black Bean Quinoa Burger(Credit: The Foodie Physician)

“It’s a hearty, satisfying meal with a unique flavour profile that goes well in a lettuce leaf, if you want a healthier option than a bun. I love that it is easy to make and freezes well. It’s a perfect alternative to a classic meat burger. “

Eric, Graphic Designer

Have any tasty pulse recipes you’d like to share? Please comment or tweet us at @greenuofa!

About The Author

Kateryna Barnes is the Communications Assistant for the Office of Sustainability. Her favourite pulse-based recipe is Post Punk Kitchen’s Black Bean & Quinoa Soup because it’s an easy-to-make, affordable and healthy recipe that freezes well and reminds her of chili.

Celebrate International Year of Pulses

This year the United Nations declared 2016 International Year of Pulses as a way to grow awareness about the benefits of pulses as a part of an affordable, sustainable and healthy diet.

That sounds great, but what is a pulse?

Pulses: Not just a sign of life in your wrist

Pulses are part of the legume family. According to the UN’s definition , pulses only include crops harvested solely for their dried seeds; fresh peas and beans don’t count and neither do oilseeds like soybeans and peanuts.

Pulse_graphic_p3 (Credit: Pulse Canada)

As pulses are dried seeds, they can be stored for long periods without losing their nutritional value and are easily transported. Farmers who grow pulses have the option to both eat as well as sell their harvest.

Pulses are powerhouses that improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen which extends the productivity of farmland. While they are growing, they also create a more diverse landscape for animals and insects and indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, some pulses can be cultivated in very poor-quality soils and semi-arid environments where other crops cannot be grown.

Like other legumes, pulses are packed with protein, fiber and nutrients such as iron, folate and potassium. They are also low in fat and cholesterol-free; they can even help lower cholesterol. A 2014 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that pulses can help reduce LDL-cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Pulses are an incredibly environmentally-friendly source of protein. For example, it takes 4,275 kilograms more water to produce one kilogram of chicken than it does to produce one kilogram of lentils or split peas.

nat post cauliflower

 

 

(credit: G. Clement – National Post)

Recently, Canadian consumers have been dealing with shockingly high food costs in the face of a struggling economy (Hello, $7 cauliflower). If you’re looking to cut down on your food budget, integrating pulses into your diet might be a good option. They are an incredibly affordable source of low-fat protein. Next time you are in the grocery store, compare the costs of beans, chickpeas or lentils per gram to the cost of chicken.

exporter chart

  (Data: Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Pulses are also grown in Canada—and a lot of them too! In Alberta one in every twenty acres of cropped land grows pulses.

With all these pulses, Canada is by far the largest exporter of pulses on the planet, exporting 3.65 times more pulses than the next largest nation. With the bulk of the pulses being grown in the Prairies, they are quite local and accessible for Albertans.

Pulses are such an important crop in Canada that there’s even a national food development competition for students, Mission ImPULSEible, where competitors must create a tasty and healthy food product using pulses in an innovative way. This year, a team of UAlberta students represented Alberta in the national competition with their product BiotaGelata, which uses Alberta-grown pulses to make a non-dairy, vegan gelato. This summer they will be going to Chicago for the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo.

When they looked into making a pulse-based frozen dessert, they realized there was a market for it.

biotagelata

(Credit: BiotaGelata)

“We did a lot of research into the dairy-free market, and a lot of the products use soy or coconut milk,” said Nicolle Mah, one of the BiotaGelata team members. “With a lot of soy allergies, or many people who don’t like the flavor of coconut, we thought this would be innovative and would catch on with the market.”

With a bit of culinary know-how from teammate Austen Neil (who worked at Fiasco Gelato in Calgary and has experience as a pastry chef), the team created their own Maple Walnut gelato recipe. The dessert took first place in the provincial Mission ImPULSEible competition earlier this year.

The BiotaGelata team hopes International Year of Pulses and competitions like Mission ImPULSEible gives these crops their due.

“A lot of people don’t realize what a pulse is,” said Chandre Van De Merwe. “They also don’t realize that they are cheap and you can do a lot with a pulse.”

Want to try eating more pulses? Check back for Part Two to check out five creative pulse recipes!

About The Author

Kateryna Barnes is the Communications Assistant for the Office of Sustainability. She’s trying to eat more pulses in her diet to be healthier and more sustainable.

The Paris Climate Talks: What do they mean for us at UAlberta?

You’ve probably heard about the big climate change meeting that is currently happening in Paris. There have been countless news stories about heightened security or which world leaders are attending, but what does it mean for us who aren’t going to France?

Why talk about climate change?

Discussing climate change on an international stage is important since the effects of climate change aren’t restricted to national borders. Since the 1990s, the United Nations has tried to negotiate agreements to stop or mitigate the impacts of climate change. One of the barriers to an agreement is that the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases like CO2 have not signed onto a legally-binding agreement, namely China and the United States.

What is COP21?

The name of this meeting is kind of odd. COP stands for “Conference of the Parties” and it’s the annual meeting for all countries who signed up for the United Nations’ agreement on climate change action (the UNFCCC). The “21” part refers to this being the 21st meeting of its kind. With that mouthful it’s no wonder it gets shortened to COP21.

Since France is hosting COP21 and all 40,000 participants, they are also acting as facilitator between all the attending parties in an effort to come to an agreement to act on climate change.

With almost two dozen previous conferences dedicated to acting on climate change, there is a lot of history to get through. Luckily, Agence France-Presse compiled that background information into a quick video to help get you up to speed.

What’s the goal of COP21?

This conference is especially important as the expected goal of the meeting is a new international agreement on climate change to keep global warming below 2oC. Climate scientists have suggested that if the planet gets any warmer than that, climate change would become catastrophic. At the Copenhagen-hosted conference in 2009, there was debate as to whether the temperature limit should be 2oC or 1.5oC, but no agreement was adopted back then.

Some of the stumbling blocks for the Copenhagen-conference included whether or not the final agreement would include legal consequences for missing targets—an issue also facing the Paris summit. Another topic is the amount of money developed nations—historically, the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases—would commit to helping developing nations least prepared to face the effects of climate change. The Canadian government recently announced they would double the amount of planned contributions to developing countries.

GreenhouseGasEmissions_Sector_EN - enviro cda
Distribution of greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector, Canada, 2013/ Environment Canada

The French government’s goal is to make the agreement appealing to all countries, which means the planet’s economic engines will all have to agree to shift to a low-carbon economy or risk losing potential signatories to a new agreement.

What does it mean for Canada?

Canada is in a difficult spot. With a new federal government jumping into negotiations after the election, Canada is set to take a new, proactive direction. However, as of right now, there is no new national climate plan. The Canadian economy relies heavily on resource-extraction industries which produce a sizable amount of carbon emissions, so a commitment from Canada would have to mean a distinct change in policy and action.

In Alberta, the new provincial government recently unveiled a climate change strategy that includes a carbon tax, a cap on oil sands emissions and a plan to phase out all coal plants in the province by 2030. The new strategy is a big change in a province that hasn’t updated its policy since 2008, so it’s possible that Alberta’s new direction can be used as an example of a high-carbon economy taking action on climate change.

GreenhouseGasEmissions_Prov_EN - enviro cda
Greenhouse gas emissions by province and territory, Canada, 1990, 2005 and 2013/ Environment Canada

 

How can I get involved here?

Most of us can’t make it to Paris for the conference, let alone directly participate in the treaty negotiations, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be engaged citizens.

  • Follow the talks on social media
    With the many leaders involved in climate talks becoming more social media savvy, you can follow the public aspect of the negotiations on Twitter or Facebook. The conference has an official Twitter account in English and many other attendees are posting using the hashtag #COP21. Others, like Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May has started posting update videos on Facebook to share what she’s seeing.
  • Follow UAlberta experts at the talks
    There are also two UAlberta professors tweeting about their experiences at COP21: Dr. Debra Davidson and Dr. Makere Stewart-Harawira, who is also blogging.
  • Get involved with local initiatives
    While the Global Climate March is over, there are still many ways to get involved locally. Join a campus club or start volunteering with a local organization that takes action on climate change.
  • Take personal action on climate change
    Anyone can take small, personal actions to make a difference and help reduce your eco-footprint.  Learn about what you can do and make your own commitment with One Simple Act on Campus.

About the author

Kateryna Barnes is the Communications Assistant with the Office of Sustainability.  

8 ways you can save energy and money

Saving energy can do a lot for you. Not only does it help reduce carbon emissions — which can help you breathe easier — but it can also save you some money.

The far-reaching global effects of energy consumption are greatly publicized but how can watching our energy usage change our day-to-day lives? We don’t always connect our individual actions to global problems, but consider the electricity that you use throughout the day; the natural gas that heats your shower in the morning, the energy that runs your computer at work, and the lights you turn on around your house at night— it all adds up.

If climate change doesn’t motivate you to make a change, then consider the impact on air quality or the cost. Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to poor air quality which affects your health. Prices for oil and fossil fuel energy sources continue to get more expensive. Perhaps consider reducing your energy use in order to save money on your electricity bill.  

Here are eight tips that can help you reduce your daily energy consumption:

1.Use your thermostat efficiently
A programmable thermostat lets you manage the temperature when you aren’t home. By choosing options that reduce the difference in temperature between the exterior and interior of your house, you can reduce energy loss and costs. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, manually adjust the thermostat when coming and going.

2. Get to know your ceiling fans
If you have ceiling fans in your house, use them wisely. Ceiling fans should be set to spin counter-clockwise in the summer, which pulls hot air up to the ceiling and away from the living space. In the winter, reverse the setting so the fans blow the hot air down.

3. Try Energy Star appliances
Energy Star identifies energy-efficient appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, room air conditioners, computers and more. When you are shopping for new appliances, look for the Energy Star  label and consider options that optimize your energy use to save dollars.

4. Power down your electronics
Stereos, computers, televisions, kitchen appliances, and any other plugged-in appliances draw a small amount of power even when turned off. “Standby Power”, the electricity used by electronic devices and appliances when they are in standby mode but not unplugged, accounts for 5 to 10% of all energy consumption in the average Canadian household1. Use a surge-protected powerstrip to turn them completely off when not in use, or unplug these items until you really need them.

6. Fix water leaks
Consider how much energy is used to treat and transport your water. When you conserve water, you conserve water and energy. Be sure to repair or replace faucets that drip, fix toilets that leak and turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or scrubbing dishes.

7. Up your furnace’s efficiency
Change the filter on your furnace on a frequent basis. Many furnace manufacturers recommend doing it quarterly or even monthly to keep the unit operating at peak efficiency. Similarly, empty the lint filter on your dryer after every use. Even a small amount of lint build-up hampers the flow of air from your dryer, reducing energy efficiency.

8. Save heat, save energy
Don’t waste energy. Close the doors on your refrigerator and house as quickly as possible. Keep fireplace dampers shut when not in use. Close the curtains to cover your windows at night. All of these little efforts help to conserve energy by preventing heat loss.


Learn more about UAlberta’s Envision energy management program and other initiatives from Energy Management and Sustainable Operations.

Discovering green initiatives on campus

UAlberta is a leader in sustainability. In addition to highly visible features like solar panels, there are little pockets of green all over campus—a little something here and something tucked in over there. It’s easy to walk past an incredible initiative without noticing it on our way to class or the office.

I wanted to learn more about the unique, eco-friendly features around me, so I participated in a Sustainability Campus Tour. There were quite a few stops on the hour-long tour. Here are some unique things that stuck out to me.

Continue reading Discovering green initiatives on campus

Sustainability: A History

Perhaps sustainability is your passion and you want to be armed with even more knowledge. Or maybe you don’t know much about sustainability but you want to learn more so you can join the debate. You might even just be curious about why sustainability exists. What got us here in the first place?

Luckily, University of Alberta professor Jeremy Caradonna has written the book you should be reading right now if sustainability interests you in any way—Sustainability: A History.

Continue reading Sustainability: A History

Keeping Up With the Grants

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, Sustainability Awareness Week (SAW) hosted an informative event on campus funding opportunities. Have you ever wanted to make a sustainable effort? Pursue a social justice project locally or abroad? Start an awesome club on campus to bring people together?

Well, to help make these dreams possible, the University of Alberta has money to support your idea. In case you missed this opportunity during SAW to learn about these grants, there is still plenty of information online and throughout the year on different grants that may suit your needs.

Continue reading Keeping Up With the Grants