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Macro and micronutrient content of foods served to 3-5-year-old children before and after pulse intervention and factors influencing the sustainability of pulse-based foods in Saskatoon childcare centres



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This study examined pre and post-intervention macro- and micronutrient content of regular and pulse-based intervention meals served to 3-5-year old (yo) children at four Saskatoon childcare centres (CCs); and factors, which are perceived as important for the adoption, implementation, and continuation of a pulse-based nutrition education intervention at CCs. The Pulse Discovery Tool Kit (PDTK) was an intervention introduced into four CCs in Saskatoon in order to promote pulse-based foods. In the present multi-methods study: quantitative analysis of macronutrient and micronutrient content of thirteen regular menu items and four pulse-based intervention recipes was carried out; as well as an analysis of plate waste data obtained previously that measured food preferences of 3-5 yo children. The following macro- and micronutrients were measured: calories, carbohydrates, fats, saturated fats, proteins, sodium, total fibre, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and the vitamins A and C. The results for the macro- and micronutrients were calculated for 100g of each type of food. In addition, qualitative data was obtained from school staff one year following to determine the sustainability of the PDTK intervention. Results showed that pulse-based foods provided fewer calories, similar amounts of protein and carbohydrates, higher fiber, lower fat and unsaturated fats, and similar amounts of micronutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, folate and the vitamins C and A. With respect to plate waste, it varied from a low of 5.4% for beef tacos and a high of 78% for ranch dip. Generally, the plate waste was higher for the pulse-based foods as compared to the regular foods. This indicated that the children did not like the pulse-based foods, perhaps because they were not familiar with pulses and due to a reluctance to try a novel food. The staff interviews revealed six themes: knowledge of the CC food guidelines; length of time it took to cook the recipes; the effort in preparing the pulse recipes; price of the pulses; fatiguing the children with too many pulse-based foods; and the difficulty in having the kids eat the PDTK recipes. It was found that the staff were generally aware of the provincial and federal guidelines for foods served to children at CCs. However, all of the cooks, and some directors, felt that the pulse-based food recipes were time-consuming and too complex to make. Price was not seen as a factor in the serving of pulses in CCs. However, all of the staff were wary of fatiguing the children with too many pulse foods and noted that the children, on the whole, did not like eating the pulse foods. The reasons for this, according to the staff, were due to pulses being novel and the texture of the pulse-based foods. Although the cooks at the CCs used small amounts of pulses in some of their foods, they did not make any of the pulse foods that were made during the PDTK intervention. Overall, this study revealed that pulses are an excellent plant-based alternative to meats and other food sources, and are in line with the recommendations of Health Canada’s food guidelines. However, the recipes used in the intervention were time consuming and not liked by the children, as evidenced by the food wastage data. Therefore, other recipes, which are less time consuming and more liking to the children, should be explored.



macro and micronutrient content, pulse intervention



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Pharmacy and Nutrition




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