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4 students of Food Engineering at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) managed to create a dry, eco-friendly, and very versatile mix with agroindustrial by-products (eggshell, whey, and seeds) on a base of sweet potato and ñampí to be used in the elaboration of traditional dishes that contribute to reducing the malnutrition rates of children in Central America.

The product was called “Nelhuayotin” and is its entry pass for the final of the international product development competition of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) of the United States, in New Orleans. Students will travel from June 2nd to 5th, 2019, to participate with their novel food in this competition that brings together advanced students from prestigious universities at an international level.

The students were inspired by 3 of the objectives of the United Nations (UN): end of poverty, action for climate, and zero hunger. Kimberly Serrano, a neighbor of Pérez Zeledón and team leader, affirms that her project took Central America as a frame of reference, since they conceive it as a region with “very similar food problems and common tools to face them”.

The Nelhuayotin (name in Nahuatl language that alludes to the word “root”) is an instant product rich in calcium for containing eggshell and with a large amount of proteins for the ayote seeds and the whey it contains. Sweet potato and yam are the 2 basic tubers that add the good flavor to the mixture and turn it into a flour with which you can make from tamale to tortillas and bread. Additionally, it is also a low-cost food.

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