These High Protein Solutions May Surprise You
An increasing number of food products promoting protein on their labels are finding their way onto store shelves. Some of the interest is no doubt fueled by the low-carb and high protein diets that have dotted the landscape in recent years. As a baker or food producer, there are a variety of sources to boost protein.
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990 allows for the nutrient content claim “high protein” on food labels. FDA authorizes this claim when 20% or more of the daily value (DV) of protein is found in the Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC). Based on a 2000 calorie diet, the DV of protein is 50 grams per day.
Unfortunately, the most common added sources of protein in bakery products, also fall under the “big 8 allergens.” If you’re looking for alternative sources to boost protein, here are a few options to try.
While not quite mainstream in the U.S., 2 billion people around the world eat insects. A team from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) was awarded the prestigious 2013 Hult prize with one million dollars in seed money through the Bill Clinton Initiative, for their innovative approach toward solving the global food crisis. The initial vision was to empower those living in urban slums with a way to produce a highly nutritious source of protein either for consumption themselves and/or to sell as a means of earning money. The team leveraged crickets as an edible, eco-friendly source of protein, both milled into powder form to add to recipes and, as whole insects.
There are pilot projects underway in Mexico and Ghana. Upon implementation, practicality caused the vision to shift slightly, to teaching small-hold farmers to grow locally-accepted insects near urban areas. In the US, the group has established a 13,000 sq ft production facility near Austin, TX. The thought is, by more Americans practicing entomophagy; it may begin to ease some of the stigma associated with eating insects while potentially providing a sustainable source of protein in North America as well.
- TRY: Aspire Food Group
- Product: Highly sustainable cricket protein powder and whole insects. Aspire states that “compared to traditional livestock, insects require drastically less feed to convert the same amount of protein; they require far less farmland, and the amounts of water they consume and greenhouse gases they emit are orders of magnitude lower.”
Keeping Your Finger On The Pulse
Plant proteins are viewed as being healthier than those from animal sources and on the sustainable front, to be better for the environment. Pulses are increasingly being used as ingredients to fortify foods with protein. Just what is a ‘pulse’ anyway? They are the dried seeds from legumes (pod-producers) and contain relatively high amounts of protein, for a plant. Hand-in-hand with the protein are vitamins and minerals in a form that is low in fat and nutrient-dense; Pulse Canada mentions iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins including folate, thiamin and niacin.
- TRY: Ingredion
- Products: HomecraftTM pea,chickpea, faba (broad bean) and lentil flour and VitessenceTM. These flours contain quality protein and are high in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber and resistant starch. For product developers looking for even higher amounts of protein, look at their VitessenceTM line of concentrated protein powders with protein contents around the 55%-60% mark. Ingredion ascertains that pulse proteins offer both potential cost savings and functionality, such as blending, water-absorption and emulsification properties. Applications include bakery, energy bars, snacks, breakfast cereals, noodles/pasta and pet foods.
What’s Old is New Again
Ancient Grains have been making a comeback and show no signs of slowing down in demand. They are known for their relatively high protein content compared with more traditional grains such as wheat and rice.
- TRY: Freekeh Foods
- Products: Organic whole freekeh, organic cracked freekeh and organic khorasan. Khorasan is a nutritionally dense plant based protein that is a smart alternative to wheat. Milled Khorasan brings 20-30% more protein to the table than modern wheat and can be used in cookies, tortillas or breads. Freekeh an ancient roasting process which gives green wheat a nutty and chewy texture that’s versatile. It has high levels of protein, fiber, iron, zinc and B vitamins.
Small But Impactful Solutions
On the microbial front for a way to boost protein, we spoke with Jacinthe Côté, P.Dt., Ph.D. at Lallemand Bio-Ingredients (LBI). “Whole-cell yeast can contribute significant amounts of protein and bioavailable micronutrients such as beta-glucans which can impart a creamy mouthfeel, texture and emulsification properties to the foods to which they are added.” She continues, “These yeast products can serve as thickeners, fat replacers and emulsifiers. Nutritional yeast can also contain glutathione which is a natural dough conditioner for improving dough extensibility and machinability while reducing mixing requirements.”
- TRY: Lallemand Bio-Ingredients
- Products: Lalmin® nutritional yeasts. A premium nutritional yeast range, composed of whole-cell yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) products. Bioavailability seems to be a key advantage of the whole-cell yeasts. The Lalmin® yeast range offers products that contain elevated levels of key minerals and or vitamins, such as zinc, B vitamins and vitamin D for various fortification applications. Compared to pure forms of selenium, zinc and B vitamins, those found in yeast have higher bioavailability.
A Plethora of Choices to Boost Protein
Given the growing availability of alternate proteins, product developers and bakers can see that overall, there really is a much bigger group to choose from than the standard dairy, egg, soy and wheat to add protein to baked goods. Depending on the characteristics one is trying to impart to the food…there’s a protein for that!