Alternative flours fuel snack food innovation

CHICAGO The time period “various flour” implies a foodstuff apart from conventional milled cereal or seed that has been floor right into a high quality consistency. Amongst causes a product developer could use such flours is to eradicate gluten-containing grains, specifically wheat, from formulations. Different motives embody changing nutrient-void flours equivalent to these from rice and tapioca with flours that comprise protein, fiber, heart-healthy fat and different vitamins.

Typically another flour could also be constructed from conventional grains that have already got been used, also referred to as spent within the brewing world. They’re upcycled and given a second likelihood to be consumed.

And whereas all these sources of “flour” are technically vegetation, flagging legume-, nut- and vegetable-based flours on snack meals appeals to customers following plant-based diets.

When Katlin Smith based Chicago-based Easy Mills in 2012, the clear label motion was in its infancy. The 26-year-old entrepreneur had just lately “cleaned up her weight-reduction plan” and was on a mission to deliver cleaner choices to retailer cabinets, beginning within the bakery mixes class and over time progressing into savory crackers, candy baked items, snack bars and extra.

“After I based Easy Mills, all of the mixes I discovered on grocery retailer cabinets had a ton of sugar, lots of extremely processed substances, issues I couldn’t even pronounce,” Ms. Smith mentioned. “I wished to supply merchandise that might eradicate refined sugar, high-glycemic flours, gluten and genetically-modified substances.”

Almond flour is the predominant ingredient within the Easy Mills bakery mixes, in addition to many of the snack merchandise. Coconut flour is also used typically. Her first savory snack cracker line debuted in 2016 and is made with a proprietary flour mix of almonds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds.

“This mix yields the next vitamin and mineral content material than many aggressive merchandise, in addition to a decrease carbohydrate rely and glycemic affect,” Ms. Smith mentioned. “Most different crackers embody substances like rice flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, ammonium bicarbonate and maltodextrin with little or no dietary worth.”

One of many model’s latest ideas is Seed and Nut Flour Candy Thins in chocolate brownie, honey cinnamon and mint chocolate varieties. They’re constructed from a various mixture of nutrient-dense substances, with the flour mix primarily based on watermelon, flax and sunflower seeds, and cashews.

“We selected watermelon seed flour because the main ingredient in our flour mix as a result of it helps create a deliciously gentle and crispy texture and brings protein, good fat and micronutrients,” Ms. Smith mentioned. “If that wasn’t sufficient, watermelon seed introduces higher crop range, which is a key precept of regenerative agriculture.”

Constructing on the corporate’s dedication to individuals and planetary well being, Candy Thins are sweetened with coconut sugar from farmers that use regenerative practices equivalent to agroforestry, perennial cropping and composting. One other sustainable ingredient the corporate is exploring is chestnut flour. It’s the first ingredient within the new Easy Mills No Added Sugar Pancake & Waffle Combine.

Chestnuts are a largely forgotten crop that was large enterprise in america earlier than devastating blight killed billions of bushes within the early 1900s. Whereas chestnut flour is a distinct segment product, its versatility and nutritive worth as a gluten-free flour is attracting bakers, with some suppliers anticipating US-grown chestnuts to go mainstream over the subsequent decade, changing the largely imported coconut flour.

Chestnuts are known as “the grain that grows on bushes” in Italy, the place dried chestnuts have lengthy been made right into a tannish, sweet-flavored flour that’s utilized in all the things from crepes to muffins. Chestnuts would not have a excessive fats content material like most different nuts; moderately, they comprise largely carbohydrates. Consequently, the flour constructed from chestnuts has comparable properties to wheat flour, simply with out the gluten.

Lowering meals waste

Lots of the up-and-coming various flours are specializing in decreasing meals waste through the use of edible byproducts of meals manufacturing, equivalent to watermelon seeds, and turning them into merchandise for human consumption. Whereas munching on watermelon seeds is probably going not one thing most customers wish to do, when these seeds which can be loaded with iron, magnesium, zinc and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids get pulverized right into a flour, the chances are quite a few.

Right here’s one other instance of turning waste right into a nutritious, scrumptious ingredient. This one comes from the acorns produced by oak bushes. Squirrels could take pleasure in acorns, however most people take into account them a nuisance.

Acorns — the nuts with caps and shells eliminated — are excessive in protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B6. They’re naturally gluten-free and loaded with fiber. Greater than 400 species of oak bushes are grown all over the world, and the acorns they produce differ in coloration, taste and dimension. They naturally comprise tannic acid, a water-soluble bitter substance that leaches out throughout processing, permitting their pure sweetness to return ahead.

Acorn flour remains to be a specialty ingredient; nonetheless, it’s gaining traction on native ranges. On Kea Island in Greece, Marcie Mayer, a California native, heads up the Oakmeal Acorn Initiative, which is a multifaceted challenge to assist farmers rekindle the gathering of acorn caps for exportation to tanneries, in addition to establishing acorn flour-based merchandise within the native delicacies. Ms. Mayer produces and markets a line of acorn cookies and acorn pasta.

“Acorn flour behaves very otherwise than wheat flour,” she mentioned. “It has a darker coloration and far richer aroma. It’s sometimes blended with wheat flour.”

Thousand Oaks Acorn Co., Thousand Oaks, Calif., produces 4 types of the gluten-free AcornBar. Whereas oats are the primary ingredient, domestically harvested and milled acorn flour is the advertising and marketing proposition. Varieties are coconut-ginger-apricot, coffee-chocolate-cinnamon, chocolate-orange-ginger and cranberry-orange-coconut.

Don Guerra’s ardour for baking and his dedication to group is showcased in each loaf baked at Barrio Bread, Tucson, Ariz. Native-grown and milled grains are a pillar of his enterprise. His substances embody various flours sourced from some surprising locations.

One various flour that Mr. Guerra makes use of comes from the mesquite tree (Prosopis glandulosa), which is widespread in southern Arizona. The pods are thought-about a nuisance by landscapers, however when they’re dried and floor right into a reddish flour, they’re the key ingredient in lots of domestically produced meals.

The fleshy a part of the pod supplies carbohydrates, together with soluble and insoluble fibers, whereas the seeds are a concentrated supply of protein, together with the important amino acid lysine, which frequently is proscribed in plant-based proteins. All informed, mesquite flour is a dietary powerhouse, because it’s additionally loaded with calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. The flour has a malty, nutty, smoky, candy taste profile typically described as having hints of cocoa, maple, molasses and hazelnut.

Legumes additionally could also be dried and floor into various flours. Chickpea flour, for instance, typically is used to extend the protein content material of crackers and baked snacks. It has nearly double the fats content material of entire wheat flour and is about 25% greater in protein. The flour tends to be denser and stickier than common wheat flour, and recipes have to be adjusted.

Legume flours are constructed from cooked beans which were dehydrated and milled to specification. This consists of grit, meal and powder types.

Banana flour is an rising industrial various flour but to achieve traction in america. It’s constructed from inexperienced bananas which will by no means ripen and infrequently grow to be waste. The inexperienced varieties function excessive ranges of RS2-type resistant starch, which is a prebiotic dietary fiber proven to supply a variety of well being advantages. Inexperienced banana flour additionally could perform like a hydrocolloid. The flour supplies bulk and replaces sugar in baked meals, particularly bars, in addition to snack meals. The flour has a beige coloration with a bland, earthy taste.

Circle of life

San Francisco-based Renewal Mill converts the pulpy leftovers of soy and oat milk manufacturing into versatile, gluten-free flours that enhance the fiber and protein content material in quite a lot of shopper packaged items. The upcycled soy ingredient is known as okara flour. It has a impartial taste, which is described as barely milky or nutty. It has a light-weight coloration, permitting it to mix simply into most flour-based merchandise, mentioned Claire Schlemme, chief government officer.

“Okara flour has quite a lot of useful advantages, together with having excessive water- and oil-binding skills,” Ms. Schlemme mentioned. “This improves moisture retention and may lengthen shelf lifetime of bakery merchandise.”

ReGrained, San Francisco, developed a patented expertise to repurpose spent grains produced by beer brewers and course of them in a approach that makes them steady as a meals ingredient. Its first licensed upcycled ingredient is ReGrained SuperGrain. It has a toasted look, taste and aroma. The flour supplies a minimal of three-and-a-half instances the dietary fiber and double the plant protein of entire grain flour, in addition to prebiotics, in keeping with the corporate.

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