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By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Technical Editor | 06/30/2008
Simple packaging conveys Snacktrition’s simple message of health … along with a complex process that bakes in additional fiber and calcium, which “nurtures digestive and bone health.”
Consumers eventually learned that not all granolas were healthful. Bear Naked snacks kept health in focus, and endeared itself to athletes.
FutureCeuticals combines ancient grains amaranth, barley, buckwheat, durum, millet, chia, quinoa and spelt in a formulation-friendly powdered blend called AncienTrim, which can be used in bar formulations.
Many snacks are salty. Wild Flavors’ SaltTrim can reduce up to half the salt in a snack without affecting the taste.
Note to packaging
Snack food manufacturers are some of the most innovative packagers. All food processors can learn from their eye-grabbing graphics, convenient on-the-go structures, some of which are resealable, and smaller packages, many of which are sized to 100 calorie packs. If you missed our June packaging story Lessons from the snack packers
In 1971, Sally De Vore and Thelma White took readers on a trip through the dietary cultures of nine civilizations noted for their health. In a refreshing book titled Appetites of Man, the authors showed how a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods played a significant role in the health and success of each civilization. And they did so without the usual dietary evangelism and extremism that characterizes today’s popular diet books.
De Vore and White compared the diets, both meals and snacks, of various civilizations with the “typical American” meals and snacks of the time. Though this was just prior to the fast food explosion, the American diet was viewed as rich in calories and low in nutrients, just the opposite of the healthy cultures featured in this fascinating out-of-print book.
In the healthy civilizations, snacks were an extension of a healthy diet. Nutrition wasn’t sacrificed simply because a snack was quickly prepared or easily transported. In the modern world, snacks all too often undermine a healthy diet and contribute to the growing epidemic of obesity. Taste and convenience so overwhelm nutrition that the real value of snacks is all but lost.
Only recently has the practice of eating healthy food several times per day to maintain energy and blood sugar been recognized as a legitimate dietary strategy, especially for athletes. But of course this is old news to healthy civilizations where snacking fills both a hunger and an energy gap.
The modern approach to snacking is changing, however, as progressive companies make an effort to lift snacking to its original status.
Redeeming the potato chip
While some of our snacks stem from ethnic traditions, others are relatively modern in origin. Potato chips were popularized when an exasperated chef, Charles Crumb of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., tired of fielding complaints of thick soggy fried potatoes from the same customer. Crumb sliced the potatoes too thin to be eaten with a fork and stir-fried them. “Saratoga Chips” were a surprise hit, and the popularity of potato chips would grow.
From a nutrition perspective, the low point of potato chips came when they were deep-fried in partially hydrogenated oil. Today, manufacturers have replaced the trans fat-rich hydrogenated oils with healthier selections. But the most innovative twists on potato chips are methods of preparation and formulation.
Popchips Inc. was formed in 2007 to bring to market a natural line of popped chips with half the fat of fried chips. “Thanks to the magic of popping, Popchips offers a snack so tasty and crispy that you won’t even notice it’s healthier,” says Keith Belling, cofounder of Popchips, San Francisco. “Popchips chips aren’t fried or baked. We take the finest all-natural ingredients, like potatoes, apply heat and pressure [no oil, mind you], and pop! It’s a chip. All that’s added is a flavorful blend of natural seasonings.” The popping process also is used to create popped corn and rice chips.
How about potato chips to lower cholesterol? Los Angeles-based Corazonas Foods Inc. adds CardioAid plant sterols from Archer Daniels Midland Co. Packages carry the FDA-certified health claim: “Foods containing at least 0.4g per serving of plant sterols, eaten twice a day … may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Genisoy, Tulsa, Okla., uses soy crisps to pump up the protein of a traditionally low-protein snack. The taste is light and fluffy, much like puffed grains, but with the added protein power of soybeans.
Other innovations in chips include the use of different vegetables. For example, Terra Chips from Hain Celestial Group, Boulder, Colo., are made with such diverse vegetables as taro, parsnips, sweet potato, and yucca, and include a variety of vegetable powders.
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