Ingredients for Healthy Indulgence

Just a few tricks can deliver products consumers will buy that also are good for them.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Technical Editor

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Denver-based Lärabar Inc. ( went deeper into chocolate territory with the launch of its Jocalat “organic chocolate food bars” in 2007. The Larabar healthy image derives from the simple ingredients, generally limited to no more than seven organic items sweetened with dates and other dried fruit. The addition of chocolate to the line created a perfect fit — health with indulgence.

At the 2008 IFT Food Expo in New Orleans, Solae showcased several concepts that aimed to capitalize on the health and wellness trends while delivering the exceptional taste of indulgent foods. One examples was a Pomegranate-Acai Heart-Healthy Smoothie — a 100 percent juice smoothie featuring pomegranate and acai combined with 7g of soy protein, delivering antioxidant and heart health benefits. Dark Chocolate Goji Berry Bliss was a high-protein (11g) soy-based bar with dark chocolate and goji berries. The prototype was a good source of fiber and 14 vitamins and minerals.


How’s this for healthy indulgence: dark chocolate with goji berries. It was a prototype at the recent IFT Food Expo from Solae.

Chips had become almost an icon of deep fried indulgence when some chip manufactures rushed to fill the demand for products that could better balance both sides of the health/indulgence equation. This entailed not only moving away from trans fats, but also expanding ingredient choices to include antioxidant-rich plants.

As early as 1990, companies such as Hain Celestial Group Inc.’s Terra Chips (, Boulder, Colo., set the pace with its exotic vegetable chips from taro root, beets and sweet potatoes and potato chips made from purple, Yukon gold and red potatoes.

Los Angeles-based Corazonas Foods took a different route, inserting CardioAid plant sterols from Archer Daniels Midland Co. – as well as lowering fat by an average of 40 percent over standard potato chips. Corazonas not only calls its snack “heart-healthy chips,” but the package clearly claims “proven to help lower cholesterol.”

Cool beans

Beans are a perfect example of a healthful ingredient struggling to gain a foothold in American consciousness. But add bean, pea and lentil flours to baked goods and you can give traditionally indulgent foods a high-protein, high-fiber, folate- and mineral-rich boost.

“Treats like cookies, crackers and muffins made with bean flour are a perfect fit for a healthful indulgence category,” says Peter Watts, director of market innovation for Pulse Canada (, the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based industry association representing growers, processors and traders of pulse crops.

ADM (, Decatur, Ill., offers just such an option via its VegeFull line of cooked, ground bean ingredients. They’re “natural fits for creating healthier dessert alternatives,” says ADM nutrition scientist Patricia Williamson-Hughes and bean technologist Patricia DeMark. VegeFull helps “make it easier for manufactures to create healthy desserts, cakes, pies, cookies and chocolates.”

“One of the many advantages of working with beans is they carry flavors so well,” explains DeMark. “Something sweet or something savory can easily be enhanced nutritionally with the addition of beans. For instance, peanut butter cookies can be made [healthier] by adding VegeFull and reducing the fat and peanut butter, without affecting the taste. Replacing a flour portion of your favorite recipe with a VegeFull blend of peas and cooked beans makes a great product that kids will never suspect as being more healthy for them.”

Indulgent fiber?

According to Tate & Lyle North America (, Decatur, Ill., there’s a steady rise in the popularity of healthy eating, yet consumers perceive they are often faced with a choice between something that is good for them and something that tastes good. Tate & Lyle sees its dietary fiber offerings as addressing this issue by enabling manufacturers to include the desired health benefits of fiber in mainstream food and beverage products without compromising taste.

Key is the Promitor group of fibers, such as Promitor Soluble Corn Fiber, a dietary fiber with prebiotic properties. Available in powder and liquid, it functions like corn syrup and can be used as a partial or complete replacement for sucrose and sugar alcohols in combination with other sweeteners. Clear, with a bland-to-slightly sweet flavor (2 Kcal/g) and low viscosity, it leaves intact key characteristics in applications.

Promitor Corn Fiber is process stable, even in acid conditions, allowing wide applications in dairy, beverage, bakery, soups, sauces and dressings, fillings, confections, cereal coatings. It can be labeled as either soluble corn fiber, corn syrup or corn syrup solids.

Promitor Resistant Starch is a dietary fiber with prebiotic properties that can act as a low calorie (1.7 Kcal/g) flour replacer. As an insoluble dietary fiber, it can be used in a wide range of baked goods and snacks. Its superior heat and shear resistance and low water-holding characteristics lead to more fiber at the end of the manufacturing process.

Promitor Resistant Starch may be used to reduce fat pick-up in fried foods such as corn chips, tortilla chips, batters and breading and is compatible with whole grains, for use in ready-to-eat cereal, snacks, tortillas, crackers, cookies, pizza crust, bread and pasta. It also can be labeled as “corn starch” and is GMO free.

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