New Directions in Healthy Baking

Any way you bake it, filling consumer demand for healthy baked goods takes the cake.

By David Feder, RD, Technical Editor

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Orafti’s prebiotic fiber ingredients also may be used to replace part of the fat content of baked goods while improving crumb structure and mouthfeel, compared to traditional low-fat products. “Orafti HPX inulin is most tolerant in dough systems, resisting enzymatic breakdown by yeast enzymes while maintaining volume, texture and eating qualities compared to full-fat products,” says O’Neill.

Beneo-Orafti’s sister company, Beneo-Palatinit provides a number of beet-derived, low-calorie saccharides such as Isomalt, Palatinose and galenIQ. In addition to providing mild sweetness, the products do not alter flavor or appearance in baked products but, at half the calories of sucrose, can replace bulk while decreasing overall calorie content. Moreover, the products are noncariogenic — a health benefit not often associated with sweet baked snacks.

Typical of the new approach to healthy baking is the boom in boutique, small-bakery options that hit a number of targets — such as cookies that are gluten-free, additive-free, low-calorie and certified as organic, kosher, halal or a combination of the three. But the boutique bakeries of today differ greatly from those of even five years ago. Today’s operations are going high-tech.

La Vita’s cookies by La Vita Health Foods Ltd. (, Suffern, N.Y., “were definitely developed with health in mind,” says La Vita’s founder, Zina Minz. “The recipe is the result of two decades of research and testing by food technicians both here and in Israel and Europe,” she says.
According to Minz, La Vita’s soy flour recipes and technical baking processes make it possible to offer a nutritious baked treat in eight flavors, without sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, colorings or artificial flavorings. In addition to being diabetic friendly, the soy flour cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free and cholesterol-free, prebiotic, vegan and kosher certified.

The flip side of taking out is putting in. Whole grains and fiber are at the top of the list of attractive ingredients to work into baking formulations.

Recent technology has focused on taking known health-directed ingredients previously troublesome for formulators and “mainstreaming” them. The ability to create healthful baked items with whole grains and fiber without sacrificing fluffiness and flavor was a holy grail for a while. That grail’s been found.
Minneapolis-based General Mills Inc.’s Fiber One line of cereals has enjoyed years of success. Crunchy is easy with the tougher starch forms of whole grain and fiber, but how do you work those ingredients into a soft product? 

You knew it as a cereal, now Fiber One is contributing the same fiber and whole grains to pancake and muffin mixes.

Enter the company’s Betty Crocker Fiber One muffin mix and Fiber One Complete Pancake Mix. Although providing up to 5g fiber and 10g whole grain per serving, pancakes and waffles from the mixes do not have the density and bitter aftertaste associated with the previous generation of whole-grain/high-fiber products.

“One challenge for the baker is to load the daily loaf with whole grains, seeds and nuts while still keeping the consumer’s eating experience enjoyable and running these products in a high speed plant environment,” notes Anne Brown, regional business director of Danisco Inc.’s North American Food & Beverage Enzymes Genencor division (

Danisco’s PowerBake xylanase and lipase enzyme systems help support the gluten network in baked goods, ensuring healthful bread products with good loaf volume, desirable flavor and processing ease. “Beyond its functional benefits, PowerBake xylanase can help improve the health benefits of high-fiber, whole-grain breads by converting insoluble fiber to soluble fiber,” says Brown.

Isabella’s Healthy Bakery (, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, launched Activate muffins in mid-2008 that not only were a healthy raisin bran (good fiber) formula but contained a probiotic. The muffins contain GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086), a strain that survives heat and other rigors of processing.

“For so many years, we’ve been focusing on taking things out of our muffins. Now the opposite is true,” says Monica Curtis, Isabella’s president. “We started to enhance them with nutrients to offer consumers the best of both worlds – a muffin that not only tastes good, but is also good for you. Creating a muffin that helps support digestive health was the next logical step.”

“GanedenBC30 is a spore-forming probiotic bacterium -- meaning that inside the bacterial cell is a hardened structure, or spore, which is analogous to a seed,” explains Sean Farmer, Ganeden’s co-founder and chief scientist. “This spore protects the cell’s genetic material from the heat and pressure of manufacturing processes, challenges of shelf life as well as the acid and bile it is exposed to during digestive transit. The viable spore is then able to germinate and produce new vegetative cells once it is safely inside the small intestine.”

“Traditional” probiotic organisms are not able to form these protective spores, he adds. Plans are in place to include GanedenBC30 in other Isabella’s products including breakfast bars and cakes.

Flour power 

“The whole grain trend is continuing its growth with new fronts constantly being added,” agrees Mike Veal, vice president of marketing for ConAgra Mills (, Omaha, Neb. His company was largely responsible for one of those new fronts. In 2004, ConAgra launched Ultragrain, apparently the first whole-wheat flour that looked and tasted like refined, white flour. 

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