Food Processors Working to Produce Healthier Baked Goods

Bakers are answering consumer demands for healthier breads and snacks with ancient grains and old-fashioned fiber.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Technical Editor

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A wealth of studies going back more than a decade — including a study published late last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition -- showed the quantity of resistant starch correlated with blood glucose and satiety responses. "Simply put, the more resistant starch they fed people, the higher the satiety effects," says Witwer. Dietary fiber content as a whole did not predict the satiety effects.

King Arthur Flour (, Norwich, Vt., has been using both Hi-Maize 5-in-1 flour and another new fiber ingredient across a number of recipes: Sustagrain Flaked Barley, from ConAgra Mills (, Omaha, Neb. Sustagrain is a hull-less barley naturally high in dietary fiber and low in starch. With three times the soluble fiber of oats, it's suitable for use in breads and cookies that call for oats. Both ingredients "add fiber and nutrition to baked goods that otherwise would be very high in calories with little nutritional benefit," says Sue Gray, manager of product development for King Arthur.

Old grains for new
Fiber is an inherent quality in many of the so-called "ancient" or "heritage" grains. Currently, the American diet is comprised mostly of wheat, corn and soy. Adding unique grains like quinoa and teff to your diet provides unique and desirable nutritional attributes.

"There are essential amino acids in some of these ancient grains like quinoa, unique oils and fats with healthy attributes, and they can be incorporated into formulations with little change to the recipes," says Darren Schubert, vice president of sales and marketing for Grain Millers Inc. (, Eugene, Ore. "You do need to be careful how they're processed, however. Processing – mostly washing and toasting – needs to remove the sometimes soapy taste but without harming the nutritional profile."

King Arthur Pizza
King Arthur Flour offers consumers a recipe for a pizza with a crust made of ancient grains.

ConAgra Mills also has been a leader in reintroducing ancient grains. The company offers a portfolio that includes amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff. They're offered individually, in custom blends and as a "five-grain, whole grain flour." They're naturally gluten- and allergen-free. A new extension of the five-grain blend adds brown rice – the result is Eagle Mills Gluten-Free All-Purpose Multigrain Flour.

"Nutritionists, culinarians and product developers alike are discovering these specialty grains can take whole-grain formulation to an even higher level of nutrition and eating enjoyment," says Don Trouba, marketing manager of ConAgra Mills.

"Quinoa and teff are leading the way in non-traditional grains," says Cassidy Stockton, social media specialist at Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods (, Milwaukie, Ore. "But chia and hemp are also garnering a lot of attention. Spelt has always been a highly popular alternative flour to use in baking, along with hard white whole-wheat flour." Stockton adds that, for gluten-free baking, sorghum, teff, quinoa and amaranth flour add variety and whole-grain nutrition.

"Quinoa especially is an attractive grain," continues Stockton, "not only because of its splendid flavor, but the grain takes a mere 15 minutes to cook. For baking, a blend of flour is usually a requirement to produce baked goods with the appropriate texture. Most of the ancient grains have a lower, if not altogether absent, gluten content and will not stand alone as baking flour for most applications. Generally, we advise replacing only up to a quarter of the flour in a recipe with alternative flour. That allows customers to try something new, but still achieve the quality they are after," adds Stockton.

Kamut — ancient khorasan wheat — is another heritage grain seeing increasing use. "Organic kamut khorasan flour can be used in nearly any application now using modern wheat flour," says Robert Quinn, president of Kamut Khorasan (, Big Sandy, Mont. "Because Kamut brand flour has higher water absorption, manufacturers have to add a little more water than normal. Also, because the grain is a close relative of durum, it acts more like durum in manufacturing applications."

Quinn advises that, for bread applications, bakers should mix the dough for as short a period of time as possible and as slowly as possible to keep the gluten from breaking down. The ancient grain has a rich, nutty flavor and is high in protein, selenium and zinc.

It should be noted that spelt and kamut are varieties of wheat and, as such, are not applicable to gluten-free formulations. However, both can be used in place of traditional wheat ingredients by many people who are sensitive to wheat. Still, products made with these grains may not be labeled as gluten-free.

"Nontraditional grains like barley, quinoa and millet are rich in omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fats and oils," says Ohad Cohen, CEO of Vitiva (, Slovenia. "These are highly susceptible to oxidation. Flour and products from such grains go rancid very fast, which shows as an unpleasant change of organoleptic properties of final products."

To address this challenge, the company makes the Inolens line of highly deodorized rosemary extract formulations to both protect against rancidity and extend shelf-life, without bitterness. The powerful, naturally functional ingredients are designed to fit highly demanding bakery and confectionery applications.

With the gluten-free category showing a sudden uptick in growth, blends of grains can often enhance marketability of products associated with single-grain alternative flours.  One example is the certified gluten-free King Arthur Flour Ancient Grains blend. It's a milled blend of 30 percent each amaranth, millet and sorghum flours, plus 10 percent quinoa flour. The blend includes all the bran and germ, and also adds protein and amino acids along with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Still, since it's a 100 percent whole grain, Gray recommends combining it with other flours to ensure baking success.

And while the stealthy incorporation of some of these grains may be right for some applications, for others "You should keep the visual integrity of the grain for those consumers who appreciate that," warns Grain Millers' Schubert.

With the wealth of new grains and flour blends, plus ancillary ingredients and ingredient technology for enhancement and performance, formulators are perfectly served to meet and set rising baking trends toward health and increased function.

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