Food Processors Looking at the Whole (Grain) Truth About Breakfast Cereal

Despite what seems to be a perpetual war on carbohydrates, it's hard to escape this enduring tradition.

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Trancendim is a mono-diglyceride that structures oil to mimic the functionality of preferred fat systems, but delivers a better nutritional profile. It allows reduced saturated fat and a cleaner label by removing the term "hydrogenated and/or palm oil" and having 0g trans fat.

Anything that contains starch can in theory be made into a ready-to-eat cereal. This theory is put into practice by expanding on the whole-grain paradigm to include whole beans as the base food for breakfast. "Pulses and legumes are widely grown in the U.S. and play a major role in sustainable farming due to their nitrogen-replenishing abilities through crop-rotation and as the most water-conserving source of protein," says Deepa Shenoy, founder and CEO of Crunchfuls Inc. (www.crunchfuls.com), a manufacturer of bean-based cereals, snacks and bars.

Crunchfuls uses patent-pending technology to make bean-flour products that come out crunchy while protecting the naturally occurring inherent nutrients of whole beans, including the amino acid-rich protein core, vegetable fiber matrix of soluble, insoluble and prebiotic digestible fiber and low glycemic complex carbohydrates. The beans in Crunchfuls are non-oil legumes, unlike soy and peanuts, and are beans of the pulse legume family such as dry beans, dry peas and lentils. They can be eaten as a protein or vegetable serving, notes Shenoy.

Crunchfuls is the only product platform that uses non-GMO pulses and legumes as the major food group, offering rich vegetable protein, fiber and low glycemic complex carbohydrates over less digestible grain, soy and corn. Crunchfuls are tested in vitro for 18 naturally occurring amino acids and a low glycemic index. The company created bar prototypes that use a "crisp" also made from beans. With protein, fiber and servings of vegetables, the bars are an ideal breakfast, snack or meal replacement products.

Current innovations in whole grains include preparation methods as well. Briess Malt and Ingredient Co. (www.briess.com), Chilton, Wis., developed a line of pregelatinized whole grains specifically designed for nutritional value and improved baking and cereal applications.

Crunchfuls
Crunchfuls makes bean-flour products that come out crunchy while protecting the nutrients of whole beans.

"Briess only produces all natural ingredients, and is particularly focused on whole-grain health," says Judie Giebel, Briess' technical services representative. "Insta Grains ingredients are made using an all-natural heat process that pregelatinizes the starches in the grain. This creates a softer, more flavorful grain that no longer needs precooking or presoaking and can be directly added to dough matrix. It also makes the grains easier to digest."

To make incorporating a variety of grains into one food easier, Briess combined a number of the pregelatinized grains to create its BriessBlend line. For example, its newest, Multigrain Toasted Light, is made of four pregelatinized whole grains — wheat, rye, triticale and barley — which are gently toasted to enhance flavor, imparting a favored nutty taste and aroma. The blend is naturally low in sugars and higher in dietary fiber. It can boost the nutritional levels of breakfast foods, is highly nutritious, easy to digest and delivers all the benefits of whole grain without a raw grainy flavor. For breakfast breads and muffins, use up to 30 percent can be used in place of flour. Or, hot breakfast cereals that will be cooked or microwaved can be designed from a 100-percent blend.

Great Grains, by Post Holdings, Inc. (www.postfoods.com), Battle Creek, Mich., touts a similar method of maintaining more "whole" to the grain. Whole grains are heated by steam to complete the gelatinization, rolled and then baked. The result is a whole grain ready-to-eat cereal with grains that look more like the whole grain from which it was derived.

Fiber still rules
"The use of fiber is definitely on the rise," says Cathy Dorko, product manager in active nutrition for DuPont Nutrition & Health (www.daniscosupplements.com), New Century, Kan. "Nutrition advocates have pointed out Americans are not getting enough fiber, so this is fueling the market. There's also an increasing awareness of the link between fiber intake and digestive health."

DuPont's prebiotic fiber Litesse polydextrose is available for breakfast formulations, particularly breads and baked goods, where it's used in double fiber as well as "lite" formulations. It's also useful in boosting the fiber in breakfast bars. "This 'grab-n-go' bar segment has been strong for a while, and we're not seeing any slowing," she says. "Some manufacturers are also looking to boost fiber in beverages, juice drinks and fruit spreads."

Polydextrose is a highly flexible, soluble fiber and food ingredient. At only 1 kcal/g, Litesse offers significant potential for reducing calories and adding fiber without impacting the consumer appeal of the end product in terms of taste and texture. Available in liquid and powder form, the ingredient has demonstrated excellent process and shelf stability. Dorko points to research that shows Litesse polydextrose keeps cereal crisp longer in milk.

It also acts as a bulking agent, where it helps in sugar and calorie reduction. "Due to its complex structure, polydextrose is slowly and incompletely fermented throughout the colon, which leads to many positive health benefits, including: optimal pH within the colon, reduced carcinogenic compounds throughout the colon, improved bowel function and minimal gas production," adds Dorko.

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