Final Proof: Superfoods in baking
Nutrient-rich superfoods on trend
By Jane Dummer
Health and nutrition continues to be a priority for consumers. They want to enjoy baked goods, breads and treats, but want healthy ingredients in those products. The term superfood can be polarizing. It was coined for marketing purposes to describe nutrient-dense foods. However, some believe it’s controversial to describe a food as “super” implying it has “extra powers” associated when compared to other healthful foods. Either way, we are seeing more healthful ingredients added to a variety of breads and baked goods.
Julie Istead, R&D director, Puratos Canada agrees, “Health and nutrition have always been top of mind for consumers. As our Taste Tomorrow study is executed over a several year timespan; we noticed that health always ends up in the top three criteria for buying baked goods, breads and treats. However, we’ve seen the definition of ‘what is healthy’ change. In 2015, it was mainly about removing ingredients from the recipe such as sugar, fat, salt. With the evolution of health, we see healthiness as much about removing ingredients, as adding certain ingredients that increases a consumer’s perception of healthiness.”
Fruits and berries are nutritional powerhouses of antioxidants, micronutrients and fibre. From the Puratos Taste Tomorrow study, fruits are perceived by consumers as one of the best ingredients for taste and healthiness. Fruit fillings are no exception as they offer similar qualities that fruits have including health. Istead identifies, “Puratos has a range of delicious fruit fillings that are made with real fruit to enhance the taste, texture and natural visual of sweet baked goods. Topfil Plus is our Clean(er) Label range of fruit fillings that uses only natural flavours and colours as well as having a higher fruit percentage using only the best selected fruits.”
Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds including catechins which have anti-inflammatory effects. Matcha, there’s a new tea in town, hojicha. It has a similar healthy profile to matcha, however it has less caffeine. François Mathieu, co-founder at Hojicha Co., explains, “Hojicha powder is a relatively new ingredient for baking in North America. It has been used for years by Japanese bakers for its flavour and aroma. Hojicha powder offers a compelling substitute for matcha powder in recipes by bringing a sweet and roasted flavour rather than the grassy, vegetal notes of its green counterpart. Both matcha and hojicha powders are great alternatives to any artificial flavouring, which is aligned with current consumer trends.”
Avocados are full of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Jan DeLyser, vice president marketing, California Avocado Commission, explains, “Pastry chefs and bakers in foodservice have become creative with avocados in fillings for vegan cream pies and even the classic Baked Alaska. We believe a key reason is bakers have heard about the healthy fats in avocados. More than 75 per cent of the fat in avocados is unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), making them a great substitute for saturated fat. Our testing shows that this varies with the type of baked goods. There is more moisture and fibre in avocados compared to other fats. Both are considerations for baking. Recipes like quick breads and muffins work well with a 1:1 replacement. Avocados in place of butter for frosting works well with no other fat source, and it creates a beautiful, natural green colour.”
Seeds are nutrient-dense foods with healthy fats, protein, fibre and micronutrients. Along with speciality grains, health-conscious consumers are demanding these ingredients from both commercial and artisan bakeries. Don Trouba, Senior director, go-to market, The Annex by Ardent Mills agrees, “Interest in specific grains and seeds included in blends has evolved. While a seed like flax has been popular for a while, more customers are asking about hemp seeds, or in our case, heirloom wheat varieties. We’ve also seen an increase in attention for fibre and sources of plant-based protein, like chickpea flour. In addition to nutrition; flavour, colour and texture are reasons for including grains and seeds. Other ingredients, like our Sustagrain High-Fiber Barley, hold on to moisture thanks to its high fibre, which can improve the customer’s eating experience.”
From fruit to seeds, whether we consider them superfoods or healthful ingredients, there’s an opportunity for bakers to innovate with these foods in our favourite baked goods, breads and treats!
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. www.janedummer.com