In Pictures: Pancake Muffins

Muffins made with pancake mix

Bread Made From Peas? Bakers Look at Protein to Make Healthier Alternatives

Jen Skerritt wrote . . . . . .

At a laboratory in downtown Winnipeg, scientists are trying to revive the fortunes of the bread industry — with peas.

“The biggest challenge is the flavor,” because pea bread tends to taste too much like, well, peas, said Yulia Borsuk, a technical specialist in baking technology at the Canadian International Grains Institute lab.

With more people looking for healthier alternatives to carbohydrate-rich foods made from wheat, Canadian researchers are working with Warburtons Ltd., the U.K.’s largest bakery brand. They are developing dough from pea flour that produces bread that looks and tastes almost like any other loaf, but which also has more protein and less of the carbs and gluten that more consumers are trying to avoid.

Substituting pulses — a group of high-protein, low-fat dried seeds that are part of the legume family — for wheat could help revive stagnant sales in a global baked-goods market valued at more than $400 billion. Some shoppers are swapping carb- and sugar-laden goodies like pastries and cakes for items with more protein. Those on the Paleolithic Diet ditch grains and sugar entirely and eat only whole, unprocessed foods that were available during the Stone Age.

“People are going to caveman diets, and protein is always a big part of that,” said Adam Dyck, a Canadian-based spokesman for Warburtons, which is headquartered in Bolton, England. “You go talk to any major food company right now and protein is on their radar.”

Test loaves are being made at the Winnipeg lab because Canada is the world’s largest exporter of peas and lentils traditionally used in soups and curries. But the crops also can be made into fiber, flour starch and protein concentrates that are making their way into packaged foods.

‘Biggest Draw’

Canada has plenty of the raw material. Its lentil output is expected to rise 8 percent in 2017-18 to a record 3.5 million tons, the nation’s agriculture ministry said in a February report. Production of dry peas will probably fall 12 percent to 4.3 million tons due to a return to average yields, according to the report.

“Protein is the seller,” said Ashok Sarkar, senior adviser of technology at the grains institute. “That’s the biggest draw, and there are many side benefits, like fiber, minerals, micronutrients.”

While peas are a long way from competing with wheat — the dominant grain for baked goods — the commodity is finding its way into more products. Minneapolis-based General Mills Inc. uses pea protein in its Larabar snack bar, while Nabisco Holdings Corp. uses red beans in a variety of Triscuit’s brown rice crackers.

Last fall, Warburtons introduced a line of protein-packed baked goods made with wholemeal flour and pulses, including wraps, rolls, loaves and thins with eight to 10 grams of protein. The privately-held company is looking for other ways to use peas and lentils in baking. It provided the lab in-kind contributions of equipment valued at C$680,000 ($506,000). That included a fermentation tank needed for a three-year research project by the institute that is the largest of its kind ever. Researchers are creating a database of flavors and functions of pulses in baked goods that will be shared with farmers, processors and food companies.

Pay Premium

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for these products, and Warburtons hopes to advance its uses of pulse flours in other areas, such as gluten-free baked goods.

“We weren’t going to do it unless we were going to increase sales and attract a different kind of consumer,” Dyck said. “There’s great opportunity to bring people into the bakery market.”

And it isn’t just bakers. Packaged-food producers including Mondelez International Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. also are looking to healthier, protein-based snacks with convenient packaging to combat tepid sales, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kenneth Shea said in a March 3 report.

Bread is “considered more and more to be an unhealthy product,” Shea said in an interview. “It’s white flour, it’s white sugar — all the stuff that consumers are trying to move away from.”

The Canadian government and the farmer-funded Grains Institute have been test baking pulses since 2003. While they’ve figured out how to use the crop in Asian noodles and pasta, it’s more difficult to create bread that mimics the color, texture and flavor of wheat.

At the Winnipeg lab, Borsuk bakes dozens of loaves a week to test different combinations of flours made from pulse crops like yellow peas, red lentils and navy beans. The lab uses various treatments to alter or mask the pea flavor, including infrared heat.

Too Sticky

Another challenge is that pea dough has no gluten, which means it tends to be stickier than wheat flour. That can be a problem if it gums up bakery rollers and processing surfaces. The lab uses a texture analyzer resembling a guillotine that lowers a blade into the dough to measure how much force it takes to cut in and out.

“For a bakery to incorporate pulses in their processing or their product, they don’t want to have issues on the line because it’s big money,” Kasia McMillin, a lab technician, said as she scraped the remnants of some test dough off her fingertips. “It’s a dirty job.”

For now, testers are adding some wheat flour — and its gluten — to make the pea dough easier to work with. The sample loaves are analyzed for everything from firmness, texture, color and taste. Researchers use electronic devices to test for properties such as bitterness or soapiness. At the end of the week, workers gather to taste samples.

“It’s fun,” said Borsuk, who prefers the bread made with chickpeas rather than red lentils, which she thinks has a slightly bitter aftertaste. “They are all different.”

Source: Bloomberg

Vegetarian Breakfast Bowl with Beet, Yogurt and Crunchy Skillet Muesli


1 lb beets. ends trimmed. chopped into chunks (about 5 beets)
1 tsp grapeseed, camellia or sunflower oil
1-1/4 cups light coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lime
3 Tbsp honey, divided
2 Tbsp fresh mint (optional)
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp cinnamon, divided
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 cup rolled oats or quinoa flakes
1/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
3 cups plain Greek yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200º).
  2. Place beets on baking sheet and toss with oil. Roast until tender, stirring once, about 35 minutes. Let beets cool.
  3. Place cooked beets in blender container along with coconut milk, lime juice, 2 Tbsp honey, mint (if using), ginger, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and salt. Blend until smooth. Chill mixture until needed.
  4. To make muesli, heat coconut oil and 1 Tbsp honey in skillet over medium heat until liquefied.
  5. Add rolled oats or quinoa flakes, pumpkin seeds, cranberries or cherries, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt to skillet. Heat until grains are toasted, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Spread mixture on baking sheet or cutting board to cool.
  7. To serve, place about 1/2 cup yogurt in each serving bowl and stir in some beet puree. Top with muesli mixture.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Sage magazine

In Pictures: Breakfast Potted-plant Sandwiches


Gum Disease, Tooth Loss May Increase Postmenopausal Women’s Risk of Death

Gum disease and tooth loss may be associated with a higher risk of death in postmenopausal women but not increased cardiovascular disease risk, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Loss of all natural teeth also was linked with an increased risk of death in postmenopausal women.

Periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gum and connective tissue surrounding the teeth, affects nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults 60 and older. The loss of all one’s teeth, called edentulism, impacts about one-third of U.S. adults 60 and older and often results from periodontal disease.

“Beside their negative impact on oral function and dietary habits, these conditions are also thought to be related to chronic diseases of aging,” said Michael J. LaMonte, Ph.D., M.P.H., study author and research associate professor in epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo in New York.

Researchers analyzed the health information from the Women’s Health Initiative program — a study of 57,001 women, 55 years and older.

“Previous studies included smaller sample sizes or had limited numbers of cardiovascular disease events for analysis. Ours is among the largest and focuses exclusively on postmenopausal women in whom periodontitis, total tooth loss and cardiovascular disease is high nationally,” LaMonte said.

In 6.7-year follow up of postmenopausal women studied, they found:

There were 3,589 cardiovascular disease events and 3,816 deaths.

History of periodontal disease was associated with a 12 percent higher risk of death from any cause.

Loss of all natural teeth was associated with a 17 percent higher risk of death from any cause. The risk of death associated with periodontal disease was comparable regardless of how often women saw their dentists.

Women who had lost their teeth were older, had more CVD risk factors, less education and visited the dentist less frequently compared to women with their teeth.

“Our findings suggest that older women may be at higher risk for death because of their periodontal condition and may benefit from more intensive oral screening measures,” LaMonte said. “However, studies of interventions aimed at improving periodontal health are needed to determine whether risk of death is lowered among those receiving the intervention compared to those who do not. Our study was not able to establish a direct cause and effect.”

Source: American Heart Association

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