Q&A: Baked Goodness with Blue Diamond

July 12th, 2022

Better-For-You Bakery Series

Even as consumer interest in personal health and wellness continues to grow, the desire to enjoy indulgences remains. As a result, growth within better-for-you bakery category has erupted.

We talked with Laurie Colin, Senior Technical Business Development Manager at Blue Diamond, to dive deeper into the ever-expanding world of better-for-you bakery.

1. How do you define a better-for-you baked product? Could you provide some examples?

A better-for-you baked good supplies benefits that are not typical to the traditional product, such as high protein, high fiber, low sugar, and low carbohydrate. Additionally, the nutrient content of almond ingredients meets Ketogenic and free-from diets requirements, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, or egg-free. These properties provide better-for-you benefits including healthier fats, no trans fats, lower cholesterol and higher fiber content when compared to dairy or animal sources. As a result of the growing consumer demand for these permissibly indulgent treats, there's now a wide variety of higher protein cookies, muffins, brownies, pancakes and more.

Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free

2. Have any particular consumer trends influenced the growth of the better-for-you bakery category?

Health and wellness are top of mind for consumers. One influential trend that is gaining massive traction is "health of the planet," also referred to as "better-for-us." We're seeing the converging of these two trends - better-for-you and better-for-us - interest from consumers, influencing the growth of the overall better-for-you category and contributing to the demand for plant-based foods and beverages.

In the past, consumer focus was primarily on health. Over the last few years, however, we've seen the emphasis on the "wellness" aspect grow, as consumers are discovering how food contributes to their holistic health. This is where we've seen a rise in the functional foods, or foods that provide a functional benefit to support the lifestyle of the consumer. Functional nutrition products could be anything from foods that help support sleep, reduce stress, improve focus or provide the vitamins, minerals or protein to help energize their day.

3. What are some of the most popular better-for-you baked goods you're noticing within the category?

Protein-enriched and Keto products are some of the most popular better-for-you baked goods. Many of these products are also meeting the increase in demand for plant-based options, as a substantial percentage of new launches in the category are enhanced with plant-based proteins. We're seeing a wide array of bakery products with plant-based protein sources including almond, pea, rice, soy, chickpea, and quinoa, which are meeting numerous consumer demands within the category.

This demand is largely because consumers consider plant-based a healthier option due to the added health benefits and recognizable ingredients. Consumers also show an interest in fiber-rich baked goods as they look for natural and sustainable solutions to manage digestive health. In addition to being a plant-based protein source, almonds are rich in fiber. Blue Diamond blanched almond protein powder contains 15% naturally occurring plant-based insoluble fiber, and it can help achieve fiber claims in better-for-you baked products with little or no need for additional fiber additives.

4. Are there any challenges formulators may run into when baking a better-for-you offering?

Many of today's consumers say that taste and texture are the main drivers in their purchasing decisions of better-for-you baked goods. However, formulators face numerous taste and texture challenges when formulating better-for-you baked products.

The protein source that is formulated into better-for-you bakery products is a key factor, as different proteins will impart unique flavors and textures. These flavors can range from strong dairy notes for milk proteins and astringent, earthy and beany off-notes for plant-based proteins.

Proteins also interact with other ingredients, including flavor components, and can alter, mask or complement the flavors. The texture the protein provides is also a key factor. Proteins compete for moisture and high levels of proteins can lead to drying and hardening over the shelf life of the product, resulting in an undesired chalky, dry, and crumbly texture.

One major regulation is the definition and declaration of dietary fiber. Under the new regulation, carbohydrates may only be declared as dietary fiber if they are intact, naturally occurring in a plant ingredient, or if they are other specific isolated or non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates that have proven to have benefits for gut health and are approved as a dietary fiber source by the FDA.

5. Which almond ingredients work best in better-for-you baked goods?

Almonds have long been considered a plant-based superfood. Versatile almond ingredients can enable great tasting better-for-you bakery formulations that meet the evolving consumer expectations of taste, texture, nutritional value and clean label.

Blue Diamond almond protein powder is a multifaceted plant-based protein source that has minimal impact on the color and appearance of baked goods. It's an off-white powder that has a slightly sweet neutral flavor with no astringent, bitter or off flavors.

Therefore, it positively impacts taste and allows for flavors to shine through without the need for flavor enhancers or flavor maskers. It also increases fiber and unsaturated fat, while keeping the saturated fat content down, as it contains 15% fiber, 11% mono-and polyunsaturated fats and only 1% saturated fat.

Blue Diamond blanched almond protein has excellent moisture binding and gelling properties, which easily forms a uniform batter or dough with most liquids in better-for-you bakery formulations. It provides a softer, more cohesive crumb structure when compared to other plant-based protein sources. Little-to-no chalkiness, dry or crumbly texture is detected in baked products that are formulated with almond protein. Since it contains 15% naturally occurring insoluble fiber, it can help achieve fiber claims with little or no need for additional fiber additives. Overall, almond protein is a plant-based protein source that-when used alone or in combination with other plant-based protein options-offers numerous solutions to better-for-you baked goods formulation challenges.

Looking for more technical insight from our Senior Technical Business Development Manager, Laurie Colin? Tune into our most recent episode of "Grown in California: The Blue Diamond Almond Podcast," on sustainable innovation with non-dairy ingredients. Have any questions for our experts? Contact us today! 

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