Increasing the protein content without relying on animal-derived ingredients remains one of the most compelling reasons to add plant-based protein to baked goods. As more consumers embrace a plant-positive lifestyle and seek more protein, more formulators are jumping on this trend.

“Today many snack and cereal bars feature plant-based protein ingredients to appeal to more health-conscious consumers,” said Laura Gerhard, director of strategy and marketing, Blue Diamond Almonds Global Ingredients Division. “The addition of plant-based protein can make a traditional cereal bar seem like a healthy, more robust snack option for any time of day.”

Quality, however, is critical to any conversation about boosting proteins. The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) evaluates the protein’s quality in regard to the human body’s amino acid requirements and its ability to digest the protein. The higher the PDCAAS, the higher quality the protein. Soy, for example, is a high-quality plant protein that comes close to being a complete protein. Minimal processing also preserves that nutritional impact.

“Effective dehulling and particle-size reduction/separation do not alter the nutritional properties of the raw material, but those processes may enhance the functional properties of a plant-based ingredient, such as its water-holding capacity, its ability to emulsify, or its gelatinization characteristics,” said Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager, Natural Products Inc.

[Related reading: Too much protein impacts finished baked foods]

Ingredion recently launched its Homecraft line of quinoa flours, which the company sustainably sources in North America. This edible seed contains all essential amino acids and is easily digestible. Not only does it deliver on the Nutrition Facts Panel, but quinoa is gluten-free and not a major allergen.

“Homecraft quinoa flours open whole new possibilities for manufacturers to bring the benefits of this rising superfood to baked goods, pastas, snacks and more,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, marketing manager, confectionery and bakery, Ingredion Inc.

ADM’s latest addition, hemp hearts and hemp powders, provide 50% and 33% protein levels as well as fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Cargill’s Puris Pea Protein comes in different formats for different applications. The extruded crisps provide a textural experience in bar applications while also delivering 60% protein.

Almonds can also supply plant protein in a variety of forms, whether as a sliced, diced, slivered or split inclusion or as a flour or butter. These nuts pack 6 grams of protein per ounce.

“With the addition of versatile ingredients like almond butter and Almond Protein Powder, product developers can rely on multiple almond forms to achieve higher protein content in applications ranging from protein bars to bar cookies,” Ms. Gerhard said. “Blue Diamond Almond Protein Powder can be incorporated as part of a gluten-free or almond flour blend to create protein-enriched breads and bakery products. It is also a good source of dietary fiber.”

This article is an excerpt from the November 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on plant-based proteins, click here.