Chef Baggs’ Culinary Approach to Protein

Posted on:September 3, 2013
Chef Charlie Baggs stood onstage presenting an overview of pulse ingredients, while his staff (Ryan McGarrity,left; and Shane Zimmerman, right) prepared three upscale, pulse-based foods for the audience.

Chef Charlie Baggs stood onstage presenting an overview of pulse ingredients, while his staff (Ryan McGarrity,left; and Shane Zimmerman, right) prepared three upscale, pulse-based foods for the audience.

The following is an excerpt from the Arla Foods Ingredients-sponsored “2013 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar Report.” A Global Food Forums, Inc. event, this in-person program provided compelling information for developers of protein-enhanced foods, beverages and nutritional products. Click here for a copy of the report.

One speaker faced the unusual challenge of giving a presentation, while also monitoring his staff’s preparation of food prototypes in a nearby kitchen. In a presentation entitled “Pulses–a 21st Century Protein,” Charlie Baggs, President and Executive Chef of Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations, took a culinary approach on how to utilize pulses in an upscale and modern manner.

Described as an “ancient and abundant, underutilized resource,” pulses are a low-cost source of protein for much of the world’s population. Pulses are defined as the seeds from the pods of a leguminous crop, such as beans (kidney, lima and mung, to name only a very few); dry peas (chick, pigeon, black-eyed); and lentils, among others. They are a sustainable crop that is easy to cultivate and drought-tolerant, noted Baggs. Additionally, pulses are not a typical source of allergens; that makes them a viable alternative for gluten-free applications. Nutritionally, besides the 20-25% protein they contain (which can be used in a complementary manner to create complete proteins in vegetarian dishes), they also contribute relatively high levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Additionally, they have a low glycemic index and, thus, can help stabilize blood-glucose levels after consumption.

While Baggs presented an overview on pulses, Chefs Shane Zimmerman (Baggs’ Chef de Cuisine) and Ryan McGarrity prepared over 150 servings of Mini Chicken Sausage Tacos with yellow pea flour; Lamb Lollipops with red lentil flour; and Chickpea Panisse with chickpea flour for the audience.

Baggs explained an approach to recipe/formula development advanced by his company; it is called BASICS™, which stands for Balance, Acidity, Saltiness, Intended flavor and texture, Color and Sweetness. When applied to pulses, the use of yellow pea flour provides balance as a natural protein enhancer that can be used in baked products, drinks, cereals, porridges and snack foods. Pulses do not present an acidity challenge; they create a nice platform for sweetness. And, they can provide a balance to salt. They also complement intended flavor and texture; for example, chickpeas provide the nutty flavor and texture of hummus and falafel, and, depending on the pulse, they contribute minimal-to-defining colors and aromas. Some can be great carriers for flavor. On the sustainability front, they are easy to cultivate and drought-tolerant.

Baggs provided an insightful piece of advice in regards to working with new ingredients…it was simply to taste each one before incorporation into a recipe. A food scientist also presenting at this seminar strongly concurred that this was an important action to take during formula development, as well.

In battered and breaded products, the use of pulse flours in the standard breading process yields a crispy texture that retains its quality under heat lamps, Baggs stated. If yellow pea flour is used, it can create a yellowish color that is desirable in fried products. In another example, green split pea flour retains its pigments and can be utilized as a coloring agent (think of split pea soup). In meat products, pulse flours have a high water-holding capacity and potentially significant fat-absorption capacity, which leads to a juicier and tenderer mouthfeel and increased yields. These attributes were showcased in both the Chicken Sausage Tacos and Lamb Lollipops. Additionally pulse ingredients can extend meat products, which leads to additional cost savings.

In baked goods, pulses should be considered for their ability to increase water-binding capacity, fat absorption and their gelling properties—which help strengthen dough and increase dough yield. Pulse flours can also increase fiber content. Pulse flours, especially pea flour, have low fat contents (the fat is highly unsaturated), which leads to baked products with increased nutritive value, structure, crispness, loaf volume and appearance, said Baggs. One of Baggs’ final slides listed examples of restaurants that carried pulse-based foods on their menus.

Charlie Baggs, President and Executive Chef, Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations, may be contacted at +1.773.880.9108 or see A link to download his presentation is at the website

EDITORS NOTE: YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN READING 15 Health Benefits of Lentils, According to Science (+8 Delicious Lentil Recipes)

Protein Chemistry and Formulation Needs

Posted on:August 30, 2013
Amino Acid Structure

Amino acid structure determines a protein’s functional properties.

The following is an excerpt from the Arla Foods Ingredients-sponsored 2013 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar Report. A Global Food Forums, Inc. event, this in-person program provided compelling information for developers of protein-enhanced foods, beverages and nutritional products. Click here for a copy of the report.

Proteins are added to food for nutritional reasons and for their functionality. Functional abilities include viscosity enhancement and water binding; gelation; aeration and foaming; and emulsification with contributions to a food’s flavor, texture and color.

When formulating a food or beverage, it is advisable to first consider why a protein ingredient would be used. For example, if it is just for viscosity or emulsification, alternatives such as starch or a lipid-based emulsifier should be considered, because proteins are the most expensive macro-ingredient as compared to carbohydrates and fats.

Beyond functionality, other factors that influence which protein is chosen for a product’s formulation include the percent of protein within the ingredient, digestibility, allergenicity, label simplicity, desired label claims, animal welfare, and amino acid profile and score. A wide range of food components can contribute proteins at a wide range of costs. For example, clams, such as those used in chowder, are an expensive protein source, while soy flour and soy proteins are one of the most economical. They offer good nutritional quality, and the soy industry provides soy proteins in numerous forms for specific needs.

Proteins have four levels of structure. The first degree of structure is the order of amino acids of which the protein molecule is composed. Amino acids contain an amino and carboxyl group, with additional side chains that are aliphatic, aromatic, basic and so on, which deter¬mine a protein’s properties in nature. The second- and third-degree structures determine the three-dimensional organization of the protein chain, and the fourth degree defines the spatial relationship between the protein molecules. The structure of a protein molecule governs the function. For example, of the two primary proteins found in milk, some 80% is casein with most of the rest being whey proteins. Casein contains strongly hydrophobic regions; has a random coil structure; and is relatively heat-stable but unstable in lower-pH environments. Whey proteins have a balance of hydrophobic and hydrophilic areas; are globular in structure with many helical segments; and are easily denatured by heat—that is, they are unstable to heat. However, they are more stable to low-pH levels than is casein.

Protein denaturation is an important phenomenon influencing how these molecules behave in food. Denaturation unfolds the protein molecule, exposing its hydrophobic side groups, enabling them to participate in reactions. Many factors denature proteins, including temperature, pH, shearing, high pressure, organic solvents, salts, (such as citrates and phosphates); and oxidizing and reducing agents, such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or the amino acid L-cysteine.

Other aspects are influential in the denaturing process. For example, water tends to promote denaturation, while salts and sugar can stabilize proteins. Denaturation is generally reversible under mild conditions, unless protein hydrolysis, deamidation or aggregation occurs.

When a protein molecule is denatured (i.e., unfolds), non-polar regions of the protein orient themselves toward the gas (air) or lipid phase of a food, while polar residues orient toward the aqueous (water) phase of the food matrix. When the hydrophobic groups are exposed to the aqueous phase, the protein loses solubility. Other effects of denaturation include altered water-binding capacity; potential loss of biological activity; increased viscosity of the fluid; and the protein is more susceptible to enzymes (proteases).

What Makes a Food Scientist or a Chef?

Posted on:August 28, 2013

Many trends were discussed during presentations, on the exhibit floor and during social events at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologist (IFT) convention held June in Chicago.  Hot topics of conversation included how to increase interest in food science careers and also who can lay claim to being a food scientist. I consider myself a food scientist. I earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s Food Science & Nutrition Department, spent a number of years in R&D and QC with food processors and then moved to publishing where I wrote primarily about ingredient technology.

Colleges and universities tend to graduate far more students with home economics/human ecology or nutrition degrees than they do formally degreed food scientists…sometimes in the order of five or 10 to one. Food science degrees are less favored, despite often resulting in higher paid jobs.  One simple reason was offered by a food science professor who asked then answered his own question. “Why aren’t there more food scientists? …because it’s HARD!” (I’ll comment more about food science degrees in a bit.)

I tried to think of similar careers where some try to claim a desirable title while skipping the time, money and hard work required to be truly competent and qualified in the area. There are many, but another food-related title comes to mind…that of “chef.”

The first definition of a chef as offered by Merriam-Webster is simply a “skilled cook who manages a kitchen (as of a restaurant).”  That doesn’t differentiate between a fry cook with a year of experience and those highly trained and experienced chefs with entrenched careers in the area. I turned to Chef Michael Formichella, CMC, Chella Foods, and asked “how hard is it to become a chef?”

On Being a Chef

“To be honest it took me 20 years before I was accomplished enough to feel comfortable calling myself a chef,” says Formichella. A chef needs to be competent at responsibilities ranging from ordering meats, produce and other foodstuff, menu engineering, preparing simultaneously a large number of meals, managing a staff and dealing with high pressure situations. In addition, the ability to creative, sensory-pleasing dishes is central.

Formichella lectures often and notes that many aspire to be celebrity chefs earning $25,000 to $50,000 per event. However, “They are not prepared to spend two years of their lives in an accredited program only to come out and start ‘at the bottom of the pile.’  One then must go through the due diligence of being a line cook, butcher, sous chef, kitchen manager and so on, which allows you to learn your skill set,” says Formichella.  Formichella himself has a 40-year, multi-continent culinary career including working in 5-star restaurants. Click here to see a video clip of Chef Formichella on a Martha Stewart television segment.

“Last but not least, Formichella’s CMC (Certified Master Chef) certification from New Zealand not only provided a solid educational foundation, but gave him credibility. It attested to his intention to have a culinary career rather than “just something to do until he could ‘find a real job.’”

On Being a Food Scientist

Is the field of food scientist similar? When talking with friends during this year’s IFT, an undercurrent of frustration seemed to exist. One ingredient application scientist said “Just because you take classes in nutrition or biology and then a ‘food science for non-food scientists’ class, does not make you a food scientist.”  Another high profile and accomplished PhD from the University of Florida’s Food Science program laughed at the comment that a food science degree is hard. “Yes!” she exclaimed. When working on her own degree, she had been worried that she wouldn’t pass a required class in physical chemistry (“fondly” called PChem* in many fields), she was advised to audit it first and then take it again as a graded course.

Engineering, chemistry (organic, analytical, biochemistry anyone?), microbiology, physics and experimental design with statistics are just some of the courses required, particularly for advanced food science degrees. Food science programs also generally include more focused classes such as food engineering, “physical chemistry of foods” and nutrition. It doesn’t come easily.

When all is said and done, however, perhaps a key characteristic that well-qualified food scientists and chefs have in common is this. After a foundation of training, hard work and commitment; a life-long satisfactory career is the reward.

* Wikipedia definition:  ”Physical chemistry is the study of macroscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate phenomena in chemical systems in terms of laws and concepts of physics.”

— Claudia Dziuk O’Donnell, Co-owner, Global Food Forums, Inc., owner of applied food science-based in-person conferences.

Proteins and Consumer Attitudes

Posted on:August 22, 2013

Rebounding Protein Claims

(% food and non-alcoholic beverage new product reports making stated claim; U.S. new product launches only)

After declining over the past few years, protein-fortification claims are starting to
rise again, in absolute terms and relative to other major fortification claims.
Source: Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics
Go to to see a larger chart version.

The following is an excerpt from the Arla Foods Ingredients-sponsored “2013 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar Report.” A Global Food Forums, Inc. event, this in-person program provided compelling information for developers of protein-enhanced foods, beverages and nutritional products. Click here for a copy of the report.

Proteins are the second-most plentiful substance in the body, after water, and are comprised of 20 different amino acids linked together in different combinations. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, therefore need to be consumed. Complete proteins, such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs and cheese, provide all essential amino acids. Recommended amounts for protein vary by age, from 13g per day for young children to 56g per day for men beyond age 70, noted Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director for Datamonitor, in the keynote presentation “Muscling to the Top: Insights, Growth, and the Promise of Protein.”

“According to a 2012 IFIC survey, consumers see a tight connection between protein and muscle-building, and body-building supplements have helped promote this link,” Vierhile relayed. “Athletes and teens are seen as most likely to benefit from higher levels of protein, while the need for older consumers to consume protein to maintain muscle mass is not understood,” he added.

Consumers do not associate protein with weight gain, even though all sources of calories play an equal role. Instead, consumers view sugar, carbohydrates and fats as the primary drivers of weight gain. Protein’s healthy halo is attracting consumer attention. Interest in protein has grown quickly, and consumers are seeking out high-protein products. Some 33% of shoppers in the “Shopping for Health 2012” survey, conducted by Rodale Inc., Prevention magazine and the Food Marketing Institute, say protein content is of concern to them when they read product labels, according to Vierhile. Recently, a link between the consumption of a high-protein breakfast and appetite control has emerged; this may shift the focus on satiety-related products toward breakfast.

The popularity of plant protein sources appears to be rising. Data from SPINSscan Natural (52 weeks ending January 19, 2013) shows that nut butters and nuts are among the top-growing categories in natural supermarkets. Plant protein health links are becoming more overt; for example, Planter’s Nutrition is touted as an “Energy Mix” for energy enhancement. Pea proteins could also be the next big thing, with more products using it and advertising the fact. Economics is likely playing a part in the popularity of plant protein relative to animal-based proteins, with low-income households, younger consumers, Hispanics and obese consumers all stating that protein is too expensive.

“Protein health claims had declined over the past few years but are rebounding,” Vierhile explained. Outside of meat substitutes, dairy products, like Greek yogurt, dominate the “high-protein” claims list, with breakfast foods rising, as well. Meat snacks are still a big trend, now reaching a new generation of consumers with innovative jerky products. SymphonyIRI data shows double-digit sales grown in both 2011 and 2012 for jerky. Vierhile profiled a number of significant new products, such as Archer Farms’ High Protein Cinnamon Cereal, Protein Ketchup, IPS Egg White Chips and ProYo High Protein Frozen Yogurt.

Marketing Protein Types
The big trend in protein right now may be plant proteins, but whey, while at times more expensive, has a huge advantage, since plant proteins are generally not as nutritionally complete. A big opportunity exists to educate consumers on the role of dairy proteins, Vierhile advised. The key is to get the message right. Knowing the protein source is vital, with consumers reading labels and wanting more details on the products they consume. For example, some whey-containing products promote that the whey is obtained from grass-fed cows, promising traceable milk while being free from hormones, like rBST and rBGH.

Vierhile predicted that local, artisan protein products could be one growth area; one such example is Wisconsin-based tera’s whey protein, made in small batches.
Another area of opportunity lies with whey protein from goat’s milk, which is said to be easier to digest for some people than whey from cow’s milk. And, concerns about food allergies and sensitivities could change the protein future market. Food allergies among young people rose 18% for the decade ended in 2007. What could be next: an emphasis on allergen-free protein?

Vierhile also said evidence is emerging that sarcopenia, the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, can accurately predict future mortality in middle-aged and older adults. Protein consumption by older consumers is not where it should be in order to help delay the effects of sarcopenia. Packaged foods and beverages targeted to at-risk, older consumers are generally few and far between, yet 27% of seniors in the U.S. are not consuming the amount of protein they need to maintain health, he added. This, too, opens an area for growth.

With consumers gaining insights into the health benefits of proteins, and companies using proteins as a way to differentiate their products, the future is promising for this dietary component.

Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director for Datamonitor Consumer, can be contacted at +1.585.396.5128 or Followed him on Twitter at @TomVierhile. Download his data-filled presentation at

Using Protein-Rich Components to Achieve Desired Labeling

Posted on:April 10, 2013

Click to download presentation "Using Protein Rich Components to Achieve Desired Labeling"The presentation “Using Protein-Rich Components to Achieve Desired Labeling“[PDF] by speaker Scott Martling, MSc., Group Leader R&D, International Food Network was presented at the 2013 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar Presentations.


Click on the image to download the presentation. Topic: The many approaches in formulating protein-enhanced foods and beverages impact labels and products in different ways. Beyond protein concentrates and isolates, component such as nuts to seeds to emerging sources like algae are additional ingredient options. Additionally, a particular PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score) is sometimes the desired goal in a finished nutritional product. The unexpected challenges and possible solutions to achieving this objective was explained.

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