Smart Flour gluten-free pizzas
Smart Flour Foods introduced new family-size pizzas to its lineup of products based on ancient grains.

More protein, more vitamins

Besides shelf life and quality, health aspects also may concern the gluten-free market. For example, no published experimental evidence supports weight loss with a gluten-free diet or suggests the general population would benefit from avoiding gluten, according to an article appearing this year in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

“While the gluten-free diet is a legitimate therapeutic tool for those affected by gluten-related disorders, there has been a corrosion of csommon sense from people needlessly jumping on the fad diet bandwagon,” said Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., co-author of the study, a professor at Arizona State University and chairman of the Grain Foods Foundation’s scientific advisory board.

Ways to boost nutrition in gluten-free products are available.

Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn., has commercialized VitaBoost10, a vitamin and mineral premix formulated to complement gluten-free products. The premix provides 15% of the Daily Value per serving for the following vitamins and minerals: calcium, iron, vitamin D, folic acid, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), vitamin B12 and zinc.

Glanbia Nutritionals, Fitchburg, Wis., offers whey and flax-derived ingredients that provide moisture retention, protein, freeze-thaw stability and enhanced texture to improve the flavor, mouthfeel, shelf life and nutritional profile of gluten-free products, said Nicole Rees, business development manager — flax for Glanbia Nutritionals. The ingredients may help formulators shorten the product’s ingredient list and reduce cost by reducing or eliminating other elements, she said.

“Ingredients once considered exotic, such as chia, flax and ancient grains, have become mainstream, and consumers now expect to see these items in everyday foods to add a nutritional boost to staple products,” Ms. Rees said.

Part of Glanbia’s gluten-free grain portfolio, BevGrad Chia is a super finely milled ingredient that delivers alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid), fiber, protein and natural minerals for breakfast cereals, bars and baked goods.

Two flours with ancient grains, sorghum flour and millet flour, are mentioned in an international patent for ready-to-bake gluten-free pizza dough from General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis. Gluten serves a need in pizza dough. Gluten, upon hydration, forms a network of strands that give the dough structure and the capacity to stretch and/or rise during baking, according to the General Mills’ patent. Gluten also affects the viscosity of dough. The extent of the network of gluten strands impacts whether a mixture is thin and runny like a batter or is thick like dough.

The gluten-free flour mixture in the General Mills’ patent contains such ingredients as dried egg whites, shortening and water. The mixture includes rice flour and at least one of tapioca starch, sorghum flour and millet flour.

“Our ancient grains work well in gluten-free pizza crusts as they can add unique flavor, texture and appearance,” said Zack Sanders, marketing director for Ardent Mills, Denver. “Ancient grains such as buckwheat with its appealing brown color can add differentiation and give pizza crust a different twist. Our gluten-free all-purpose multigrain flour blend contains five ancient grains (amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff). It delivers nutrition, functionality and great taste, all of which resonate with gluten-free consumers. Unlike many gluten-free alternatives that can be highly processed, high in calories and low in nutrients, these grains are naturally gluten-free and provide whole grain nutrition and fiber. They are available in a variety of forms, including custom multigrain blends and mixes.”

Mr. Sanders added ancient grains in seed form may be added topically to gluten-free applications, including pizza crust, bread and muffins, to improve appearance.

Smart Flour Foods, Austin, Texas, this year introduced new family-size pizzas to its lineup of products based on ancient grains. The pizza crust is made with a proprietary gluten-free flour blend that contains sorghum, amaranth and teff. The pizza contains protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C.

“The lines between natural and mainstream consumers are blurring, as preferences are moving toward natural and gluten-free ingredients across the board,” said Sameer Shah, vice-president of marketing for Smart Flour Foods. “Our new family-size pizza responds to this demand by offering today’s evolving grocery shopper a pizza that contains high-quality and simple ingredients, powerful, whole grain nutrition, all without sacrificing taste and texture.”

Bay State Milling, Quincy, Mass., provided a slide ruler that gave nutrition information for whole grains, including ancient grains, to attendees at the AACC International Centennial Meeting Oct. 18-21 in Minneapolis. The slide ruler listed nutrient data for vitamins, minerals and fatty acids.

Researchers at Washington State University are growing quinoa in that state. An ancient grain that originated in the Andes mountains, quinoa has high levels of protein and a good balance of amino acids, said Geyang Wu, a student and Ph.D. candidate at Washington State. She gave updates on quinoa studies Oct. 20 at the AACC International event. Attributes in the quinoa varieties that people in the study liked were grainy, crunchy, firm and a grassy aroma, Ms. Wu said.