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Grains, nuts and seeds: Functional snacking and meals uplifted with sprouted and activated ingredients

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Linked to fiber gains, improved blood sugar, gut health and reduced inflammation, nuts, seeds and grains, alongside pseudograins like amaranth and quinoa, remain a kitchen staple for many consumers. Ancient grains, in particular, have seen a boost in craveability on the market. New launches cropping up in these categories this year include Himalayan buckwheat’s debut on the US market, upcycled barley grains for blood sugar-regulating noodles and “activated nuts.”

According to Innova Market Insights data, launches of food and beverage products with ancient grains as ingredients saw a 4% CAGR globally from 2017 to 2021, despite plateauing in the US since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trend was also reflected in ButcherBox’s annual Home Cooking Trends Report, which tables quinoa and farro as popular ingredients for this year, while giving sorghum, spelt and amaranth their “well-deserved moment.”

“While each can easily be prepared as a classic steamed pilaf or a new add-in for a favorite salad, ancient grains are not only nutritious but also multipurpose, serving as ideal cover crops for farmers to increase their soil’s fertility and prevent erosion,” says ButcherBox’s head chef, Ashley Lonsdale.

Himalayan sprouted superfood

Big Bold Health, a company that advocates “whole-body well-being through immunity” launched an ancient grain marketed as the first 100% organic Himalayan tartary buckwheat sprout powder in the US.

The brand claims Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat is “not like average buckwheat.” The “robust and naturally gluten-free” plant contains high levels of immune-supporting phytonutrients that are rare in the standard Western diet.

In 2020, Big Bold Health was the first company to grow this crop commercially in the US. Today, Himalayan tartary buckwheat sprout powder is the latest in its line of organically farmed and craft-milled products.

The sprouting process amplifies the bioavailability of nutrients like rutin, quercetin, luteolin, hesperidin and D-chiro-inositol for greater immune support.

Whole sprouted seeds are ground into a versatile powder containing more fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, folic acid and vitamin B3 than the brand’s classic Himalayan tartary buckwheat flour.

Unlike flour, Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Sprout Powder is intended to be consumed raw. It features a naturally nutty flavor and can easily be blended into beverages, used as a topping for yogurt or grain bowls or sprinkled onto savory meals. This product is non-GMO and contains no fillers, additives or added sugars.

“At Big Bold Health, we are all about rediscovering ancient nutrition and adapting it for your modern life,” says Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., founder of Big Bold Health.

Upcycled barley grains for noodles

As upcycling takes center stage in many circular food business models, KosmodeHealth Singapore was awarded “The Most Transformational Collaboration” at the 2023 SICC Awards in collaboration with Nestlé Singapore and Nestlé R&D Center.

The award recognises the partnership in repurposing spent barley grains — a food side stream generated after malt production — to W0Wnoodle, a functional food designed for blood sugar management.

Spent barley grains are converted into the barley protein fiber powder used in the noodles through KosmodeHealth’s proprietary extraction process. The brand claims its formulation of W0Wnoodle is clinically proven to “not move a needle” in blood sugar level, supporting the product’s “food as medicine” positioning.

“KosmodeHealth Singapore and its collaborators Nestlé Singapore and Nestlé R&D Centre came together to transform spent barley grains into high protein and fiber ingredients for better human nutrition. They took what was traditionally an unused food side stream and transformed it into something beneficial,” remarks Victor Mills, chief executive at Singapore International Chamber of Commerce.

The partnership highlights repurposing spent barley grains into noodles as an example that supports feeding the anticipated 9 billion population boom in 2050 without having to produce more food, simply by extracting nutrients from food side streams that are mostly dumped into landfills or at best upcycled into animal feeds.

“This collaboration aims to serve as a blueprint that can be replicated in developing countries. I hope this award will raise awareness on the value of food processing wastes and encourage food manufacturers to harness the wastes generated to feed their population and address food security concerns,” says Florence Leong, co-founder of KosmodeHealth Singapore.

Activated nuts bridging past and future

ProV Foods, an integrated commodities company specialising in dried fruits, nuts, seeds and berries, introduced a “first of its kind” product line of pre-soaked nuts, ProV Lite Activated Nuts, in India. They are labeled a “bridge between the past and the future.”

“We have embarked on a mission to reintroduce the age-old tradition of soaking nuts, deeply rooted in Indian culture, to today’s fast-paced lives. Our goal is to revolutionise the way people enjoy soaked nuts,” Shalin Khanna, co-founder and chief marketing officer of ProV Foods.

Soaking nuts overnight is a practice celebrated for its cultural significance and the incredible health benefits it offers. However, this time-honored method comes with its own set of challenges, including the need for planning and patience, highlights the brand.

Getting rid of the “hassle of planning and waiting” during overnight manual soaking, ProV Lite Activated Nuts are pre-soaked and dried for ready consumption.

As part of its launch, ProV Foods introduced a 400 g gift pack containing a combination of activated almonds, walnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds. This package is designed to “embody a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity,” for the upcoming festive season.

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