Consumers are looking for nutritious and delicious products with enhanced protein that also taste good. They also seek non-GMO, gluten-free, vegetarian and sustainably sourced ingredients in the products they purchase. Manufacturers are trying to stay ahead of nutrition and lifestyle trends by differentiating their products from others in the market and meeting consumer demand while optimizing costs. Ingredients that address consumer needs and are easy to formulate with are in high demand. In that perspective, vegetable proteins capitalize on the trends of today and tomorrow, while providing sustainable solutions.

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“Pulses ingredients, derived from chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans, are sustainably sourced; use less non-renewable energy than other crops; and produce their own fertilizer by fixing nitrogen in the soil,” stated Bicheng Wu, PhD, associate-Global Applications at Ingredion. “Today’s consumers ask for protein, fiber and clean labels, and their interest in vegetable-based proteins is skyrocketing for sports nutrition, satiety and weight loss.” added Wu, in her PF R&D Applications Seminar entitled “The Power of Pulses: Formulating with Pulse Ingredients.” 

Sales and product launches of food and drinks made with pulses are booming, and food and drinks made with pulse ingredients are in more households than ever.  In 2015, Innova Market Insights reported a 74% increase in new product launches with pulse ingredients from 2010-2013. Sales at Kroger from April 2014 to March 2015 show a 34% household penetration of pulse ingredients. The same report shows that pea protein reached 50% YOY sales growth and chickpea flour has experienced 155% YOY sales growth. 

Pulse ingredients are available as concentrates with 55-60% protein, or flours from fine to coarse, derived from peas, fava beans, lentils or chickpeas. Pulse ingredients are non-GMO and gluten-free, and they are high in protein, lysine, dietary fiber and micronutrients, with a low glycemic index. Pulse ingredients provide emulsification, texture, gelation, water-holding, adhesion and film forming. They can be used in formulations to increase protein in the formula or to eliminate/reduce other proteins in the formula (such as egg whites, dairy proteins, soy proteins). They provide good synergy with other gluten-free flours, enhancing moisture and texture. 

Pulse flours can be a one-to-one replacement for wheat flour in soup and sauce applications. “In chicken gravy, pulse flour made from lentils or faba beans, along with native functional starch, withstood freeze/thaw cycles and maintained consistent viscosity and homestyle appearance. Sensory scores showed no significant differences to those of the wheat flour control gravy in terms of texture and flavor,” said Wu. 

In gluten-free bakery and snack applications, pulse flours and proteins can be used along with other gluten-free flours, providing moistness, color, texture and structure. They can be used to replace other protein sources, including egg whites. For example, in a gluten-free pizza formulation, pulse flours can be used along with other gluten-free flours to provide more open cell structure, balancing chewiness with crispy crust. In addition, egg whites in the formula were removed leading to a formula cost reduction. 

Due to their high lysine content, pulse flours and proteins have a tendency of browning in the presence of reducing sugars, as lysine acts as a substrate for the Maillard reaction. Therefore, they can be successfully used in gluten-free bakery applications to provide color. 

Wu suggested that gluten-free batters and breading for chicken from a variety of pulse flours provided even coverage, good appearance, light crispy texture, lower cost and better nutrition (8% DV iron and 4% DV fiber) than traditional gluten-free solutions. Gluten-free batter and breading also can be formulated with pulse proteins and flours to boost the protein content while adding structure, as well as providing binding and adhesion. 

“Beverages can benefit from addition of pulse ingredients,” suggested Wu. For example, mango smoothies with lentil protein provide 16g of protein per serving, with clean flavor and smooth texture. 

Pulses ingredients, including flours and proteins, can be used to add protein and fiber to baked goods—including breads, cookies and crackers—and can be used to replace egg whites in pasta. 

Pulse ingredients provide many nutritional and labeling benefits; have clean flavor and versatile functions; and can be used in a variety of applications.

“The Power of Pulses: Formulating with Pulse Ingredients,” Bicheng Wu, PhD, associate-Global Applications, Ingredion, 908-575-6202, 

-- Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor

Using Pulse Flours as Egg Replacers for Functional, Economical and Nutritional Benefits

Pulse flours are non-GMO with low allergenicity. Their functional properties in food applications include moisture retention, water and fat binding, emulsion stabilization and thickening. These properties allow for their use as gluten and egg replacers, with added potential for gum replacement. 

Eggs are used for their solubility, emulsification, foaming, aeration and gelation properties in food applications. Eggs contain approximately 6% protein, of which 12% are globulins and 71% are albumins. Pulses, in comparison, contain about 23% protein with 50-80% globulins and 15-25% albumins, allowing for their ability to function in some of the same ways that eggs function. 

As for gluten, when removed from recipes, finding another protein substitute that is creamy and moist, helps bind and give a good texture to baked goods is a real challenge. Yellow pea flour, which has the added benefit of being high in fiber and protein, is a good substitute. Navy bean flour also successfully has been used in baking muffins and cookies, and has shown promise for whipping properties in meringues. In macaroons, navy bean flour has helped replace both eggs and flour making allergen-friendly cookies. 

Split pea and lentil flours were used to create allergen-friendly, crumb-based binders. In addition to being allergen-friendly, the binders offer clean labels, with comparable yields to wheat- and soy-based systems. The proteins in the pulse flours provide the emulsification and binding properties traditionally provided by eggs. Another advantage is that no pre-hydration is required, so it is a one-step process. 

According to Margaret Hughes, vice president, Sales & Marketing, Best Cooking Pulses Inc., “The advantages of pulse flours are numerous. Easy to use, compact to store and with a two-year shelflife, they provide equivalent quality in terms of taste, texture and aroma, compared with eggs. Pulse flours have excellent functionality, including solubility, emulsification, foaming and gelation. Pulse flours are one eighth the price of eggs, with less price volatility.” They offer clean labels, with low allergenicity; they also are nut-, gluten-, cholesterol and egg-free. “Pulses are well-accepted in vegetarian and vegan products; they are non-GMO, available in organic or conventional, sustainably grown and milled in North America, and are considered ‘natural’ by CFIA, FDA and USDA FSIS,” Hughes concluded. 

In summary, pulses offered here are produced for healthy diets and a sustainable world, complying with all applicable food safety legislation. Pf

“Utilizing Pulse Flours as Egg Replacers for Functional, Economical and Nutritional Advantages,” Margaret Hughes, vice president, Sales & Marketing, Best Cooking Pulses Inc., 204-857-4451,