Population growth and the constant demand for higher quantities of food has risen the pressure on natural resources. This has led modern societies to develop consumption strategies that are not aligned with an environmental conscience. There is a need to reduce the intake of animal protein in populations, especially in developed countries, and in the last few years an exponential increase in the procurement for nutritious and healthy products of plant origin has been observed. However, the majority of the legume based products are targeted to salty snacks, with fewer options for sweet healthy snacks.
In scope of TRUE´s Work Package 3 activities, the idea to develop a healthy snack based on lentil, a well-adapted legume grain produced in Spain, Germany and other European countries, and that offers great health benefits, was born. Given its nutritional attributes, and processing properties, we considered important to promote lentil consumption in Portugal. In line with the European Commission’s priorities to promote plant protein in Europe, we developed a product that is healthy, sweet, versatile, and that responds to several important allegations that are on the priority list for European consumers such as “vegan”, “dairy free”, “gluten free”, or “high in protein”.
The product consists of a pre-prepared mix that can be used to make pancakes, blinis, muffins, or other formats according to personal taste. You just need to add water and a half of a tablespoon of vegetable oil. The innovation stems from the partial substitution of the oat flour by lentil flour, and this way provide a product that has a good amino acid balance, and with ingredients that are exclusively plant based.
A sensorial panel of 90 participants tasted the product against the most comparable commercial alternative, and results showed for all attributes (flavor, texture, appearance) that PlantCakes had superior scores for all attributes, with an average score of 7 out of 9, and that 64% of panelists would probably or certainly buy the product if it was available in the market. The PlantCakes product was a finalist of Portugal´s Ecotrophelia 2019 contest, and was one of the winners of the Innovation Track program, a program that promotes entrepreneurship in the food sector amongst students and young researchers.