Novel Protein Foods and Novel Processing

The PhD project “Novel Protein Foods and Novel Processing” explores the potential of quinoa protein as a novel food ingredient and the potential of High Pressure Processing (HPP) as a novel food processing technology to improve the quality of protein food.

The demand for protein food is increasing worldwide, making it a challenge to produce sustainable, nutritious and tasty protein food. One solution could be quinoa, an ancient grain from South America. Quinoa is packed in good-quality protein, hypoallergenic, rich in indigenous tradition, and nowadays locally grown in Europe on a commercial scale. This could make quinoa an authentic provider of high-quality, sustainable protein in an isolated form to benefit athletes, vegetarians/flexitarians, infants, elderly people and patients. For product applications, knowledge on the functionality of quinoa protein isolates is necessary. The functionality is largely determined by the conditions used to obtain protein isolates from the grain and by the processing conditions of potential food and beverage applications. Therefore, we would like to provide an overview of how these conditions influence properties like protein content, solubility, gelation ability and digestibility of quinoa protein isolates.

We use HPP, one of the most promising emerging food processing technologies, to address the need for tasty protein foods. It is important that high-protein food or beverage products still have a good taste, but also an appealing texture and colour after processing. With a simple food model (a whey protein-sugar solution that could represent a protein drink) we test the effect of HPP and compare to thermal processing to see if HPP offers an added value in terms of browning, viscosity and acidity of a protein solution.