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Convenient and Nutritious Snack Ideas
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Crunchy Snacks

Great-tasting, crunchy snacks can be made from Garbanzos, lentils, dry peas and beans, according to Agricultural Research Service scientists and their university colleagues.  They have created unique, healthful treats that can come in a variety of shapes, crisp bits and tubular puffs.  The researchers are now seeking a patent for the technology that led to the low-sodium, low-fat, cholesterol-free foods that are also rich in protein and dietary fiber.

The research conducted may help adults and children get the recommended daily amounts of vegetables.

About 500 volunteers have taste-tested the pre-market products.  Most of the volunteers gave the foods a high rating.  Crisp, fully-cooked garbanzos are ready to eat out-of-hand or could be tossed around in a salad of greens, or sprinkled into a bowl of a hearty soup, or even added to traditional party mixes.

Instruments used in making the snacks include:

•    A standard piece of food processing equipment
•    A twin-screw extruder

Extruders are energy-efficient.  They are fast and versatile.  Several processes that include mixing, cooking, shaping and other processes are combined when using an energy-efficient extruder to convert legume flours into tasty and nutritious snacks.

The extrusion technology is not new, but the scientists are the first to determine the exact processing speeds, heat temperatures, amounts of moisture and formulations that consistently create desirable textures and tastes from every batch of legume flour.  We can look forward to seeing these snacks on the market.

Chewy Snacks

A flavorful and all-fruit snack bar can be made from organically grown apples and berries.  These bars stay moist and chewy for up to 24 months without artificial preservatives.  The innovation that creates their longevity is a process developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists in California.

The Bear Fruit Bar brand by Mountain Organic Foods LLC of Hood River, Ore markets the organic bars.   Their technique for processing fruits and vegetables into convenient, all-natural bars allows us to enjoy them all year round, and not just when the highly perishable foods are in season.

Mountain Organic Foods sells the chewy snacks in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho in flavors of:

•    Apple
•    Apple-blueberry
•    Apple-cherry
•    Apple-raspberry

If you live elsewhere in the United States you can purchase the bars from Mountain Organic Foods online and have the snacks shipped to your location.

The bars are a healthy and convenient snack that fits easily into a child’s lunch sack or an adult’s purse or briefcase.  They are handy for taking along on camping or backpacking trips or other outdoor trips and vacations.

The chewy bar snacks and other fruit- and vegetable-based products that are being developed by McHugh’s team of scientists and researchers can help Americans meet the recommended dietary guidelines for fruits and vegetables.  This is a goal that nearly 80 percent of all American adults do not achieve.

Source:  United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service Online

By Connie Limon
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