2020-21 Annual Report: Improving Nutrition During Weaning
This article originally appeared in TCI’s 2020-21 Annual Report. Download the report (PDF) to read more.
Ensuring good nutrition during weaning can help set a child on the path of good health and development. Yet, when it comes time to wean babies from breast milk or formula, many parents reach for puffed cereal snacks that, while convenient, offer little nutritional benefit at a time when children’s protein requirement is at its peak.
TCI Scholar Bindvi Arora is developing an alternative puffed snack that can offer all the conveniences of puffed cereals with the added benefit of protein. Using supercritical fluid extrusion technology, Arora is turning milk protein into easily handled puffs that dissolve in the mouth, similarly to the traditional starch-based variety.
Using supercritical fluid extrusion technology, Arora is turning milk protein into easily handled puffs that dissolve in the mouth.
Extrusion-based cooking involves exposing food mixtures, typically starches, to high pressure and temperature, causing them to puff and crisp up. Traditional steam-based methods require high temperatures that can damage sensitive nutrients. Supercritical fluid extrusion occurs at lower temperatures, allowing the puffs to retain their nutritional value.
This research is making significant steps toward developing nutritious, easily eaten foods for toddlers who may be at risk for undernutrition during the weaning process.