plant proteins

Leveraging Plant-Based Protein to Improve Snacks, Baked Goods and More

While plant-based protein captures significant media attention through the uptick of meat replacement products, there remain many more common consumer food products that boost protein at a much more reasonable cost. In fact, plant protein can play a much more prominent role in salty and sweet snacks, many types of baked goods and health-oriented products such as bars and dry blended beverages.

The Why

Including plant proteins in your formulations help consumers with satiety, gut health, inflammation and their immunes systems. The high-quality protein and a solid source of fiber you can leverage from Firebird ingredients such as garbanzo bean flour, helps consumer feel full longer. People studied with a plant-based protein diet benefit from superior gut microbiome diversity and alkaline forming ingredients like these help strengthen the immune system. There may even be a link between plant protein intake and heart heath and blood sugar management. A recent study found subbing legumes for red meat can significantly improve blood glucose insulin, triglyceride, and LDL-cholesterol concentrations in people with type 2 diabetes.

The nutrient density found in many of our key ingredients benefits bone and muscle health, include phytonutrients not found in animal protein, and can be formulated to include the essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals savvy consumers hunt for.  Muscle protein synthesis is aided when combing different plant proteins in a balanced amino acid profile. Plant-specific nutrients, called phytonutrients, and some antioxidants are absent from sources of animal protein but rich in many ancient grains and pulses. While a consumer may need to consume a variety of plant proteins to get all the essential amino acids, that’s also the best way to make sure they get all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need from natural sources.

While research is ongoing surrounding the host of nutrients and phytonutrients found in plants and their potential association with a reduced risk of certain cancers, researchers from Tufts University recently published a study in The Journal of Nutrition which found that plant-based dietary patterns with high levels of minimally processed plant foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, were associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Consuming plant-based proteins typically use less energy, water and fuel than animal products creating more sustainable products for you. Plant-based diets are considered more environmentally sustainable than animal-based diets due to the use of fewer natural resources and less environmental impact caused by their production. Livestock are typically fed with plants rich in protein, so if when humans consume the plant protein directly instead, we avoid the resource inputs required to raise the livestock. For example, to produce 1 kg protein from kidney beans requires 18 times less land, 10 times less water, 9 times less fuel, 12 times less fertilizer and 10 times less pesticide compared to producing 1 kg protein from beef. By obtaining more protein from plant sources, rather than primarily meat and dairy, the diet-related environment impact can be cut by nearly one-half while also reducing agriculture’s pressure on the environment according to the World Resources Institute. This is in addition to the fact that production processes for many plant proteins have a smaller environmental footprint than animal-based protein processing.

The How

Work with our team to leverage whole ancient grains, seeds and pulses to innovate both existing and new snacks, baked goods, dry mixes and more. We’ve concentrated on supply chains for the inputs needed to upgrade gluten-free flours for nearly any application.  

Pulses (a broad category that includes all varieties of beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas) contain lysine, which is in short supply in many other plant foods. Eating pulses daily supplies the needed amount of this amino acid. Just one half-cup serving of pulses an provide up to 10 grams of protein along with a significant amount of fiber.

Whole ancient grains should not be ignored when considering dietary protein sources. Whole-grain choices like buckwheat, millet, and teff, and a variety of whole wheat grains like spelt and amaranth are increasingly available options. Whole grains remain critical because they have more beneficial components, such as fiber, minerals, and vitamins, than refined grains. A cup of most whole grains will provide between six and 12 grams of protein. The combination of beans and grains has historically provided high quality protein for cultures around the world.

A Few Firebird Plant-Protein Sources (all per 100g):

  • Amaranth (13.6g)
  • Black Beans (21.6g)
  • Buckwheat (13g)
  • Garbanzo Beans (20g)
  • Navy Beans (22g)
  • Lentils (24g)
  • Quinoa (14g)

Get a sample from Firebird today and start discovering what’s possible with these excellent ingredients. Give us a call at (701) 324-4330 or email us at