Students present food innovations for healthier, more sustainable and social dining

On June 14, FICA hosted the sixth edition of the FICA Summer Event in Amsterdam. During this event, 15 groups of students from the Food Commerce & Technology program at the Inholland University of Applied Sciences, companies from the academic field, lecturers, lecturers, practitioners and a jury met. For the past six months, second-year students have worked with practical issues in collaboration with companies such as Vers aan Tafel, NMK Esbaco, Whole Fiber and We Design Food. This resulted in creative and innovative food products and concepts; from ‘Eat Buddies’ to fighting malnutrition in the elderly to a nutritious sweet snack for mothers in Uganda.

During the FICA Summer Event, students from Delft and Amsterdam, two of whom were groups from the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, were challenged to pitch their product or concept in four minutes for a versatile jury panel from different fields. “It is fantastic to see how students, researchers and the business community work together on social issues such as malnutrition in the elderly, protein conversion 2.0 and circular economy. Given the feedback from customers and the level of end products, we would not be surprised if some of the end products actually hit the market next year, “said jury member Claudia Oomen from Inholland University of Applied Sciences.

Field bean protein as a sustainable substitute for imported soy

Commissioned by NMK Esbaco and the research project Bean me up! a group has been working on the development of a vegetable and sustainable protein bar for athletes. The vegetable protein bars currently on sale often contain protein from imported soy. To come up with a new, more sustainable variant, students began working with protein from horse beans and peas that can be grown locally. To give the bar a neutral taste, field bean protein isolate (85% protein) was used. The difficulty turned out to lie in the outdated “off-taste” of pea protein. Fortunately, the students managed to solve this problem by making three different flavors of the bar: chocolate-cocoa, apple-cinnamon and caramel-sea salt. In addition to being plant-based and sustainable, the bar is also vegan, gluten-free and ‘clean label’.

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A nutritious snack for mothers in Uganda

The Heights and Minds Foundation is committed to the growth and development of children in Indonesia, Senegal and Uganda and the prevention of chronic malnutrition during the first 1000 days of life. For one of their MindUps in Uganda, the Kawempe Youth Center, students were asked to develop a nutritious snack for moms. One of the biggest problems seems to be the nutritional deficiency in pregnant and breastfeeding women, which causes their children to experience growth retardation. The snacks should not only be nutritious but also cheap, in accordance with local eating habits and produced with local ingredients. Evi Damstra, student: “At first we thought that ‘cheap’ would be a production price of around one euro, but it turned out to be too expensive. In addition, we had to do good research into available ingredients. Eventually we found the special local ingredient: Morgina oleifera. This plant grows locally and contains important vitamins and minerals that are important for pregnant and lactating women. “Because in Uganda, a lot of food is eaten by hand, the students eventually developed a Moroccan sellou, but with nutritious and local ingredients. Affordable and easy to make of the women themselves.

And the winners are ..

Two winning groups were also selected during the event. The prize for the most complex problem went to the students at ‘Bitterzoet’. They were asked to process a new type of stevia fiber, supplied by Biorefinery Solutions (BRS), into a bakery product. This in collaboration with NMK Esbaco. Unlike other varieties, this new type of stevia fiber has no bitter aftertaste. After many experiments with the use of stevia in cookies, marzipan, cakes and fruit mats, a cake with date-cinnamon flavor came out on top in the blind test among fellow students and teachers. To counteract the crispy consistency of the stevia, poppy seeds have been added to the cake. The group has succeeded in replacing no less than 50 percent of the normal amount of sugar with stevia!

The award for the most creative solution was given to students who developed both an intervention method and a product to combat malnutrition in the elderly. This as part of the research project PLINT Malnutrition and commissioned by Baking Lab and Fresh Monkeys. Malnutrition in the elderly is a major problem, and the students surveyed are often due to lack of knowledge and loneliness. A leaflet informs the target group and their surroundings about the malnutrition problem and healthy eating, and the ‘Eetmaat’ project is introduced. Mandy Broersen, student: “By connecting the elderly to a food companion, with whom they can go shopping, cook and eat together, the meal becomes cozy again. As a kick-off, the elderly bake an Ouwe Kerelkoek with a self-baking set. This cake not only brings coziness, but also contributes to a circular economy because it contains residual streams of pulp! ”

Curious about the experiences of the participating companies? Take a look at the FICA blog.

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