In NASA’s early years, a research program was established on how to provide food for astronauts while in space. In fact, in the 1960s, nutrition bars were launched with a label called “Space Food Sticks” because they were designed to allow astronauts to eat them easily while wearing their helmets. Protein bar manufacturing equipment is used to mix ingredients, extrude the mixture at a set temperature, cool the product before cutting it to size, coating it, and allowing it to cool to prepare it for packaging.
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What protein sources are used for your protein bar?
The protein content of a protein bar varies depending on the manufacturer’s recipe. But what makes one bar more protein than another? A complete source of protein contains all 9 essential amino acids. For instance, whey and casein, obtained from pasteurized milk processing, have all 9 amino acids. Other protein sources include dehydrated egg whites and plant-based proteins like soy, pea, brown rice, and hemp. However, plant-based proteins lack some essential amino acids; so to make them a complete source of protein, they are mixed with other proteins that contain the missing essential amino acids.
Aside from protein sources, protein powders used in the bars are also available in different types. Protein concentrate is a type of protein powder made up of 60-80% protein with the rest of the ingredients coming from fats and carbohydrates. Protein isolate powders have around 90-95%, so they have a higher protein content than protein concentrate. They come from protein concentrate but with the fats and carbohydrates removed. The last type of protein powder is protein hydrolysates. This type of protein goes through additional processes by heating with acid, or adding enzymes, for easy body absorption when consumed.
Mix, extrude, and cool your ingredients using protein bar manufacturing equipment
The protein bar manufacturing process starts with protein powders of your choice, such as whey or casein, mixed with other ingredients like dried fruits, nuts, and seeds in an industrial mixer. After thoroughly mixing the ingredients, the mixture has a paste-like texture; this may cause some parts of the product to stick to the surfaces of the mixer and then need to be scraped off. The mixture is then conveyed to an extrusion machine, where it is heated and extruded to a bar shape.
A conveyor belt transports the bars to a guillotine which cuts them into the required size where they will later be with chocolate or other flavors. After enrobing, they are cooled in preparation for packing.
How to increase the protein level in your date bars
To meet the demand for more nutritious and healthy snacks, a study was made about the protein level of date bars using two different sources of protein bars. Dates contain a good amount of carbohydrates and other nutrients but lack protein. During the development of the bars, protein sources such as whey protein concentrate and vetch protein isolate were incorporated.
It was found that the protein content of the date bars was significantly higher using both sources of protein. The level of protein content increased to 7.55%. The test also involves the evaluation of the physicochemical properties and sensory characteristics of the date bars over time. Their taste was not affected.
Insect protein as an alternative source for your protein bars
Another source of protein currently utilized in protein bars is insect protein. Insects, such as crickets are rich in protein. For making protein bars, these edible insects are roasted and ground to make high-protein flour. Then they are mixed with other ingredients to improve the flavor and go through the same extrusion process as with other protein bars.
Having crickets as a source of protein is more sustainable than whey or soy because whey is part of dairy production that contributes high levels of methane gas to the environment and soy that is used for production requires large amounts of pesticides. Crickets, on the other hand, require less food and water to produce making it easier for mass production.