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Crafting a protein-rich pretzel

Senior living residents are increasingly substituting snacks for meals and eating smaller portions for lunch and dinner, finds Chris Greve, corporate executive chef for Senova Healthcare. With health and wellness in mind, Greve is creating snacks that contribute protein and other valuable nutrients. Recently, he incorporated pureed white beans—a good source of vegetable protein—into a soft pretzel recipe to replace half the butter.

Greve also substituted protein-rich chickpea flour for part of the bread flour. These changes boosted fiber and cut fat. To get buy-in from residents, he and his team live-demo the recipe, then serve the pretzels as a snack. “Residents like watching the prep steps and smelling the aroma of the pretzels baking,” he says. So far, this strategy has proven successful at two Senova facilities, in Paxton, Ill., and Racine, Wis. The pretzels will become part of a systemwide snack program this year.

  1. Greve reduced the amount of bread flour in the original recipe from five cups to four, adding a cup of chickpea flour to make up the difference. The proportions of yeast, salt and water remained the same.
  2. Either soaked, cooked dried beans or drained canned beans work to replace half the butter. “The moisture content is consistent with both, and there’s no noticeable difference in the taste of the baked pretzels,” he says. What is different: “The dough remains softer.” That proved to be an advantage; residents found the pretzels to be less chewy and not too hard to bite.
  3. Although coarse salt is the typical coating for pretzels, Greve tried other seasonings to cut back a bit on sodium. Sesame seeds work well, he found, as does an “everything bagel” spice the kitchen created by mixing garlic, parsley, paprika, onion and sesame seeds. 

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