This week Coeliac Society and Innovate UK launched a joint initiative offering grants to joint initiatives between SMEs and Universities to bring about improvements to the lives of those living with Coeliac Disease. One of their three priority areas stood out for me in particular – the quality enhancement of gluten free foods. Coeliac UK state:
“Over the last decade the variety and quality of gluten free products has vastly improved however they continue to be expensive and can have a poorer nutrient profile.”
There is no doubt that the supermarkets and independents have responded to the market, but one of the motivations behind the development of Bakes and Balls products was to offer something with a serious nutritional profile.
Recently, the Howgills Gingerbread Balls were referred to as a “Trendy Vegan Product” by one of the judges of a national awards. This assertion could not be further from the truth. The ingredients of all Bakes and Balls products have been selected because they work to enhance the nutritional intake of whoever is eating them.
“There is an ongoing need for further innovation in gluten free staple foods, this could include; novel ingredients, foods with improved nutrient profiles and desired flavour texture characteristics.”
I am delighted to say that Bakes and Balls is ahead of the game here. The likes of Chia Seeds, Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Seeds and Quinoa Flakes are used alongside Tiger Nut Flour and Psyllium Husk. These seeds and flours are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Full details can be found on our website, but to give you an idea Linseed (also known as Flax) is one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. It contains high levels of ALA Omega 3 (different to that in fish oils) which can help to lower the risk of heart disease and hypertension; improve the function of platelets; reduce inflammation and protect the arteries. Linseed is high in soluble fibre traps fat and cholesterol in the gut, so that it cannot be absorbed. It also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder. The bile is excreted, through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, which uses up excess cholesterol in the blood. Consequently, cholesterol levels are reduced!
Linseed also contains high levels of antioxidants, in particular lignans which help to promote hormonal balance and decrease the symptoms of the menopause. Lignans are nutrients that work in a similar way to the oestrogen hormone. The nutrients can alter oestrogen metabolism so that in postmenopausal women, for example, the lignans can cause the body to produce less active forms of oestrogen, and can therefore protect against the growth of tumours.
We use hemp seeds in a number of our products, not because they are a ‘trendy’ headline-grabbing ingredient but because hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals. Although high in fat, they are particularly rich in linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) which may have benefits for skin diseases. It also contains gamma-linolenic acid which is a building block for hormone-like chemicals that help to control inflamation and body temperature and has also helped women suffering from symptoms of PMS.
Studies suggest that because hemp contains fibre, plant-based protein and healthy fats there is a strong chance that it could help reduce the risk of heart disease, The high levels of both soluble and insoluble fibre in hemp seeds help to feed the probiotics in your gut and therefore to support a robust immune system. In addition, because of the perfect fatty acid profile of omega-3 fats and GLA, hemp seed helps naturally balance inflammation levels and strengthen the immune system. A number of reports have shown its ability to fight glioblastoma multiforme (a deadly form of brain cancer); advanced-stage breast cancer and inhibit cancer growth and metastasis, particularly in lung cancer.
It is probably not the right time for Bakes and Balls to apply for one of the Coeliac UK / Innovate UK Grants. I would love, in the future, to work with nutritionalists and academics to further validate our products. In the same way, I look forward, in the future to working with Help for Heroes to develop a range of products to help our Invictus athletes to train harder. In the meantime, I need to focus on the next couple of days – pitching to Sedexo and following up an invitation to supply to Stella Mccartney’s new store on Bond Street. Wish me luck!
All the best,
Bakes and Balls