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Weight Management 2020

Teff shines in new skinnypasta products as high-protein, low-carb alternative to traditional noodles

By Elizabeth Crawford

23-Feb-2016
Last updated on 24-Feb-2016 at 19:14 GMT2016-02-24T19:14:42Z

Source: Gabriella's Kitchen
Source: Gabriella's Kitchen

Between the rise of low- and no-carb diets in the early 2000s and the more recent explosive growth of the gluten-free movement, pasta-lovers and sales have suffered in the last two decades.

But Gabriella’s Kitchen hopes to save both with the expansion of its skinnypasta portfolio to include new high-protein, low-carb and gluten-free pastas and prepared meals. 

This spring the company will roll out two new noodles and three entrees featuring the “super food” teff as the primary ingredient.

In March and April, Gabriella’s Kitchen will introduce and linguini and macaroni made from teff – a nutritious, gluten-free alternative to traditional wheat – followed in April and May with the launch of three pre-made meals featuring the teff macaroni, penne and lasagna noodles.

The company decided to use teff, which is a small grass seed that measure less than 1 mm in diameter, because it is naturally gluten-free, high in protein and fiber, low in carbohydrates and calories and a good source of calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin C and amino acids, said company founder Margot Micallef.

She added the tiny seed met the company’s criteria of being “delicious, nutritious and affordable.”

In addition, the teff noodles bind well with sauce and have a similar texture to the traditional pasta Micallef and her sister Gabriella grew up eating but gave up in the late 1990s as a way to reduce calories and carbs in their diet and lose weight.

The new teff-based protein noodles align perfectly with Gabriella’s Kitchen’s other varieties of fresh skinnypasta that the sisters created as a way to mend fences with their family, many members of which were not pleased when the two gave up carbs, Micallef said.

“We originally gave up pasta because it spiked our blood sugar, didn’t provide a lot of nutrients and we considered it fattening … but the challenge was we are Italian, so giving up pasta didn’t ingratiate us with the family,”  Micallef said.

She and her sister realized they weren’t the only ones who felt marginalized because they didn’t eat the same food as their friends and family.

“A lot of people give up pasta and cut down on carbs, but don’t share the information” because they don’t want to be left out of social events centered around eating, she said. She further explained that when the company started there were not many low-carb or gluten-free pastas available that people wanted to eat if they didn’t have to. So people with special diets had to eat different food, which can be a lonely experience.

“What we realized is food fuels us physically, but also socially and spiritually” because you share it with people you like, she said. So, Gabriella’s Kitchen was launched to provide choices everyone could share and like – even if they weren’t glute-intolerant or counting carbs.

The end result was skinnypasta, which Gabriella’s Kitchen created with food scientists “the old fashioned way with a crank” to create a nutritious, delicious and authentic tasting product, Micallef said.

She added even her Italian grandmother likes it.

An evolving weight management mindset

While the pastas and prepared meals were born out of a weight-management mindset, the company has evolved the brand to better align with consumers’ broader understanding of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, Micallef said.

For example, she explained, the products are not only marketed as low-carb, but as food that fits vegan-, paleo- and medically-induced diets for patients suffering from diabetes, cancer or gastro-intestinal illness.

The company also is working with athletes, Olympians, body-builders and dancers to promote the products as those which are enjoyed by all people, including those who are strong, sexy, sassy and savvy, according to the firm’s website.

To make the products even easier to enjoy, the company also is exploring making sauces and side dishes in the future, Micallef said. In addition, she noted, the company will focus on expanding its distribution in the near the future, but already is available in many major retail chains in the US and Canada.

[Editor’s note: Learn more about how consumers’ views of dieting are changing and what it means for manufacturers at our free online weight management forum March 16. Register quickly and easily HERE .]

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