15 Nov Meet the Gluten-Free Snack Northwest Arkansas
Place yourself in this scenario. You’re in the mood for a snack, but you’re at work. Do you have to go off-site to grab something to eat? Thankfully, no, you don’t. The break room vending machine at your place of employment offers snacks and fresh food that meet various dietary requirements such as Celiac Disease (CD).
With the number of Northwest Arkansas individuals with CD increasing, it is helpful to know that gluten-free foods are now more mainstream. But it’s not just those with CD who want to enjoy gluten-free products. Many individuals choose to live a gluten-free lifestyle for other health benefits.
A recent report from Research and Markets, Gluten-Free Products Market – Forecasts from 2019 to 2024, projected that sales of gluten-free foods are expected to grow to $10.931 billion by 2024, up almost 41 percent since 2018. That is a lot of gluten-free snacks and fresh food.
What is gluten?
The Celiac Disease Foundation defines gluten as “a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley, and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.”
Gluten behaves as the glue that holds food together. However, there are ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, and protein that do not naturally have gluten. Creating snacks and other grain-based products requires more knowledge. Manufacturers must know how gluten-free ingredients interact to be able to bake flavorful products.
There are, however, many plant-based gluten-free ingredient options that are now being used to create healthy, tasty, and filling snack alternatives. The following are a few that Northwest Arkansas employees might be familiar with:
Whole Grain, Gluten-Free Ingredients
- Buckwheat groats (or kasha)
- Corn (maize)
- Gluten-free oats
- Wild Rice/Brown Rice
Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Ingredients
- Pulses (beans, lentils & chickpeas)
- Nut flours
- White Rice
Great-Tasting Snack Ingredients
Researchers from Gluten-Free Foods in the U.S., 6th Edition found that “pulse-based [ingredients] are particularly valuable in improving the nutrient quality of gluten-free products, as they are richer in fiber, protein, and micronutrients than GF [gluten-free] staples rice and tapioca flour.”
Ancient and sprouted grains have the same appeal as pulses. Both types of ingredients are whole foods and offer plant-based proteins. As a result, they are very nutritious, can be used in various ways, and offer unique tastes and textures.
With such a wide variety of ingredients and the different ways that they can be used, the availability of tasty gluten-free snacks in Northwest Arkansas has grown to include many other salty and sweet snack choices. Gluten-free salty snacks often include rice and corn puffs flavored with aged cheddar or popped potato chips with barbecue flavoring. Sweet treats vary from cookies made with rice or oat flour to gluten-free Greek yogurt with assorted fruit choices.
Have you considered offering both gluten-free and traditional snacks and beverages in your office break room vending machine or micro-market? We offer a large menu that includes a variety of traditional options as well as products that meet a variety of health needs. We can also help you customize the best mix of snacks, beverages, and fresh food to offer. For more information, contact Northwest Arkansas Vending at 479-271-8288.