The CSIC develops a ‘vegetable meat’ from a Mediterranean legume

Researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Francisco de Vitoria University (UFV) have developed a new ingredient of vegetable origin, whose appearance and texture are similar to those of meat, but healthier —low in saturated fat and cholesterol free – rich in dietary fiber and more sustainable.

Marketed through the brand Leggie, is made with a cereal and legume baseIt does not contain additives or allergens, and it is a product with great versatility and multiple gastronomic applications, at an affordable price. The ingredient, protected by industrial secret and sublicensed to the Madrid company MRM, has been presented this week at the CSIC and is expected to reach supermarkets in early summer.

The product is marketed under the Leggie brand and is made with a cereal and legume base. It does not contain additives or allergens, and it is a product with great versatility and multiple gastronomic applications, at an affordable price

One of the most innovative aspects of Leggie is the use of carob, a legume of Mediterranean origin that, in addition to containing quality proteins and high digestibility, has a low water and carbon footprint.

According to its inventors, Marta Miguel, researcher at the Institute for Research in Food Sciences, a mixed center of the CSIC and the Autonomous University of Madrid (CIAL-CSIC-UAM), and Marta Garcés, researcher and professor at the UFV, it is a product that is aimed not only at vegan or vegetarian consumers, but also at all those who seek to reduce their meat intake for ethical, health, religious reasons or due to the impact it causes the beef sector on the planet.

“More and more alternatives to meat from vegetable sources appear on the market, but they tend to be extremely processed products that include a large number of ingredients and additives of questionable nutritional quality,” explains Marta Miguel. “Our product, being made with only six natural ingredients, is a healthier and more balanced option in relation to other similar foods that are currently marketed,” he adds.

Another advantage is its high in dietary fiber, whose consumption is in deficit in Spain and in other developed countries. Fiber is a preventive dietary factor for various chronic diseases and the main beneficial effects of its consumption are: an increase in the feeling of satiety, a delay in the absorption of glucose and cholesterol, an increase in intestinal motility associated with a improvement of constipation pictures, in addition to an important beneficial effect on the gut microbiota.

Leggie will be marketed packed using high hydrostatic pressure (HPP) technology, in order to avoid the use of preservatives in the final product. The researchers especially highlight the good nutritional properties, but also emphasize that it adapts easily to recipes and dishes, achieving a sensory experience very close to the original dish or recipe, to which is added its ease of use.

One of its advantages is its high content of dietary fiber, whose consumption is deficient in Spain and in other developed countries.

“This is a very versatile ingredient that can be used in multiple culinary preparations, such as pizza toppings or salads, as filling for empanadas, empanadillas or lasagna, and also to make bolognese, hamburgers, sausages, meatballs, etc. Furthermore, the consumer can personalize Leggie according to their sensory preferences ”, indicates Marta Garcés.

Success in transfer to the industrial fabric

The launch of Leggie is an example of successful technology transfer from the laboratory to the food industry through the launch of iLike Food Innovation, a technology-based company (EBT) of the CSIC and the UFV, as well as the use of different figures of industrial property among those established in Law, such as: patent, business secret and brand registration of the Leggie ingredient (at national and European level), depending on strategic needs.

“From the Deputy Vice-presidency of Knowledge Transfer of the CSIC we have worked to strengthen the product options and thus reach the market, starting from an initial evaluation of the results and selecting the best possible strategy in terms of industrial property based on the requirements of the moment ”, highlights Javier Etxabe, Head of the Industrial Property and Entrepreneurship Area of ​​the CSIC.

The product will be marketed by MRM, an industry from Madrid with more than 60 years, which has participated in all phases of development of the creation of Leggie. “Thanks to this public-private collaboration, the product will be marketed through large stores and supermarkets both nationally and internationally,” he highlights Jorge Fernandez, commercial director of MRM.

Rights: Creative Commons.

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