Quinoa twist on Brazilian street food wins award for WSU food science student
by Seth Truscott, CAHNRS Communications
Washington State University graduate student Jessica Murray used the crunch of quinoa, a popular new superfood, to put an international award-winning twist on a Brazilian snack.
Her dessert recipe, “Brazilian Delight,” won first place in the American Association of Cereal Chemists International’s 2015 Student Product Development Contest, held October 19-20 in Minneapolis, Minn.
Murray, who hails from Woodland, Wash., is a first-year graduate student in the WSU/University of Idaho School of Food Science. She developed the dessert as part of a senior level food product development course taught by Assistant Professor Brennan Smith, teaming up with now-graduated food science students Franciele Caramit, Katie Smoot and Colby Swartz.
The team was inspired by a Brazilian street food simply called “tapioca.” In Brazil, vendors cook tapioca starch, water and salt into a crepe-like treat. Murray added a ginger-infused apple topping, along with quinoa and coconut, to give the Brazilian original more texture and flavor.
“Tapioca starch doesn’t have a lot of flavor,” Murray said. “Quinoa gave it a nuttier flavor and a heartier texture.”
At the competition, Murray met a panel of judges and handled a tasting session to beat out products from four other universities.
“Quinoa is a hot-topic food,” she said. “Right now, cooks are trying to find new things to do with it.”
Quinoa-based dessert products aren’t very visible in the U.S. market. But Murray’s ready-made dessert, stored frozen and cooked and served hot, helps promote the alternative grain as a fusion food.
Murray’s professors encouraged her to submit Brazilian Delight for the award.
“They had not seen anything like it, and thought it could represent our school well,” she said. “We brought the Pacific Northwest with the apples, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador with quinoa, and Brazil with the tapioca.”
Murray is now working with a fellow student to develop more products from quinoa.
“Jessica’s win demonstrates the strength of our program to recruit, retain, and educate high quality students,” said Smith, who is Murray’s advisor. “When a student can compete in an intercollegiate competition at an international level and win, it speaks tremendously to the quality of the faculty and curriculum.”