Nutritionally dense Spirulina ‘chicken schnitzel’ developed

Spirulina chicken schnitzel
Photo: Nimrod Genisher

Spirulina food-tech innovator, SimpliiGood by AlgaeCore Technologies Ltd., has reveealed a chicken schnitzel analog composed primarily of the nutritious microalgae spirulina.

The company said the plant-based version of a breaded cut of chicken not only takes on the appearance, flavor, and structure of real chicken breast but also possesses a naturally dense nutritional profile that could outpace that of real chicken. This could solve one of the greatest hurdles of the alt-protein movement.

Catering to the growing field of “meatless meat,” the novel cut is composed of 80% pure, fresh, minimally processed spirulina, to which is added prebiotic fibers. The new adaptation offers health and environmentally conscious consumers a highly nutritious, clean-label, alternative to chicken and brings a new point of versatility to the way the highly concentrated nutrition of microalgae can be consumed. It will also be instrumental in edging the industry closer to satisfying the palate’s craving for a meaty “umami” experience and heightening the enjoyment of plant-based alternatives.

Breaking boundaries

“We started out as cultivators of fresh spirulina,” said Lior Shalev, CEO and co-founder of SimpliiGood.

“But then we began to think of ways we can take the formulation of this highly sought ingredient beyond the boundary of the capsule matrix and into the mainstream of the plant-based food landscape. Spirulina is a high-value and eco-friendly alternative protein source. That’s how we evolved into spirulina innovators.”

Spirulina is heralded as a powerhouse of plant-based goodness due to its rich composition of whole protein and its impressive profile of vitamins and minerals. It is a particularly good source of iron, calcium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, making it a highly desirable supplement choice for a broad population of consumers.

SimpliiGood said it is the first start-up to cultivate and formulate with 100% pure, raw, fresh spirulina that is flash-frozen as opposed to the dried, powdered form currently dominating the market. The company asserts that in this form the renowned blue-green algae is delivered with the highest, and most highly bioavailable, nutrient content. It has no off-flavours or aromas, opening it to a world of new, better-for-you food and beverage innovation.

Pioneering colorless spirulina

“Leveraging the unique properties of fresh spirulina on our proprietary texturizing platform addresses the problematic sensory challenges while enhancing its potency and functionality,” Shalev said.

“This broadens its applications beyond the exceptional nutritional profile and high concentration of protein to being a clean-label potential to replace thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers, binders, and texturizers in multiple applications. Plus, our naturally colour-free version is an excellent replacer for synthetic colorants.”

The start-up’s game-changing technology for mimicking whole-muscle animal protein uses spirulina as the main component, transforming it into a satisfying whole-cut clean of toxins, pesticides, hormones, heavy metals and environmental pollutants.

Spirulina matrix that can absorb flavors

Baruch Dach, SimpliiGood’s founder and CTO explains that its creation has been a work in progress.

“Starting from a minced prototype to achieving the next level of complexity of recreating whole a chicken breast filet in both succulent texture and appearance,” Dach said.

“It possesses a completely neutral taste, giving the formulator a ‘blank canvas’ to add whatever flavors desired. One can also use it as the basis for a hybrid product, infusing a minimal dose of real chicken into the spirulina matrix, to give a more authentic chicken experience.”

Beyond attaining the desired sensorial properties, one of the greatest hurdles in producing plant-based alternatives is incorporating sufficient protein and nutrients to bring them nutritionally on par with animal-based proteins.

The SimpliiGood chicken breast analog offers a nutritionally dense bite that even surpasses that of real chicken owed to the inherently nutritious profile of fresh spirulina.

“100 grams of SimpliGood spirulina microalgae provides the equivalent of 200 grams of real chicken in protein load,” Dach noted.

“Each cut packs in 30% highly bioavailable protein. Combined with its rich natural makeup of micronutrients, it offers a potent alternative to animal protein with exceptional nutritional value. By consuming less while gaining more, it also contributes to reducing waste and energy consumption, streamlining the supply chain, and minimizing the overall downstream carbon footprint.”

Scale up

The debut of SimpliGood’s chicken breast analog follows the successful introduction of its vegan 95% spirulina based smoked salmon replica last year. The company projects that product will be rolled out commercially in the coming year.

SimpliiGood is a vertically integrated company that cultivates its spirulina in greenhoused ponds within the southern desert region of Israel. It is currently ramping up its capacity to produce 250 tons of spirulina per year, with a harvest every 24 hours, making it a highly commercially viable plant-based protein source. The company also moved to a new lab and headquarters in Ra’anana.

SimpliiGood recently joined forces with international plant nutrition giants, Haifa Group, Ltd. in a move to further bolster its supply chain, leveraging their ready-to-use nutrient mixtures for wider commercial production. This move will help ensure security and price stability for the reliable consistent supply of its raw material and boost time-to-market of its microalgae innovations.

Jim Cornall is editor of Future Food Today and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.