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1.1    Project Background

The attention of food scientists has focused on the problem improving the protein quality of foods especially diet of young children in developing countries including Nigeria. Ideally, the ingredients for low cost complementary foods must be derived from dietary staples available and affordable in the region of interest. (Alian et al, 2007). Snacks foods in most developing countries are mainly from cereal and this has contributed to increased protein malnutrition. As a result of the high cost of animal protein, attempts were shifted to look into alternative sources of proteins, especially from plant sources (Obatolu and Col, 2000).                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Cookies, otherwise known as biscuits, are popular cereals foods, commonly consumed by the populace, especially among the pre-school and school aged children, in Nigeria. Cookies are a form of confectionery products usually dried to low moisture content (Okaka, 2009). Cookies are ready-to-eat, convenient and inexpensive food snacks produced from unpalatable dough that is transformed into a light porous, readily digestible and appetizing product through the application of heat. Cookies are rich in of fat, protein and carbohydrate, hence they provide energy and are also good source of minerals (Kure  et al., 1998). They are consumed extensively all over the world as a snack food and on a large scale in developing countries where protein and caloric malnutrition are prevalent (Chinma and Gernah, 2007).

Acha(Digitariaiburua) is one of the nine species of millet grown in the African semi-arid tropics land; it forms a major source of energy and protein. Achabelongs to the family of cereals grown globally with differential importance within regions of the world. It is a monocotyledon, most nutritious and the best tasting cereal (Harlan, 1993). This small seed grain is known as ‘‘acha” in Nigeria, “fondo” in Gambia, “funde” in the Dominican Republic and “hungry rice by the English colonials (NAP, 1996).  Acha, an underutilized cereal, has the potential of providing enough food for the increasing population of people in West Africa and in the continent (Philip and Itodo, 2006).

Acha is consumed as a staple food or drink. It is also used for nutrition and health purposes because of its high fibre and low glycenic content. It also serves as food security in times of scarcity. Across Africa, several indigenous foods and drinks are made from flour, meal and malts of acha. It can be processed into drinks with high level of nutrient. Foods or meals produced from achaare high energy, nutritious foods recommended for the health and well being of infants, lactating mothers, elderly and convalescents.

Pigeon pea(Cajanuscajan) is a perennial legume from the family fabaceae. It is a perennial which can grow into a small tree. Pigeon peas are important legume crops of rainfall agriculture in the semiarid tropics. Pigeon pea is a food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and forage/cover crop. In combination with cereals, pigeon pea makes a well- balanced human food. The dried peas may be sprouting also enhances the digestibility of dried pigeon peas via the reduction of ingestible sugars that would otherwise remain in the cooked dried peas ((Nene et al., 1990). It is a locally available, affordable and under-utilized grain legume of the tropics and sub-tropics. Pigeon pea varieties has protein content in the range of 23 - 26% (Oshodiet al.,1995).

1.2      Justification    

            Adults were also found to eat snacks; one of the ways of improving the nutritional status of snacks is by producing healthy snacks rich in protein and fiber. Snacks provide an avenue for introducing achaand plant proteins such as pigeon pea to people who normally resist trying any unfamiliar food. There seems to have been less resistance to snacks than to other foods probably because they are not part of a main meal. Snacks are readily available and can be taken often.

Essentially, the justification of this research is to produce a snack which waswidely acceptable and relatively cheap. It is also to improve the nutritional status of young children in the developing countries by fortifying the snack product with essentialproteins needed for growth and development.

1.3      Aim and Objectives

The aim is to develop cookies from blends of acha and pigeon pea.

 This study is aimed at the following objectives:

  1. To determine the proximate analysis and functional properties of flour.
  2. To evaluate sensory attributes of cookies produced.

1.4       Scope of Study

It is expected that this work will explore the potentials of producing nutrient dense, acceptable, cheap and easily prepared cereal and legume based cookies food fortified with acha and pigeon pea. This will contribute to solving the problem of importation of wheat flour and will greatly increase the utilization of locally cultivated cereals and legumes.