Muffins Aren't Just for Breakfast Anymore — They're Space Food, Too!

May 13th, 2005

A muffin developed by a team of graduate students at Oklahoma State University took first place in the 2005 NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center Product Development Competition at Iowa State University.

The student team affiliated with the Oklahoma State Food Science Graduate Program created Nutraffin, a bite-sized muffin developed as a savory and nutritious snack in a suitable form for space missions. The award was announced April 19.

Nutraffin is made from freshly shredded carrots combined with peanut flour, wheat flour, sugar, low-sodium baking powder and a spice blend consisting of cinnamon and cardamom. The batter also includes soy milk. The muffin is high in fiber, protein and essential vitamins and minerals to meet the nutritional needs of astronauts. Its high caloric content provides an energy boost and the muffin is low in sodium and iron.

Members of the team from Oklahoma State included leader Bangalore Dharmendra, Yee Shyen, Sunita Macwana, Shamira Fernandes, Aljorf Fadi and Dimple Kumar Kundiyana. The students and their adviser, Margaret Hinds, assistant professor of food science, earned a trip to the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo" in New Orleans, La., July 16-20. While attending the event, the team will showcase their new product at the NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center (FTCSC) booth. This fall, the team will present their product and research to NASA officials at Johnson Space Center.

Cheryll Reitmeier, NASA FTCSC education mission specialist and competition coordinator, said the product is a creative and versatile use of a vegetable that may one day be grown in space. "Nutraffin is an interesting product and has great potential for future space flight," Reitmeier said.

Teams from universities across the nation competed in the 2005 Product Development Competition. Each team designed foods or food processing systems that met the criteria for missions to the moon and planetary outposts, including products that could be made from crops grown in space, prepared easily and eaten without producing crumbs. Products also are required to be safe, nutritious and appetizing. Food scientists from NASA and commercial food companies evaluated the students' products.

Vickie Kloeris, subsystem manager for shuttle and International Space Station food systems at NASA Johnson Space Center, said the quality of this year's products and the competition in general was notable. "The students and products are really impressive. The quality of the work has improved each year FTCSC has sponsored the competition," she said.

Contacts: 

Tony Pometto, NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center, (515) 296-5384, apometto@iastate.edu
Ed Adcock, Communications Service, (515) 294-2314, edadcock@iastate.edu