Friday Food and Nutrition News

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FIVE TRENDS IN THE FUNCTIONAL BEVERAGE AISLE
Via Food Navigator

Functional beverages are now less about fortification, and more about honing in on the natural health benefits of their ingredients, according to Innova Market Insights.  Five trends: 1) cold-pressed juices, 2) color cues for health, 3) drink to detox, 4) calling all veg (unusual vegetables not often in juice sector, such as pumpkin and chickpeas, Chuice’s “The River of Life” includes herbs, nuts and seeds), and 5) healthy hybrids (coconut water with fruit juice, or aloe vera with mango juice).

VOLUNTARY LABEL FOR GMO-FREE FOODS CREATED BY USDA
Via ABC News/The Associated Press

A voluntary government label certifying foods without biotechnology-derived ingredients has been developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Foods that are certified will bear a “USDA Process Verified” label and a claim that the product does not contain GMOs.  The certification was requested by a “leading global company,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

BREAKFAST BECOMES A FOCAL POINT FOR MORE CHAINS
Via Adweek

Taco Bell challenged McDonald’s morning supremacy with the launch of its breakfast menu in March of last year, spurring both chains to up their game and launch giveaways aimed at luring loyal customers during the fastest-growing daypart. Other chains including Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Carl’s Jr. are also working to expand their breakfast business with new products and promotions.

DOUGHNUT SHOP COMBINES SWEET TREAT WITH SAVORY SANDWICH
Via Forbes

Doughnut shop Kane’s Handcrafted in Saugus, Mass., is experimenting with the “dowich,” a doughnut made with brioche-based dough and filled with savory lunchtime items such as braised beef or lobster. “Brioche-based doughs make a wonderful vehicle for sandwiches,” said co-owner Paul Delios. “People use challah bread and other baked sweet breads in sandwiches, so why not a doughnut?”

CHILI’S MAKES ITS FOOD MORE PHOTOGENIC FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
Via AOL News/The Associated Press , Advertising Age /Bloomberg

Chili’s is targeting “new school” customers by working with the brand consulting firm Continuum to make its food look more aesthetically pleasing in customer-taken photos for social media. Changes include putting fries in stainless-steel containers and using more photogenic buns. “Food is the second-most-photographed thing, after yourself. Selfies of people eating food is the sweet spot,” said Wyman Roberts, CEO of Brinker International, parent company of Chili’s.

AD FOR UBER EATS KEEPS ITS FOCUS ON FOOD
Via Adweek

Car-service application Uber has expanded its UberEats food delivery service to New York and Chicago and has rolled out an accompanying ad called “From Tap to Table in Minutes.” The spot from Strike Anywhere is aimed at foodies and features stylized shots of a plate of brisket being prepared.

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Friday Food News

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CIDER BARS ARE TAKING ROOT
We are currently experiencing a fermented-cider revival that has fueled a rapid growth in producers, drinkers and cider bars, including Wassail in New York City, Bushwhacker Cider in Portland, Upcider in San Francisco and Capitol Cider in Seattle. Even big brewers like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have begun turning out ciders.
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JAMES BEARD AWARDS 2015 WINNERs
Via Eater
The celebration of American food known as the James Beard Foundation Awards, was hosted for the first time in Chicago this week. Article outlines what you need to know about the winners, the losers, and the overall awards, which are deemed the Oscars of the culinary world. 

A TRIBUTE TO FOOD WRITER JOSH OZERSKY 
Joshua Ozersky, who wrote prolifically on the subjects of dining and drinking for The Wall Street Journal and many other publications, was found dead in Chicago on Monday. He was 47 years old. Mr. Ozersky was in Chicago to attend the annual chef and restaurant awards ceremony presented by the James Beard Foundation. He was a member of that organization’s advisory board as a well as a nominee and winner, in previous years, of its media awards.
 
WHOLE FOODS MARKET WILL ENTER VALUE RING WITH NEW PRICE SENSITIVE CHAIN IN 2016
Unable to shake its reputation for being notoriously expensive, Whole Foods Market is changing tack to appeal to less affluent millennials with the launch of new value-focused chain. According to co-CEO John Mackey the new stores will, “feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and curated selection. It will offer convenient, transparent and values-oriented  experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high quality, fresh food at great prices.” The new stores will open next year and further details will be released before Labor Day of 2015.
 
SCIENTISTS DEVELOP LOW-ALLERGEN SOYBEAN
A new low-allergen variety of soy bean has been developed using conventional methods. The variety, dubbed Triple Null by the researchers, has significantly reduced amounts of the three proteins which are responsible for soy’s anti-nutritional and allergenic properties.  
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SMARTPLATE IS THE WORLD’S FIRST BLUETOOTH-ACTIVATED PLATE THAT CAN WEIGH AND IDENTIFY YOUR FOOD 
A plate that costs $199? It’d better be fine china. Actually, it’s SmartPlate: a new dishware technology that’s the first Bluetooth-connected plate on the market. SmartPlate allows you to instantly track and analyze everything you eat and doubles as a digital scale. Although not yet a reality, the gadget has already raised $20,000 on Kickstarter and inventors plan to release it to the world by June 2016.
 
DID HARVARD STUDENTS JUST INVENT THE ‘ULTIMATE’ HIGH TECH BARBECUE SMOKER?
Via Eater
The students of a Harvard engineering class believe that they have created the ultimate barbecue smoker. After attending a Memphis barbecue competition, Harvard professor Kevin Kit Parker assigned is class to build a “foolproof smoker that can repeatedly produce the perfect brisket”, for less than $1000. The students put together a device that is made from ceramic, can control the temperature both inside the smoker and of the meat as it cooks “low and slow.” The team also built and app that allows constant monitoring of the conditions inside the smoker.
image: cider by Jesse Radonski on flickr, Richard Melman at James Beard awards by Kurman Communications on flickr, soybeans by Martin LaBar on flickr

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Friday Food News

food labels, tiffany terryWHY ‘NATURAL’ DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING ANYMORE
Via New York Times

It isn’t every day that the definition of a common English word that is ubiquitous in common parlance is challenged in federal court, but that is precisely what has happened with the word “natural.” During the past few years, some 200 class-action suits have been filed against food manufacturers, charging them with misuse of the adjective in marketing. The plaintiffs argue that many of these products contain ingredients — high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colorings, chemical preservatives and genetically modified organisms — that the typical consumer wouldn’t think of as “natural.” Judges hearing these cases — many of them in the Northern District of California — have sought a standard definition of the adjective that they could cite to adjudicate these claims, only to discover that no such thing exists.

DROP-IN CHEFS HELP SENIORS STAY IN THEIR OWN HOMES
Via NPR

A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there’s all that time standing on your feet. It’s one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities. But a company called Chefs for Seniors has an alternative: They send professional cooks into seniors’ homes. In a couple of hours they can whip up meals for the week.

SALT SET TO BE NEXT ‘BAD BOY’ INGREDIENT IN CHILDREN’S FOOD
Via Food Navigator

Euromonitor analyst says manufacturers should act now to reduce salt content in foods intended for children – or risk criticism in the near future. Contributing analyst Simone Baroke argues that while ‘low salt’ may deter adult consumers from buying certain products, the opposite is likely to be the case for parents of young children. And it is only a matter of time before the media lose interest in sugar and its suggested role in obesity she claims.

TEA-DRINKING TIPS FOR A LONGER LIFE
Via NPR

A project called Blue Zones is documenting and disseminating the lifestyle secrets of the communities with the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. As we were parsing through the dietary secrets of the Blue Zones, as described in author Dan Buettner’s latest book, The Blues Zones Solution, we were struck by how essential tea drinking is in these regions. In fact, Buettner’s Blue Zones Beverage Rule — a kind of guideline distilled from his 15 or so years of studying these places — is: “Drink coffee for breakfast, tea in the afternoon, wine at 5 p.m.”

GIVING NORTHERN CUISINE ITS DUE
Via New York Times

Both at sea and far inland, chefs from some of the chillier regions of North America are making an effort to dive deeper into their habitat. From New England up through the Maritime Provinces of Canada and west to Montreal and Toronto, they are doing culinary work that poses questions without simple answers: What exactly is Northern cooking? And how do you make that identity clear and compelling to diners?

CHIPOTLE ELIMINATES ALL GMO INGREDIENTS
Via Eater

In a first for the fast food and chain restaurant industry, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it was halting the use of foods that have been genetically modified. Chipotle’s stance against GMO ingredients was first reported by the New York Times. A release confirms that as of this week, nothing served at the chain’s nearly 2,000 locations contains genetically altered foods. According to the AP, Chipotle’s menu was already almost completely non-GMO except for one tortilla. Some though are skeptical that this stance is instead marketing hype as NPR’s The Salt explains.

BUD LIGHT WITHDRAWS SLOGAN AFTER IT DRAWS IRE ONLINE
Via New York Times

A new label on some bottles of Bud Light, one of the brands owned by the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, is falling flat among women, a demographic group the industry has been desperately courting. In a continuation of its “Up for Whatever” campaign, a wide blue band low on the label says, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” Protests quickly erupted in social media, criticizing what was perceived as perhaps not the best marketing language in the midst of public outcry over date rape on college campuses. The company would not disclose what percentage of Bud Light bottles in the market sported the controversial message. But a spokesman said it would not go on any more labels, effective immediately.

TYSON FOODS TO STOP GIVING CHICKENS ANTIBIOTICS USED BY HUMANS
Via NPR

Tyson Foods, the country’s biggest poultry producer, is promising to stop feeding its chickens any antibiotics that are used in human medicine. It’s the most dramatic sign so far of a major shift by the poultry industry. The speed with which chicken producers have turned away from antibiotics, in fact, has surprised some of the industry’s longtime critics.

UBER EXPANDS ITS FOOD DELIVERY SERVICE UBEREATS TO NEW YORK AND CHICAGO
Via Eater

Driver app Uber is getting serious about its meal delivery service and is expanding its UberEats program. The company has been testing the service — which allows users to order delivery from a pre-set menu of one or two options directly from the Uber app — in Los Angeles (under the name UberFresh) and in Barcelona. Now, according to Uber’s blog, the company is expanding the service to New York City and Chicago. UberEats promises to bring users “curated” meals from popular local restaurants. Purchasing a meal through UberEats is a very similar process to ordering an Uber car, but instead of meeting your ride at the curb, you meet your lunch.

TWITTER LAUNCHED AN ACCOUNT DEDICATED SOLELY TO FOOD
Via Grub Street

Twitter has launched a stand-alone account dedicated purely to food-related tweets, the idea being that it will tap into food culture the way @TwitterSports has been a magnet for sports fans. Twitter’s official blog describes @TwitterFood as a dedicated feed for sharing “delicious Tweets” and “the best conversations from top foodies on Twitter.”

image: food labels by tiffany terry on flickr

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5 Shades of Grey in Nutrition

2784830364_a3dccfd818_zWe all know about the book and movie with “shades of grey” in the title. That phrase may conjure up certain images in your head, but it got me thinking about all the shades of grey in nutrition.

People frequently speak about food in absolutes – this food is bad, or this diet is best. Well, it’s not that simple: Nutrition is not always so black or white.

To me, shades of grey means there’s a little bit of right and wrong. With so many of today’s food fads, popular diets and nutrition claims there’s typically a nugget of truth. Yet things get exaggerated or blown out of proportion. The reality lies somewhere in between.

Here are five shades of grey in nutrition that I wrote about in my latest column for U.S. News & World Report Eat + Run blog: 5 Shades of Grey In Nutrition.

1. Butter is back. Not really. While headlines and popular books are making a hero out of butter and other saturated fats (such as coconut oil and lard), that’s not exactly true. Just because something may not be as bad as previously thought, it doesn’t make it good. Much of this hero worshipping got started when a recent analysis appeared to let saturated fat off the hook when it comes to heart disease. It’s true that researchers found little differences in heart disease rates when comparing those who ate the most vs. the least saturated fat. But the results are not so clear cut. The study did not look at what else people were eating. So if eating less saturated fat means eating more refined starch and sugar, then no wonder there’s little or no improvements. However, if saturated fat is replaced with polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat in the form of olive oil, nuts and other plant oils, there’s a lot of evidence that heart disease risk will be reduced. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that our diets are still too high in saturated fat, especially for those over age 50. There’s no need to totally ban the butter or ditch your coconut oil, but don’t buy into the idea that these fats are suddenly health foods.

2. Avoid refined grains. Not completely. While Americans eat too many refined grains (white bread, pasta and pizza crusts) and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends replacing most refined grains with whole grains, you don’t need to fully banish them from your diet. Just be choosy. Switch to whole grains when you can, but there may be times when only the white version will do – maybe you want a slice of a crunchy baguette with dinner or to savor a hot croissant in the morning. In moderation, refined grains are not “toxic,” and you shouldn’t feel guilty when you eat them. Refined grains are typically low in fiber but are enriched with iron and B vitamins and fortified with folic acid. Look for ways to reduce refined grains, but don’t think you need to abolish them.

3. Fresh is best. Not always. Sure, it’s great to eat fresh, local and in-season fruits and vegetables. If you can pick up your produce at a farmer’s market, that’s even better. Yet, that’s not always possible. The most important thing is to eat more fruits and vegetables – no matter what form. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh; studies have demonstrated this time and time again. And if you tend to leave your fresh veggies a little too long in the crisper drawer, the nutrient content can plummet. So frozen vegetables could even be more nutrient-dense. If fresh fruit tends to go to waste in your house before you can eat it, there’s nothing wrong with stocking up on bags of unsweetened frozen berries, or buying cans, jars and single-serve containers of fruit packed in water or juice.

4. Only shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Not needed. You’ll often hear this advice to help steer people away from processed foods. It’s true that the produce aisle, fresh meats, dairy and other “whole foods” are typically in the outer sections of a supermarket, but there are plenty of cart-worthy options up and down the middle of the store. What about packages of whole-grain pastas, bags of brown rice or quinoa, nuts, canned beans, reduced-sodium soups, frozen vegetables and dried fruit? You won’t find these convenient, nutrient-rich items in a store’s perimeter. I think we need to give families reasonable options and make it simple and doable. If we make the ideal so lofty, it doesn’t seem attainable. I think it’s more valuable to provide ideas on how to evaluate choices in those middle aisles instead of telling people to avoid them entirely. Plus, many supermarkets are not even organized that way anymore, so the rule doesn’t always hold true.

5. Choose the “healthy” option. Not always. Many foods boast about their health credentials on the front of the package or on restaurant menus. That’s fine, just don’t let these health halos tempt you to eat larger portions, which has been documented numerous times. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people chose larger portions of “healthy” foods because they assumed they had fewer calories than the standard version – even though the calories were the same in the two options of coleslaw, cereal and drinks that were offered to the study participants. Previous studies have found similar results. When people saw “low fat” on a label, they ate even more because they felt less guilt.

I was happy to see my post was the lead story in this week’s SmartBrief.

Nutrition advice is not always absolute, dietitian says

04/17/2015 | U.S. News & World Report

Popular food trends or advice are not absolutes, so recommendations about eating fresh foods, butter or refined grains have some gray areas, writes registered dietitian nutritionist Janet Helm. Frozen foods can be as nutritious as fresh, butter may not be as unhealthy as once believed but still is not particularly good for people, and refined grains are OK to have on occasion, Helm writes.

View Full Article in:

U.S. News & World Report

 

image: bread and butter by plus45 on flickr

 

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2015 Food Trends Cheat Sheet

 

Don’t know your kimchi from your kohlrabi? Confused about cold brew coffee? Fear not. Conde Nast Traveller tackles the latest trends on the global gastro scene to tell you what you should be eating and drinking this year — and looks at the foods that are so last year (looking at you, kale).

OVER

Ramen

EATING

Korean street food

UP NEXT

Taiwanese gua bao buns

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pork belly gua bao by alpha on flickr

OVER

Kale

EATING

Cauliflower

UP NEXT

Kohlrabi

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organic kohlrabi by orchid galore on flickr

OVER

Burgers, fried chicken

EATING

Lobster rolls

UP NEXT

Poutine

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dino poutine by robyn lee on flickr

OVER

Toast

EATING

Cereal

UP NEXT

Artisanal ice

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ice bar stockholm by pikadilly on flickr

OVER

Small plates

EATING

Single-item restaurants

UP NEXT

Pre-paid dinners

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align by edsel little on flickr

OVER

Aperol spritz

EATING

Negroni

UP NEXT

Mezcal

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mezcal mule by steve mcclanahan on  flickr

OVER

Green juice

EATING

Cold brew coffee

UP NEXT

Bone broth

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bone broth by the meat case on flickr

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