Quick Bites for the Week Ending 2012-06-29

June 29th, 2012

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Food Trend: Back to Back in Black

January 4th, 2012

An online piece from Australian Food News http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2012/01/03/wholegrains-new-grains-fibre-content-all-among-consumer-preferred-trends-in-us.html quoted an article from Food Technology published in December 2011.  It caught my interest in Forbidden Rice or Black Rice, since I’ve never tasted this.   It also made me recall other natural food products I’ve encountered in 2011 that are naturally black.

Black/Forbidden Rice

A few clicks on the net directed my search to a West based company in the US called Lotus Foods, whose expertise is in the distribution of exotic rice.     On the FAQ section of their website, it explains that Forbidden Rice, an heirloom variety is aptly named since it was once reserved only for the emperor and his family in China.

The black colour is natural and is attributed to the outer bran layer.   It might also be due to where it  is grown, in the black hummus soil of the Black Dragon River of the Northeastern provinces of China.  Black rice is also grown in Japan where it is called Kurogome (or black rice),  and in Thailand as a glutinous black rice cooked in pudding with coconut milk.

The dark colour of the forbidden rice relates to the high content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin that is also responsible for imparting the dark, purplish, bluish hues in fruits and vegetables.   In August 2010, CNN health writer Carina Storrs article “Is Black Rice the New Brown”, black rice is compared to fresh blueberries where she cites that “One spoonful of black-rice bran — or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice — contains the same amount of anthocyanin as a spoonful of fresh blueberries, according to a new study presented today at the American Chemical Society, in Boston”. She further added that Black rice would be better to consumer since fresh blueberries contain sugar.

In an online post on WHFoods.org titled “Is Purple Rice (referred to as “forbidden rice”) Better for you than Brown Rice?” the nutrient values were directly compared and concluded that based on their nutritive content, they were not significantly different, and in fact almost at the same level.      The author concluded that if price was a deciding factor between the two rice varieties, the Brown rice would be better due to its cost advantage over Black rice.

Taste-wise, I have yet to taste Black rice.    It seems from various posts that both have a nutty flavour.   Black rice however is a short grain rice whereas Brown rice is a long grain rice that absorbs more water and takes longer to cook.

Black Garlic

Black Garlic

Black garlic has its roots in Korea and China.  Blackgarlic.com explains that fresh garlic bulbs are carefully monitored for about 4 weeks in a controlled environment of temperature and humidity where they undergo a fermentation process.  Since garlic contains sugar and amino acids, these elements when fermented produces melanoidin that causes the black colour.      The result is a sticky, black clove that is soft and mushy with a sweet flavour and complex undertones.

Edible Bamboo Charcoal Powder

I had to do a double take when I saw this.   Japan seems to lead all other countries when it comes to unique food ingredients.  The idea is that charcoal has natural absorption properties, so when ingested it helps prevent the body from absorbing harmful chemicals or poisions.    This Japanese site illustrates some product applications for edible charcoal powder :  http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/taketora/item/su00248/.      I’m not too keen on trying this out for the new year.

Black / Beluga Lentil

Black / Beluga Lentils

Black lentils are popularly used in Indian cooking and are the smallest of the lentils.   They are also referred to as Beluga Lentils due to their shiny resemblance to Beluga caviar.
Black Beluga® Lentil is a trademark of Timeless Seeds, Inc., their website mentions that among other lentil varieties, the black lentil has the highest amount of protein.

In the UK, it can also be found in the retail markets in a ready to eat pouch, simmered in stock.

December 23rd, 2011

From everyone at Ingredient Hotline,

we would like to wish you and your families

a safe Merry Christmas

and a Prosperous New Year!

Les Aliments Morehouse Canada, Inc. Appoints Ingredient Hotline, Inc.

November 1st, 2011

Toronto, Ontario, October 31, 2011 —  Ingredient Hotline, Inc. has been appointed by Les Aliments Morehouse Canada, Inc. as the industrial representative and distributor of their full line of premium quality mustards to food manufacturers in Canada.

“Morehouse Foods has been awarded the gold medal winner in the classic American Yellow mustard category, as well as earning medals for the the Deli/Brown mustard and flavored categories. The honour is a tribute to the ongoing excellence of our products. We can also customize our mustard products depending on the needs of our customers” adds Ken Crawford, Sales Manager, Les Aliments Morehouse Canada, Inc. “It is with great pleasure that we partner with Ingredient Hotline to increase the distribution of our great line of mustards to food manufacturers across Canada.”

Maria Januszczak, Director of Sales and Business Development, Ingredient Hotline, Inc. states, “We align ourselves with ingredient manufacturers that produce high quality, clean label products and those that aim for excellent customer service”. Maria adds that we can now offer Canadian food processors a shorter lead time , a fresher product and the option of working with sulfite-free mustards.

About Ingredient Hotline, Inc.

Ingredient Hotline, Inc. is a leader in providing unique and natural food ingredients to the nutritional and food processing industries. Applications include bars, bakery products, nutritional beverages, confections, and more. For more information, visit us at www.ingredienthotline.com

About Les Aliments Morehouse Canada, Inc.

Morehouse first began making mustard in 1898. Since then, they have remained focused and committed to making a number of new varieties to satisfy the creative desires of the 21st Century consumer. The Morehouse Canada facility produces a full line of mustard with a dominant position in the manufacture of Dijon. This plant is equipped to duplicate the Dijon mustards long considered unique to the Dijon region of France. For more information, visit www.morehousefoods.com

Back to the Food Fight

August 8th, 2011

In my younger, single years while working as a product developer for a flavour company, one of the projects I developed was a “juice” drink composed of: 75% sugar, 5% juice powder (of which 50% was maltodextrin), tri-calcium phosphate (to prevent clumping), gums as thickeners, citric acid,  and colour etc. etc.   It addressed all the needs from a beverage perspective: it tasted good, quenched the thirst, it was affordable and very profitable for our client.  Not too proud of it’s nutritional aspect, but this “drink” eventually became a best-seller across a third world country.

More than a decade following that job, with young family in the picture – I try to make all our meals from scratch and I started a business venture that aim to provide more natural and value-added food ingredients.     Even in my own household, it has not been an easy voyage. As soon as my kids learned their colours, they have put up quite the resistance to their consumption of vegetables.     The food fight continues! I resorted to stealth health cooking i.e. adding cauliflour puree to the baked macaroni, spinach in the pesto, chia seeds in their pancakes, quinoa flour in the banana bread etc. etc.  to add enough fibre and nutrients into their meals.    The good news is that they are quite fond of fruits and though they would hate to admit it, they have picked up a few favourite veggies that they are happy to munch on.

It seems not a lot of people know what healthy food really means.     Is pizza a healthy lunch?   Can french fries count as a vegetable?   A typical lunch program often includes pizza lunches every week of the entire school year.        Adding “fruit juice” gummies as their idea of a nutritious desert, does not cut it.     The banning of nuts from schools and other children’s programs in Canada has also created an unhealthy reception for most kids – the idea that eating nuts are bad for you, whether you have allergies or not.    Ontario schools have started to change their ways, somewhat.   The government of Ontario has issued their guidelines for the coming schoolyear.   More details can be found here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/Appendix150.pdf            However, It does not come close to what the French public schools have, but it is a start.

The schools in France have been remarkable in their provision of a school lunch.    The children in the French public school system are provided a 5 course meal everyday.  Not only are the kids taught the value of enjoying their lunch,   they are also accorded ample time to savour it (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1969729,00.html ).         Our Canadian schools allot about 20 minutes for our kids to lap up their meals before they are hurried out the door.     An article that came out last year in the Harvard Mental Health Letter suggests that eating slowly may help you achieve a feeling of fullness (http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605).    It also helps explain why most resources for losing weight would recommend you to slowly chew your food. The theory is that, if you eat your food too fast, you do not give enough time for your brain to realize that you are full. Do you still wonder why there is a growing incidence of obesity in children?

While kids may eat a not-so-healthy meal at school, it is up to us parents and guardians to make sure that our children are introduced to healthier choices at home.      To have a decent breakfast before they go off to school and a balanced dinner before they retire to bed.   While I may not pack a 5 course school meal for my kids, it is certainly close to gourmet.

Other related posts:
A Chef’s Guide to Healthier, Kid-Friendly Foods

French Week: On School Lunches

It’s Good Business To Have Healthy Customers

August 8th, 2011

Classic school lunch. Yum.Jillian Michaels, “TV’s toughest trainer” appearing on the hit show The Biggest Loser, recently interviewed Jamie Oliver for EverydayHealth.com. It’s hard not to know about Jamie Oliver, the chef who waged war on American obesity in ABC’s Food Revolution. Jamie tyied to teach America why we needed to learn to cook, and to care about what we are feeding our children.  Working in the food industry, one item that caught our eye was Jamie’s assertion that it’s good business to promote healthy foods:

Big stores in America are trying to do the right thing, and bring more fresh food, to more people for a fair price. That’s the only way we’re going to be able to make change. Big business has to decide that it’s good business to have healthy customers. And we can help them do that by making different choices. If you stop buying processed foods, they will stop selling them.

We recommend you read the entire interview for more insights and why we need to change the way we cook and feed our kids: Jamie Oliver on the Fight for Healthier Food.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ben+Sam

Plan Your Ultimate July 1 Barbecue with a New Wine Mobile App

June 5th, 2011

Our favourite wine expert at Ingredient Hotline, Natalie Maclean, has done it again with game changing technology that allows you to instantly scan 150,000 wines in the LCBO! The Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app lets you use your smartphone camera to snap a picture of any bottle label bar code in the  liquor store. With one click, you get tasting notes, scores, and food pairings.

Natalie MacLean, the editor of Ontario’s largest wine web site at www.nataliemaclean.com, created the tool to make buying wine easier for consumers:

You’re in the LCBO wondering if you should buy the bottle with the castle on its label or the one with the fluffy squirrel, now you just point and click to find out if that shiraz actually is a good wine to go with your pepper steak, or if the sauvignon blanc would work with your grilled veggies. No more guesswork based on castles and critters.

No more shopping lists either since you can scan the wines right in front of you in the store. The app’s key features allow you to:

  • Instantly access tasting notes, scores, prices, recipes and food pairings
  • Search 150,000 wines at the LCBO and other liquor stores across the country
  • Get real-time stock for every wine at the store in which you’re shopping
  • Check the number of bottles in stock at nearby stores via GPS real-time inventory search
  • Track your purchases in your virtual cellar with just a few clicks
  • Create a wine journal with your own wine notes and pictures in the app
  • Share your favourite wines and pairings on Twitter and Facebook

The new Wine Picks & Pairings app is the next generation of Natalie’s mobile app, which was selected among the top five food-and-wine apps by both Computerworld Magazine and the New York Times. It’s the only one featured on Apple’s iTunes store under App Essentials for both “Food & Wine” and “Date Night.”

Fans use Ontario’s most popular wine and food app to get more than 700,000 wine picks and food pairing suggestions a month—the number of users has grown 230% over the past year. The app, designed by Fluid Trends, bundles a suite of 10 wine apps including reviews, cellar journals, recipes, food pairings, articles, blog posts, a wine glossary, a bi-weekly newsletter, a directory of wineries around the world and excerpts from Natalie’s bestselling book Red, White and Drunk All Over.

A certified sommelier and winner of the World’s Best Wine Writer award at the World Food Media Awards, Natalie wrote and vetted all the pairings and wine reviews in the app rather than relying on computer-generated algorithms and crowd-sourced material.

Make sure you check it out!

Download the free Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app for iPod Touch or iPhone:

For BlackBerry, visit App World:

For Droid, Nexus One, Nokia, Windows 7 and other smartphones, use the mobilized web site here:

A rose by any other name – would it smell as sweet?

April 28th, 2011

Ispahan - A smooth rose flavoured biscuit with rose petal cream, fresh raspberries and lychees from Laduree

Isfahan or Isphahan refers to a historical city in Iran which use to be the capital and one of the largest cities in the world.   Iran’s culture has had a long and diverse tradition on the use of flowers in its food, health, trade and design.

Among the many varieties of roses, the Rosa damascena stands out as one of the most prized species in the commercial manufacture of rose oil and rose water due to its intense aroma.   It is widely cultivated and processed in Iran, Bulgaria and in Turkey.  However, studies seem to indicate that this species originated in Iran.

The processing starts with sack full of roses that have been harvested in the cool morning.   The petals are sorted on a concrete floor and allowed to slightly “ferment” then the oils are extracted through hydrodistillation.

Middle Eastern, North African and Indian cuisines have used floral waters extensively in beverage and food preparations.    Gulab Jamon, Zoulbia and bamia are just not the same without rose water added to their syrups.  Malaysia and Singapore has a drink called bandung or rose water mixed with milk, sugar and pink food colour.

In modern times, French chefs and patisseries have used rose water for flavouring macarons, chocolate and delicate cakes.   Successful pairings include tart berries such as raspberries to other floral notes namely lychee.  Dairy and vanilla are effective bases to accentuate the aromatic properties of the rose.

On the savoury side, rose water is added to stews such as safaid murgh gulabi (Chicken and Rose Curry) or Rose Quail Recipe taken from the book “Like Water for Chocolate”.   Sweet or savoury, it is best not to use too much in a recipe.  Used sparingly, the flavour of the rose can be quite intoxicating and definitely worth trying out!

Rose water is available through Ingredient Hotline, Inc.

Real Food. Real Taste.

April 11th, 2011

How many “Thai” restaurants have you been to, only to find that the dish is more Chinese in taste and style than what it’s suppose to be?

Real Food, Real Taste – this is my catch phrase for 2011.

Real food means natural ingredients.

Real Taste means authentic flavours.

Real Food, Real Taste are what consumers are looking for when they purchase food products or eat at a restaurant. The description of the food product or meal has to be more specific. Is it from the Yucatan or Oaxacan? Is the dish prepared and served as you would find it in Mexico or is it “Tex-Mex”

Real taste or authenticity is what you can delight your customers with if you use the real ingredients.   Kecap Manis is not Hoisin sauce.   Galangal is not ginger – they just do not provide the same depth of flavour.   Brown sugar is not coconut/palm sugar so an equal substitution would produce a sweeter than expected taste.    If you have never tried smoked paprika from the de la Vera region of Spain, then you have not tasted real smoked paprika.   Paella and chorizo just don’t taste the same without this key ingredient.   Paprika that is found in the supermarket is bland, so consumers associate paprika for just adding colour on devilled eggs.

It would also help if the chef or developer has had the chance to taste the actual target at the place of origin and has seen how it is served.    In most situations, the customer has lived in or travelled to distant countries, has savoured the dish and they just want to relive that experience.   It could get very disappointing when an advertised item does not deliver.

Real Food means using raw materials that are either fresh or minimally processed.    When you cook with vanilla beans, it provides such a big difference compared to using ethyl vanillin or an artificial vanilla flavour.    The cost of natural ingredients are often higher, but the satisfaction derived is also greater.

If you are looking to cook with Real Food with Real Taste ingredients, check out our website: www.ingredienthotline.com.   Our unique and natural ingredients are grown, processed and supported from the source.

Purple Corn Drink: The Next Big Superfood

March 9th, 2011

We’ve been promoting purple corn drink for some time. What’s known as chicha morada in peru, or simply “chicha”, is an antioxidant-rich drink. Antioxidants are believed to be beneficial since they can inhibit or slow down oxidation through the neutralization of free radicals and hence delay or prevent ageing as well as prevent certain diseases. Antioxidants can be found in the form of phenols and anthocyanins and it is these water soluble anthocyanins that are responsible for the purple-red colour of purple corn.

We’ve noticed that purple corn is starting to get noticed in the mainstream media. KABC, the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles recently ran a segment on chicha where they also point out the health benefits:

The blue corn contains anthocyanins, which is a plant chemical that is known to help fight the challenges of high-blood pressure and cholesterol…Studies on animals taking the extract of purple corn also found it helps regulate blood sugar and fat function as well.

Check out the segment for yourself:

Purple corn drink may be next big superfood

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