Posts Tagged ‘fiber’

It All Comes Down To Taste

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Gluten Free

How can a nation be great if it’s bread tastes like Kleenex? – Julia Child

We had a bit of a discussion going with JP over at Healthy Fellow regarding the challenges of incorporating natural, healthy alternative ingredients into mainstream food products. One challenge is economic as some of these more innovative ingredients come at a price. For example, outside of colour, coconut sugar could be used in most places that refined sugar is used today, however it costs more.

JP suggested that consumer demand and taste were the main factors in adoption of healthier ingredients, rather than cost, and we tend to agree. Clearly there is a growing awareness of food quality and functionality with modern consumers and this is leading to a growing demand for healthier ingredients in the foods we eat. Basic economics would tell us that growing demand will also drive supply and lead to lower costs. So it really comes down to taste. As JP pointed out:

For instance, I can buy a large bag of “bakers stevia” such as Stevia in Raw for about the same amount as a comparably-sized Splenda package. On the other hand, I couldn’t get my wife to accept the taste of stevia – regardless of the price. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one that feels this way…The regulatory status of stevia is what it is today because there was sufficient demand for it. But even so, the market is somewhat limited because of tepid consumer acceptance of the current products on the market.

The overall sentiment is that if manufacturers can somehow produce products based on natural, healthy ingredients that taste as good as the current mainstream products, they’ll be adopted by consumers. For food manufacturers, achieving this ideal combination of health and taste may require changes to processes and formulation. According the the recent article Building Better Desserts at

The dessert items receiving the brunt of healthy treatments certainly would be baked goods, such as cakes and cookies…the incorporation of ingredients such as whole grains can readily make them healthier…But these ingredients do change the baking aspects of products — such as the mixing — so processes and formulas need to be adjusted.

Besides processes and formulation, the taste challenge can also be addressed by innovation with the basic constituents themselves, for example, various suppliers of food ingredients are developing healthier fats and oils as well as unique whole grains, fibers and beta glucans. In fact, we saw a new version of stevia at the IFT Food Expo in Chicago just last week that does not need any masking agents (i.e. flavours) for its lingering sweetness.

Lastly, the push for healthier retail food products is not just driven by consumer demand but by regulation, which provides yet another challenge for food manufacturers when pursuing consumer acceptance. Afterall, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it. It all comes down to taste.

What’s Hot at IFT 2010

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

GNT Booth

It was great to see old and new faces at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo 2010 in Chicago. Even better was the fact that they had added the Process Expo with the IFT Food Expo at McCormick Place – as it provided more interesting things to see all under one venue.

The top themes that seemed to dominate the show floor:

  • trans-fat options
  • fibre in all shapes and forms
  • inclusion of fruits

The “regulars” were omnipresent in several booths: probiotics, natural colours, antioxidants, acai and stevia. Even though stevia is old news, it was interesting to see a new version that does not need any masking agents (i.e. flavours) for its lingering sweetness. For a few of us observers, GNT won hands down for having the most attractive booth.

Other notables included puff snacks with purple corn extract and therefore high in antioxidants. Quinoa is becoming mainstream. The pistachio booth offered a quinoa salad with pistachio slivers and goat cheese which was delicious. The Innova booth is always an interesting one to visit – I hope they remember to send me the information they had promised! Here’s a couple more pictures:

Show Floor

Brenda & Maria

Demand for Quinoa Surges

Monday, June 21st, 2010


There is a surge in demand for the ancient grain Quinoa, driven by a new found awareness of its nutritional value. Quinoa is a chenopod, so it’s actually closely related to species such as beets and spinach. While the greens can be consumed, it’s the grains which are typically used in food. Quinoa’s protein content is very high (12%–18%) and unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is high in lysine and therefore has a complete set of essential amino acids. It’s also a good source of dietary fiber. Besides being high in magnesium and iron, Quinoa is gluten-free and as such, easy to digest. Check out the search volume and news reference trends for quinoa since 2004:

quinoa search volume trends

According to Global Post, the demand for this grain has caused prices in Bolivia, the world’s largest quinoa exporter, to soar and exports to North America have risen over 300% since 2005:

But only in the past five years has its value to farmers has jumped through the roof, with international markets suddenly taking an interest in this nutritious food. This demand has changed the lives of quinoa farmers in Bolivia, which is the world’s largest quinoa exporter…In the 1980s, 100 pounds of quinoa sold for $7 inside Bolivia. Now the same amount of high-quality organic quinoa can sell for more than $100 to vendors in the United States or Europe.

Hopefully this demand will be offset by greater supplies as farmers realize the economic potential of this crop.

We like the potential for using quinoa flour in bread and bakery applications. The proper preparation of quinoa is essential since quinoa has a coating of bitter-tasting saponins. Therefore good quinoa has been processed to remove this coating. This process usually involves rinsing the grains. It has been suggested that this bitter coating may have caused early European settlers to south america to reject it as a food source. Quinoa is becoming widely available to consumers. If you’re a food manufacturer interested in using quinoa we’d be happy to discuss how it can be applied in your products. We currently source quinoa from Peru.

Here’s another thing you can do: subscribe to the Ingredient Hotline blog today and follow us on twitter so you can stay up to date on the latest in innovative, all natural food ingredients.

Quinoa: Bolivia’s nutty-tasting export success

Photo Credit: Christian Guthier


Friday, November 13th, 2009

In his bestselling book Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall describes iskiate as the “Red Bull” beverage for the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico. The Tarahumara are reknown for their long distance running ability. McDougall describes iskiate:

It’s brewed up by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a squirt of lime. In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re superpacked with omega-3s, omega-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidents…you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease…

Source: Born To Run.

Iskiate is refreshing and said to be a great source of replenishment after any kind of exertion. Thanks in large part to the book, long distance runners and other athletes are now using iskiate to rejuvenate after a workout. I recommend reading Born To Run, and I also recommend trying out iskiate! It’s quite easy to prepare at home. Check out how simple it is in the video below:

Chia seeds can be purchased retail at many places, including Whole Foods in the United States and the Bulk Barn in Canada. For larger quantities of Chia, contact Ingredient Hotline and we’d be happy to help you with your wholesale needs.

For more on Born To Run, you can check out the official fan site. You may also like to read more about chia and iskiate: