Tasty prototypes

Suppliers create some wonderful foods for the IFT show, just to sell ingredients.

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Exhibitors at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting in Las Vegas should consider putting their prototype products directly on the retail shelf or on a foodservice menu.

Although IFT exhibitors are the ingredient suppliers to food processors, some of their creations, often made expressly for the show, taste like they could be hits with consumers.

Low-carb solutions were in abundance. Flavors du jour included cinnamon, lime, mango, chipotle, pomegranate, orange, coffee, tea, coconut and cajeta (AKA dulce de leche or caramel). Asian and Hispanic flavors were everywhere.

Always a trendsetter, Kerry Americas, Beloit, Wis., changed its booth every day to highlight what it called the top three food ingredient trends: impact flavors, managed carbs and simply good. On day one, spicy Moroccan Chicken Croustade with an apricot yogurt sauce made an impact on my taste buds. Santa Fe Omelet Bites in a low-net carb coating (75 percent fewer carbs than traditional coatings) managed to inspire my imagination on day two. And it was back for dessert on day three in the form of organic Banana Brulee. There’s no doubt that organic and natural is on the shopping list of growing numbers of consumers.

Wild and wonderful describes the offerings at Wild Flavors, Erlanger, Ky. Organic Thai Sweet Chili on Chips, Pink Grapefruit Orange Wellness Beverage, Citrus Green Tea Vinaigrette, Blood Orange Seafood Ceviche –- a bevy of unique foods. I confess I tried to steal a lifetime supply of Blood Orange Crème Filled Chocolates but was caught red-handed by John Bauman, culinary business unit vice president.

Lettuce Tacos Filled with Santa Fe-style Chargrilled Beef and Ham and Cheese Croquettes with Swiss-American Cheese were just two of the delicious options at the Chef’s Table within the booth of Kraft Food Ingredients, Memphis, Tenn. When I die and go to heaven, I’m taking Caramelized Coconut Crème Brulee, made with Baker’s Coconut Concentrates, with me.

Kikkoman’s Glazed Chicken Wings prepared with low-carb (less than 3 grams) Teriyaki sauce made my palate take flight. The company’s New Asian Series -– consisting of Hoisin Sauce, Thai Style Chili Sauce, Plum Sauce and Black Bean Sauce with Garlic -- is available in the supermarket. Incidentally, we learned there is no uniform Tamari Sauce in Japan –- it varies by region.

Carrot cake is normally too dull for my taste –- I’d rather have double chocolate fudge -- but Bugs Bunny and I would pay top dollar for Tabasco Carrot Cake from McIlhenny Co., Avery Island, La.

We loved Blazin’ Lemonade, an unexpected contrast of hot and cold notes in a refreshing beverage. "It’s like combining light and dark," says James Duffy, Comax Flavors, Melville, N.Y.

The University of Wisconsin product development team won the Almond Board of California’s second annual Almond Innovations Contest with Almond Cravers. These almond snack chips, made from almond meal, contain no saturated or trans fats and they are yummy. "We wanted to create a nutritious snack; using almonds as a key ingredient made that simple," explain research assistants, Chinthu Udayarajan and Mateo Budinich. "With almond meal as a base, we created a crunchy, healthy chip that was very easy to flavor as a sweet or savory item."

Speaking of savory, Chef Walter Zuromski at Tic Gums, Belcamp, Md., developed a spectacular tasting Low Carb Broccoli & Cheddar Cheese Soup thickened with gum instead of starch or roux. In fact, this version of the recipe contains 9 grams of net carbs (compared to 23 grams of net carbs in the regular recipe).

Strawberry Cream Soy Milk fooled my palate. The product was made with Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Virginia Dare’s new VidaPro flavor system for protein-based foods and beverages. Since there was no beany taste, I thought it was a milk shake.

Also on the front lines in soy, the United Soybean Board, St. Louis, served up crispy, potato chips made in new low-linolenic soybean oil with no trans fat. It’s not yet commercially available, but consumers want both healthy and tasty.

We got two great scoops at Fortitech, Schenectady, N.Y. Its strawberry and chocolate Fortified Ice Cream, packed with vitamins A, B, C, D, folic acid, minerals (including calcium, selenium and zinc) was divine tasting and has great mouthfeel. Unfortunately, there was no way to bring a few gallons back to the hotel in the 110-degree Las Vegas heat, but I snuck back to the booth periodically for a "health" fix.

I got my full day’s requirement of calcium from a tasty Dreamsicle Smoothie, fortified with high levels of calcium derived from a natural source in the Caribbean, by J.M. Huber Corp., Atlanta.

Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill., served this tired reporter Orange Peach Mango Sports Nutrition Beverage – a cool concept between a smoothie and juice that provides 10 grams of protein (whey) and 20 percent of your calcium DV. It perked me up as well as a workout.

The joint was jumpin’ at Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, and I was jumping with no problem after quaffing its apple-rose flavored JointWise beverage, which contained 200 mg of natural OptaFlex chondroitin.

Didn’t forget my fiber requirement. Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Ill., served up Black and Red Bean Chips. Beans keep your blood sugar nice and level, so they are a healthy ingredient alternative for snacks.

Intrigued by the Call Your Bluff Adults-Only Flavors sign, we tried the non-alcoholic flavored Frozen Mai Tai from David Michael & Co., Philadelphia. I lost that bet. Oh well, that’s Las Vegas for you.

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