Favorite Prototypes At IFT Delight The Palate More Than The Brain

Aug. 27, 2010
Our news and trends editor professes her personal bliss (and bias) for all things delicious.

Because I'm not a food scientist, when I wander a show such as the Institute of Food Technologists' Food Expo this past July, I'm more interested in delighting my taste buds than my brain.

I do appreciate and admire the incredible strides in the development of ingredients and technologies that solve functional issues in food product development and improve health. But my personal bliss at IFT is to find those product prototypes that, while highlighting interesting new ingredients, also are so delicious they should be on retail shelves. It was especially tough this year because there were more great tasting prototypes on the floor than usual and less time to taste.

Gluten-free Cinnamon Rolls from Grain Processing Corp. featured Enreco's Sterling Choice Smooth Grind Golden Flaxseed, an excellent source of ALA omega-3 (320mg per serving) and fiber. They were made using Pure-Dent B700 cornstarch, which works as a clean-flavor bulking agent and improves dough consistency when rolled, and Inscosity B656 food starch modified to support cell structure development, provide volume and retain moisture. A fiber claim was difficult to achieve, so whole grain sorghum and buckwheat flours were used. These scrumptious cinnamon rolls contain at least half of a whole-grain serving, qualifying for the Whole Grains Council basic stamp at 8+g per roll. They were topped with Bakery Glaze, featuring Maltrin M150 maltodextrin to control sweetness and Pure-Cote B790 food starch-modified to build solids and prevent moisture migration.

Eating protein at breakfast helps protein intake throughout the day, which, research shows, may provide maximum benefits to some populations. USDEC/DMI's Breakfast Bites, a delicious, convenient, high-protein, lower-sodium bite-size breakfast prototype could help busy kids and adults get their daily required nutrients and kick-start their day. Protein-fortified dough and cheese contribute to the 21g of protein (42 percent of the DV) and 25 percent DV of calcium in every serving. And at the end of the day, busy consumers can unwind with Honey Lavender Soothie, which blends the natural flavors of honey and lavender with milk for a soothing, warm, nutritious high-protein beverage. Every serving contains 12g of protein and 30 percent of the DV of calcium and vitamin D -- an excellent source of each.

With the economic downturn, consumers are increasingly finding solace in comfort foods – the so-called "lipstick" effect, trading down from expensive luxuries to smaller indulgences. No matter how your stock portfolio is doing, the Decadent Chocolate Brownie Bites (no, you can't eat just one) from Cargill Inc. and its Wilbur Chocolate business unit will make you feel like a millionaire. The challenge was to add chocolate liquor into a bakery mix without additional processing to achieve a chocolate experience you can't achieve with cocoa powder alone. The result was Wilbur Chocolate Duet Powdered Mix in three flavor profiles – Chocolate Notes, Fruit Notes and Fudge Notes -- that need no melting or special handling and allow for "real chocolate" labeling. I must confess and apologize to Cargill for taking a stash for my commute home.

Almonds & Ale are one of the top flavor pairings this year, according to the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2010, which concluded, "The bittersweet character of both ingredients makes a congenial, cozy and hearty match." The Almond Board of California proved this by conducting an almonds and ale tasting exercise. My favorite prototypes from Chef John Csukor and team were Ginger-Citrus Almonds paired with Sierra Nevada Summerfest beer. Hops contain limonene and linalool compounds perceived on the tongue as citrus or lemon. Almonds contribute a flowery fresh aroma and the ginger and citrus flavorings are an ideal match with the ale. Also fun and surprising together are trendy Beer-and-Bacon Glazed Almonds paired with Blue Moon.

Why not get your Mexican-inspired street food from the freezer? Chef Jud McLester at Wixon Inc. outdid himself with Antojitos, grilled flat bread layered with shredded hickory-smoked mole seasoned cabbage and Orange Goji Berry Vinaigrette finished with marinated chicken, enhanced with Wixon's Aji Amarillo Annatto seasoning featuring KCLean Salt, an all-natural flavor modifier that matches the taste and texture of regular salt with half the sodium, and Wix-Fresh Umami to ring out the natural flavors. Wixon also showcased Meatloaf on a Stick, which delivers traditional meatloaf flavor with mashed potatoes. Very cool idea.

Coola Jazz in Guava and Pomegranate Mint flavor is a great-tasting fortified beverage made with Q-Naturale natural emulsifier and Nutriose soluble fiber from National Starch. Q-Naturale, derived from the quillaja saponaria tree, provides superior performance and clarity in clear and alcoholic beverages at reduced formulation costs by eliminating the need for weighting agents, one of the most costly ingredients in a beverage formula. I grabbed an extra bottle and let it sit in my kitchen since IFT and it's still clear with no sediment. The natural emulsifier can also be used in the delivery of high levels of nutrients and vitamins (such as beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids).

Consumers increasingly seek gluten-free snacks and desserts. In fact, the global market for gluten-free products is expected to reach more than $4.3 billion within the next five years, according to Datamonitor. ADM's Gluten-Free Brownie, made with ADM sorghum flour and Vegefull bean powder (used in place of wheat flour) combined with DeZaan cocoa and Ambrosia chocolate, is a delightfully gooey, moist and delicious indulgent gluten-free treat for brownie lovers of all ages.

Wild Flavors always has innovative options, but my favorite prototype this year was the Heirloom Tomato Sorbet, a re-imagination of a Caprese Salad. Cool and refreshing during Chicago's heat wave, the sorbet featured an heirloom tomato flavor, was topped with yummy Mozzarella Whipped Cream and garnished with a Basil and Olive Oil Pizzelle Cookie, featuring basil and olive oil flavors and natural green color.

Mahamarra Dip served on a Pita Chip from California Walnuts was a totally unexpected culinary treat, and a great idea for the retail shelf. And for dessert, Walnut Chocolate Fleur de Sel Spiced Walnuts and French Style Chocolate Walnut Macaroons made my heart go pitter-patter.

Oh My Aching … Bar, a fortified Joint and Bone health bar, from Watson Inc. addresses the needs of aging baby boomers to live longer, healthier and more active lives with strong bones and joints. This delicious chocolate and peanut butter treat contains Watson's WT-12052 premix, which provides 10 percent DV of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K as will as 50 percent DV for vitamin D. The only change I'd make is to enrobe it in sinfully dark chocolate. Hmmmm, bone health as well as antioxidants.

Blueberry Biscuit Stick, a small, bite-sized biscuit treat with benefits, easy to store and carry on the go, was from the U. S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Their user-friendly shape makes them easy to handle and incorporate in quick breakfasts, at-desk lunches and busy-schedule snacks. And who can resist the Biscuit Stick's delicious blueberries? Plump, juicy and sweet, blueberries are in tune with today's healthy life style. Consumers identify blueberries with antioxidants, natural ingredients and nutritious eating, and they are a natural way to keep the product moist while boosting flavor and mouth-watering appeal.

Symrise identifies five pillars for positioning new products -- Stay Vital, Lighten Up, Be Natural, Just Enjoy and Get Excited. Moroccan BBQ Skirt Steak was an exciting prototype for attendees and fits into the Get Excited pillar (sensory pleasures and unusual taste experiences).

Tomato Soup (33 percent sodium reduction), that ubiquitous food we all love, rose to new heights with Kikkoman's NFE Natural Flavor Enhancer, available in both liquid and powder varieties. Developed with Kikkoman's proprietary fermentation technology, this savory flavor has a neutral taste, pale color and strong umami characteristics. Kosher certified, it elevates salt perception in almost any sodium-reduced offering, is made in the U.S. Most important, it addresses the need for manufacturers to reduce sodium (by 30-50 percent), particularly in foods that children love to eat regularly.

David Michael & Co. kept running out of its tasty Turkey Burger Sliders, with Natural Onion Flavor, Natural Smoky Grilled Beef Powder and Natural American Cheese Flavor because they were so good. With the use of DM's salt replacers, the sliders boast a 20 percent reduction in sodium (which can be upped to 30 percent). That's good because if you have a male teen in the house, he'd wolf down a whole package.

Mouth-watering flavors and rich aromas describe Chicken Tikka and Jeera Rice Pilaf, Indian-inspired prototypes from Griffith Laboratories. The dishes featured new technologies OptiYield, a customizable technology that provides improved yield effectiveness and eating qualities of meat products, and NaRedux, for sodium reduction. 

Slow Cooked Beef with red wine and mushroom Au Jus (Reduced Sodium) from Sensient Flavors LLC, which featured natural salt enhancer flavor (35- to 45-percent sodium reduction), culinary-inspired flavors, including, natural red wine reduction flavor, roasted mirepoix WONF, porcini mushroom WONF, and the savory flavors of natural beef stock replacer flavor and water soluble tallow WONF. And for dessert, who could resist a Peaches & Cream Muffin, featuring Dairy Boost fresh cream flavor and natural peach pectin pieces?