The Fake-Meat Burger So Realistic It Fooled My Entire Family

Christina Chaey wrote . . . . .

The burger was everything I expected one to be: juicy, dense, chewy, salty, and satisfyingly fatty. But unlike every other burger I’ve eaten, this one was 100 percent meat-free. And it was doing a shockingly good job at convincing my brain that the substance in my mouth was, in fact, meat.

I recently taste-tested a new meat-free burger called the Impossible Burger as a roomful of marketing executives from Impossible Foods, based in Redwood, CA, scrutinized my every bite. The mini patties, prepared by consulting chef Traci Des Jardins (of San Francisco’s Jardinière and The Commissary), look, sizzle, feel, and even bleed like beef burgers. At a certain point, knowing these “bloody” patties in front of me didn’t contain meat started to make me feel slightly uncomfortable. As I watched them cook on the electric griddle, I could hear gentle sizzling noises as I watch tiny pools of oil form under each patty.

What sorcery is this?!

Unlike veggie burgers you can make or buy in the freezer aisle, you can’t replicate the Impossible Burger at home by throwing black beans and sweet potatoes into a food processor. The “meat” is made entirely of plant-based ingredients like potato protein, coconut oil, honeydew melon, and a legume-derived molecule called “heme” that’s also found in animal blood (it’s what gives meat its texture, color, and faintly iron-like smell.) And where veggie burgers are often lower in fat than traditional beef, a 320-calorie, quarter-pounder Impossible Burger packs in 20 grams of saturated fat (that coconut oil!), four grams more than American Heart Association‘s recommended daily intake.

Starting this summer, you’ll be able to order the Impossible Burger on the menu at select restaurants in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Although the company hasn’t released specific information on pricing, it does say the Impossible Burger will cost “about as much as a higher end ‘better burger.’” Whether or not Impossible Foods can woo customers enough to pay the price of a beef burger for a version that’s made from plants remains to be seen. But the company’s reps all but promise the Impossible Burger, which was designed to mimic the coveted juicy-burger ratio of 20% fat, can appeal to even the most die-hard carnivore. In fact, they’re conscientiously avoiding the phrase “veggie burger” altogether—the target Impossible Foods customer has no interest in cutting out meat and dairy entirely, but could be convinced to occasionally substitute a plant-based product that tastes just as good, and is better for the environment to boot.

Intrigued by this promise and slightly alarmed by how convincing I found the test burgers, I decided to put Impossible’s claim to the test by cooking the burgers for two of the more unadventurous carnivores I know: my parents.

The next evening, I bought everything I needed to faithfully recreate the burger I had been served. I caramelized a pot of onions, washed some Butterhead lettuce, and sliced avocado and tomato. I mixed up a small bowl of the Chaey family’s signature Pink Sauce (a.k.a. ketchup and mayonnaise), toasted some slider buns, and waited for my parents to come home from work.

All I told them in advance was that I’d gotten a free package of burgers “from work,” which is a phrase people tend not to question when you work at a food magazine. So when my father came home first and sat down at the table, he immediately began snarfing down his burger without question. After a few bites, he paused and glanced down.

“Hmm,” he said. “This burger seasoning is good.”

My father rarely calls anything “good,” so I considered his reaction a +1 for Impossible Foods. Until.

“It doesn’t look like it was just meat, though. Something was mixed in it.”

Uh.

“This texture couldn’t come from just meat, salt, and pepper.”

Uhhhhhh.

Despite his skepticism, Dad 100 percent believed the whole “it’s beef!” storyline right up until the big reveal, at which point he basically told me if someone gave him a Boca burger and told him it was a hamburger, he would probably believe them, too. Discerning palate, indeed.

The real test was my mother, whose bloodhound-like olfactory talents can single out my second-day hair before I walk through the front door. I could tell from the start she was wary. She picked up the burger and gave it a sniff before taking a bite. And then another. And another. But then—

“Is this beef…dehydrated?” she asked, taking off the bun and poking at the half-eaten patty.

Mom had finally picked up on the one detail I’d argue makes it apparent to the discerning eater that the Impossible Burger is not, in fact, beef. When the patties cook up on a griddle, they tend to develop a somewhat crunchy exterior crust that you wouldn’t get on a normal beef burger. The jig was up.

In the end, I would say my parents were neither thrilled nor reviled by the fact that the Impossible Burger wasn’t packing beef. Mostly, they were hard-pressed to understand why they’d choose to buy a product like this over their beloved supermarket patties—especially if the alternative wasn’t significantly cheaper.

“Now that I know, would I go buy them? I don’t know,” said mildly-confused Dad. “Probably not.”

But my dad isn’t a particularly environmentally-minded consumer—he doesn’t buy grass-fed beef, nor does he consider cutting his overall meat intake for the sake of sustainability. It’s possible that another kind of “conflicted omnivore”-type consumer could be convinced to spend their dollars on a product that will make them feel good about doing a solid for Mother Nature. At least, that’s where Impossible Food is placing its bets.

And burgers are just the beginning. Impossible Foods researchers are currently at work developing a “cheese” with the same melty, gooey qualities of the real thing, which means an Impossible Cheeseburger may be a product of the not-so-distant future. And beyond? Steak, bacon, chicken, fish, yogurt, cream. Apparently, anything is Impossible.

Source: Bon Appétit

Avocado Guacamole

Ingredients

2 large ripe avocados
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 fresh red or green chili, seeded and very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
finely shredded rind of 1/2 lime and juice of 1 to 1-1/2 limes
8oz tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1/2 to 1 tsp ground toasted cumin seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
ground black pepper
lime wedges and fresh coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish
lightly salted corn chips, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Cut one of the avocados in half and lift out and discard the stone (pit). Scrape the flesh from both halves into a bowl and mash it roughly with a fork.
  2. Add the onion, chili, garlic, lime rind, tomatoes and coriander and stir well. Add the ground cumin seeds and pepper to taste, then stir in the olive oil.
  3. Halve and stone the remaining avocado. Dice the flesh and stir it into the guacamole.
  4. Squeeze in fresh lime juice to taste, mix well, then cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes so that the flavour develops. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with fresh coriander sprigs.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Vegan Cooking

In Pictures: Meatless Dishes

Spinach Parmesan Zucchini Noodles

Oven Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Crispy Mushrooms

Roasted Bean and Cheese Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Pizza with Pecorino, Scallions, and Egg

Whole Wheat Green Tomato Galette

Spelt Flatbread

Researchers Develop Blood Test that Detects Early Alzheimer’s Disease

A research team, led by Dr. Robert Nagele from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and Durin Technologies, Inc., has announced the development of a blood test that leverages the body’s immune response system to detect an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease – referred to as the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) stage – with unparalleled accuracy. In a “proof of concept” study involving 236 subjects, the test demonstrated an overall accuracy, sensitivity and specificity rate of 100 percent in identifying subjects whose MCI was actually caused by an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

“About 60 percent of all MCI patients have MCI caused by an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. The remaining 40 percent of cases are caused by other factors, including vascular issues, drug side-effects and depression. To provide proper care, physicians need to know which cases of MCI are due to early Alzheimer’s and which are not,” said Cassandra DeMarshall, the study’s lead author, and a PhD candidate at the Rowan University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “Our results show that it is possible to use a small number of blood-borne autoantibodies to accurately diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s. These findings could eventually lead to the development of a simple, inexpensive and relatively noninvasive way to diagnose this devastating disease in its earliest stages.”

“It is now generally believed that Alzheimer’s-related changes begin in the brain at least a decade before the emergence of telltale symptoms,” Nagele explained. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first blood test using autoantibody biomarkers that can accurately detect Alzheimer’s at an early point in the course of the disease when treatments are more likely to be beneficial – that is, before too much brain devastation has occurred.” Nagele is the study’s corresponding author and the director of the Biomarker Discovery Center at Rowan’s New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging. He is also the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Durin Technologies, Inc.

The researchers presented their results in an article published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring that also reported the test’s ability to accurately “stage the disease,” meaning it can distinguish early-stage Alzheimer’s at MCI from later, more advanced stages. The test was also disease-specific. It readily distinguished early Alzheimer’s at the MCI stage from other diseases including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and early stage breast cancer.

For the study, the Rowan University researchers analyzed blood samples from 236 subjects, including 50 MCI subjects with low levels of amyloid-beta 42 peptide in their cerebrospinal fluid. The latter is a reliable indicator of ongoing Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain and predicts a likely rapid progression to Alzheimer’s.

Employing human protein microarrays, each containing 9,486 unique human proteins that are used as bait to attract blood-borne autoantibodies, the researchers identified the top 50 autoantibody biomarkers capable of detecting ongoing early-stage Alzheimer’s pathology in patients with MCI. In multiple tests, the 50 biomarkers were 100 percent accurate in distinguishing patients with MCI due to Alzheimer’s from healthy age- and gender-matched controls. Further testing of the selected MCI biomarker panel demonstrated similar high overall accuracy rates in differentiating patients with early Alzheimer’s at the MCI stage from those with more advance, mild-moderate Alzheimer’s (98.7 percent), early-stage Parkinson’s disease (98.0 percent), multiple sclerosis (100 percent) and breast cancer (100 percent).

In their report, the researchers acknowledge that the utility of their MCI biomarker panel as a blood test for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease will hinge on a successful larger replication study using an independent patient cohort. However, they also point out that, because this blood-based diagnostic strategy is dependent on the presence of Alzheimer’s pathology which can be underway many years before symptoms emerge, this approach could open the door to even earlier pre-symptomatic detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the authors, early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and the ability to stage the disease through a simple blood test would offer many potential benefits. Patients could possibly delay disease progression through lifestyle adjustments, begin treatment sooner and plan future medical care. Clinicians would have a way to measure the effectiveness of therapeutic intervention and clinical trials could enroll patients who were truly at the earliest stage of their disease.

Source: EurekAlert!


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