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Seared Tuna with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Ingredients

4 (5- to 6-ounce) pieces albacore tuna loin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 to 6 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3-1/2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
4 garlic cloves, mashed

Method

  1. Whisk together all of the Sweet and Sour Sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Remove the tuna loin from the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before cooking and let it come to room temperature.
  3. Using your hands, press the salt and pepper into the fish on all sides. Wash your hands.
  4. In a large nonstick pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Place the tuna in the hot oil, 2 pieces at a time. Sear on each side to desired doneness, but don’t overcook. Tuna is best when rare in the middle. Transfer the cooked tuna to a serving platter. Cook the remaining 2 pieces, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.
  5. Slice the tuna into 1-inch pieces. Serve with cooked rice and accompanied by the Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: True Food

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The Future of Flavour

Chiara Cecchini wrote . . . . . . .

The produce of today is being engineered for color, shape, yield, and shelf life, but it seems like the produce of the future will be optimized for flavor. Horticultural sciences professor Harry Klee is currently breeding a tomato for taste, based on analysis of flavor compounds in heirloom, wild, and modern tomatoes. This endeavor involved sequencing the genomes of over 400 tomato varieties, but his efforts also encompass part of a larger goal. Klee hopes that by understanding the chemical and genetic makeup of flavor in fruits and vegetables we can control the synthesis of flavor compounds and create better-tasting food.

In an age where the average supermarket tomato is watery and lackluster and where the generic pea no longer tastes like spring or the earth, an increased focus on flavor from the production side is most welcome. Peter Klosse, author of The Essence of Gastronomy: Understanding the Flavor of Foods and Beverages, asserts that this change may be driven by consumers’ frustrations with flavorless foods. “Gradually, we’ve grown to changing our traditional agricultural systems to produce flavorless commodities,” Klosse states; according to Harry Klee in “Improving the flavor of fresh fruits: genomics, biochemistry, and biotechnology“, it is now generally accepted that the flavor quality of many fruits has significantly declined over recent decades. But blandness of products does not seem an issue because the food industry has found a way to solve the problem. This is done by incorporating salt, sugar, fats, and chemical additives to restore flavor that has been bred out of food.

Ultimately, a lack of value for produce’s flavor is where it all starts. Supermarkets, focused on getting food from producers to consumers in the most efficient, least costly means possible, want a consistent supply of consistent quality food. And while several food-tech companies are populating the market trying to provide solutions to meet this needs, Corporate farms, urged to meet industry demands, are forced to sacrifice seasonality and sustainability — and consequently, flavor.

“We have lost biodiversity,” Klosse says. “We have lost a lot of individual quality between farms and regions, we are losing varietal differences.” But consumers are starting to notice, and starting to care. Klosse believes innovation in this field should be focused on moving the food system towards regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative systems, involving maintaining biodiversity and using farming techniques that do not damage soil, are also flavor-rich. Food production today emphasizes efficiency and yield; but if the value of flavor — and subsequently the possibility of earning money by cultivating flavorful produce — is reintroduced, farmers can once again grow foods that are both flavorful and sustainable.

Klee’s research articulates the benefits of the older, more natural agricultural practices which Klosse promotes. His team has discovered that modern tomatoes lack the sweetness and rich flavors of heirloom breeds since flavor compounds have been lost over time; bred out as the genes responsible for producing the volatile flavor chemicals are neglected. Supermarket tomatoes are picturesque, hefty globes of firm red flesh. But bite into one and you’ll find that the tanginess, earthiness, and succulent sweetness associated with tomatoes are, well, absent. Beyond replicating Klee’s experiments by taste-testing a variety of tomatoes, Klosse claims we need palpable proof of concept for a regenerative system to convince the industry of its merits.

In short: we need real examples which you can see and touch. “Start small,” he suggests, “take a comprehensive region within the industry, from farmers to retail to consumers, committed to a new way of thinking, and demonstrate that regenerative systems work.” In my opinion, if more people come to realize that said systems do in fact work, the food system of tomorrow may be one that combines future understandings and research on flavor compound interactions with past ecologically-friendly practices. If what we believe about flavor becoming increasingly prioritized by producers and consumers holds true, then the future of food is a truly appetizing one which we should look forward to.

The potential of technology and big data

The fact that artificial intelligence and data-driven methods are being harnessed to upgrade kitchens, create new products, and generate supply chain solutions is already old news in the food industry. Innovations in digital flavor profiling, however, have yet to gain widespread traction. Hopefully, that will soon change, as companies like Gastrograph and FlavorWiki are seeking to alter how companies – and by extension, consumers – view flavor.

We at the Future Food Institute spoke to Jason Cohen, founder of Gastrograph, and Daniel Protz, founder of FlavorWiki, to gain more insight into how these digital profiling pioneers are using analytics to reshape the flavor profiling landscape.

Experiencing flavors

We asked Cohen how the role of flavor or taste might change as food becomes increasingly experiential. Cohen thinks the role of flavor itself may not undergo a transformation; rather, the shift lies in the role of data changing how products are developed. “People have always wanted good tasting food, and will continue to purchase the products that taste best to them.” However, as novel techniques are “making it possible to predict perception and preference for the first time,” product developers need to become progressively more aware of how they can take data and predictions into consideration to develop competitive products.

In the past, companies could develop “generally acceptable products,” but as the number of companies and products grow, on both local and global levels, increasingly niche products are required to remain competitive. Cohen firmly believes that companies failing to use modern techniques and data to predict the changing consumer preference of each consumer cohort will be at a disadvantage. Due to increased competition in both old and new markets, companies are reinvesting in the competitive attributes that will bring consumers back to their brands – which, in Food and Beverage (F&B), is flavor.

Personalizing flavors

Technological advancements extend to personalization. As flavor may be experienced differently by different people, it’s only expected that the flavor becomes something more individualized. Sensory panels that most companies currently use to taste-test products are unrepresentative of general market preference. Gastrograph uses AI and predictive models to identify how different demographics and regions experience and enjoy different flavor profiles. They then utilize that information to optimize new product development, product adaptation, and portfolio management services to companies, taking targeted and cognitive marketing into account to ensure the right products are developed for target consumers.

FlavorWiki, too, is developing flavor-mapping technology that quantifies individual taste perception and preference. Food retailers and producers can then use this data to personalize product development, improve product innovation, and deliver a more engaging food experience. Their founder and CEO, Daniel Protz, believes consumer research is ripe to undergo a transformation.

The goal of consumer research to determine what flavors, textures, and fragrances will be popular with a target market. Companies typically have trained tasters to give feedback on products. It is generally very expensive to conduct this type of research; so much so that the large majority of consumer research in sensory science is done by a few large conglomerates like Nestle and Unilever.

Increasing accessibility

Protz believes “somebody should figure out a way to make this type of research more accessible to smaller companies, to make it faster, to make it more agile,” so that new companies creating products like meat or dairy replacements can develop foods that are both innovative and liked by consumers. FlavorWiki’s methodology enables the profiling of food products by untrained consumers, using an algorithm and data capture methodology developed by a Princeton statistician. A person can taste a product and use the application to profile it, allowing FlavorWiki to obtain profiles from anywhere in the world.

Their profiling technique is more robust than existing consumer research as they can collect a lot of data at a lower cost. They gather information like time of day, age, demographics, where you consumed the product, and what you consumed before the product as well. Outputs may include: what is the level of sweetness, or bitterness, et cetera, in a juice product? Is that product accepted by the group of people the company is testing it with? How much sweeter does it need to be to be accepted? Is that statistically relevant? What is the difference between products A and B, and which do people prefer, and why?

A “flavor profile” can be created for each person, showing their preferences for different flavors. People’s taste preferences can be grouped into taste archetypes, or personas; the archetypes of people who live and work in East Asia will be different from those who grew up in the American midwest. Archetypes can change depending on age and exposure to new foods, and any one person can fall into different archetypes for different types of foods.

In the past, food companies have mass-produced a single product and marketed that product to all types of consumers. With taste archetype data, companies can better target particular archetypes, and consumers can be matched with food products based on their archetypes. It will be easier to tailor products to specific geographic locations. Companies can still mass-produce, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, catering to specific archetypes of a desired market.

Ultimately, FlavorWiki hopes to construct a “taster community platform” where groups of people with certain profiles are given both new products to try before they are released and incentives to provide feedback on products currently on the market. Likely first adopters may be sent food based on on criteria like “vegan” or “dairy free” to review.

The resulting scenario

The future we imagine is one in which digital flavor profiling technologies empower consumers as well as producers, providing us a greater voice in the development of food products. Cohen notes that successful F&B products can have long-term impacts on the future flavors of other goods. If product development becomes more consumer-centric, we may see changes in the way food trends disseminate. In addition, profiling technologies seem to enable consumers to be better arbiters of flavor. Users claim FlavorWiki causes them to think more about what they’re eating; as people become better at recognizing flavor notes, they can gain more appreciation for the food they consume. Due to heightened awareness of flavor on the consumer side, and awareness of predictive technologies and big data on the producer side, flavor may be viewed as an increasingly personalized experience to tap into.

Source: The Spoon

Nutrient-Rich Diet May Help Heart Failure Patients Avoid Hospital, Death

A varied, quality diet could help prevent hospitalizations and even death among patients with heart failure, a new study suggests.

Researchers investigating nutritional deficiencies found that people with heart failure who lack seven or more micronutrients had nearly double the risk of dying or being hospitalized than those who didn’t have any or only a few deficiencies. The University of Kentucky-led study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“This establishes the importance of nutrition and why it really has to become a higher priority when it comes to treating heart failure,” said lead author Terry Lennie, senior associate dean at the University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing. “Nutritional deficiencies really can put patients at risk, more so than I think we understood or appreciated before.”

The study examined data from 246 patients recruited from three heart failure clinics in Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky. Patients kept detailed diaries of everything they ate and drank for four consecutive days.

Researchers assessed the intake of 17 micronutrients — 11 vitamins and six minerals — from the food diaries. They also kept tabs on patients every month for the following year.

The study found that 44 percent of patients with deficiencies in seven or more micronutrients were hospitalized or died within the year, compared to 25 percent of patients who had no deficiencies or only a few.

Calcium was the most commonly deficient micronutrient in patients’ diets, followed by magnesium, vitamins D and E, zinc and vitamin C.

One reason for the lack of these micronutrients could be “diet monotony,” or the tendency to eat the same foods every day instead of incorporating variety into meals. The study found many patients consumed the same foods for multiple meals across all four days of the food diary. Older adults are more vulnerable to this habit “due to a decreased drive to consume varied foods,” the study said. The average age of patients was 61.

A majority of the participants were overweight or obese, dispelling the notion of a link between a person’s weight and nutritional deficiencies.

“When we see individuals who are overweight, people tend to think they’re well-nourished, and that we only have to worry about people who are underweight as far as nutrition goes,” Lennie said. “But we found no relationship between patients’ body mass index and whether or not they had nutritional deficiencies.”

Dr. Frank Hu said the use of four-day food diaries did a good job capturing patient dietary patterns. But Hu, chairman of the nutrition department at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said he would have liked to have seen a much larger study size.

Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology who was not involved in the research, said the findings demonstrate the role that well-rounded, varied diets can play in keeping heart failure patients alive. He noted the study did not address whether any single nutrient played a more important role than others. It instead looked at overall dietary health.

“It’s very important to pay attention to both nutrition quantity and quality. When we talk about nutrition quality, we’re not talking about just popping a vitamin or mineral supplement,” he said.

“Micronutrients come mostly from plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes,” Hu said, adding that including some animal foods such as moderate amounts of fish and dairy products is also helpful in achieving adequate micronutrient intakes.

“It’s more important to pay attention to the quality of the foods when we try to make sure patients eat a balanced, nutritional meal,” he said.

Source: HealthDay


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