What’s Inside the Plant-based Beyond Burger?

Kate Taylor wrote . . . . . . . . .

Beyond Meat reached its $1 billion-plus unicorn valuation in large part because of the success of its Beyond Burger in replicating the taste and feel of chowing down on a hamburger.

However, the plant-based burger uses more than a few veggies to re-create the taste of a classic, bleeding burger.

“If you look at it long enough from different angles and as much as you possibly can, you begin to understand that meat is knowable and material,” Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown told Business Insider on Thursday following the company’s explosive initial public offering.

“It’s essentially these five things. It’s amino acids, lipids, trace minerals, trace vitamins, and water,” Brown continued. “None of those are exclusively the animal. They’re all present in the plant kingdom.”

With Beyond Meat, Brown has worked to find these five elements in plants and use them to perfectly replicate the texture, taste, and experience of eating meat.

For the company’s most famous product, the Beyond Burger, this is no easy feat, requiring 22 ingredients.

Here’s what’s in a Beyond Burger:

  • Water
  • Pea protein isolate
  • Expeller-pressed canola oil
  • Refined coconut oil
  • Cellulose from bamboo
  • Methylcellulose
  • Potato starch
  • Natural flavor
  • Maltodextrin
  • Yeast extract
  • Salt
  • Sunflower oil
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Dried yeast
  • Gum arabic
  • Citrus extract (to protect quality)
  • Ascorbic acid (to maintain color)
  • Beet juice extract (for color)
  • Acetic acid
  • Succinic acid
  • Modified food starch
  • Annatto (for color)

According to Brown, this recipe isn’t set in stone, as Beyond Meat is continuing to innovate and improve products.

Ultimately, Beyond Meat wants to create the “perfect replication” of meat products. Right now, Brown said, the company is about 70% of the way there.

“More so than worrying about competition, I worry about how we make the products that we currently have on the shelf obsolete by improving them,” Brown said.

Source: Business Insider

Mediterranean-style Chicken with Lemons and Herbs


1 cleaned chicken, about 48 oz
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1-1/2 oz softened butter
1 red chili
1 tbsp olive oil


3 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cups orange juice
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon liqueur, e.g. Limoncello
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon


  1. Cut the chicken into 12 pieces.
  2. Peel and finely dice the garlic. Halve the chili, remove the stalk, seeds and inner membranes and finely chop the flesh.
  3. Mix the garlic, salt, butter and chili in a bowl. Rub the chicken pieces on all sides with the mixture.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a flameproof roasting dish and quickly saute the chicken pieces.
  5. Put into a preheated oven 375°F (190°C) and roast for about 40-45 minutes, basting frequently with the roasting juices.
  6. Put the sauce ingredients into a large, deep bowl and mix well. Add the hot, roast chicken pieces and turn to coat in the sauce.
  7. Serve with ciabatta.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Mediterranean Cuisine

In Pictures: Sushi Pizza

Mangosteen – An Asian Fruit Fit for a Queen

Kat Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Imagine a fruit that tastes like a cross between a peach and a strawberry, has sectional pieces like a tangerine, and is juicy like lychee. While it might sound like a creation straight out of the brain of Willy Wonka, such a thing actually exists. It’s called the mangosteen — a fleshy fruit native to Southeast Asia with a flavor best described as transcendent.

In Thailand, mangosteen is known as the queen of fruit (next to his majesty the durian, which is considered king) for its surprisingly complex flavor, nutritional value, and medicinal properties passed down through local Thai wisdom. It’s a dark purple fruit, small and round like a baseball that — when squeezed — cracks open to reveal pearls of white, delicate flesh. It’s also said that back in the late 1800s, Queen Victoria proclaimed she would grant knighthood to any person who could return to England with fresh mangosteens in tow (no one was ever able to). Funny enough, the Thai word for mangosteen, mangkhut, is very similar to the Thai word for crown, or mongkrut.

Although mangosteens are believed to have originated from the Sunda Islands of Indonesia, the flourishing trees were allegedly domesticated in Thailand and Myanmar. Today, the plant grows throughout Southeast Asia in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even southwest India — with Thailand being the largest exporter of the purple fruit.

Mangosteen is temperamental. It only thrives in very specific climates and attempts to bring the tree to similar environments — Florida, California, and Hawaii — haven’t been very successful. The fruit also doesn’t fare well in transport; it spoils quickly, and is therefore highly marked up when sold in non-local spaces. In fact, Asian markets in New York and Los Angeles sell mangosteens for upwards of $18 per pound (compared to Thailand where you can get a kilogram, which is a little over two pounds, for about $3).

That being said, it’s extremely rare to find fresh mangosteens stateside. Up until 2007, it was illegal to import mangosteens for fear of introducing Asian fruit flies, a cumbersome insect, to the US. Imported mangosteen have to go through a process of irradiation — exposure to ionizing radiation — to ensure the fruits are safe for consumption and free from any pests. Cravings for mangosteen had to be satiated with smuggled fruit and invitations to the Thai consulate. In addition to that, mangosteen season isn’t particularly long: it extends from April to July, and the journey to America can sometimes be too lengthy for a fruit that is delicate and spoils quickly.

Because of mangosteen’s scarcity, the fruit has acquired a cult-like following. A Facebook fan page for mangosteen has accrued almost 8,000 likes, with fans sharing health-related articles and cries of passion with fellow mangosteen enthusiasts. One of Thailand’s largest music festivals, the Mangosteen Music Festival, is named after the beloved fruit. Even fruit tourists make the journey to Southeast Asia to get a taste; New York Times writer, R. W. Apple Jr., wrote that, “No other fruit, for [him], is so thrillingly, intoxicatingly luscious… with so precise a balance of acid and sugar, as a ripe mangosteen.”

However, there are still year round opportunities to consume mangosteen — as long as you don’t need to have them fresh. Canned mangosteen can be found at most East Asian grocery stores and can even be purchased online through Amazon. Mangosteen juice is also packaged and sold — in bottles, cartons, and even cold-pressed — both on the internet and through health shops like GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe. Even Snapple has their own bottled version of peach mangosteen juice.

If you’ve never tried mangosteen before, the flavor alone warrants a trip to Southeast Asia. The soft, white flesh melts in the mouth. It’s sweet but not cloying. It’s tangy, but won’t make your lips pucker. Mangosteen is a balance of flavor and texture — a fruit fit for a queen.

Source: Thrillist

Biomarker for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Identified

Hanae Armitage wrote . . . . . . . . .

Stanford scientists devised a blood-based test that accurately identified people with chronic fatigue syndrome, a new study reports.

People suffering from a debilitating and often discounted disease known as chronic fatigue syndrome may soon have something they’ve been seeking for decades: scientific proof of their ailment.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have created a blood test that can flag the disease, which currently lacks a standard, reliable diagnostic test.

“Too often, this disease is categorized as imaginary,” said Ron Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics. When individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome seek help from a doctor, they may undergo a series of tests that check liver, kidney and heart function, as well as blood and immune cell counts, Davis said. “All these different tests would normally guide the doctor toward one illness or another, but for chronic fatigue syndrome patients, the results all come back normal,” he said.

The problem, he said, is that they’re not looking deep enough. Now, Davis; Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD, a former Stanford research associate; and their colleagues have devised a blood-based test that successfully identified participants in a study with chronic fatigue syndrome. The test, which is still in a pilot phase, is based on how a person’s immune cells respond to stress. With blood samples from 40 people — 20 with chronic fatigue syndrome and 20 without — the test yielded precise results, accurately flagging all chronic fatigue syndrome patients and none of the healthy individuals.

The diagnostic platform could even help identify possible drugs to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. By exposing the participants’ blood samples to drug candidates and rerunning the diagnostic test, the scientists could potentially see whether the drug improved the immune cells’ response. Already, the team is using the platform to screen for potential drugs they hope can help people with chronic fatigue syndrome down the line.

A paper describing the research findings was published online April 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Davis is the senior author. Esfandyarpour, who is now on the faculty of the University of California-Irvine, is the lead author.

Providing the proof

The diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, when it actually is diagnosed, is based on symptoms — exhaustion, sensitivity to light and unexplained pain, among other things — and it comes only after other disease possibilities have been eliminated. It is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis and designated by the acronym ME/CFS. It’s estimated that 2 million people in the United States have chronic fatigue syndrome, but that’s a rough guess, Davis said, and it’s likely much higher.

For Davis, the quest to find scientific evidence of the malady is personal. It comes from a desire to help his son, who has suffered from ME/CFS for about a decade. In fact, it was a biological clue that Davis first spotted in his son that led him and Esfandyarpour to develop the new diagnostic tool.

The approach, of which Esfandyarpour led the development, employs a “nanoelectronic assay,” which is a test that measures changes in miniscule amounts of energy as a proxy for the health of immune cells and blood plasma. The diagnostic technology contains thousands of electrodes that create an electrical current, as well as chambers to hold simplified blood samples composed of immune cells and plasma. Inside the chambers, the immune cells and plasma interfere with the current, changing its flow from one end to another. The change in electrical activity is directly correlated with the health of the sample.

The idea is to stress the samples from both healthy and ill patients using salt, and then compare how each sample affects the flow of the electrical current. Changes in the current indicate changes in the cell: the bigger the change in current, the bigger the change on a cellular level. A big change is not a good thing; it’s a sign that the cells and plasma are flailing under stress and incapable of processing it properly. All of the blood samples from ME/CFS patients created a clear spike in the test, whereas those from healthy controls returned data that was on a relatively even keel.

“We don’t know exactly why the cells and plasma are acting this way, or even what they’re doing,” Davis said. “But there is scientific evidence that this disease is not a fabrication of a patient’s mind. We clearly see a difference in the way healthy and chronic fatigue syndrome immune cells process stress.” Now, Esfandyarpour and Davis are expanding their work to confirm the findings in a larger cohort of participants. Recruitment for the larger project, which aims to further confirm the success of the diagnostic test, is being done on a rolling basis. Those who are interested in participating should contact clinical research coordinator Anna Okumu.

Doubling up

In addition to diagnosing ME/CFS, the researchers are also harnessing the platform to screen for drug-based treatments, since currently the options are slim. “Using the nanoelectronics assay, we can add controlled doses of many different potentially therapeutic drugs to the patient’s blood samples and run the diagnostic test again,” Esfandyarpour said.

If the blood samples taken from those with ME/CFS still respond poorly to stress and generate a spike in electrical current, then the drug likely didn’t work. If, however, a drug seems to mitigate the jump in electrical activity, that could mean it is helping the immune cells and plasma better process stress. So far, the team has already found a candidate drug that seems to restore healthy function to immune cells and plasma when tested in the assay. The drug, while successful in the assay, is not currently being used in people with ME/CFS, but Davis and Esfandyarpour are hopeful that they can test their finding in a clinical trial in the future.

All of the drugs being tested are either already approved by the Food and Drug Administration or will soon be broadly accessible to the public, which is key to fast access and dissemination should any of these compounds pan out.

Source: Stanford School of Medicine

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