India Looks to Cash in on Global Jackfruit ‘Superfood’ Craze

From Agence France-Presse . . . . . . . . .

Green, spiky and with a strong, sweet smell, the bulky jackfruit has morphed from a backyard nuisance on India’s south coast into the meat-substitute darling of vegans and vegetarians in the West.

Part of the country’s diet for centuries, jackfruit was so abundant that tonnes of it went to waste every year.

But now India, the world’s biggest producer of jackfruit, is capitalising on its growing popularity as a “superfood” meat alternative – touted by chefs from San Francisco to London and Delhi for its pork-like texture when unripe.

“There are a lot of enquiries from abroad … At the international level, the interest in jackfruit has grown manifold,” said Varghese Tharakkan from his orchard in Kerala’s Thrissur district.

The fruit, which weighs five kilograms on average, has a waxy yellow flesh when ripe and is eaten fresh, or used to make cakes, juices, ice creams and crisps.

When unripe, it is added to curries or fried, minced and sautéed. In the West, shredded jackfruit has become a popular alternative to pulled pork and is even used as a pizza topping.

“People love it,” said Anu Bhambri, who owns a chain of restaurants in the US and India.

“The jackfruit tacos have been a hit at each and every location. The jackfruit cutlet – every table orders it, it’s one of my favourites.”

James Joseph quit his job as a director at Microsoft after spotting Western interest in jackfruit “gaining momentum as a vegan alternative to meat”.

The Covid-19 crisis, Joseph says, has created two spikes in consumer interest.

“Coronavirus caused a fear for chicken and people switched to tender jackfruit. In Kerala, lockdown caused a surge in demand for mature green jackfruit and seeds due to shortage of vegetables due to border restrictions,” he said.

Global interest in veganism was already soaring pre-pandemic, buoyed by movements such as Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary, and with it the business of “alternative meats”.

Concerns about health and the environment – a 2019 UN report suggested adopting more of a plant-based diet could help mitigate climate change – mean consumers are turning to brands such as Impossible and Beyond Meat for plant-based replications of chicken, beef, and pork.

But they are also using substitutes long popular in Asia such as soy-based tofu and tempeh, and wheat derivative seitan, as well as jackfruit.

This boom has meant more and more jackfruit orchards have sprang up in the coastal state.

“You get a hard bite like meat – that’s what is gaining popularity and like meat it absorbs the spices,” comments Joseph.

His firm sells jackfruit flour which can be mixed with or used as an alternative to wheat and rice flour to make anything from burger patties to local classics such as idli.

Joseph worked with Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service to establish any health benefits.

“When we did a nutritional analysis, we found jackfruit as a meal is better than rice and roti (bread) for an average person who wants to control his blood sugar,” he said.

India has one of the highest diabetes rates in the world and is expected to hit around 100 million cases by 2030, according to a study by The Lancet.

As global warming wreaks havoc on agriculture, food researchers say jackfruit could emerge as a nutritious staple crop as it is drought-resistant and requires little maintenance.

Tharakkan has not looked back since he switched from growing rubber to jackfruit on his land, and has a variety that he can cultivate year-round.

“When I cut down my rubber trees everyone thought I had gone crazy. But the same people now come and ask me the secret of my success,” he smiles.

In Tamil Nadu and Kerala alone, demand for jackfruit is now 100 metric tonnes (110 short tons) every day during the peak season yielding a turnover of US$19.8 million a year, said economics professor S. Rajendran of the Gandhigram Rural Institute.

But there is rising competition from countries such as Bangladesh and Thailand.

Jackfruit’s new-found international fame is a massive turnaround for a plant that while used in local dishes, has long been viewed as a poor man’s fruit.

In Kerala, where it is believed to have originated, deriving its name from local word chakka, Tharakkan recalls it was not unusual to see notices in private gardens asking people to take away the fruit for free because they were so plentiful, they would simply rot and attract flies.

And while India’s jackfruit growers – like the wider agriculture sector – have been hit as the nationwide coronavirus lockdown causes a shortage of labour and transport, international demand shows no sign of slowing.

Sujan Sarkar, the Palo Alto-based executive chef of Bhambri’s restaurants, believes even meat-eaters are becoming jackfruit converts.

“It’s not only vegetarians or vegans, even the meat-eaters, they just love it,” he said

Source: SCMP

Steamed Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup half and half cream
confectioners’ sugar

Method

  1. Cream the butter in mixer bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.
  3. Beat in the flour mixture and eggs alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and cream and beat in thoroughly. Turn into a very heavily buttered 1 to 1-1/2-quart metal mold or pyrex dish.
  5. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons butter to grease mold. Place a double thickness of buttered waxed paper over top, then cover with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Tie this tightly with heavy string. Trim paper and foil, leaving only about 1 inch overhang. If mold has a lid, place on top.
  6. Place rack in steamer and add boiling water just to bottom of rack.
  7. Place the mold on the rack. Bring to a boil, then cover with lid. Reduce heat to low and cook at a low boil for 2 hours, adding boiling water occasionally to keep water level just below rack.
  8. Remove mold from steamer. Let rest for about 2 minutes, then remove covers and un-mold.
  9. Dust generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve plain, with whipped cream, a chocolate sauce or Brandy Butter.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: The Creative Cooking Course

Video: The History of OREOS

Who invented the original Oreo? How did the iconic cookie get its name? Are you a twister or a breaker?

Fetch a cold glass of milk because in this episode, we’re tracing the origins of the Oreo. We’ll uncover how a bitter feud pushed Nabisco to unleash a savvy marketing campaign that ultimately made Oreos a household name and America’s favorite cookie.

Watch video at You Tube (4:25 minutes) . . . . .

Insomnia May Forecast Depression, Thinking Problems in Older People

Insomnia may significantly increase the risk that older adults will be unable to shake off depression, researchers say.

For the study, the investigators analyzed data on nearly 600 people over age 60 who visited primary care centers in New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. All had some level of depression.

Compared to patients whose sleep improved, those with worsening sleep problems were about 28 times more likely to be diagnosed with major depression at the end of the 12-month study.

Patients whose sleep worsened also had nearly 12 times the odds of minor depression and were 10% more likely to report having suicidal thoughts, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

The report was recently published online in the journal Sleep.

Compared to patients whose sleep improved, those with persistent, but not worsening, insomnia were more likely to have lasting depression. But their risk was not as high as patients whose sleep got worse.

“These results suggest that, among older adults with depression, insomnia symptoms offer an important clue to their risks for persistent depression and suicidal ideation,” said study senior author Adam Spira, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

“We can’t say that the sleep disturbances we’re seeing are necessarily causing the poor depression outcomes,” he said in a Hopkins news release. “But the results suggest that older adults who are being treated for depression and whose sleep problems are persistent or worsening need further clinical attention.”

Spira said the findings also suggest that treatment of sleep problems should be explored as a way to improve depression symptoms in older adults, as well as poor mental and health outcomes related to disturbed sleep.

Source: HealthDay

Is High Blood Pressure Inevitable? Here’s How to Keep It in Check

Almost every adult will face this health problem as they get older. But knowing how blood pressure might change over a lifetime can give people a better appreciation of why it’s important to keep it in check at any age.

When left uncontrolled or if undetected, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease or other major health problems.

“Preventing damage is possible by keeping blood pressure well controlled,” said Dr. Sandra Taler, a professor of medicine and consultant in the division of nephrology and hypertension at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “If you ignore it, that’s when there’s a much higher risk of complications.”

Nearly half of U.S. adults – an estimated 116 million – have high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to American Heart Association statistics. High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 130 or higher as the top number (systolic) or 80 or higher as the bottom number (diastolic).

The percentage of people in the United States with high blood pressure creeps up with each decade of life. Among women ages 20 to 34, 13% have hypertension; nearly 86% have the condition by their mid-70s. Men see a similar trajectory over that same time, increasing from about 26% to 80%.

“Blood pressure increases with age in Western societies – or really most every society now – is related to the intake of salt,” said Taler, who was a member of the writing group for the current hypertension guidelines from the American College of Cardiology, AHA and other organizations. Reducing the amount of sodium in the diet can help.

Too much salt in the bloodstream pulls water into blood vessels, which in turn increases the volume of blood inside them. An increase in blood pressure can strain vessel walls, speed the buildup of blockages and tire the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump blood.

Other risk factors include older age, having a higher body mass index and race. The prevalence of high blood pressure for black adults in the U.S. is among the highest in the world. Almost 59% of black men and 56% of black women have hypertension, compared to 48% and 41% for white men and women, respectively.

When looking at differences in gender, regardless of race or ethnicity, Taler said blood pressure tends to be higher in men until they reach their 50s, when women start to have slightly higher rates of hypertension.

Research published in January in JAMA Cardiology took a closer look at blood pressure patterns for men and women over the course of a lifetime. The study found that while men tend to have higher blood pressure than women at younger ages, the rate of increase is faster for women than men starting as early as their 20s.

The findings suggest women might be underdiagnosed for high blood pressure, said Dr. Hongwei Ji, the study’s lead author and a clinical investigator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Similar differences were found by race and ethnicity, Ji added.

“When it comes to investigating or treating blood pressure and cardiovascular health, women and men should be compared by different standards,” Ji said. “More importantly, we should definitely pay more attention to controlling early-life blood pressure, especially for women.”

Taler said more research is needed to pinpoint how factors exclusive to women, such as early menopause and oral contraceptives, might contribute to differences.

But no matter someone’s age, race or gender, she offered some familiar recommendations to keep blood pressure in check: limit salty or processed foods, maintain an ideal body weight, exercise regularly and avoid smoking. Some people also may need blood pressure-lowering medications.

Said Taler: “It’s really important for people to understand that high blood pressure is treatable.”

Source: American Heart Association


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