Featured

Rachael, Lacrosse Co-Captain

Age and school?

I am 17 and I attend Curtis High School.

 

Sport(s) and role (captain, position, etc.)

Girls Lacrosse – Co-Captain, Offense

 

What do you eat to prepare for a game (or race, etc.)?

As a snack, I eat an orange and big handful of nuts like almonds and sunflower seeds about an hour before the game starts.

 

How does proper nutrition help you perform?

Getting proper nutrition before I play really helps me perform both in practice and games because it gives me the energy I need to run up and down the field. Eating the right snack before a game also gives me one less thing to worry about because I can focus on the game and not on stomach aches or feeling tired.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from a coach?

The team always makes fun of our coach for telling us to “Trust the System”. He constantly stresses this motto during the season because if we train hard, listen to directions, and execute like he tells us, we can rely on “the system” to pay off.

 

What advice do you have for other high school athletes about eating and nutrition?

If you “have a lot on your plate” schedule-wise, you need to make sure the food on your actual plate gives you the energy you need to power through it!

 

 

Read more

How Flavor Chemists Make Your Food So Addictively Good

 

By George Dvorsky

If you eat processed foods — which most of us do — there’s a good chance you’ve tasted something that was designed by a flavor chemist. But getting pre-packaged foods to taste exactly the way they do is no easy task. It’s a process that requires everything from supertasting chemists to the sourcing of hundreds of complex ingredients. Here’s how these flavor engineers make you keep coming back for more.

 

The flavor industry

Flavor engineering is a surprisingly secretive multi-billion dollar industry, whose in-house chemists work to create both natural and artificial flavorings that consumers find delicious and appealing. These chemists design various taste experiences by blending aromatic chemicals, essential oils, botanical extracts, essences, and whatever else it takes to create a specific kind of taste.

 

 

Companies like Givaudan and Cargillcreate and manufacturer flavors for a wide variety of foods, beverages, confections, pharmaceuticals (including chewable medications and liquid prescriptions), oral care products (like toothpaste and mouthwash), cosmetics (including lip balm), nutrition products (vitamins and sports gels), and even pet food. And in fact, the general principles they follow are very similar to what’s done in the perfume industry.In addition to creating flavors, they also have to ensure that their products are safe for human consumption (which includes preventing allergic reactions or avoiding toxicity), and that the foods can withstand various compositional changes brought about by cooking, freezing, and other forms of preparation.

 

Moreover, they have to create flavors that don’t just make the end consumers happy — but their clients as well (they are typically outsourced by food manufacturers). Most of all, they also have to help the food companies make huge profits.

 

Flavor profiling

Flavor chemists do more than just mix compounds — they have to be supertasters as well. Many of them attend cooking clinics and follow the work of famous chefs. Moreover, they also have to know the in’s and out’s of taste — and that’s a very complex set of sensory experiences.

 

Indeed, the sense of taste is a multifaceted physiological process. Working in conjunction with our sense of smell, our 100,000 taste buds elicit sensations of sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami (a Japanese word for a pleasant savory taste, but distinct from pure saltiness). The challenge for flavor chemists is to create the perfect mixture of compounds that hit all the right marks.A company like Givaudan, a Swiss firm that employs nearly 9,000 people in 45 countries, has created thousands of flavors that are used in a variety of products. In order to come up with all these tastes, whether it be the mimicry of an existing flavor or something completely new, flavor chemists often work to modify existing aromas and tastes as opposed to creating abstract smells from scratch; they’re basically trying to ‘improve’ upon the original (what is often a requirement in processed or pre-packaged foods). Interestingly, the two most commonly simulated flavors are chicken and strawberry.

 

After finding something they like — say a delicious, ripe orange — flavorists extract the fruit’s flavor molecules for further analysis (either by sourcing the vast scientific literature on the subject, or through lab techniques like gas chromatography and and mass spectrometry). They then go about the process of finding a way to simulate or improve upon the original taste.

 

For example, when designing fruit flavors, they try to create a bursting flavor sensation at the beginning, followed by a finish that doesn’t linger. And fascinatingly, flavorists can create an incredibly diverse array of experiences from a single source; Givaudan has developed 750 flavors of orange, tangerine, and mandarins. Subtle variations include jammy, sweet, floral, seedy, and so on.

 

A little too tasty?

Flavorists also try to create foods that consumers crave. And in fact, in a recent interview with CBS, Givaudan employees did not deny that this is what they’re trying to do — create food addictions. It’s “a good word,” they admitted, and that they’re trying to develop “something that [consumers] want to go back for again and again.”

 

And their work is serious business. Companies consider their formulas to be valuable intellectual property, hence their secretive nature — not to mention the fact that most food manufacturers would rather not have it known that most of their processed foods are flavored with a cornucopia of chemicals.

 

Mmmmm, isoamylacetate

And indeed, flavor chemists use a variety of compounds to create their formulas. A typical lab uses of 2,000 chemicals and 500 natural flavors — and it can take anywhere from 70 to 80 tries to get the flavor just right. Some formulas require upwards of hundreds of different notes.

 

 

When trying to simulate the taste of chocolate, for example, flavorists will use substancesthat individually taste and smell like potato chips, cooked meat, peaches, raw beef fat, cooked cabbage, human sweat, dirt and other distinctly un-chocolate-like aromas. And in fact, in some cases it can get quite weird; some strawberry and vanilla flavors are derived from the gland found in a beaver’s backside.Once the compounds have been selected, the chemists use a “flavor profile” to help them architect the taste they’re trying to simulate. This profile is typically constructed with mathematical assistance, allowing the chemists to make the most minutest of adjustments — what’s typically measured in parts per million (ppm). They also need to be sensitive to how all the various chemicals might react to one another, and whether the mixtures will lend themselves to cooking.

 

And in terms of the chemicals themselves, it’s a veritable rainbow of possibilities.

 

The various compounds used include metabolites like acids, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, esters, sulfur compounds, furans, phenols, terpenes, epoxides, and lactones — many of which are derived from various biosynthetic pathways.

 

Another common chemical that’s used is ethyl butyrate. It’s one of 30 compounds that are typically found in orange juice. This chemical, along with acetaldehyde, is what gives OJ its succulent quality. Other chemicals include butyric acid artificial and butyric acid natural. Isoamylacetate is typically used to mimic the taste of a banana, while methoxyfuraneol is used to simulate strawberries.

 

The list of chemicals that are used to flavor a single food can get quite extensive. It can take upwards of 300 individual compounds to endow a food with the flavor associated with a ripe strawberry and 400 volatiles to give a food the aroma of tomatoes. The concentration of these compounds will vary from food to food and can be measured between 10 to 100 ppm — and even as sparse as one part per billion.

 

Mmmm, food never tasted so complicated.

 

Other sources: CBS, bls.gov, Scienceagogo, Discovery.

 


Read more

Fruit Kabobs

Eating fruit before you play sports boosts endurance.  Delicious fruit kabobs for breakfast are a healthy way to get your day started!

 

    • 2 tablespoons natural applesauce
    • ¼ cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 cup fresh fruit chunks (melon, apples, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, grapes)
    • Skewers or toothpicks

Directions:
In a small bowl, stir together applesauce, yogurt and cinnamon.
Place fruit chunks on skewers to form fruit kebabs.
Dip kebab in yogurt mixture and enjoy!

Read more

Herbs for the Common Cold

The herbalist founders of a new organic skincare line offer remedies for what ails you.

 

Earth Tu Face lotions, serums and scrubs are good enough to eat — literally. Created by two Bay area herbalists, Sarah Buscho and Marina Storm, the philosophy behind the all-natural beauty line is ‘never put on your skin what you wouldn’t put in your mouth.’ Buscho and Storm stand firmly behind that statement, developing the products with plants they grew in their garden in San Rafael, California. All of the ingredients are FDA-approved ‘food grade organic,’ so they are completely safe to slather all over your skin (and technically safe to consume, too.) Even the chic packaging is 100% compostable.

After studying holistic health and whipping up their own salves for years, the botanical-obsessed pair knows what really works. “We use herbs to heal in every aspect of our lives, whether it’s skincare, cooking, aromatherapy or straight medicine,” says Busco. And now that they’ve launched Earth Tu Face, we can all benefit as well. At least from the outside in. Should you need to be healed from the inside out, we tapped into Buscho and Storm’s expertise to get their herbal prescriptions for common maladies.

 

ginger, earth tu face

1) To fend off colds and flus:

“Grate a few spoonfuls of fresh ginger and chop up a whole lemon to make a hot tea. Ginger is super high in antioxidants and helps your body sweat out a fever, increasing your circulation to help your body fight off illness. Lemon is alkalizing and high in vitamin C.”
– Sarah

mint, earth tu face

2) To calm an upset stomach:

“Peppermint works its way through your whole digestive system, soothing your intestines and colon. It’s one of the best herbs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, too. Use two to three teaspoons of dried peppermint or a handful of fresh to make tea.” –Sarah

cayenne pepper, earth tu face

3) To alleviate sore muscles:

“Cayenne pepper is a warming circulatory stimulant and potent anti-inflammatory. Its main active constituent, capsaicin, has been shown to inhibit pain transmitters. Combine a few dashes with fresh grated ginger, which lubricates your muscle tissues and relaxes cramping. To make tea, bring to a low boil, let everything simmer for 10-15 minutes, then strain.” –Marina

california poppy, earth tu face

4) To minimize stress:

“California poppy is a premiere local remedy — use it as a tincture. It’s very calming to the body’s nerves and will help you de-stress. If you have trouble finding it, make a tea with lavender, chamomile and wild oats. It will nourish and relax you all day long.” –Marina

nettles, earth tu face

5) To rev your energy:

“Nettles are abundant plants that are super nourishing. When you take them on a daily basis, you’re adding a lot of minerals that will make your body stronger. Drinking them in a tea with wild oats will circulate more blood to the brain so it really wakes you up.” – Marina

tumeric, earth tu face

6) To decrease inflammation:

“Turmeric is the best anti-inflammation plant that I have found. It’s gentle on the stomach and the liver and [has] anti-cancer [properties]. Cook with the powder by adding it into your soups and stews, or take the capsules.”
–Sarah

 

 

Read more

Food Pop Quiz

[mtouchquiz 2 showanswers=’now’ ]

Read more