Snack Attack of 2013: Trends and Indulgences

Snack Attack of 2013

Snacks have come to occupy a definite place in the American diet that carries close to as much weight as our structured diets. In many instances, “snacks” really should be thought of more as “substitute meals.”

According to research group Global Industry Analysts Inc., world snack food sales will top a third of a trillion dollars by 2015. “The main factors fueling the market are income levels and consumer perceptions and demographics,” reports the group’s analysts. “The market is highly fragmented and intensely competitive, with an abundance of industry players in all categories from small to large.”

Looking at the two sides of the snack coin, health and indulgence, means different ingredient needs are called into play. Cheese, bacon and spice are the thrust for savory snacks on the indulgence side, and chocolate is the perennial force for sweet snacks. Healthy snacks cast a wider ingredient net when it comes to their constituents.

One of the biggest ingredient trends in snacks, and an ingredient that covers both of the bases outlined above, is nuts. When used in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet, this high energy food can supply more than just taste. Nuts contain the essential linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, dietary fiber, phytochemicals, vitamin E, and an excellent source of protein.

Almonds are one of the most popular tree nuts in America and are sold in about 40 different forms. According to the Almond Board of California, the positive perception of almonds continues to grow among consumers, with this nut outperforming all other nuts by receiving high marks for attributes such as “healthiest,” “crunch appeal” and taste. The board also noted that with all of the dietary research that has been done to date and the promotion of the health benefits of almonds, the general perception of consumers and health professionals now is a very positive one.

“We’ve seen good demand domestically for almonds in snack bars, fiber bars as well as mixed nuts and granola mixes,” says Lori Coburn, director of Hughson Nut Inc., Hughson, Calif. “A specialty ingredient recently developed and generating increasing interest from the food industry is almond bran. Almond bran is 100% almond skin, and so is gluten-free. Because many healthful benefits of almonds are in substances found in the outer skin, almond bran was created to provide a product with these healthful benefits, and without the calories of fat.”

Salt of the Earth

Although the need for lowered sodium in the diets of healthy people is controversial, consumer demand, continued pressure from the self-appointed watchdogs and increased market pressure continue to keep sodium reduction pressure on the food industry. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey, 57% of Americans actively compare sodium in foods and choose the item with the lowest amount.

“We have completed some consumer research over a year ago regarding their perceptions of sea salt,” says Jackie Van Norden, product line manager of food processing for Cargill Inc., Minneapolis. “It was noted that 48% of consumers believe sea salt has less sodium than ‘regular’ salt and 53% believe that it has more taste intensity than ‘regular’ salt. We have seen the trend of adding sea salt to confection items for the past several years. This goes beyond dark chocolate and includes milk chocolate, caramel and baked items as well.”

“One of the factors that impacts how quickly salt dissolves or solubilizes is the particle size,” she continues. “Smaller particles have more surface area and more surface area means more points of contact with the tongue and saliva, resulting in a quicker flavor perception. A larger granule of salt may not fully dissolve before being swallowed; salt that is not fully dissolved before swallowing means it is not fully tasted.”

Sodium reduction has historically been challenging to address in processed snack foods—without negatively impacting taste, functionality and cost. “Nu-Tek Salt Advanced Formula Potassium Chloride makes sodium reduction more cost-effective with the consistent results that manufacturers demand and this product allows for a clean label as well. The patented technology significantly minimizes the bitter flavor traditionally associated with potassium chloride, without needing to add flavors or masking agents – and delivers a salt intensity similar to sodium chloride.”

Tasty trends

While ingredients are distinction lines between health and indulgence, technology tends to work on bridging the two. With that in mind, “air-popped” and “baked” are terms that have appeared with increasing regularity.

Popchips Inc., San Francisco, created a line of plain and flavored all-natural crispy chips using potato flakes and potato starch, and without saturated fat. Flavors include Barbeque, Sour Cream and Onion, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Cheddar, Salt and Pepper, Jalapeño and Parmesan Garlic.

Kettle corn is a sweet-and-salty variety of popcorn typically mixed or seasoned with a light-colored refined sugar, salt and oil. With origins dating to 1776, it was traditionally made in cast iron kettles. The cooking process produces a noticeably sweet outer crust on the popcorn, however constant stirring is required otherwise the sugar will burn.

LesserEvil Brand Snack Co. Wilton, Conn., has two different flavors of kettle corn, Classic Kettle and Black & White, made with chocolate. The snacks balance of salty and sweet to solve that snacking urge without going overboard on the calories. The brand recently added Krinkle Sticks, a puffed potato and vegetable product in four flavors, Original Sea Salt, Veggie, White Cheddar and Sour Cream & Onion.

Two even newer LesserEvil products débuted at the 2012 Natural Products Expo East. Chia Crisps and Chia Pop. “The Chia Crisp is made with black beans and is puffed, not fried. The result is a gluten-free, low fat crisp high in fiber as well as protein,” says Charles Coristine, company CEO. Chia Pop is made with organic, all-natural, gluten-free popcorn.

Shearer’s Foods Inc., Brewster, Ohio, is making its Riceworks line of all-natural whole-grain snack crisps from brown and wild rice. The crisps come in flavors of Sweet Chili, Sea Salt, Salsa Fresca, Tangy BBQ and Parmesan and are a good source of fiber at 2g per serving. They are wheat- and gluten-free, contain 12g whole grain per serving, and no trans fats or cholesterol. Sales of the products have expanded outside of the U.S. and into Canada and Great Britain.

Kellogg Co.’s La Jolla, Calif.-based snack unit Kashi Co. continues to expand selections that run the gamut from bars and soft baked cookies to cereals and chips. Both the cookies and pita crisps are made with a blend of seven whole grains, which allows the company to claim that the products are good sources of fiber. The FDA allows a “good source” of fiber claim if the food contains 2.5-4.9g of fiber per serving.

For example, one serving of Oatmeal Raisin Flax cookies or Zesty Salsa Pita Crisps gives consumers 4g or 5g of dietary fiber, respectively. Furthermore, the cookies contain walnuts, whole flaxseeds, and canola oil, as a means to deliver 600mg of ALA, alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids. Besides the improved textural attributes that the walnuts and flaxseed bring to the cookies, they also allow Kashi to manufacture a value-added product containing ALA, which has been shown in scientific studies to improve human health.

Going all out to hit each hot snack trend, Big Mouth Snack LLC, Boulder, Colo., created Snackle Mouth granola nut clusters in five flavors. “This healthy snack is not a cereal or granola but can best be described as all-natural “super snack” nut clusters,” says John Maggio, CEO and president. “Salty chocolate is our best-selling flavor. We use larger pieces of Kosher sea salt in the mix to give consumers a zing on their tongue.”

Another popular flavor is bacon maple, which debuted last year. The company uses a combination of brown rice syrup and organic blue agave syrups as binders and in a concerted attempt to not use high-fructose corn syrup, another ingredient that has created more controversy than science-based media reportage.

Snack Attack of 2013

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Southern Grocery Shopping

Southern Grocery Cart

It’s easy to throw healthy eating habits out the window when you’re away from home and your regular routine. Andrea D’Ambrosio, RD talks about ways to create a healthy winter routine while staying on a budget.

Plan ahead and stick to a list
Being prepared before you grab your grocery cart will help you avoid impulse purchases. It also gives you time to look at flyers, find sales and clip coupons. Try taking advantage of no-name products and avoiding shopping while you’re hungry.

Shop in season and avoid being wasteful
Buy in-season foods from local farmer’s markets, which is cheaper, and be resourceful with leftovers, using up excess food before it goes to waste, she says.

Consider vegetarian alternatives
If you study your grocery bill, meat products are often among the most expensive items. Consider planning meals with vegetarian alternatives like lentils, beans and soy. Check out vegetarian websites for heart- and budget-healthy meal ideas, she suggests.

Here are 5 friendly foods and the reasons you should add them to your grocery list:

  1. Fresh, seasonal fruit: A favorite snack to boost energy levels between meals if you feel a little hungry (power of carbs) and allows you to benefit from vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  1. Low-fat (1 percent) or non-fat milk: In order to maintain our bone density, we need to consume adequate dairy to receive calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and protein, which are all essential for bone growth and development.
  1. Whole grains: According to the Journal of Nutrition (2011), oats, barley, rice and quinoa all lower risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well contribute to body-weight management and gastrointestinal health. Try buying whole-grain pasta and remember to look for the words “whole grain” on the label.
  1. Almonds: But just a handful a day, and make them unsalted! A portion-controlled (quarter cup) serving of almonds is excellent for lowering cholesterol because of the unsaturated fats, making them a heart-healthy choice. Almonds are high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and are naturally high in fiber and a good source of protein!
  1. Edamame: Green soybeans, made popular in Japanese cuisine but available in grocery stores, add a nice nutritional punch. These tasty soybeans can be added as a side dish, steamed in the pod or consumed as a snack or appetizer. Nutritionally speaking, they are another heart-healthy source of protein, fiber and vitamins.

http://www.thestar.com/specialsections/snowbirds/article/1301135–fill-your-southern-grocery-cart-with-healthy-foods

http://www.dieteticdirections.com/

groc shopp

A Very Merry Holiday

A Very Merry Holiday

There are several times throughout the year when people focus on losing weight — just before their birthday, leading up to a wedding or important event, and a few months prior to bathing suit season.

But there’s usually only one occasion when people forget about losing weight and simply concentrate on not gaining any. And that’s the holidays.

Thanksgiving is long gone, so if you had a few too many slices of Grandma’s pumpkin pie, relax and let it go. There’s no reason to feel guilty!

Instead, look ahead to Christmas. It’s the second time in the span of about 1 month that people will gather for absurd amounts of food, and, most importantly, quality family time.

By Dec. 26, everyone regrets that fourth helping of stuffing, fifth buttered roll and sixth biscotti, no matter how enjoyable they were the day before. To avoid feeling overstuffed prepare a plan beforehand. This will also help shed worries of weight gain and hopefully keep you from closing out 2012 with an extra 10 pounds on your hips.

Just say no….

A lot of holiday foods can be tempting, which is why it’s important to remember the phrase “mind over matter.”

Aunt Ginger may make the most delicious mashed potatoes you’ve ever tasted, so you tend not to realize that they’re loaded with fat and dripping with butter. You think you need to scoop up as many as you can before your rambunctious cousins get to them, but the fact is, the dish will be there next year and for many years to come.

This isn’t the last pan of mashed potatoes on the planet. Think of it that way and it’ll be easier to turn them down.

Also keep in mind that just because everyone around you is stuffing themselves doesn’t mean you need to follow suit.

The key is to eat until you’re satisfied, and not full. Pace yourself because you may tend to eat less! The slower you eat sometimes, the more full your stomach gets quicker. And make sure you listen to your stomach when it feels full…

Learn what’s what…

Something may seem healthful on the surface, but that doesn’t mean that’s truly the case. Sure, that green bean casserole has vegetables, but it also has creamy soup with all-too-high fat and sodium levels.

Try to learn exactly what’s in the food you’re eating so you know whether it’s OK to dive in for seconds.

“Ultimately, just a general education of wellness is always very important for everyone”

Pay attention to things like antioxidants and good fats vs. bad fats. A bowl of almonds, pecans and peanuts will make an excellent pre-meal snack and offers healthful fats at the same time.

A tray of sliced fruits and vegetables provides another convenient appetizer with plenty of health benefits.

“Things with lots of colors — they all have tons of antioxidants in them”

Consider volunteering to do the cooking for your family so you’ll have ultimate control over the nutrition on the table come Christmas Day. Plus this gives Nanny a break from all that cooking too!

Tweak tradition…

Holiday classics don’t have to be eliminated. Just look for ways to make them as nutritious as possible. For example, you can continue your family’s tradition of having a 20-pound turkey as the main dish, but don’t get any fancy ideas about deep frying the bird.

“Baking, broiling and grilling are really the best cooking methods”. Take the skin off the turkey before you eat it to make it even better for you.

Stuffing is also found in many holiday feasts, and it’s another dish that can be altered with ease. Making it from scratch and tossing in some dried cranberries will add fiber. Also, using whole wheat bread is also a healthy tweak to an old family tradition.

“When you’re choosing your foods during the holiday season or making recipes, try to continue to add whole grains to your diet”

Think ahead…

In the future, try to keep up with healthy habits before and after the holiday season. If you stick to normal portions and maintain a nutritious diet on a regular basis, it won’t be hard to stay in control on Christmas.

“Truly, it’s what you do all year round so that one day isn’t going to make a huge difference”

http://www.piercecountyherald.com/event/article/id/49987/group/News/

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