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Top Food Innovations from the 2017 SIAL Show

SIAL Sue

This year marked the 150th anniversary of SIAL – North America’s largest food innovation show! We were there and here’s what caught our eye!

Quinoa still going strong

Making its foray into the baby / toddler food market, Bio-Kinetics introduced an organic Sprouted Whole Grain Quinoa Baby Cereal. Millennial moms will be pleased with the clean ingredient deck (nothing but quinoa). Also in this line-up are sprouted oats and sprouted buckwheat cereal. #GetKidsHookedOnQuinoaEarly

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Building on the convenience trend, France-based Sabarot showcased Le Petit Quinoa, a ready-to-slice roll of quinoa – really! Recognized as a top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award, the product can be sliced, grilled, fried and used in a variety of dishes. #ConvenienceMeetsHealthy

SIAL quinoa loaf2.

The Millennial Market

It was the name of the exhibitor booth – “Millennial Foods Inc.” – that made me stop in my tracks! Quebec-based founder Simon Letendre created a “North Americanized” version of bubble tea. Instead of using tapioca, the tea is made with Mubbles – which stands for “Molecular Bubbles” and are essentially tiny fruit juice bubbles made via a molecular spherification process. Mubbles are packaged in a small container, much like a fruit cup and can also be used in drinks, salads and desserts. #InterestingButALittleTooSweetForMe

Sial mubbles1

Healthy Snacks

Innovation often starts in the home or farm kitchen. This is true for Spokes – air-puffed potato snacks, shaped like bike spokes, with 40 calories per cup and no preservatives. Created by Calgarian #SeniorEntrepreneur Elaine Cadrin, Spokes is geared to millennials. “The millennial mom is our target,” says Mike Cadrin, Senior Sales Director and proud son, “They’re looking for a super clean ingredient deck and want something special and unique.” #LovedTheMangoHabaneroFlavour

SIAL spokes potato chips 3

Another one of our favourite snacks at the SIAL show were these Crunchy Peas – made by Zak’s Organics, a fourth generation family-run farm in the small community of Fir Mountain, Saskatchewan (where the population is under 500). Inspired by Allen Zak’s own kids, the snacks are made from organic whole green peas and available in four different taste profiles with a new #trendingflavour mango habanero launching next month. #GrownInTheCanadianPrairies

Sial Zaks crunchy peas

East Meets West

If you’ve never tasted sea vegetables, Acadian Seaplants wants you to try! Hana Tsunomata is a sea plant that’s cultivated in the east coast. It’s available in a trio of colours: pink to represent Japan’s cherry blossoms; green to represent new life; and yellow to represent the chrysanthemum which is the favourite flower of the Japanese royal family. The product must be rehydrated in water for about eight minutes and can be used to add colour and texture to salads, cold noodles or pasta dishes. Holly Reardon, Brand Strategist for the product says food service is their primary market. #SeaVeggie

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Sweet Stuff

A Quebec-based company, Great Northern Maple, developed Kombucha Syrup. The ingredients are evaporated cane juice, black tea and kefir cultures. Though the product claims to have probiotics, there is no disclosure of the amount. #DidntWinMeOver

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Février 29 was another top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award for it’s fun way to package Maple Syrup. Designed to sit right on the counter, the syrup is packaged in a bag-in-tub container, complete with a spout. And what’s the rationale for the company’s name? February 29 makes every day exceptional, 366 days of the year. #CoolPackaging

SIAL feb 29 maple syrup2

Taking the Grand Prize at this year’s SIAL show was Taj Food’s Saffron Sugar Cubes. According to Sap Hariri, Sales Director for the product, the sugar cubes allow consumers to add flavour and sweetness their teas all at once. The sugar cubes are also available in cinnamon and cardamom flavours. #SweetMeetsSpice

SIAL sugar cubes winner

Book Review – Unmasking Superfoods – by Jennifer Sygo, MSc., RD

It’s not always easy to find a nutrition book that’s easy to read and backed by credible research. But Sygo does just that. In Unmasking Superfoods, Sygo separates the truth from the hype behind some of today’s superfoods such as acai, noni, quinoa and the increasingly popular coconut oil. She also gives a shout out to kiwi, pistachios and mussels, calling them underappreciated superfoods. In another chapter of the book, Sygo offers a sound perspective on beef, eggs, potatoes and other foods which she feels have been given a bad rap.

For each superfood, you’ll learn about the backstory, the nutritional profile, the science-based health impacts, and finally the bottom line. Unmasking Superfoods is literally a mini nutrition encyclopedia for consumers and health professionals alike. It’s a keeper on my bookshelf.

Spring clean your kitchen!

Spring is finally here! So I’m rolling up my sleeves to start cleaning out my kitchen and pantry. Here are 10 foods and ingredients that I ALWAYS have on hand:

1. Brown rice. It contains three times more fibre than white rice, plus it’s a whole grain. Other whole grains in my pantry are quinoa and whole wheat couscous.
2. Cinnamon. I’m a big fan of different spices. Cinnamon adds a wonderful hint of flavour to baked squash and French toast.
3. Healthy oils and margarine. In my pantry, I have different oils – Becel® oil for stir-frying and olive oil for grilling veggies. In my fridge, I have soft non-hydrogenated margarine (Becel® is my family’s favourite) – it’s great for cooking and baking.
4. Red lentils. They don’t need soaking and cook quicker than most other dried legumes.
5. Nuts. Filled with good fats, nuts are so versatile and yummy on their own as a snack. Dry roasted, unsalted almonds, peanuts and walnuts are all great choices.
6. Low-fat milk. To help me get enough calcium and vitamin D, I try to cook with low-fat milk whenever I can – in soups, lattes and even risotto.
7. Low-fat Greek yogurt. I make my own smoothies and love that it’s packed with extra protein.
8. Omega-3 enriched eggs. I’m willing to pay a bit more for the extra nutrition – vitamin D, omega-3 fat and lutein.
9. Tofu. I’ve been eating tofu since I was three years old. It’s my go-to protein on vegetarian nights.
10. Veggies and fruit. Here’s just a list of the 20 veggies and fruit that I have in my kitchen this week: apples, oranges, bananas, berries, pears, grapes, cantaloupe, broccoli, bok choy, butternut squash, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, snap peas, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, kale, mushrooms and zucchini!

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What’s in store for 2014?

Happy New Year! Here’s a line-up of some top food and nutrition trends for the coming year.

Cauliflower. 2013 was the Year of the Vegetable, and the trend continues with cauliflower surpassing kale as this year’s most wanted veggie. What I love about cauliflower is its versatility – you can mash it boil it, roast it and even grill it. My fave recipe these days is quinoa salad with roasted cauliflower, sunflower seeds, diced avocado and avocado oil.

Foraging. Last summer, I was on a wilderness hike where the guide showed us how to identify and pick edible berries and leaves. It was an introduction to foraging! Our country’s backyard is a natural bounty for foraging. Think berries, fiddleheads, wild leeks, dandelion leaves and mushrooms (just make sure you know your mushrooms since some can be poisonous!)

Kañiwa. Say hello to quinoa’s cousin – kañiwa (pronounced “kah-nyee’wah). Also known as “baby quinoa”, kañiwa is a tinier grain than quinoa (ok, technically both are seeds), offers protein and grows in the Andes Mountains too. Cook kañiwa the same way you would quinoa. One difference is that kañiwa doesn’t contain saponins, so you don’t have to rinse it before cooking.

Mashups. It all started with the cronut – the hybrid croissant and donut. What’s next? Reportedly, we can look forward to ramen burgers (buns made from fried ramen noodles), macaroon ice-cream sandwiches and kale coladas!

Spices. On the radar is a range of spices inspired by Asian cuisines. First off is a Japanese “salt and pepper” spice called shichimi togarashi. It’s a blend of seven spices. Another biggie is gochujangi, a Korean condiment made from hot chili paste and fermented soybeans. I can taste the heat already!

Product Review: Catelli Gluten-free Pasta


Although I don’t have celiac disease, I do like to try different gluten-free foods every now and then for variety. Quinoa, rice noodles, brown rice and buckwheat noodles are already staples in my house. A few weeks ago, I was delighted to receive a free sample of Catelli Gluten-free fusilli. I had served different types of gluten-free rice pasta in the past, but the texture just wasn’t a winner with my kids.

This gluten-free fusilli is made from the flour of four grains: white rice, brown rice, corn and quinoa. In 1¼ cup (85 grams) of the dry fusilli, you’ll get 310 calories, 2 grams of fat, 66 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein, 0 sodium, 3 grams of fibre and 6% DV for iron. It’s nutrition profile is similar to regular enriched white pasta except that the gluten-free fusilli is much lower in B vitamins and iron because, like most gluten-free products, Catelli’s gluten-free pasta isn’t made with enriched flours.

There were three cooking times suggested on the package: 7 minutes for very firm; 8 minutes for firm; and 9 minutes for tender. I taste tested the pasta at each stage and must say that they were right on the mark! And what about the taste? Both of my kids gave the product a “thumbs up”, and so did I! Both the taste and texture were just as the package promised – delightful!

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