Crossing the Border

Now that Americans seem to enjoy experiencing a greater variety of flavors than ever, it is appropriate that companies have made inventive spices and herbs more readily available. McCormick Whole Mexican Oregano, for example, is said to be stronger in flavor and less sweet than Mediterranean oregano and is widely used in Mexican dishes. It commonly is ground over food by hand, to release more flavor during cooking or at dinner. Now, resources for flavor inspiration

are limitless.

Speaking of flavor inspiration, McCormick has announced the tastes it believes will define 2006: anise, caraway, chai (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper), marjoram, paprika, saffron and sesame.

How Low Can It Go?

Brought to consumers directly from Iowa's soybean farmers is Asoyia Ultra Low Lin Soybean Oil. Linolenic acid is found naturally in all soybean oils and can cause the oil to become stale over time. However, Asoyia is made with 1% linolenic soybeans, resulting in an oil that requires no hydrogenation to maintain a stable shelflife and low transferable taste.

This new technology allows for a healthier and better-tasting cooking oil that keeps fried foods crispier longer. Additionally, it has only 2g of saturated fat per serving, is trans fat-free, and made from non-genetically modified soybeans. It is touted as being the smarter choice in cooking oil.

Convenience is King

After years of being packaged in cans, cartons and large bottles, Campbell's Tomato Juice from Concentrate has jumped on the convenience bandwagon and now is housed in a ready-to-drink 12oz size. It provides 20mg of lycopene antioxidant per serving, and a full day's supply of vitamin C.

Sold in convenience stores, the tomato juice also is pasteurized for premium quality. Not only is the Campbell Soup company providing the rich tomato flavor its consumers have come to love, but it also is attempting to appeal to younger generations and people on the go.

On a New “Trail”

Kraft Foods' Post Grape-Nuts Cereal has become a breakfast staple in many homes throughout the years. A new addition to the healthy classic has been presented in the form of Trail Mix Crunch. This cereal begins with a new nugget that has a lighter crunch than the original, partnered with naturally sweet raisins, toasty oat clusters, almonds, fiber sticks, and a touch of honey for just the right amount of sweetness. It is a hearty source of whole grain, and claims to deliver the same great taste.

Each 1/2-cup serving with a half-cup of fat-free milk has 220 calories, no saturated or trans fat, 5g of dietary fiber, and provides 90% of the daily recommended amount of iron.

Berry Berry Good!

Marking its first fruit-inspired flavor variation, Kellogg offers its Frosted Mini-Wheats Cereal in a Strawberry Delight variety. The taste of sweet strawberries is baked into every bite-sized cereal square and, once consumed, a rich cream flavor emerges. The classic flavor combination can be enjoyed by the entire family.

One bowl of this cereal provides 85% of the recommended daily value of whole grains, and 20% of a consumer's daily fiber needs. The latter may be particularly welcome among consumers, considering Kellogg estimates nine out of 10 Americans fail to get the recommended amount of fiber in their diet.

Global Trends

Breakfast cereals in Europe are becoming more luxurious and exotic, sometimes featuring an ethnic or regional twist to add a premium edge. The muesli segment, in particular, often has had a tropical/Caribbean-style, and France has seen an African-inspired line (back in 2003) called Saveurs d'Afrique from Antartic II. This regional feel is continuing, albeit in a limited way, with the Swiss introduction of Yucatan Crisp from retailer Coop under its more premium Coop Fine Food sub-brand. The new product is a mix of oat and wheat flakes, with added quinoa flakes, amaranth and fruits. The Latin American positioning of this cereal comes through the use of quinoa grains and amaranth seeds, two ancient, protein-rich ingredients grown in the region and originally used by Aztec and Incan civilizations.

It may not be the healthiest of ingredients, but sugar is being made even more attractive to children by flavoring it with banana. New in South Africa from Selati Sugar is Kiddies Shaker Banana Sugar. It is marketed as suitable for sprinkling on cereal, cookies and other foods, or even used to make a banana-flavored drink. On the healthful side, it is rich in vitamin C.

For some time now, pro- and prebiotic ingredients have been moving into more unusual food arenas, offering conveniently improved gut health no matter what diet is followed. The latest example of this is Apis Vital Tomate Frito from United Biscuits in Spain. The sugar-free, fried tomato sauce is said to have a bifidus effect, and is rich in fiber to ensure healthy digestion as a beneficial side effect to a delicious meal.

Tuna is known to be a generally healthy fish, rich in protein, low in fat and calories, and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. In Spain, an even healthier canned tuna claims to help regulate cholesterol. Conservas Isabel de Galicia launched Isabel Oleicol, tuna canned in high-oleic sunflower oil, a monounsaturated fat proven to help increase the levels of “good cholesterol”; it also is fortified with soy isoflavones, which reduce the levels of “bad cholesterol.” This is an interesting product, as the inherently healthy tuna is complemented by the improved oil to offer even more health benefits.