Mushrooms to the Rescue
Bacon used to be a treat, but it is now in many entrees, appetizers and desserts. However, it seems the chef community realizes it is time to move on. According to the October 2 edition of The Wall Street Journal, chefs are turning to other ingredients to make dishes memorable, such as mushrooms. Mushrooms in any form, such as rehydrated with water, stock or wine, can be applied in foods such as rice, soups and braises. As an example, chef Gary Danko “grinds dried shiitakes to a powder, which he uses to flavor breadcrumbs and pasta dough,” says the article. Other ingredients mentioned in the article are: miso paste, smoked salt, pimentón de la Vera and toasted pumpkin seed oil.

More than Apples
Looking for mango, guava, apricot or blackberry fruit flakes? Perhaps a sauce, snack, bakery product or smoothie requires fruit ingredients, such as intermediate moisture apple pieces, or strawberry, peach or pear puree. Tree Top Inc., with its Sabroso brand fruit products and wholly-owned subsidiary Northwest Naturals, now offers a broad range of fruits in a wide variety of formats. From frozen cherries to its Tree Top Fruit Sensations® that contain 60% dried, Pacific Northwest apples super-infused with 40% sweeteners, colors and flavors, fruit-based ingredients for packaged products targeting the foodservice and retail industries are available. Tree Top Inc.,, or

Organic Banana in Several Forms
Organic products provide not only nutrition, but also assurance they are safe from pesticides and other harmful products. Freeze-dried Organic Banana from Van Drunen Farms is made from certified organic bananas. The freeze-drying process retains the banana’s color, shape, flavor and nutritional value and makes it ideal for incorporating into everyday food favorites, such as baby food, hot and cold cereals, smoothie mixes, trail mixes and bakery items, like banana breads or muffins. The products are available in powder, diced and sliced forms. Van Drunen Farms,,

Dried Veggies with 90-day Shelflife
Graceland Fruit produces food ingredients that include infused dried fruits and vegetables that can add value and flavor to baked goods, snack blends, refrigerated meals, packaged mixes, ice cream and much more. Its newer Fridg-N-Fresh® vegetables line offers a 90-day refrigerated shelflife and brings new product opportunities to foodservice main dish meals, such as hearty beef stews, pot roasts, savory pepper steak and shish kebobs, along with tasty side dish casseroles and vegetarian entrees. Graceland Fruit, 800-352-7181,

Foods for Chefs, Restaurants and Caterers
Foodservice professionals need high-quality foods and ingredients that taste good, offer value and can be easily customized and served. Fonterra provides foodservice operators around the world with a range of branded dairy products, as well as core dairy ingredients, including ready-to-serve creams, ready-to-serve beverages, butter, yogurt, milk, cheese, ice cream, desserts and pre-proofed frozen pastry. The company also offers organic foods, as well as a range of certified organic dairy ingredients. Fonterra Cooperative Group,

Innovating with Almonds
Almonds are always “in,” it seems. The Almond Board of California presented an enticing sampling menu for attendees of IFT’s Expo in June. Recipes, which were created by chef John Csukor, included Dreamy Almond Drinking Chocolat--a delicate demitasse of warm drinking chocolate infused with California almond butter and spice, topped with handmade almond marshmallow; California Crab Salad--a classic Northeastern Thai salad presented as a snacking lettuce wrap, enlivened with California almonds; and Almond Kulfi--a traditional Asian-Indian frozen dessert made new with slivers of California almonds and saffron threads. Almond Board of California, 209-549-8262,

Just Like Regular Pasta
Some still prefer white over whole grain, but, when it comes to pasta, they no longer have to choose. ConAgra Mills and J.M. Swank offer consumers whole-grain pastas featuring Ultragrain, a whole-wheat flour that combines the nutrition of whole wheat with the appearance, taste and texture of white flour. Ultragrain Pastas can be used in packaged pastas, meals and kits, soups and frozen entrees. The Ultragrain Pastas have a mild flavor, smooth texture, light color and no brown specks; they are available in penne, macaroni, rotini and spaghetti formats. J.M. Swank, 866-717-9265; ConAgra Mills, 800-851-9618,

Rice in Many Dishes
In a recession, chefs need foods that are tasty, easy to incorporate into several types of dishes and healthy enough for consumers to easily accept them. Rice falls into all these categories. According to the USA Rice Federation’s website, “Rice is an inherently healthy food that is a complex carbohydrate, naturally low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals, and is sodium-, gluten- and cholesterol-free, with just a trace amount of fat. It has no trans fat or saturated fat.” Rice is a good accompaniment, easily absorbs flavors and helps keep food costs down. For rice recipes, visit the USA Rice Federation’s website. USA Rice Federation,

Versatile Vegetarian/Vegan Bases
Stocks can be used to flavor soups, sauces, pasta, rice, gravies and whole-grain dishes, as well as a variety of entrees and side dishes. A line of food bases by Eatem Foods is made with fresh, all-natural Grade A vegetables and features no animal or dairy ingredients, helping chefs in their creative vegetarian and vegan endeavors. The line features chicken flavor base, vegetarian vegetable, beef flavor base, sautéed vegetable (mirepoix), vegetarian gravy prep, low-sodium vegetarian vegetable, roasted garlic and roasted onion. Eatem Foods Co., 800-683-2836,

High Antioxidant Power
Consumers equate blueberries with antioxidant power and readily accept them incorporated into many products. Based on data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity. More recently, there is growing evidence in the ability of blueberries to slow the aging process, including memory loss, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. The compound that appears possibly responsible for this neuron protection, anthocyanin, also gives blueberries their color and might be the key component of blueberries’ anti-inflammatory properties. These findings could become increasingly important as the U.S. population ages. U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, 800-824-6395,

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup (4oz) Sargento® Fancy Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 small onion, chopped
.75  cup slivered almonds, chopped
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
1 loaf French bread, cut into .5-inch slices

1.     Combine mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce in medium bowl. Stir in cheese, onion, almonds and bacon.
2.     Spread bread slices with cheese mixture; place on greased baking sheet.
3. Bake in preheated 400°F oven 8 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.
Source:  Sargento Foods Inc., 800-243-3737,