Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a Very Prosperous New Year

From the staff at Capico International

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wine flour promises taste, health benefits to bakers

By Lorraine Heller Food Navigator USA

- A new wine flour manufactured from grape skins claims to allow manufacturers of baked goods, pasta and snacks to naturally fortify their products with healthy fatty acids and fiber.

Manufactured from a by-product of the wine industry, the flour is also marketed as containing high levels of iron and calcium, as well as the heart-healthy polyphenol resveratrol. And according to its Canadian manufacturer Vinifera For Life, the ingredient has already attracted significant interest after its launch on the market earlier this year.

The product is obtained using a patent-pending drying process, applied to the grape pomace – or what is left of the fruit after it has been crushed for wine-making. Primarily made up of grape skins, together with a small amount of seeds, this by-product is dried, sifted and ground into a flour.

This can then be used in low concentrations as an added ingredient in any application where flour is normally used, said Vinifera For Life chief executive officer Mark Walpole.

For example, in bakery goods, such as breads, crackers, bagels or muffins, the wine flour is used at a concentration of 7-10 percent. In pasta it can be used at a concentration of up to 25 percent. And if the flour is ground finer, it can be incorporated into energy bars or even drinks, such as protein beverages or tea.

According to Walpole, a lifelong chef who grew up in a wine region and developed the flour through a series of experimentations, at these concentrations, the ingredient has no impact on a product's texture.

However, the wine flour does have a significant affect on taste and color, bringing a deep burgundy color to products, and a distinct, enhanced taste but no acidic aftertaste.

“The ingredient has three main marketing angles: it's nutrient profile, it's connection with health through the association with the health benefits of red wine, and the sheer romance of having a Cabernet bread or a Champagne cracker,” Walpole told FoodNavigator-USA.com.

Indeed, according to tests carried out by the Guelph Food Technology Center, when baked into a bread product the flour ingredient delivered 52g of fiber per 100g, as well as 70 percent of the recommended daily value of calcium and 710 percent of iron. It also delivered 4g of omega-6 and 0.2g of omega-3.

And market research conducted by the University of Waterloo's Innovation Center revealed that market acceptance for products made with the wine flour was “high” , according to the ingredient's distributors PMA International.

However, the ingredient does not come cheap as a result of the expense involved in its production process. The flour is currently priced at around CA$12-$15 per kilo, depending on where it is sold.

For the time being, all sales have been concentrated in Canada, but Walpole said he soon plans to move sales into the US, Australia and Europe.

Europe is the intended big target. That's the market where they eat more bread, and I believe the product will be accepted with less effort and a shorter marketing campaign,” said Walpole.

“But at the start it's a slow process. This is a novel ingredient, there's no benchmark to place it against, so the road's been a tough one. Everyone is watching to see how we penetrate the market and what kind of success we have.”

For the time being, Vinifera For Life already has one major global bakery supplier interested in its product. According to Walpole, the firm has concluded its testing and is developing a market for its products. In addition, Caravan Foods is expected to make purchases of the ingredient by the end of this year, while Canadian grocery store Sobeys this month is set to launch a bread product made with the ingredient.

Once these products are commercialized, said Walpole, “all the fence sitters will be jumping in line”.

Vinifera For Life estimates its total production of the wine flour this year will be around 200 tons. And although next year's production will depend on market acceptability, the firm expects to churn out three times as much in 2007.

And once the company has built up a production infrastructure and has developed a market for its product, it expects to start applying its process to other flour products. These will include flours made from asparagus, peppers, egg plant, leak, carrot, parsley and green peas.

For more information on the wine flour, click here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Resveratrol for Proper Cardiovascular Function
Grape Expectations:
To Your Health!

Thanks to the human heart by which we live . . .
- Wordsworth,
Intimations of Immortality

Will the "real" active ingredient in wine - the one most responsible for the French Paradox - stand up and take a bow? The French Paradox is the fact that the French, who eat relatively high-fat diets, do not die more of heart disease. For sure, we've heard a lot about certain ingredients of wine, including activin and pycnogenol, over the last few years, each one claiming to be the answer. A feud has even broken out over ownership of the name pycnogenol. Grapes of wrath?

A recent article in the British Medical Journal attempted to drive a grape stake into the heart of the paradox.1 The authors argued that the French haven't always eaten as much fat as they do now and that soon their heart disease rate will catch up with those of other countries. Also, they claimed that drinking red wine doesn't make much difference.

Other researchers have countered with new mortality data showing that other southern European countries, including Spain, Italy, and Switzerland, have low cardiovascular disease also.2 Therefore, the interesting question is not why mortality from heart disease is low in France, but why heart disease is less prevalent in southern than northern Europe.

In a commentary on this controversy, Drs. Meir Stampfer and Eric Rimm of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School write that there have been many research reports on the benefits of wine and other alcoholic beverages on cardiovascular health.3 So it is difficult to discount the effect of wine in a country that has the highest per capita consumption of it in the world.

Given that the consumption of wine (and other alcoholic beverages) is a double-edged sword - too much can result in other serious problems, such as liver disease - the questions are raised: Aside from the benefits of alcohol, what are the healthful active ingredients in wine (if any), and what is the evidence for their separate use as dietary supplements? Unfortunately, when the hard data are examined, there are few scientific studies that have progressed beyond the lab, so we are left with little more than hypotheses, or another route of examination.

Most of the active ingredients in wine are believed to fall into a category of compounds called polyphenols, which tend to be antioxidants. They include resveratrol (pronounced rez-VEER-a-troll), catechin, epicatechin, and a variety of proanthocyanidins. Of these, resveratrol is present mainly in grape
skins, while the proanthocyanidins are present in the seeds. Polyphenols are also found in green tea (for which there is much epidemiological data on anticancer benefits4) and other teas, as well as certain fruits and vegetables. While all of these are surmised to be helpful for the heart as well, there are a number of cautions regarding the polyphenols extracted from the seeds. The principal argument is that fruit seeds are the source of mutagens and other toxic substances that have not traditionally been used for food and should not be consumed. Studies have shown that grape-seed extracts can be mutagenic and embryotoxic.5 Moreover, grape-seed extracts, in particular, have been found to potentiate mutagenic activity.6 This has not been found to be true for grape-skin extracts.

Of all the active substances in wine, an excellent case can be made for resveratrol, a member of a subgroup of polyphenols known as phytoalexins.
7 Resveratrol is an antioxidant that has been found to decrease the "stickiness" of blood platelets and to help blood vessels remain open and flexible.8 It has been identified in more than 70 plant species, including currants and peanuts, and is produced especially during times of environmental stress, such as adverse weather or attack by insects or pathogens. Grapes are a particularly good source, where resveratrol is found in the skins but not the fruit. This is one reason why red wines have more of it - they are made by prolonged contact with the skins, which impart the dark color. Fresh grape skin contains about 50 to 100 micrograms of resveratrol per gram, while red wine concentrations range from 1.5 to 3 milligrams per liter.

A series of laboratory experiments suggest that the consumption of red wine, containing resveratrol, may reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease.
9 Other studies have demonstrated that resveratrol is an effective antioxidant.10 It inhibits oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the "bad" cholesterol),11 reduces the damage that LDL can do,12 and protects cells from lipid oxidation in general.13 Among resveratrol's virtues is that it's water-soluble as well as fat-soluble.10 This gives it a broader spectrum of action than those of other well-known antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, which are limited to aqueous or fatty tissues, respectively. Another likely factor in resveratrol's prevention of atherosclerosis is its ability to help reduce platelet aggregation.14

Adding support to the cardiovascular benefits of resveratrol is a report that a traditional Ayurvedic medicine from India, known for its cardiotonic value, is derived from Vitis vinifera L., the species of grape from which the world's great wines are produced.15 When the medicine, darakchasava, was analyzed, it was shown to have high levels of polyphenols such as resveratrol.

A recent study has shown that resveratrol may help prevent cancer.
7 It was effective during all three phases of the cancer process - initiation, promotion, and progression - through its antioxidant and antimutagenic activities. Resveratrol also demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects and inhibited the activity of enzymes that promote carcinogenesis. Finally, it inhibited the development of pretumorous lesions in mouse mammary glands treated with a carcinogen in culture, and it inhibited tumor formation in mice. No toxic effects were observed. According to the lead researcher of the study group, "Of all the plants we've tested for cancer chemopreventive activity and all the compounds we've seen, this one has the greatest promise."

Resveratrol has also been shown to inhibit an enzyme needed for DNA synthesis in proliferating cells.16 Especially encouraging is a study showing that, despite resveratrol's anticancer potential, it is minimally toxic to blood-forming cells.17

In another study, resveratrol was found to inhibit the replication of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 in a dose-dependent, reversible manner.
18 It was found to work by targeting an early event in the virus's replication cycle. This would make it useful if employed during the first hour of cell infection, and for up to six hours thereafter, perhaps nine at the most. In brain tissue, resveratrol was also found to inhibit the reactivation of viruses from infected neurons, as well as to limit viral growth.

Research on the chemical stability of resveratrol has shown it to be amazingly stable.
19 When grape skins or pomace (the pulpy material left after the juice is pressed from the grapes) was stored for long periods of time without protection from temperature and humidity changes, researchers could find little deterioration of the resveratrol. This result was totally unexpected, given that other polyphenols, including the proanthocyanidins (from grape seeds) are unstable under similar conditions.

Also found in wine is quercetin, a well-studied bioflavonoid whose antioxidant properties may be complementary to those of resveratrol.20 Quercetin too is known to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by helping to reduce LDL oxidation and platelet aggregation.21 Yet another safe polyphenol, found in green tea and supported by widespread use and extensive epidemiological research, is epigallocatechin gallate, which is associated with low cancer rates.22 Green tea itself is an acknowledged cancer preventive in Japan.23

The French have an expression, fin-de-siècle, which translates as the "end of a century" (the nineteenth century, as the term is used), a transition period signaling the end of an era. In light of what we know about the French Paradox, perhaps it is time to say vin-de-siècle. The era of skepticism regarding the health benefits of wine is over. Long live polyphenols - especially those derived from skins!


1. Law M, Wald N. Why heart disease mortality is low in France: the time lag explanation. BMJ 1999 May 29;318:1471-6.

2. Ducimetière P, Lang T, Amouyel P, Arveiler D, Ferrières J, Marrugat J, Sentí M, Glaser JH. Why mortality from heart disease is low in France. BMJ 2000;320:249.

3. Stampfer M, Rimm E. Commentary: Alcohol and other dietary factors may be important. BMJ 1999 May 29;318:1476-7.

4. Kuroda Y, Hara Y. Antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic activity of tea polyphenols. Mutat Res 1999 Jan;436(1):69-97.

5. Grigorashvili GZ, Podorozhanskaia IZ. Embryotoxic effect of a protein concentrate from grape seeds. Gig Sanit 1984 Jan;(1):75-6.

6. Catterall F, Souquet JM, Cheynier V, de Pascual-Teresa S, Santos-Buelga C, Clifford MN, Ioannides C. Differential modulation of the genotoxicity of food carcinogens by naturally occurring monomeric and dimeric polyphenolics. Environ Mol Mutagen 2000;35(2):86-98.

7. Jang M, Cai L, Udeani GO, Slowing KV, Thomas CF, Beecher CWW, Fong HHS, Farnsworth NR, Kinghorn AD, Mehta RG, Moon RC, Pezzuto JM. Cancer chemopreventive activity of resveratrol, a natural product derived from grapes. Science 1997;10:218-21.

8. Bertelli AA, Giovanninni L, Bernini W, et al. Antiplatelet activity of cis-resveratrol. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996;22(2):61-3.

9. Ray PS, Maulik G, Cordis GA, Bertelli AA, Bertelli A, Das DK. The red wine antioxidant resveratrol protects isolated rat hearts from ischemia reperfusion injury. Free Radic Biol Med 1999 Jul;27(1-2):160-9.

10. Martinez J, Moreno JJ. Effect of resveratrol, a natural polyphenolic compound, on reactive oxygen species and prostaglandin production. Biochem Pharmacol 2000 Apr 1;59(7):865-70.

11. Belguendouz L, Fremont L, Gozzelino MT. Interaction of trans-resveratrol with plasma lipoproteins. Biochem Pharmacol 1998 Mar 15;55(6):811-6.

12. Draczynska-Lusiak B, Doung A, Sun AY. Oxidized lipoproteins may play a role in neuronal cell death in Alzheimer disease. Mol Chem Neuropathol 1998 Feb;33(2):139-48.

13. Zini R, Morin C, Bertelli A, Bertelli AA, Tillement JP. Effects of resveratrol on the rat brain respiratory chain. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1999;25(2-3):87-97.

14. Dobrydneva Y, Williams RL, Blackmore PF. Trans-resveratrol inhibits calcium influx in thrombin-stimulated human platelets. Br J Pharmacol 1999 Sep;128(1):149-57.

15. Paul B, Masih I, Deopujari J, Charpentier C. Occurrence of resveratrol and pterostilbene in age-old darakchasava, an Ayurvedic medicine from India. J Ethnopharmacol 1999 Dec 15;68(1-3):71-6.

16. Fontecave M, et al. Resveratrol, a remarkable inhibitor of ribonucleotide reductase. FEBS Lett 1998;421:277-9.

17. Clement MV, et al. Chemopreventive agent resveratrol, a natural product derived from grapes, triggers CD95 signaling-dependent apoptosis in human tumor cells. Blood 1998;92:996-1002.

18. Docherty JJ, Fu MM, Stiffler BS, Limperos RJ, Pokabla CM, DeLucia AL. Resveratrol inhibition of herpes simplex virus replication. Antiviral Res 1999 Oct;43(3):145-55.

19. Bertelli AA, Gozzini A, Stradi R, Stella S, Bertelli. Stability of resveratrol over time and in the various stages of grape transformation. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1998;24(4):207-11.

20. Constant J. Alcohol, ischemic heart disease, and the French paradox. Coron Artery Dis 1997 Oct;8(10):645-9.

21. Hayek T, Fuhrman B, Vaya J, Rosenblat M, Belinky P, Coleman R, Elis A, Aviram M. Reduced progression of atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice following consumption of red wine, or its polyphenols quercetin or catechin, is associated with reduced susceptibility of LDL to oxidation and aggregation. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 1997 Nov;17(11):2744-52.

22. Weisburger JH. Mechanisms of action of antioxidants as exemplified in vegetables, tomatoes and tea. Food Chem Toxicol 1999 Sep-Oct;37(9-10):943-8.

23. Fujiki H, Suganuma M, Okabe S, Sueoka E, Suga K, Imai K, Nakachi K. A new concept of tumor promotion by tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and cancer preventive agents (-)-epigallocatechin gallate and green tea - a review. Cancer Detect Prev 2000;24(1):91-9.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Great Cheese Cake A Great Company

Alicia Patisserie Istanbul

They are located in Istanbul and besides the best cheese cake they make an array of fine products using the best ingredients available.

There product ranges from chocolate brownies to apple pie, éclairs to tiramisu.

Sami Memi is the owner and has been trained in Paris and our company had the good fortune to consult on some of there recipes. This company is a winner and will go far with there fine products.

They are presently only selling in Turkey but plan to expand to Eastern Europe.

This is a company to watch.

We will be writing more on this company as they grow.

For contact information:

Alicia Patisserie
Sevgi Sitesi
Sokak No 49/1 Sariyer
Istanbul, Turkey

Ph: 90 212 223 53 63
Fx: 90 212 223 24 17

Organizations step up whole grain labeling action

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to drag its feet on definitive whole grain labeling regulations, many organizations and companies are taking matters into their own hands and launching new labeling plans or refining existing ones. These efforts all share a common goal: eliminating consumer confusion over whole grain labeling.

The Whole Grains Council recently launched Phase II of its popular stamp program by unveiling a new stamp design. The Phase II stamp retains the familiar graphic, but contains new text that declares the exact whole grain content of the product instead of descriptors such as "good" or "excellent" source. In addition, the new stamp features text directly below the stamp that states: "Eat 48 grams or more of whole grains daily."

The new stamp comes on the heels of FDA's warnings against the use of descriptors to describe whole grain content. The new Whole Grain Stamp may be used on products that contain at least 8 grams of whole grains. Bakery foods that contain at least 16 grams of whole grains may use the 100% Stamp if the grain content is entirely whole grain. The Whole Grains Council's Stamp Program was launched in January 2005, and the Stamps now appear on more than 650 products from 61 companies, the Council says.

On the retail side of the baking industry, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., a 71-store supermarket chain on the East Coast, introduced a new program designed to help consumers obtain the recommended 3 ozs.of whole grains a day.

"In an effort to be transparent, some industry groups have translated the dietary guidelines to mean 48 grams of actual (dry) whole grains each day," says Jane Andrews, Wegmans' corporate nutrition manager. "But few products tell you the grams of whole grain. And in any case, do people really want to do the math each day to add up to 48 grams?"

Wegmans new whole grain wellness key was designed to eliminate consumer confusion by telling consumers what foods and portion size gives them the maximum whole grain benefits. The program is visually represented through a wheat-like icon that appears on Wegmans'-branded packages, shelf talkers and signs in Wegmans' stores.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Great Information on Grape Skins from Ohio University Study

A recent Ohio State University study has shown that grape seed, grape skin, and pine bark extracts controlled microbial contamination by E. coli and Salmonella better than butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) in ground beef. The results were recently published in Food Microbiology.

The researchers found that BHA and BHT decreased E. coli populations on the ground beef by 5%; the grape seed, grape skin,and pine bark extracts cut levels by 33% and 35%, respectively. And while BHA and BHT did not reduce Salmonella populations, the grape seeds, skins and pine bark extracts respectively dropped populations by 19% and 23%. However, Listeria populations increased in the meat in all samples to varying degrees. In the BHA and BHT sample, Listeria populations rose by 60%, grape seed and skins extract by 40% and pine bark extract by 18%.

The study also showed that the natural antimicrobials prevented oxidation of the meat. Oxidation levels decreased over the course of nine days for the grape seed, skins and pine bark extracts while measures increased by 200% for BHA and BHT. At the levels used in the study, the natural preservatives did not impact the organoleptic qualities of the meat and helped preserve its color. However, the researchers noted that at higher levels, the ingredients might have a negative effect of the organoleptic qualities of the meat. They cited a need for more research to see if that would be the case.

Grape seed, skin extract and pine bark extract are attractive ingredients in that they also add healthful antioxidants to products

When Grape skins are made into flour they produce the same results

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pairing Coffee with Food

Today there's a growing trend of pairing coffee with complementary food items. Most people are familiar with the concept of pairing wine and food (white with fish, red with everything else, although these rules are now loosening). Now, coffee experts are saying there's no reason we shouldn't take the same approach with coffee.

With a great pairing, the coffee tastes better and the food tastes better. The foodservice industry is starting to embrace the benefits by offering customers the palate experience of perfectly paired coffee. Benefits can include increased customer satisfaction, more return visits, higher check averages and a more positive brand perception.

According to experts, pairing coffee requires a deeper understanding of coffee, which comes in more than simply a dark or a light roast. Other factors to consider include aroma, acidity, body and flavor, as well as roast profile and even the geographic origin of the coffee.

Aroma gives the first hint of how the coffee will taste. In fact, most of the sense of taste comes from the sense of smell. Acidity doesn't mean sour or bitter; rather, it refers to a lively, tangy, palate-cleansing property.

Body is the weight or thickness of the coffee in your mouth.
Flavor is the all-important melding of aroma, acidity and body that creates an overall impression.

Roast profile: Roasting is a true artistic expressing of coffee purveyors. Different coffee companies have different roast styles, from light to medium to dark to midnight on a moonless night. Most offer various levels of roast profile to meet varied customer tastes. Roast affects all aspects of a coffee's flavor, including aroma, acidity and body, and should be taken into account when pairing coffee with food.

Dark roasts will pair better with richer, more indulgent foods like chocolate, nuts and meats. Lighter roasts tend to be crisp and bright, and they pair well with breakfast items.

Before coffee can be roasted, it has to be grown. According to coffee-tasting experts, where a coffee comes from also affects how it tastes and what foods it best complements. Coffee roasters such as Starbucks divide coffeeproducing areas into three main geographic regions¯Latin America, Asia/Pacific and Africa/Arabia.

Latin American coffees are generally light-to medium-bodied with clean, lively flavors. Asia/Pacific coffees are on the opposite end of the taste spectrum, typically full-bodied, smooth and earthy, with very low acidity and some herbal flavor notes. Coffees from East Africa and Arabia often combine crisp, clean acidity with intense floral aroma and enticing fruit or wine flavors.

Pairing these flavors of geography with food simply takes familiarity with the way regional flavors work with food.
  • Latin American coffees, with their crisp brightness and great balance, best complement sweet and tangy flavors.
  • The earthy and full-bodied Asia/Pacific coffees tend to go best with salty and savory foods.
  • The crisp acidity and fruitywiney flavors of African coffees make them exciting to match with food, often resulting in exotic flavor combinations.

While bitter flavors are generally unpleasant with coffee, Latin American coffees stand up best to them

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Great New Product,
Wine Flour !

Vinifera For Life.

Vinifera For Life has taken the by-product of the wine-industry (pomace) and has produced grape skin flour. Currently the flour is being used in the production of wine bread. They have test marketed the bread and the flour in the Niagara Region with great success. The flour and the bread have been analyzed by two laboratories. All reports returned very positive and noted the high concentration of these nutritious ingredients:

· fibre
· antioxidants
· resveratrol

Vinifera For Life products taste wonderful and have no acidic aftertaste which is a common complaint with food cooked with wine. The flour is high in Omega 6 and Omega 3, both essential healthy fats which the body does not produce by itself, but must be ingested. These fats reduce the risks of heart problems, lower blood pressure, and help combat autoimmune diseases. Resveratrol is a blood cleanser which helps fight cancer and diabetes. Scientists claim that resveratrol is responsible for “The French Paradox”- the low incidence of heart disease among the French, who eat a high fat diet.

In a market study completed by the Canadian Innovation Centre, an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1981, they assessed the market acceptance for Vinifera For Life breads to be “High”. We also performed a two and a half month bench test and product development project at The Guelph Food Technology Centre at Guelph University to validate our formulas and expectations of the product. Positive results were once again achieved

Through research we have come to realize that the applications for the product are much more than just bread: the flour can be used to produce tasty crackers, pasta, snack foods, tea and when ground finer can be incorporated into an energy bar or drink. Various bakers have noted that this is the most exciting product since the introduction of Omega infused bread. Renowned Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy already uses the flour in his creations.

Vinifera For Life has gained such high interest in the gourmet cuisine world that both Toronto Life Magazine will be writing a report on our product on their July edition. Let it be known that media reporters have expressed a desire to know where Vinifera For Life products will be sold. Stocking Vinifera For Life products will bring interested consumers through your doors.

Have you ever thought of having Gewürztraminer toast with your eggs benedict? or, a Pinot Noir baguette with your favorite cheese? Both are possible thanks to Vinifera For Life, who has created a product with delectable taste and texture that is incredibly good for you too! Flour made from wine grape skins.


Vinifera For Life is a 100% Canadian owned incorporated company founded in 2006 by Mark Walpole, internationally recognized Certified Chef de Cuisine. His concept was to make bread from flour using grape skins as a base. The well-known health benefits from grapes would be coupled with the quality of taste for products destined for the fast growing functional, nutraceutical food market. Market research conducted by the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Centre and supported by the Canadian National Research Council’s IRAP program confirmed market acceptance for Vinifera For Life breads to be “HIGH”. Following experimentation by the Chefs, the Guelph Food Technology Centre was contracted in 2005 with support from the National Research Council’s IRAP program to develop the desired product. Bread from the resulting formulation is being test marketed with great success. Further, the independent Brunswick and Industrial Laboratories have analyzed the product and confirmed its nutritional attributes.

The Product:

Vinifera For Life flour is a nutritionally improved and taste enhanced product that will appeal to chefs, bakers, pastry chefs and the layperson. Product differentiation will be achieved through the varietal character of the grape or grapes if blended and of the vineyard. A key ingredient in the product is resveratrol, an antioxidant recognized for its significant health benefits particularly related to cancer and heart disease. The flour may be blended with specific ingredients to be organic, or gluten free. In discussions with industry professionals and our research the applications are limitless. Each individual user has applied their expertise and personal touch to the product they have produced.

The Market:

Functional foods are perhaps the fastest growing segment in the food industry. Estimates indicate that the functional foods and nutraceuticals market may be as high as $37 billion in the United States, $20 billion in Europe, $14 billion in Japan and $2 billion in Canada. The segment is expected to outpace the growth of the food industry as a whole.

New Products:

Although the focus of Vinifera For Life is flour, a number of other products based upon the grape skin attributes offer significant potential and will be developed over time. Discussions regarding such opportunities are being conducted with the Guelph Food Technology Centre with promising results. The new products being considered include grape skin powder for antioxidant, protein beverages, tea, flour for pasta, crackers, and other health snacks plus varietal specific grape seed oil. Products are also being developed with organic growers.


Vinifera For Life’s principals have been professional associates for 35 years and their credentials include, in part, the following. Mark Walpole, CCC, is co-founder and CEO. His management experience includes serving as Executive Chef at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee; Executive Chef at the Rodgers Centre (Skydome) in Toronto and 11 years as Executive Chef at Niagara-on-the Lakes’ Prince Of Wales Hotel.

Advisors committed to assist Vinifera For Life include Bob Kuhns, Ken Bridgeman, C.A., Joseph Keozierski, and Greg Herriott. Bob has 45 years of senior management experience in international operations having conducted business in over 80 countries. Ken’s company, Bridgeman and Durksen are Chartered Accountants serving many businesses throughout Niagara. Joseph’s company, St. Joseph’s Bakery has served the community for almost 50 years. Greg’s company, Hempola Canada, is an industry leader in hemp farming, processing and marketing.

For additional information contact us at www.capico.net

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Whole grains

What are whole grains?

The Whole Grains Council says a whole grain must contain the essential bran, germ and endosperm as well as naturally occurring nutrients of the entire seed.

Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) definition of whole grains is less conclusive. In February, FDA released its definition, and said whole grains are cereal grains, such as corn, rice, oats and wheat, and these grains must be intact, ground, cracked or flaked.

Did FDA make any other recommendations about whole grain consumption? Yes. In 2005, the government released MyPyramid, which recommends that Americans receive half of their total grain intake from whole grains, which should be about three ounce-equivalents per day.

However, this recommendation caused some confusion. How did consumers know how many ounce equivalents were in their bread or other bakery foods?

The Whole Grains Council created a stamp that bakers could display on their packaging promoting their breads as "good" or "excellent" sources of whole grains-if these bakery foods contained at least 8 grams or at least 16 grams, respectively.

When FDA released its definition of whole grains in February, it turned down requests from bakers to make these statements, and instead said bakers should display factual statements, such as "8 grams of whole grain" on their packaging.

Do whole grain bakery foods warrant any health claims? Yes. FDA approved a whole grain health claim especially for whole grain bakery foods.

In addition, on May 19, FDA finalized a rule that allows foods containing barley to claim they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This health claim stipulates that bakery foods containing whole grain barley or dry milled barley products provide at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving.

Many whole grain breads also are eligible for FDA-approved fiber health claims. FDA allows three different health claims related to fiber.

* 21 CFR 101.76 addresses fibercontaining grains and their relation to reducing the risk of cancer
* 21 CFR 101.77 addresses grains that contain fiber, particularly soluble fiber, and their relation to reducing the risk of coronary heart disease
* 21 CFR 101.81 addresses soluble fiber from certain foods and their relation to reducing the risk of heart disease.Whole grain oat flour or oat bran, which provides betaglucans, is one such whole grain eligible for this health claim.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gluten-free certification available

Enjoy Life Natural Brands, Schiller Park, Ill., is the first company to receive certification and use the Gluten-Free Certification Organization’s (GFCO) Certification Mark on its packaging.

Reflecting the growing number of consumers with special dietary needs, GFCO was created to offer food manufacturers an independent service to supervise gluten-free production.

Gluten is a protein found in most grains that mainly affects people with celiac disease. According to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, celiac disease is considered one of the most under-diagnosed common diseases, affecting about one in every 133 Americans.

Bakeries, such as Enjoy Life Natural Brands, which produces and markets cookies, snack bars, breads and bagels, have seen significant sales spikes as concerns about food allergies become more prominent. For Enjoy Life Natural Brands, the certification process was simple because the company runs a dedicated plant free of common allergens. Other bakeries that produce a mix of gluten-free and traditional bakery foods may have a more difficult time obtaining certification.

Food Services Inc., a subsidiary of the Orthodox Union, one of the world’s largest kosher certification agencies, conducts annual certifications, which include ingredient reviews, on-site inspections and product testing. GFCO strongly recommends dedicated gluten-free lines, as even the most thorough cleaning can lead to cross-contamination.

A product carrying the gluten-free Certification Mark assures consumers that the product contains less than 10 parts per million gluten. Bakers interested in learning more about GFCO or obtaining the Certification Mark can go to http://www.gfco.org/.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Health Benefits of Chocolate

A chocolate bar a day keeps the doctors away!
Research Reveals: Chocolate May Be Good for You

Recently studies on chocolate have been published that illustrate the many health benefits it provides. For nearly half a decade chocolate lovers have been told to avoid this treat, but as we further our research on the everyday foods we eat, we begin to realize that we have been misled about the health-related risk-reward ratio of chocolate.

First, cocoa, the main component in chocolate, contains Phytochemicals called flavonoids also found in red wine, green tea, and fruits and vegetables. Flavanoids contain antioxidants, which are beneficial in that they block arterial damage caused by free radicals. Flavonoids are also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Chocolate contains stearic acid, which is a neutral fat that does not raise bad cholesterol and a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association also shows that dark chocolate might lower your blood pressure and improve insulin resistance.

Chocolate also contains Tryptophan; a chemical the brain uses to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has been proven to be an anti-depressant, as well as generate feelings of ecstasy or love, so not only can it benefit you physically, but mentally as well. Other substances, such as theobromine and phenylethylamine, have a stimulating effect.

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate only contains small amounts of caffeine. A cup of decaffeinated coffee actually contains more caffeine than the average serving of chocolate, though the misconception might stem from a popular combination of coffee or espresso beans with chocolate in many desserts and beverages.

Research also proves that candy eaters live almost a year longer than those who abstain. Similarly, a Harvard University study found that men who ate chocolate live longer than those who didn’t.

Dark chocolate, with its higher cocoa to sugar ratio may actually inhibit tooth decay and lead to fewer cavities as well as potentially whiter teeth. Milk chocolate is also on the list of least likely to cause tooth decay because of the combination of phosphate and other minerals in its structure.

Chocolate is also a good source of carbohydrates as well and is an excellent source of quick energy and a powerful fighter of fatigue. On the other hand, pediatricians are saying that there is no link between the sugars found in chocolate and restlessness or attention-deficit-hyperactivity type disorders (ADHD) found in children.

Probably the leading misconception about chocolate is that it causes acne. This has been disproved, however, by the University of Pennsylvania’s study of 65 acne sufferers. All were instructed to eat large amounts of chocolate; 46 showed no change in their condition, 10 got better and 9 got worse, results showing no direct correlation between chocolate consumption and acne.

Researchers in Oakland, California at Children's Hospital & Research Center have discovered that the same flavonoids that are also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease can limit the development of fluids that cause diarrhea. Young children under the age of five and senior citizens are the most likely to develop several health problems linked to dehydration.
It is true that chocolate contains “cannabinoids,” chemicals that have a similar affect on your brain as marijuana, a person would have to consume nearly 25 pounds of chocolate in one sitting to get “high.”

In addition, cocoa contains many vitamins including vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, and is also the highest natural source for Magnesium. A lack of magnesium in diet has been linked to joint problems, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and pre-menstrual tension (PMT or PMS), just more reasons to increase your chocolate intake.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Coffee Found to Reduce Risk of Diabetes

Another story on the merits of coffee

New Studies Indicate Both Decaf and Regular May Fight Diseases

June 26, 2006 — On any given morning, more than 100 million Americans reach for a cup of coffee to jumpstart their day, and they could be reducing their risks for certain diseases while enjoying that fresh brew.

Mounting evidence suggests all those lattes and cappuccinos might not only improve your mood, they might also improve your health. Daily cups of coffee have been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease, liver cancer, gallstones, and type 2 diabetes.

A variety of studies show that drinking four, eight-ounce cups of coffee is linked to a 30 percent reduction in the risk of developing diabetes.

And the research suggests the more coffee you drink — the greater the protection. But that doesn't mean you have to get "wired" from caffeine.

The study out today found decaffeinated coffee is just as effective against diabetes as regular coffee, because both are loaded with the same nutrients.

"We found that there are compounds in coffee which, when given to a rat, enhance the capacity of its liver to burn sugar … much like anti-diabetic medications," said Dr. Peter Martin of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Intriguing research, say many doctors, but it is still very preliminary.

"I don't think I would have people go out and start drinking coffee in the hope they're going to decrease their risk for diabetes," said Dr. David Nathan of Massachusetts General Hospital.
But for those already downing their daily cups of java, even the possibility of a health benefit is one more thing to savor.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Coffee Drinking Associated With Lower Risk For Alcohol-related Liver Disease

Drinkingcoffee may be related to a reduced risk of developing the liver disease alcoholic cirrhosis, according to a report in the June 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Cirrhosis progressively destroys healthy liver tissue and replaces it with scar tissue. Viruses such as hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis, but long-term, heavy alcohol use is the most common cause of the disease in developed countries, according to background information in the article. Most alcohol drinkers, however, never develop cirrhosis; other factors that may play a role include genetics, diet and nutrition, smoking and the interaction of alcohol with other toxins that damage the liver.

Arthur L. Klatsky, M.D., and colleagues at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, Calif., analyzed data from 125,580 individuals (55,247 men and 70,333 women) who did not report liver disease when they had baseline examinations, between 1978 and 1985. Participants filled out a questionnaire to provide information about how much alcohol, coffee and tea they drank per day during the past year. Some of the individuals also had their blood tested for levels of certain liver enzymes; the enzymes are released into the bloodstream when the liver is diseased or damaged.

By the end of 2001, 330 participants had been diagnosed with cirrhosis, including 199 with alcoholic cirrhosis. For each cup of coffee they drank per day, participants were 22 percent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis. Drinking coffee was also associated with a slight reduction in risk for other types of cirrhosis. Among those who had their blood drawn, liver enzyme levels were higher among individuals who drank more alcohol, indicating liver disease or damage; however, those who drank both alcohol and coffee had lower levels than those who drank alcohol but did not drink coffee, with the strongest link among the heaviest drinkers.

Tea drinking was not related to reduced risk in the study, suggesting that it is not caffeine that is responsible for the relationship between coffee and reduced cirrhosis risk. "Previous reports are disparate with respect to whether the apparently protective coffee ingredient is caffeine; in our opinion this issue is quite unresolved," the authors write.

The findings do not suggest that physicians prescribe coffee to prevent alcoholic cirrhosis, the authors continue. "Even if coffee is protective, the primary approach to reduction of alcoholic cirrhosis is avoidance or cessation of heavy alcohol drinking," they conclude. "Assuming causality, the data do suggest that coffee intake may partly explain the variability of cirrhosis risk in alcohol consumers. Basic research about hepatic coffee-ethanol interactions is warranted, but we should keep in mind that coffee might represent only one of a number of potential cirrhosis risk modulators."

(Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1190-1195. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

This study was supported by a grant from the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute. Data collection from 1978 to 1985 was supported by a grant from the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation, Baltimore, Md.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bakeries tackle food allergy concerns

Consumers with special dietary needs are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Learn how bakers are developing business with ‘free-from’ products.

“Food allergies” are more than a marketing buzz phrase. They are the future. Americans’ ever-expanding waistlines, heredity, the environment and increased diagnosis of food-related medical conditions, like diabetes and celiac disease (a potentially life-threatening intolerance to gluten), has increased customer awareness of ingredients. As a result, demand for “free-from” products (e.g., gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, etc.), especially baked goods, has begun to swell.

Unlike fads, such as low carb, these are diagnosed or suspected medical conditions that are managed, along with medication in some cases, by controlling intake of specific ingredients.

While few traditional bakeries have embraced the special dietary needs or allergen-free products markets, the specialized bakeries that have are doing well, in terms of strong sales growth and grateful expressions of joy from their customers. Based on the population data, sales performance and the growing adoption of these products by major supermarket chains, these specialty markets are getting closer to becoming mainstream every day.

Or, as Rebecca Reilly, author of Gluten-Free Baking, explained to the New York Times (December 14, 2005), “When you’re told you can’t have something, then it becomes the focus. It’s like the forbidden fruit.’’

That’s why gluten-free, sugar-free, and, for the food sensitive, kosher bakery products are finding leverage among today’s consumers.

Food allergies
About one in 25 Americans suffers from a true food allergy–meaning that ingestion of substances, such as nuts, gluten and lactose, always causes an allergic reaction, according to medical sources cited in the Food Allergies and Intolerances-U.S. report by Mintel International Group of Chicago. In addition, slightly more than one in four Americans are said to suffer from food intolerance, a non-life-threatening condition in which the body is unable to produce enough of the natural digestive chemicals to break down a particular type of food. However, despite the statistics, according to Mintel, one in three believe that they are affected by food ingredients in some way.

In addition, studies conducted during the past five years have shown that the incidence of food allergies are quickly increasing, particularly among children.

Growth market
One of the most common illnesses caused by food is celiac disease. It is not known why, but cases of celiac disease are on the rise. While the condition may be detected at any age, the average age of diagnosis is 44 years. The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong avoidance of gluten-based products. Statistics vary, but The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore found that one in 133 individuals (about 2.2 million Americans) suffer from it, including many who are never tested and fail to make the connection between intense stomach pain and eating gluten. Symptoms of celiac disease include anemia, malnutrition, osteoporosis, central and peripheral nervous system disorders, intestinal lymphomas and other food sensitivities.

“As the awareness and the diagnosis rates for people with food allergies and food intolerances continues to grow, and there’s more press about this, the market is just starting to explode,” says Scott Mandell, president/C.E.O. of Chicago-based Enjoy Life Natural Brands.

Mandell co-founded Enjoy Life, a wholesale bakery specializing in gluten-free products, with partner Bert Cohen several years ago. They were inspired by Cohen’s mother’s medical need for specialized foods. With traditional supermarket chains throughout the country carrying Enjoy Life products, such as Shaw’s, Giant Eagle and Jewel, to name a few, Mandell believes the market is heading mainstream.

“There’s no question about it,” he continues. “The larger grocery store chains see this as a real market. It’s not a fad. It’s not low carb. It’s something that’s here and will be here to stay. People need it for medical reasons.

“The number we’ve seen in the industry is about 25 percent growth annually for food allergy and intolerance products. Our company has seen triple digit annual growth,” he adds.

Trust factor
Because these baked products address health and allergy issues, with potentially severe consequences, Mandell and others say that much diligence is required when producing products for this market.

“You don’t want to take the risk of getting somebody sick. So you have to take extra special precautions if you’re getting into this market,” Mandel says.

Even though there are no formal gluten-free standards (the FDA won’t have them until 2008, at least), Enjoy Life has set its own allergen standard at 10 parts per million for gluten, dairy and nuts. And, it tests regularly. As a result, the company has become the first bakery in the nation to be certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.

“We’re hardcore,” Mandell admits. “It’s what our customers expect from us. It’s a trust factor.”

Due diligence
“We have to be really diligent,” says Cameo LeBrun, president of Crave, a San Francisco-based wheat-, gluten- and milk-free bakery. In addition to practical paranoia about cross-contamination, she has to research and source ingredients more stringently than traditional bakeries, asking her suppliers a lot of hard questions most people don’t have to ask, such as:
• Where does this product come from?
• Does that facility have wheat?
• Do you truck your ingredients with wheat products?
• What do you do to cut down on cross-contamination?

LeBrun, who is gluten intolerant, was both discouraged and inspired by what was available: dry, tasteless product with bad texture. She opened her wholesale bakery 2-1/2 years ago and sells to Whole Foods and local high-end grocery stores: Andronico’s, Draeger’s, Harvest, Real Food Company and other specialty stores. In response to the growing product demand, she says her bakery’s chocolate usage more than doubled in 2005 to 12,100 lbs., from 5,200 lbs. in 2004. Crave uses the chocolate primarily in its signature brownies.

Baking fundamentals apply
Taste still rules for dietary-needs bakers. After “free-from,” the next most important consideration is taste and texture. The product should appeal to everyone, regardless of their health needs.

Lareen Narva, owner of Bittersweet Gluten Free Bakery in Eagan, Minn., has had a wheat allergy for more than 20 years. Her entire family (husband and three children) is allergic to wheat too. She opened the bakery two years ago, and she’s already looking at expansion.

Frequently her customers are people who have eaten regular foods all their lives and have recently had to become gluten free. “People are sick and tired of bad-tasting gluten-free food. It’s been too many years of putting up with what the existing industry had,” she says.

As a result, she says the first question people ask is, “Does it taste real?” Then they ask, “Does it taste good?

”Her products must meet three criteria before she will sell them. 1) It has to look like the product you’re selling. “So it can’t be an icky-looking cookie or a shriveled up this or that,” she says. 2) It has to have moisture. “Because most gluten-free food is dry and grainy.” 3) It needs to taste like the name. “If it says chocolate cherry, it has to taste like chocolate cherry.

” Narva holds strictly to her three criteria when researching and developing product formulas. She says she spent15 years “playing around” with recipes before she finally came up with successful gluten-free baking techniques.

Kosher’s new demand
With the evolution of dietary needs products, another traditional approach, kosher (which is the Hebrew word for fit or proper as it relates to biblical dietary law), is being seen in a new light. Because kosher law forbids meat and milk together, a dairy-free bakery, among other things that are important to people with dietary concerns, can be a kosher bakery.

As Scott Mandell explains, “First, people who looked for kosher products did it mainly for religious reasons. Now, it’s become more of a standard for products being produced in a cleaner, safer environment. A lot of people look for that kosher symbol to give them that reassurance that, again, these products are produced under certain guidelines that are set out.

”Enjoy Life has been kosher since its inception. In order to be kosher certified, Mandell says all of your suppliers need to be kosher certified. Inspecting rabbis visit the bakery to check through all of your ingredients and make sure that everything that you’re getting is kosher.

Bakery equipment also needs to be inspected for kosher certification as well. He estimates that the process of having a bakery certified kosher takes three to six months.

One world
While the inspiration for their products is special dietary needs, bakers agree that the real secret to success in this niche is making products that appeal to everyone, special needs or not. Lareen Narva reports hearing customers complain that, “the gluten-free baked goods taste so good their non-allergic spouses are eating them all up.”

“And that’s our goal. Everybody should be able to enjoy this. It shouldn’t just be for celiacs,” Narva says. “In the big picture, celiacs shouldn’t have to compromise [about] food [quality] because they have this condition.”

Dietary Needs Facts
• 40% of the population, 68 million, will be obese by 2010 if Americans continue to gain weight at the current rate.
• Since the 1980s, the proportion of overweight children has steadily increased.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Children’s Health and Human Development

• 2% of adults and 5% of infants and young children in the United States are allergic to some type of food.
• Eight major food allergens account for more than 90 percent of all documented food allergies. They are: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans
• As of January 1, 2006, food manufacturers are required to list the eight major food allergens on their ingredient labels.
Source: FDA’s Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act

• 2004 retail sales of gluten-free products: $450 million, with projected annual growth of 34% from 2004 to 2006, with projected retail sales of $600 million.
• U.S. sales of gluten-free products have grown steadily by 17% per year since 1999.
• U.S. market for food allergy and intolerance products has nearly doubled since 1999, growing from $947 million in retail sales to more than $1.8 billion in 2003.
• Gluten-free market sales are projected to reach nearly $4 billion by 2008.
Sources: Mintel and “The U.S. Market for Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Products,” published by Packaged Facts, New York City

• 18.2 million Americans, or 6.3% of the U.S. population, have some form of diabetes.
• The more common Type II diabetes, most closely associated with old age, obesity, and other risk factors, can often be controlled without invasive medical attention.
• Diabetes is growing dramatically among blacks and Hispanics, the two largest minority groups in the U.S. The incidence of Type II diabetes among Hispanics, for example, is almost twice as high as that of the general population.
• The incidence of Type II diabetes among children and adolescents is also on the rise.
Source: American Diabetes Association (ADA)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Battle over saturated fat begins

It was just a matter of time before the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) waged a public battle against rising saturated fat levels in bakery foods that promote their absences of trans fats. From newspaper headlines to nightly newscast stories, saturated fats and their unhealthful properties once again dominate headlines.

CSPI submitted a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to halt trans-fat claims on products that contain high levels of saturated fat.

"Some manufacturers misleadingly publicize the absence of trans fat to convince consumers that the manufacturers' products are healthful," CSPI's letter to FDA states. "However, '0 grams trans fat' claims on products that contain excessive amounts of saturated fat mislead consumers by implying that the food does not raise serum cholesterol levels or the risk of heart disease."
Casting the baking industry in the spotlight, CSPI's letter singled out two specific bakery foods as misleading consumers:

* Mrs. Smith's Apple Pie: This product features a red banner that claims "0 grams trans fat per serving," but contains 7 grams of saturated fat per serving.

* Sara Lee Pumpkin Pie: This product also claims 0 grams of trans fats, but contains 4 grams of saturated fat.

"Just because a food doesn't have trans fat, doesn't by itself make it a health food," says Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director. "Companies shouldn't foster confusion by making trans-fat claims on foods high in saturated fat, and FDA shouldn't let them get away with it."

CSPI urged FDA to establish a rule that mimics an existing rule prohibiting food companies from making "saturated fat free" claims on foods that have trans fats. CSPI says the agency should have a corresponding rule prohibiting "0 grams trans" claims on foods high in saturated fat. The daily value for saturated fat is 20 grams, making products with 4 grams or more saturated fat per serving "high" sources of saturated fats.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Newly popular flour white AND healthy

Food processors are selling more of a newly popular flour that merges whole-wheat health benefits with the color, taste and texture of white bread.

The secret: white wheat, a grain that can be milled to resemble pancake-friendly all-purpose flour but is as healthy as traditional whole wheat.

Though white wheat has been available for years, it's recently garnered serious attention thanks to new government dietary guidelines urging Americans to eat at least three servings a day of whole grains.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Focaccia with an Inlay of Pressed Herbs

This is a great recipe and can be expanded to be used in restaurants and bakeries

It's easy to double this recipe if you want to make more than one loaf. The bake is quick, so you can let the second loaf sit and wait its turn while the first is in the oven. This flatbread can be split and used for sandwiches or enjoyed on its own.

Yields one 10 x 6-inch flatbread.

5-1/3 oz. (1 cup plus 3 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour
5-1/3 oz. (1 cup plus 3 Tbs.) durum flour, also called extra-fancy pasta flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast (such as Red Star's QuickRise, Fleischmann's Bread Machine Yeast or Rapid Rise, or Saf Instant)
1 cup lukewarm water1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for topping the loaf
1 tsp. saltA mix of herb leaves, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, flat-leaf parsley, summer savory, oregano, and chives
(about 1 cup, loosely packed)Coarse salt

Combine the flours and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and oil; mix with your fingers just until combined smoothly. The dough will be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. After this rest (called an autolyse), mix in the salt.

Knead on an unfloured work surface. To knead, squeeze the dough vigorously between the thumbs and index fingers of both hands. Move along the length of the dough, squeezing hard enough to make holes where your thumbs and fingers meet. The dough will be sticky, but don't add flour -- use a dough scraper instead. Flip and repeat, squeezing along its length. Continue squeezing and flipping for 5 to 10 more minutes. Ideally the dough will come together and feel smooth, but if it's still sticky, don't worry -- the texture will improve during fermentation. Transfer to an unoiled bowl and cover with plastic.

After 30 minutes, lightly flour the dough's top and the work surface and then turn the dough out of the bowl. Gently spread the dough to flatten it but not to completely deflate it. Fold the dough into a tight square package, folding top down, side over, bottom up, and side over as you'd fold a handkerchief. Return it to the rising bowl, covered with plastic, for 30 minutes. Repeat this flattening, flouring, and folding. Let the dough ferment for 2 to 3 more hours, until doubled in volume and full of large bubbles. It should spring back when you press it.

Pull the dough out of the bowl, flour it well, and tuck the edges in to make a smooth package. Don't pop the bubbles, but do tighten. Flour, cover with plastic, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Flour your hands before shaping the dough. Press it into a 10x6-inch rectangle that's about 1 inch thick. Flour the dough again.

With floured hands, gently press and stretch the dough into a 10x6-inch rectangle that's a scant inch thick. Transfer to a sheet of floured parchment. Flour the dough again.

With a slender, floured rolling pin, roll out one-quarter of the long side of the dough, making a thin flap to cover the thicker, unrolled portion of the dough when folded over. Press with the rolling pin where the thin sheet joins the dough to make a sharp demarcation. If needed, use more flour to keep the dough from sticking. Moisten the thick half of the dough with water. Dip the herb leaves in water (shake off excess droplets) and arrange them on the thick portion of the dough. It's okay to crowd the leaves a little (they'll spread a bit after rolling), but don't overlap them. Fold over the thin sheet of dough to cover the herb leaves completely. Tuck the edges under and pat gently to push out any air bubbles. Starting from the short end, roll lightly with a floured rolling pin until the herbs come into sharp relief but have not popped through and the trapped air is expelled. Be gentle during rolling, even though you'll end up deflating the dough, and aim for an even shape.

Sprinkle flour on the dough and cover with plastic. Let proof until thicker and puffy, about 2 hours. To test, press the dough: the indentation should fill in slowly. An hour before the end of the proof, put a baking stone in the top third of the oven; heat the oven to 450°F.
When the dough is ready for the oven, brush off the flour and smear a thin layer of olive oil over the surface.

When the dough is fully proofed, brush off the flour with a dry pastry brush and then smear with a thin layer of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Dimple the loaf all over with your fingers, poking in between the herb leaves, pushing down to the bottom of the dough without breaking through. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Transfer the parchment and dough to the hot baking stone. Bake the dough on the parchment until deep golden all over, about 15 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes. The parchment will darken in the oven, but it won't catch fire. Transfer the bread to a rack and enjoy soon: it's best still warm.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

National Uniformity legislation passes House vote

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity Food Act, by a vote of 283 to 139, moving this much desired piece of legislation one step closer to law. The legislation benefits the baking industry by establishing a single standard for food safety regulations, eliminating varied state regulations that often pose problems for food manufacturers.

"This legislation recognizes that it makes no sense to have different states adopting different regulatory requirements for identical food products," said Robb MacKie, American Bakers Association's president and chief executive officer. "H.R. 4167 will provide consumers with a single set of consistent, science-based food safety regulations in all 50 states."

The food industry strongly has backed this legislation because it requires state and federal food safety laws to be substantially the same, preventing states from putting various warning labels on products that are not required at the federal level.

"Uniformity is already the standard for many food regulations-from nutrition labeling to meat and poultry requirements," said Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce's executive vice president for government affairs. "[this bill] Strikes an appropriate balance between national and state interests and ensures that consumers receive consistent information about the foods they buy."

The National Uniformity Food Act now moves to the Senate, where various industry organizations plan to continue lobbying government representatives for passage of the bill.

"We thank our members for their strong grassroots support through communications to members of the House of Representatives," said Lee Sanders, ABA's senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. "We look forward to continuing our campaign as we now shift our efforts to the Senate as they consider this legislation."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A study on How Coffee enhances the Mind!

Austrian doctor Florian Koppelstatter presented his research at a medical conference in Chicago. He put 15 people in an MRI machine and asked them questions to trigger their short-term memory. He then ran the tests a second time after giving patients caffeine.

The difference? A specific part of the frontal lobe lit up on the scan.

"We had more activation or increased activation through the effect of caffeine in this distinct part of the brain," Dr. Koppelstatter said.

Previous research has shown caffeine can improve memory function.

In tests people were able to recall information faster and work more efficiently. Other studies have shown caffeine can improve reaction time. But that doesn't mean the more you drink, the more you'll remember. Too much can make you wired, leading to a loss of focus and concentration.

According to Dr. Koppelstatter, "We used 100 milligrams of caffeine -- that's the amount of about one to two cups of coffee."

Researchers are studying claims that caffeine can prevent some cancers, heart disease, Parkinson's and other conditions. But what we know for sure is that you should only drink it in moderation. Too much can make you anxious, and give you headaches, insomnia and the shakes.