What’s junk science? It’s “pseudo-science.” It’s when someone or some group with an agenda uses – or references – poorly done research to attempt to prove a point they want to make. It’s also when such persons or groups twist the conclusion of good research to fit an agenda. It’s misleading but it happens all the time in news stories. At best, junk science is misleading. When it’s intentional, it’s almost fraudulent.
To help sort out all the consumer confusion caused by junk science, the American Society of Nutrition, the American College of Nutrition, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics formed a partnership called the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance. The Alliance developed a list of “Ten Red Flags of Junk Science” examples, according to Tufts University.
There are bona fide experts throughout the culinary world who achieved knowledge and skills in their profession after intensive training (and even certification). For example, a sommelier is a highly trained and knowledgeable wine professional who specializes in all facets of wine service as well as wine and food pairing.
However, there are also those of us who simply love wine and possess a significant amount of knowledge about it. A wine lover with no formal training is known as an “oenophile.” I’m sure you will agree there are many more oenophiles in the world than there are sommeliers.
Similar to oenophiles, many of us profess to be experts on umami, so we are going to playfully coin the term “Umami Master,” a person who would be very knowledgeable in that they could know facts about umami, identify the savory taste of umami, and thoroughly enjoy this savory fifth taste in foods.
To help determine if you might be an umami novice or a seasoned “Umami Master,” here’s a short quiz to test your knowledge of “all things umami.” Give it a shot!
Ketchup is probably my favorite condiment. I use it in cooking (e.g., meatloaf, my famous baked beans, let’s not forget sloppy Joe’s), on sandwiches (a must-have on grilled hot dogs and hamburgers) and in a variety of other ways (I should confess I can’t eat French fries without lots of it, but you probably could’ve guessed that at this point!). When my love of ketchup first began, little did I know that it was likely in part because of my love of tomatoes, which provides an undeniable umami taste.
If you are into healthy eating and have never heard of Washoku, hold on to your hats! The attributes of this eating plan may astonish you.
What exactly is Washoku you ask? One writer for the Japan Times puts it this way: “Whenever I ponder the question of what Washoku, the quintessential Japanese cuisine, is, this is the meal I think of. It is simple yet complicated, plain yet sophisticated. It is salty, sour, sweet, slightly bitter and full of umami. And it is beautifully presented. Washoku does not hit you in the face with spice or other flamboyant flavors. It is a gentle caress as it satisfies your senses.”
Beyond that mouthwatering description, Washoku is an eating plan filled with vegetables (e.g., bamboo shoots, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, mushrooms) and tart and sweet fruits (e.g., melon, citrus). Grains such as rice, buckwheat and soba noodles as well as nuts (e.g., chestnuts) are key to this plan. Add to that a wide variety of fish (e.g., tuna, salmon) and soy products (e.g., tofu), both of which serve as the protein component of Washoku.
Sounds healthy and delicious? You bet. Many people, when thinking about traditional Japanese cuisine, are aware…
March is a time for new beginnings since winter is nearly over and spring flowers are starting to bud (at least they are in some parts of the U.S.). Perhaps it also is the time when you think about shedding those winter coats and turn to a healthier lifestyle as warmer weather approaches. Well, you’re not alone.
As the headline of this blog says, umami and nutrition go hand in hand and March is not the only month when umami and nutrition work in harmony. March is National Nutrition Month® – a “nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.” The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
So let’s talk nutrition, especially how umami can be beneficial for overall health and specifically how monosodium glutamate (MSG) can help reduce the sodium in your diet.