Wanna eat like a 'warfighter'?

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The United States military's MREs (military-issued Meals, Ready-to-Eat) have been "improved" by the US Department of Defense's Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) with a forward menu planned through 2012. Each boasts having been "Warfighter Recommended, Warfighter Tested, Warfighter Approved; " here is a closer look at what soldiers will be eating - some are served in a "tube."

MRE XXX - 2010 Production
add: Southwest beef & black beans, Chicken w/tomato & feta, Garlic mashed potatoes, Jalapeño cashews, Maple griddle cake, Mint (caffeine), Cinnamon roll, Table syrup, Sugar free beverage base (w/vitamin C)
phase out: Grilled chicken breast, Beef enchilada, Mashed potato

MRE XXXI - 2011 Production
add: Chunk light tuna (lemon pepper), Sausage w/creamy gravy, Ratatouille, Santa Fe rice & beans, Italian bread sticks, Apple filled pastry, Wheat snack bread (twin pack), Granola w/bananas, Corn nuts, Turkey bites, Hot sauce (pouch)
phase out: Tuna (white albacore), Chicken & dumplings, Veggie griller, Mexican corn

MRE XXXII - 2012 Production
add: Asian pepper steak, Mexican chicken stew, Au gratin potatoes, Jalapeño cheese filled crackers, Banana nut Ranger bar w/extra fiber, Multigrain snack bread, Sour fruit flavored discs
phase out: Hamburger patty, Buffalo chicken, Mexican rice

Interestingly, many of the MRE's new pouches follow nutritional trends like avoiding albacore high in mercury content and opting for dark or light tuna, some Mediterranean diet flavors with lemon pepper, tomato and feta.

Also, the military has special dietary options:

Kosher: Beef stew, Chicken and noodles, Cheese tortellini, Florentine lasagna, Pasta w/garden vegetables, "My Kind of Chicken," Old world stew, Chicken & black beans, Chicken Mediterranean, Vegetarian stew

Halal: Beef stew, Chicken and noodles, Cheese tortellini, Florentine lasagna, Pasta w/garden vegetables, "My Kind of Chicken," Old world stew, Chicken & black beans, Chicken Mediterranean, Vegetarian stew, Lamb and barley stew, Lamb & lentil stew

Think eating like a warfighter sounds yummy (or at least ok), enter "tube foods," which look like ketchup or mustard but pack around 135g with 150-300 calories of oozing:

Main dishes : Beef & Gravy, Beef Stew, Sloppy Joe, Chicken a la King, Vegetarian, Manhattan Clam Chowder
Fruit snacks :
Applesauce, Peaches, Pears
Sweets :
Butterscotch, Toffee, Caramel, Chocolate, Apple Pie, Cherry Dessert, Caffeinated Chocolate Pudding

These tubes are fed via a helmet feeding tube to US Air Force pilots during missions to bring up energy levels quickly for a brief period of time, increasing endurance and top performance. Since 2004, CFD has been working on new tube recipes to help "enhance cognitive response and reduce fatigue and stress" by incorporating "amino acid/tyrosine additives, nutrient supplementation and carbohydrate/electrolyte products."

Also keep in mind the shelf life of these foods exceed three years and consider the conditions they have to endure. 

Jeremy Whitsitt, CFD's Outreach Coordinator, in an audio segment on National Public Radio (NPR), a nonprofit membership US-based media organization, on May 22 explained, "One thing we like to say is, 'What would happen if you cooked a meal, stored it in a stifling hot warehouse, dropped it out of an airplane, dragged it through the mud, left it out with bugs and vermin, and ate it three years later?'" If it were a military meal, it would still be edible and maybe even tasty."

Tasty? Try it out for yourself with civilian MREs:  http://www.mreinfo.com/civilian/mre/buying-civilian-mres.html

For more information, visit: http://nsrdec.natick.army.mil/index.htm

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