THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for December, 2008

TRENDS: Restaurants Go Greener

According to Chinese Restaurant News, there are almost one million restaurants in the U.S., each generating an average of 50,000 pounds of waste annually, and using an average of 300,000 gallons of water. A quarter of restaurants say they are planning to go green(er) in 2009, showing the environmentally conscious diner that they are more eco-friendly.

Perhaps the most challenged are the nation’s 45,000+ Chinese restaurants, where the demand for, and the nature of, take-out food utilizes disposable containers, many of which include non-recyclable plastic and styrofoam. On January 5th, at the Annual Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA Awards Show & Conference, a “Cooking Towards a Greener Future” educational seminar will discuss why it’s important for Chinese restaurants to create a sustainable business that is good for all stakeholders—the environment, employees, diners and the neighborhood—while saving energy and improving profits.

Next time you order Chinese take-out, forgo the
non-recyclable styrofoam and plastic containers
and silverware.
We have a suggestion: Ask if the customer wants soy sauce, duck sauce and mustard, and how much. Ask if they need utensils: Why does food going to a home require plastic forks and spoons? How many millions of these items get thrown out unused each year? We ask for these items, and the complimentary fried noodles, to be left out. (Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.) We’ve asked our restaurant not to pack the salad in a styrofoam bowl, but to choose something recyclable. While waiting for your restaurateur to get greener, you can let your voice be heard! It may not have great impact, but at least you’ll have done your part. Now we can hope that Chinese Restaurant News will publish some actionable checklist for restaurateurs.

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FREEBIE: Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate Chip Granola Bar

chocolate-chip-chewy-granola-bar Cascadian Farm is giving away free sample-sized organic Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars through January 30, 2009, while supplies last. It’s the company’s top selling snack bar, and a nice little treat made from healthy ingredients such as organic rice syrup, organic rolled oats, organic chocolate chips and organic whole milk (see the complete ingredients list on the website).

Just visit and click on the FREE SAMPLE box. In order to share the wealth, there’s a limit of one free sample per person. You must be 18 years or older and reside in the U.S. You can buy the bars online, and there’s a retail store locator (both are in the Products section of the website).

Cascadian Farm is one of the country’s leading brands of organic foods. Therer’s a real 28-acre working farm where it all started, 35 years ago, in the foothills of the Washington’s North Cascades mountain range. You can visit if you’re in the area.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Best Gourmet Foods 2008

We wish you a happy and healthy New Year. In fact, you can start 2009 with a pantry full of some healthy Top Picks Of The Week from 2008. These delicious foods will not only meet with your approval; they’ll get the nod from your doctor, nutritionist and trainer, too.

Cool Beans Dip. Leave the mayonnaise and sour cream dips behind in 2009. Keep the good taste as you trade up to the heart-healthy olive oil base and good nutrition of white beans. Cool Beans is a winner of THE NIBBLE Outstanding Artisan Award.

French Meadow Bakery. This fine organic baker makes it easy to get your whole grain quota of the day. Just switch to their bread and bagels.

Holly’s Oatmeal. Even if you think you don’t like oatmeal, give Holly’s a try. It’s a mix of several different whole grains; just one serving has 38g of your 48g daily whole grain requirement. Holly’s Oatmeal is a winner of THE NIBBLE Outstanding Artisan Award.

Rick’s Picks Pickles & Pickled Vegetables. No sugar, no salt, just delicious farm-fresh vegetables and artisan brine seasoned with fine spices and herbs. Great as snacks, garnishes and low-calorie treats for dieters. Rick’s Picks is a winner of THE NIBBLE Outstanding Artisan Award.

Is a bagel “healthy” food? Yes, when it’s a whole
grain bagel like this one from French Meadow
. Top it with 0% fat, thick Greek yogurt
instead of cream cheese (we like Chobani, FAGE
and Oikos brands).

Sauces ‘n Love Tomato Sauces. There’s no need to add sugar to a tomato sauce when you use tomatoes that are so naturally sweet. These low-calorie sauces are not just for pasta, but for vegetables, tofu, meats, dips and more.

SAVU Smoker Bags. How can you make food taste new and wonderful without adding a single calorie? Here’s the answer! Smoke meat, fish and vegetables in your oven or on the grill.

True Natural Taste Artisan Organic Mustard. Save calories and enjoy the health benefits of mustard. Make your New Year’s resolution: more delicious mustard, less mayonnaise.

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company. Goat cheese has less fat and fewer calories than cow’s milk cheese, and is more easily digested, too. Eat more goat cheese in 2009!

Read the reviews of all of these products by clicking on the links above. And watch for THE NIBBLE’s January “health month” issue, online January first.

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TOP PICK: Demitri’s Bloody Mary Mix

No matter what the season, Bloody Mary is
one of America’s top three favorite cocktails.

Despite those ubiquitous Martinis and Cosmos, Bloody Marys remain among the country’s most popular cocktails. Depending on the market, Mary is the number one, two or three best-seller at restaurants and bars, and generally the most commonly served cocktail at home.

And it’s a healthy drink—at least, it is when you use a good mixer that doesn’t add sweeteners other than those in the Worcestershire Sauce. Just for starters, there are antioxidant lycopenes in the tomato juice,* antioxidants in the citrus juice (vitamin C and others) and a mild antibiotic benefit from the horseradish. An ocean’s worth of Bloody Mary mix is sold each year. Even bars buy mixers rather than take the time to make their own.

*Lycopene may prevent prostate cancer and some other forms of cancer, heart disease and other serious diseases.

While we do mix our own, seeking out the best tomato juices, we also keep tabs on the best Bloody Mary mixers. Recently, we tried three from Demitri’s: Classic, Extra Horseradish and Chilies & Peppers. Demitri Pallis was a frustrated bartender who noted that, “from bartender to bartender, day to day, a customer couldn’t count on a consistent and delicious Bloody Mary.” He developed his mixers for bars; now you can buy them, too. Add two ounces of Demitri’s seasoning to one quart of tomato juice, mix with vodka and toast to the holidays. Read the full review.

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NEWS: Best Coffees Of 2008

If you’re a coffee lover who didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas, perhaps you can treat yourself to one of the world’s best specialty coffees—a no-calorie treat at that! The Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2008 Roasters Guild Coffee of the Year Competition took place in May. We’ve been meaning to get the top 10 winners to have our own judging, but the year just flew by and we’re still coffee-less. So we can’t give you our own analysis, just the results.

More than 30 coffee professionals selected the winning coffee by cupping, a systematic method of evaluating the aroma and taste of coffee that is used by growers, buyers and roasters to evaluate the quality and flavor profile of coffee. As with wine tasting, a small amount of coffee is slurped and swirled over the palate, then spit out without swallowing.

The judges specifically assessed six distinct attributes of the coffee samples, including fragrance, aroma, taste, flavor, aftertaste and body. While a Columbian coffee took top honors, Guatemala had more entries in the top 10 than any other origin.

The highest-ranked coffees included:

1. C.I. Racafe & CIA S.C.A., Colombia
2. Hacienda La Esmeralda, Panama
3. Volcafe Specialty Coffee (Exported by Alanheri), Ethiopia
4. Sidama Coffee Farmers, Co-Op Union, Ethiopia
5. San Rafael Pacun/ Cafetalera El Tunel S.A., Guatemala
6. Agropecuaria Salfar S.A./ San Sebastian, Guatemala
7. Agoga Plantation Limited, Papua New Guinea
8. Finca La Ilusion-Café de El Salvador, El Salvador
9. Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia, Colombia
10. San Jose Ocana, Guatemala
11. Big Island Fine Coffee, Guatemala
12. Kona Coffee Plantation, Hawaii
13. Consejo Dominicano Del Café (Natura Bella), Dominican Republic

– You can download a PDF of all the contestants.

– Learn how to make good coffee.

– Learn coffee terminology in THE NIBBLE’s Coffee Glossary.

– Study the aromas and flavors of coffee.

– Read the history of coffee.

– Take our coffee trivia quiz.

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