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Archive for July, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Fruit Snack

Dice and freeze for a grab-and-go
snack. Photo courtesy

Here’s a healthy and refreshing grab-and-go summer snack:

Cut melon and stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines) into small chunks. Add berries and grapes and freeze in snack- size plastic bags.

When you need a grab-and-go snack, grab a bag of frozen fruit. By the time you get into the car, the fruit will be ready to eat. And it’s just as good when it’s still semi-frozen.

If you’re time-strapped, you can buy cut frozen fruit and add it directly to the snack bags. But if you can, take advantage of the fresh summer fruit bounty.

Find more healthy ideas in our NutriNibbles and Diet Nibbles Sections.


Food Facts: The Difference Between Pickled Beets & Harvard Beets

As we were writing the previous post, it occurred to us that most people don’t know the difference between pickled beets and Harvard beets.

The quick answer: Pickled beets are made with a pickling technique and served chilled or at room temperature. Harvard beets are coated in a warm sauce. The beets are pre-cooked for both preparations.

  • Pickled beets are made with sugar, vinegar and pickling spices, and are served chilled. Herbs such as fresh dill and/or parsley can be added after pickling; spices such as cinnamon or allspice can be added to the pickling brine. Sliced onion is often added (and in our opinion, is essential!). Garlic lovers add cloves of garlic; the onion and garlic pickle along with the beets.
  • Harvard beets use sugar plus vinegar or lemon juice, but cornstarch or butter is then added to create a thick sauce. The mixture is heated and reduced into a sweet-and-sour sauce called a gastrique (gas-TREEK). Some recipes substitute wine, cider or other alcohol for the vinegar or lemon juice—or add them in addition to the acid. Spices can be used to further flavor the sauce.


Pickled beets are a delicious side. Photo by Cyhel | IST.

Gastrique is a classic French sauce that is typically enhanced with fruit and served with meat, poultry or seafood. A gastrique is similar to the Italian sauce agrodolce, which means sour-sweet.

Learn how to make a gastrique.

By the way, the story about how Harvard beets got their name is a bit murky. One legend says the dish was devised by a hungry Harvard student. According to the Good Housekeeping Great American Classics Cookbook, the recipe may have developed at the Harwood Tavern in England in the 17th century. A Russian emigre customer moved to Boston in 1846, opened a restaurant named Harwood and served the beets; his accent made the name sound like “Harvard.” A variation called Yale Beets evolved, substituting orange juice for the vinegar and orange zest for the onion.


CONTEST: Beet Out The Other Recipes

Pickled baby beets stuffed with goat cheese
are a delicious appetizer. Photo
courtesy Aunt Nellie’s.

If you love beets—and have the recipes to prove it—Aunt Nellie’s invites you to enter its “Say Yes! To Beets” recipe contest. You might win the $2,500 top prize.

Recipe categories include:

  • Beverages/Smoothies: cocktails, juice blends and smoothies
  • Everyday Quick: easy, everyday dishes for any occasion
  • Special: special occasion and holiday favorites

Submit your recipes to before 11:59 EST on August 13th. Visit for more information.

Aunt Nellie’s makes sliced beets, Harvard beets, sliced and whole pickled beets and pickled beets and onions. Yum!

It’s easy to enjoy the beets right out of the jar or onto a plate—but it’s much more enjoyable to win a cash prize for a recipe.


TIP OF THE DAY: Low Calorie Salad Dressing Tasting

If your food plan includes low-calorie salads, remember that a regular salad dressing can zero-out the calorie savings. Each little tablespoon can be 100 calories or more (and the next time you dress your salad, count how many tablespoons you use).

There are countless low-calorie salad dressings out there: the good, the O.K., and the we-don’t-want-another-taste. If you don’t like spending money on bottle after bottle trying to find the ones you like, turn your search into a “salad dressing tasting party.”

Invite friends over for a salad lunch or dinner and taste ten or more different diet dressings at once. You can ask for recommendations up-front. You’ll discover favorite new low-calorie salad dressings, and get your friends together for a healthy good time.

You can assign everyone to bring a different interesting “salad bar” item, or ask everyone to bring an undressed salad—and have a vote to award prizes to the best.


Don’t pour hundreds of calories of dressing
on a healthy salad. Photo by Kelly Cline | IST.

Our current favorite low-calorie salad dressing is Walden Farms Calorie Free Thousand Island Dressing (certified kosher by OU). But it’s the only flavor in the line that we like—after spending more than $4.00 a bottle to try all the others. For a quick diet dinner, we grab a bag of Dole cole slaw mix, some Perdue Short Cuts roast chicken…and then shake on all the zero-calorie dressing we want. 



NEWS: Healthier Smoothies From Red Mango

Who can resist a nonfat strawberry-banana
smoothie? Photo courtesy

How many different smoothies can you drink?

If you’re at a Red Mango, you’ve got 22 options! (And they’re certified kosher, too, by Star-K.)

America loves its smoothies, but the “healthy” yogurt shakes sold by many producers are often laden with sugar or high fructose corn syrup (read the label, or check online). Determined to offer healthier smoothies, Red Mango has relaunched its line with four styles:

  • Fruit & Yogurt Smoothies, healthy snacks or meal replacements made from fresh fruit and probiotic frozen yogurt
  • Power Smoothies with added nutrition—flax seed, protein, minerals and vitamins
  • Fresh Fruit & Tea Infused Smoothies, made with whole-leaf tea for an extra hit of antioxidants
  • Iced Tea Chillers, lighter blends of tea and frozen yogurt that are an icy-cold, refreshing way to cool down in the heat
Unlike some other smoothies, Red Mango drinks are all natural and made with fresh fruit instead of frozen fruit. All are made with natural nonfat yogurt (avoid smoothies made with fat-laden ice cream and sugar-laden sorbet) and probiotics that have been proven effective in tests (the live bacteria actually make it into the stomach instead of perishing along the way—learn more about the benefits of probiotics). Extra sweeting comes from natural, non-caloric stevia, not sugar or HFCS.We’re working our way through the menu. All of them are good (have you ever met a smoothie you didn’t like?), although everyone will have his or her favorites. One standout was the Vanilla Black Tea from the Iced Tea Chillers series, reminiscent of Thai Iced Tea—but far less caloric and with beneficial probiotics.

If there’s no Red Mango near you, have your mayor send the company the key to the city. Find the nearest location at



TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Judy’s Breadsticks

Whole grain, vegan, crunchy and superb, Judy’s Breadsticks are carried by specialty food stores in Northern California. Thanks to the Internet, everyone can enjoy them.

Twigs are made of 100% organic whole-grain wheat, barley malt and olive oil, plus sea salt or a bit of sugar, depending on the flavor.

Roasted Garlic, Sesame and Sunflower are the savory flavors; Coffee Bean and Sweet Currant are slightly-sweetened breadsticks.

The Coffee Bean breadsticks are ingeniously studded with roasted coffee beans. They’re a coffee lover’s must-have.

The Somewhat Seedy Garlicky Toasted Bites, jumbo croutons, are also worth sending for.

A bounty of whole-grain breadsticks. Photo
by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.


TIP OF THE DAY: Iced Tea Party

This Bodum iced tea pitcher is very handy
for infusing mint and fruit. Photo

Hot enough for you? Where we live, it’s day five of a heat wave.

Gather your friends and neighbors—or your work colleagues or business network—to discuss the weather at an iced tea party. We’ve got suggestions for different types of iced tea and the food to go with them.

Bodum’s iced tea pitcher has a separate, flow-through compartment that lets you infuse iced tea with raspberries, mint or other favorite flavor, while keeping the fruits and herbs confined while you pour the iced tea.

And take a few minutes to watch the luminous Marilyn Monroe performing the musical number “Heat Wave” from the film, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” The YouTube video isn’t of the best quality, but you’ll get the idea.

Find more iced tea recipes and reviews of our favorite teas in our Gourmet Tea Section.



RECIPES: Ice Cream Sodas With Iced Coffee & Iced Tea

Here are two ideas for cooling-off drinks, courtesy of ChocolateBox Café in Malibu, California.

Instead of an ice cream soda, scoop gelato or ice cream into an iced espresso and sorbet into iced tea.

  • Iced Coffee Float. Coffee lovers can pair an iced espresso with gelato in chocolate chip, coffee, hazelnut, tiramisu or vanilla (you can substitute ice cream). If you’re in the mood, add a tablespoon or two of coffee liqueur to the iced espresso. Top the drink with whipped cream and garnish with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder.
  • Iced Tea Float. Tea lovers can create a SorbeTeani with iced tea and sorbet. It’s a no-fat, no-cholesterol vegan drink if you leave off the whipped cream. Combine iced green tea or rooibos with fruit sorbet in lemon, orange, passion fruit or raspberry. Garnish with a mint leaf and optional whipped cream or vegan whipped topping.
    Pre-chill the glasses in the freezer for a frostier drink.


    Cool off with an iced espresso combined with
    coffee gelato. Photo courtesy
    ChocolateBox Café.


    If you’re in the neighborhood, ChocolateBox Café is hosting a Summer Happy Hour. All ChocolateBox Café drinks, hot and cold, are half off Mondays through Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (through August 26, 2010).

    What’s the difference between ice cream and gelato? Sorbet and sherbet? See our Ice Cream Glossary.



    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Stuffed Pretzels

    Savory or sweet, there’s a pretzel treat for
    everyone. Photo courtesy Kim & Scott’s.

    There are certain areas in which “twisted” means good. Pretzels is one. Your taste buds will twist if you win this week’s Gourmet Giveaway prize, courtesy of Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Stuffed Pretzels.

    These jumbo, soft, whole grain pretzels are stuffed with savory and sweet ingredients and sold frozen, ready to be baked or microwaved into rewarding treats. While we prefer the savory varieties (read our review), with Kim & Scott’s, there are varieties for the sweet tooth as well.

    • THE PRIZE: One winner will take home the Original Variety Sampler: 10 sweet and savory gourmet stuffed pretzels. For snacking or save them for a party or special brunch. Approximate retail value: $28.00.
    • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Snacks Section and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, July 26th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
    • To learn more about Kim & Scott’s, visit


    TIP OF THE DAY: Preservation Party

    What are we preserving? Ripe summer fruit!

    The Washington State Fruit Commission has a beautiful new website devoted to preserving fruit.

    Whether you’re an experienced preserver or a newbie, create a fun event that lets you make gifts (great for the holidays) and treats for the home.

    The website has templates for pretty labels for your jars of fruit, as well as an A-to-Z guide to doing it right. There are also instructions for hosting a memorable preservation party.

    Pick a party date and head to the website.

    Make your own preserves this summer.
    Photo courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission.


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