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Archive for May, 2012

PRODUCT REVIEW: Espresso CocoZona, Coconut Water & Coffee

Coconut water + espresso = hydration with a
caffeine kick. Photo courtesy AriZona
Beverages USA.


Some months ago we tasted dozens of coconut waters, including CocoZona from AriZona Beverages USA.

The company is now rolling out a second flavor: CocoZona Coconut Water with Espresso. The drink blends 100% pure coconut water with coffee, and has 50mg of caffeine per bottle.

The idea for CocoZona Espresso was hatched when an AriZona executive added some of the original CocoZona to his iced coffee. He really liked the flavor, and realized that a combination of coconut water and coffee would create a hydrating beverage with a kick of energy.

When the idea was handed to the product developers, the goal was not to recreate a latte-like flavor, which is the style of other coffee-enhanced coconut water beverages.* Thus, there is no milk or cream, just coconut water and coffee.

However, the flavor of CocoZona Espresso is like a charming “latte lite.” The natural milkiness of the coconut water combines beautifully with the coffee (which plays out more like regular coffee than espresso). Even the aroma has a bit of milkiness.


*Other caffeinated coconut water blends include Blue Monkey Organic, Coco Cafe, Coconut Coffee and Zico Latte.

We like it even better than the original, plain, coconut water.

Coconut water is a naturally isotonic drink that contains key electrolytes, such calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, are of which are essential for rapid fluid absorption. And with 50mg of caffeine per bottle, CocoZona Espresso has an added kick.

A 14.5-ounce aluminum bottle has 70 calories. The suggested retail price is $1.99 to $2.49 per bottle. The bottle, which which has an attractive tropical-themed wrap, is 100% recyclable and can be repurposed as a water bottle (we refill the bottles with water and stick them in the fridge).

Coffee lovers: Try it!


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TIP OF THE DAY: A New Way To Look At Cheese For Dessert

Many people enjoy a cheese plate with fruit and nuts.

Typically, that means helping oneself from a platter of cheese, garnished with fresh or dried fruits, almonds and/or walnuts.

And typically, people eat far more cheese than they should. The suggested serving size is one or two ounces; we probably can put away six ounces before we know it.

The problem is not just the 100 calories per meager ounce of cheese (one slice of American cheese is an ounce—so imagine what that wedge you’ve carved off weighs). Cheese also has a high level of saturated fat (cholesterol).

Here’s one way to have your cheese plate and eat it too—with far less saturated fat:

Even if you think you don’t like it, try fresh goat’s milk cheese. It’s like tangy cream cheese, and doesn’t have the “goaty” flavor that some people dislike in an aged goat cheese. These days you can find a fresh goat cheese (chèvre) log in most supermarkets.


The new cheese, fruit and nut plate. Photo courtesy Wonderful Pistachios,


Goat’s milk cheese has fewer calories and fat* than cow’s and sheep’s milk cheeses:

  • Goat Cheese: 80 calories/6 grams of fat per ounce
  • Cow Cheese: 100 calories and 10 grams of fat per ounce
  • Sheep Cheese: 110-120 calories per ounce, and 8 g to 10 g of fat
    *Category averages. Some cheeses may have more calories and fat.

    Turn soft goat cheese into truffles rolled in chopped nuts—pistachios are a delicious pairing—and you’ll discover a new way to enjoy cheese.



  • 1 log (11 ounces) soft goat cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts or grated dark chocolate (or half of each)

  • 3 dried apricots or two fresh figs or other fruit per person
  • 1 tablespoon shelled pistachios per person

    1. Mash goat cheese in a bowl. Stir in minced cranberries.

    2. Scoop with a teaspoon and roll into truffle-size balls, 1 to 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Set on wax paper.

    3. Roll balls in chopped pistachios. Return to wax paper. Refrigerate until 20 minutes before serving.


    On a dessert-size plate, assemble the fruit, pistachios and 3-4 goat cheese truffles.

    WINE: Enjoy with a glass of moscato.

    LEFTOVERS: If you have extra goat cheese truffles, wrap them tightly in plastic film and serve them with tomorrow’s breakfast eggs or dinner salad. Add any extra pistachios, whole/shelled or chopped, to your salad as well.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Peanut Butter

    We received an email from a reader, asking: “How should I store my PB and how long will it last?”

    Large brands typically come with expiration dates (and possibly, preservatives). If you purchase an artisan brand, it has no preservatives; but it may not have an expiration date, either. So here are the guidelines:

  • Shelf. If you store the jar in a cool dry place, a jar of peanut butter will last for about 12 months. Although the ingredients can remain shelf stable beyond then, nuts can start to go rancid after a year or so, and your PB may develop an odor. Use your nose as your guide, and feel free to taste the PB to see if the flavor is still passable. It won’t harm you to eat it.
  • Fridge. If you store the jar in the fridge, the cold will buy you more time.
  • Microwave. If you refrigerate the PB, it will be harder to spread when cold. So tip #2 is: Take the lid off and microwave the jar for 20 seconds before spreading.

    Koeze is of our favorite artisan PBs. The company also makes spectacular chocolate peanut butter clusters. Photo courtesy Koeze.


    Find more of our favorite peanut butter brands, recipes and more in our Peanut Butter & Jelly Section.


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    PRODUCT: Barilla Microwaveable Meals: Pasta In 60 Seconds

    Just pour the sauce tray on top of the pasta
    and you’ve got a tasty pasta entrée. Shown: one cooked entrée and two packages waiting
    for the microwave. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |


    It’s new, it’s clever and it’s a real time saver. After just 60 seconds in the microwave, you can enjoy a quality pasta entrée, thanks to Barilla’s clever Microwaveable Meals packaging.

    The innovation: a pasta meal that is shelf stable (no refrigeration required), portable (toss the package into your bag and head out) and ready to eat in a minute.

    At $3.29 per package (one serving), this may not be an everyday solution for many families. But when children are screaming for food, or you are extremely time strapped, it can be a godsend. The mezze penne size used in most of the varieties is good for small mouths as well as large ones.

    Barilla microwaveable meals are made from the same 100% natural ingredients as Barilla dry pasta and jarred sauces. Now in select stores in the microwavable meals aisle, the choices include:

  • Mezze Penne with Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • Mezze Penne with Traditional Marinara Sauce
  • Mezze Penne with Spicy Marinara Sauce
  • Whole Grain Fusilli with Vegetable Marinara Sauce
  • Whole Grain Mezze Penne with Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • Each 9-ounce package contains one serving of pasta and sauce.

  • All meals provide between 9g and 11g of protein.
  • The pasta is an excellent* source of fiber.
  • The sauce is a good or excellent* source of vitamin A.
  • The whole grain varieties are a good* source of iron.
  • All meals are 320 calories or less.
    The innovative packaging of Barilla microwaveable meals maintains the food’s taste, texture and freshness for a shelf life of 12 months, at room temperature. The pasta and sauce are stored in separate trays, allowing consumers to use as much or as little sauce as they like.

    We enjoyed the meals, and are especially pleased that there are two whole grain varieties (if you’re going to eat high-carb pasta and bread, make them whole grain for a nutritional benefit). We have just two nits:

  • No grated cheese.
  • Sustainability: That clever packaging creates two pieces of plastic waste, in addition to the outer cardboard package and the plastic film over the food. But both trays are #5 plastic, which is recyclable in many communities.
    For additional information on Barilla microwaveable meals, visit

    Find more of our favorite pastas, sauces and recipes in our Gourmet Pasta Section.

    *Based on the Percent Daily Values, which are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, as per the Nutrition Facts Panel.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Host A Greener Memorial Day Celebration

    Today, we’re passing on tips from the, a resource for couples who desire an ecologically conscious wedding. The website’s cocktail and barbeque tips can also help you have a green(er) Memorial Day celebration.

    Here are five ideas to make your outdoor event green or greener. It can also help to make family and friends more conscious of what can small steps can be taken to help the environment.

    1. Use All Natural Charcoal
    Cook with natural charcoal. One brand to look for is Lazzari natural mesquite charcoal. Made from ecologically harvested wood, it is a carbon neutral alternative that provides better flavor than briquettes. You can purchase it online. Also check out Hardwood Lump Charcoal. Here’s why it’s better than briquettes.

    2. Serve Refreshing Green Drinks
    Serve eco-friendly beer, and make your Mojitos from organic rum, organic limes and crushed organic mint (you can grow it in your garden, though not in time for this Memorial Day). Check out The Organic Spirits Company, which sells organic gin, rum, vodka and scotch.


    Before you put a shrimp on the barbie, think of what you can do to create a more sustainable Memorial Day celebration. Photo by Atif Gulzar | SXC.

    Serve drinks in recycled glass containers or reuse Mason jars as hefty, shatter-resistant drinking glasses (they can become your signature party glass). You can also get biodegradable straws (or simply buy paper instead of plastic).

    3. Use Sustainable Serving Ware
    Buy heavy-duty paper plates: They’re biodegradable. If you must use plastic, look for sustainable plastic plates. Susty Party Plates are made from recycled plastic and can be reused. Also check out the Bambu line of biodegradable bamboo plates. Put a “Recycle Your Utensils” bin next to the trash can so plastic flatware can be washed and used for the next party (it usually can be put it in the dishwasher).


    Use paper plates and cups, not plastic. Photo
    courtesy Creative Converting.


    4. Get Green Grilling Tools
    The next time you buy grilling tools, look for greener alternatives, like this Eco BBQ Set, constructed from FDA compliant materials such as stainless steel and bamboo.

    5. Bug Off With Citronella
    When the sun sets, nothing ruins an outdoor party faster than mosquitoes! Try all natural citronella torches like these Big Dipper Wax Works. Made from bug repellant beeswax and soy candles with essential oils, they burn for eight hours. Then, you can pop another one into the reusable bamboo base. Beeswax is 100% natural and a renewable resource that actually cleans the air by emitting purifying negative ions.

    Want to plan greener parties? Start with the best-selling The Green Bride Guide: How To Plan An Earth-Friendly Wedding On Any Budget. Any event can be made greener with its guidelines.



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