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Archive for July, 2012

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Gummy Worms Day

Cherry Cola Cupcake, with cherry and cola
gummy candies by Goody Good Stuff. Photo
© all rights reserved, courtesy Hey Little
, a cupcake specialty shop in
Manchester, England.


Today is National Gummy Worms Day. But not everybody can enjoy a juicy gummy worm.

That’s because many gummy candies are made with gelatin, an animal product that’s neither kosher nor vegetarian/vegan.

The traditional gummy candy is made with sugar, glucose syrup (more sugar), starch, flavoring, food color, citric acid and gelatin.

Gummy History

The first gummy candies, Gummi Bears, were produced in 1922 by Haribo, a Bonn, Germany, confectioner. Founder Hans Riegel invented the Dancing Bear, a fruit gum made in the shape of a bear. In 1967 the Dancing Bears became Gummi Bears, and spawned an entire zoo of gummi animals.

Worms are not zoo creatures, however, and Haribo did not invent the Gummi Worm. Gummi Worms were introduced by another German gummi candy manufacturer, Trolli (named for forest trolls), in 1981. The U.S. Americanized “gummi” to “gummy.”


The boom in gummy popularity spawned versions that are organic, kosher and halal. For the latter two, manufacturers have substituted pectin or starch for gelatin.

Goody Good Stuff is an all-natural gummy candy line that is made with a plant-derived gum. It eliminates the need for animal-based gelatin, while maintaining a smooth and clear consistency. There are no artificial colors or flavors and no possible allergens, such as gluten.

There are no worms, either. At this time, there are sweet and sour gummy candies in fruit, bear and cola bottle shapes. All of the products are vegetarian (some are vegan), kosher and halal. Here’s the company website.


Beyond snacking, bring out the gummies for parties:

  • Incorporate them into centerpiece decorations
  • Fill glass candy bowls
  • Garnish the rim of desert plates
  • Top cupcakes or cookies
  • Use as ice cream toppers
  • Make gummy fruit kabobs
  • Dip in chocolate for “gourmet” gummies
  • Decorate the rim of cocktails
  • Add to popcorn
  • Make gummy trail mix: gummies, M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, nuts, pretzels and raisins or dried cherries

    Gummy Worm Cake

    Back to gummy worms: Make this easy dessert or snack recipe for “dirt cake” using Oreos, gummy worms, vanilla pudding and cream cheese. It’s appealing to adults as well as kids—really!


    TIP OF THE DAY: Salad Without Lettuce

    In America, “salad” has come to mean a mixture of lettuce and possibly some other raw vegetables, generally including tomato for color, regardless of the seasonality or flavor. But that’s not the origin of the word.

    The word comes from the Latin salata, short for herba salata, salted vegetables, a popular Roman dish. The vegetables were seasoned with brine; vegetables that sat in salted water for an hour or more become pickled vegetables.

    Over the centuries, salad became a cold dish of vegetables and a dressing, sometimes with a protein: beef, chicken, eggs, seafood, etc. Today we have:

  • Appetizer salads, a light starter served as the first course of the meal.

    Microgreens, radishes and aspic with carrots. Photo courtesy Silk Rd Tavern.

  • Side salads that accompany the main course. These can be based on raw or cooked vegetables or on beans, grains, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.
  • Main course salads, usually containing a protein, such as grilled beef, chicken breast, duck, salmon or seafood, or hard-cooked eggs (served with bacon in a traditional spinach salad).
  • Dessert salads, such as fruit salad or gelatin containing fruit.
    According to, teen and adult women should have four servings of vegetables per day; teen and adult men should have five servings. If you’re weary of lettuce salads, try making salad without the familiar bibb, Boston, chicory, iceberg and romaine lettuces.

    Lettuce-Free Salads

    Instead, use arugula, baby spinach, carrots, celeriac (celery root), celery, cucumber, endive, fennel, green beans, microgreens, mushrooms, mustard greens, radicchio, radishes, sprouts, summer squash, watercress and things you come across in the produce section that you haven’t tried before in a salad.

    Integrate some color: beets, carrots, cherry tomatoes. You can still use favorite garnishes: croutons, herbs, nuts, seeds.

    If you like to have fun with gelatin, make an aspic with vegetables as shown in the photo, and serve it with salad on the side or on top.

    What About The Dressing?

    You already know this, but fatty dressings based on mayonnaise, sour cream. Stick with vinaigrettes made with a heart healthy oil (avocado, canola/rapeseed, flaxseed, olive, sesame, walnut).

    Find more of our favorite salads and recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Onion Marmalade

    A pan of caramelized onions. Photo courtesy


    What do you put on your grilled meat? Ketchup? Mustard? Steak sauce? Worcestershire?

    Today’s tip is a delicious make-your-own condiment, red onion marmalade. It is an addictively good finishing touch to lamb, poultry, pork, steak or anything from the grill, including pizza. No other condiment is needed.

    You can also serve it with breakfast eggs, on toast and on sandwiches—try it with grilled cheese. The marmalade is so good, you’ll be sorry you didn’t make four times the amount. And you can give it as gifts.

    This recipe is courtesy, an unbeatable resource for gourmet produce and healthy gifts.


    The difference between onion marmalade and caramelized onions is the added brown sugar, vinegar and wine. You may also enjoy this recipe for caramelized onions.


    Makes 4 servings.


  • 1 ounce butter
  • 1 pound red onions halved and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

    1. Melt the butter in a medium pan.

    2. Add the onions and sugar and cook over a medium heat, stirring until soft and lightly caramelized.

    3. Add the wine and vinegar and let cook for about another 10 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions are very soft. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over beef, chicken, lamb, pork or tofu.

    4. Store leftovers in an airtight jar and use within two weeks.


    Marmalade is a soft jelly, often citrus-based, that includes the flesh and often the peel of the fruit suspended throughout the jelly base. The sweetness of the jelly is offset by the bitterness of the peel.

    Some products and recipes that are called marmalade—onion and tomato marmalades, for example—are actually misnamed jams and preserves.

    Why? Perhaps because onion marmalade sounds tastier than onion preserves.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: 34° Cookie Crisps

    In the summer heat, you reach for lighter foods. For snacks and desserts, there’s nothing lighter than 34° Crisps, ultra-thin cookies in Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon and Graham.

    They may be thin, but 34° Crisps are rich in flavor. You can serve them plain or embellished in any variety of ways: with Nutella, peanut butter or jam, with cheesecake spread, with goat cheese or Brie, as a base for s’mores or delicate ice cream sandwiches.

    They’re so thin that seven crisps contain just 50 or 60 calories, depending on the flavor. Those calories buy you just one small regular cookie.

    Check out the full review and more beautiful recipe photos on, along with this week’s recipe and cooking video.

    Find more of our favorite cookies and recipes.


    Crisp, delicious and very few calories. Photo courtesy 34°.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Marinate Your Flank Steak

    A grilled flank steak, or London Broil. Photo courtesy, producers of naturally raised Angus beef.


    Flank steak is a cut from the abdominal muscles of the steer. A relatively long and flat cut of meat, it is served as London broil and for fajitas.

    Tasty as it is, flank steak is a tougher cut and should be marinated prior to grilling. The marinade serves as a tenderizer that also adds flavor.

    Here are chefs’ tips for the best way to cook a flank steak.

  • POUND. First pound the meat on both sides, between plastic wrap.
  • MARINADE. Prepare a marinade. While many people grab a bottle of commercial Italian dressing, it’s easy and less expensive to make your own marinade.

  • RECIPE: For a two-pound flank steak, combine two teaspoons of acid (balsamic vinegar, plum vinegar, raspberry vinegar or red wine vinegar; red or white wine, rice wine; or lemon juice); 1/3 cup olive oil or yogurt (the helpful bacteria in yogurt make it an excellent tenderizer); 2 minced garlic cloves; 1/3 cup soy sauce; 1/4 cup honey; 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper and sea salt to taste.
  • FLAVOR: You can add more dimensions of flavor with herbs (fresh chives, cilantro or parsley), spices, orange juice, wine, etc.
  • MARINATE: Add the meat and the marinade to a plastic bag and marinate for several hours or overnight in the fridge, turning the bag several times.
  • GRILL: When ready to cook, towel off the excess marinade. Grill 5-7 minutes each side for rare, 7-10 minutes for medium. Don’t cook beyond medium or the meat will be tough.
    Find more of our favorite beef recipes.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A New Frozen Dessert

    It’s National Ice Cream Month, but since there’s no Frozen Yogurt Month, Gelato Month or Sorbet Month, use it as an excuse to branch out.

    Try ice cream in a new form:

  • If you’ve never had authentic gelato, track down a gelateria and dig in.
  • Have a slice of hokey pokey, also known as Neapolitan ice cream.
  • Go global with frozen kefir, from the Middle East, or Indian kulfi.
  • Make a Baked Alaska, bombe, a frozen soufflé or profiteroles.
  • Sorbet lovers should make a granita or Italian ice.
    See all the frozen dessert in our Frozen Desserts Glossary.


    A bombe combines different flavors of ice cream, or ice cream plus sorbet. Photo by Richard Dudley | SXC.




    COOKING VIDEO: Watermelon Sorbet


    The only problem with watermelon sorbet is how difficult it is to find it. If you live near a motherlode, consider yourself fortunate.

    Otherwise, if you have an ice cream maker, you can make it yourself. So light and delicious, watermelon sorbet is more than worth the effort.

    Use red or yellow watermelon. Fortunately, a number of breeds have been hybridized so that there are just a few, white and very light, watermelon seeds. So you don’t have to de-seed the watermelon—a time savings that makes the rest of the recipe a breeze.

    Find more of our favorite sorbet recipes.




    PRODUCT: Sweet Leaf Diet Tea

    We prefer iced tea with no sweetener, or a just a touch, such as the bottled teas crafted by Honest Tea and Inko’s White Tea.

    So we are not a prospect for Sweet Leaf Tea, a brand we’ve tasted on numerous occasions. In organic and all-natural, original and flavored variations (lemon-lime, mint & honey, peach, raspberry, etc.), it is Southern-style sweet tea. Made with excellent tea, it’s a hit with many, but too sweet for us.

    So we were excited when the brand introduced two flavors of Diet Sweet Leaf Tea, The Original and Citrus.

    They’re absolutely delicious, and some kind of magic incantation must have been cast over the sucralose to make the drinks taste so natural.

    Diet “The Original” Sweet Leaf Black Tea

    If you doubt our word that a zero-calorie sweet tea can taste as good as this, company owners Clayton Christopher and David Smith recount the true story of how they ran out of Original Sweet Tea at an Austin City Limits Music Festival. They served Diet The Original for a few hours and no one noticed.


    Sweet Leaf’s two diet tea flavors. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Diet “Citrus” Sweet Leaf Green Tea

    As with The Original, Diet Citrus is made with filtered water, plus organic green tea, natural flavors, citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

    While Diet The Original has very fine tea flavor, Diet Citrus has layers and layers of flavor: not just citrus but peach and pineapple, as well.

    We’ll be ordering them in bulk. Fortunately, both flavors are made in 64-ounce plastic jugs along with 16 ounce glass single-serves. Buy them by the jugful.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Here’s a store locator. You can also buy Sweet Leaf on

    Find more of our favorite iced tea brands, plus recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Grilled Ravioli

    Ravioli cooked on the grill. Photo courtesy


    Have you ever grilled pasta? Pop some fresh or thawed ravioli onto the grill and become a believer.

    We got such good response to our recent Pasta Primavera recipe that we’re sharing another take on it—grilled ravioli with grilled vegetables.

    Pasta Prima, a specialist in handcrafted ravioli, developed this recipe using its Pasta Prima Frozen Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli. You can try other ravioli flavors, as well. Consider a ravioli “mixed grill.”

    Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 4 minutes. Yields: 4 servings.



  • 24 fresh or thawed frozen spinach ravioli
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Skewers
  • Optional garnishes: fresh basil leaf, grated
    Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese
  • Marinade

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 pinches each rosemary and oregano (fresh if possible)
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

    1. MARINATE. Slice the vegetables into half inch pieces, large enough to fit on a skewer. Put the vegetables into a sealed plastic bag with the marinade ingredients, shake, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours or overnight.

    2. THAW. While the vegetables are marinating, thaw the ravioli and soak the skewers so they will not burn. For quick thawing of frozen ravioli, soak in tepid water for about half an hour, or defrost in the refrigerator for 6 hours. Soak skewers for several hours.

    3. PREHEAT. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Let the marinade drain off the vegetables in a colander, to prevent flare-ups.

    4. GRILL. Slide vegetables onto skewers. Place ravioli on the grill. Cook vegetables apart from the ravioli on the other side of the grill. Both will take about 2 ½-3 minutes to cook. Keep the grill lid open.

    5. SERVE. Top with the optional garnish(es).

    Find more of our favorite pasta recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Tea Ice Pops

    Some days are so hot and humid that iced tea isn’t quite enough.

    So freeze it into ice pops.

    Favorite herbal teas make tasty pops. Just brew them to twice the concentration—two tea bags or two teaspoons of loose tea per cup.

    Add your sweeter and freeze. You can also add a half teaspoon of spirit (gin, tequila, vodka), liqueur, or a splash of wine.

    In the photo, chef Michael O’Boyle of Chicken Fried has made ice pops with hibiscus tea, using round ice cube molds instead of conventional ice pop molds.

    Make some and cool off!

    Find more of our favorite recipes for sorbet and other frozen desserts.


    Photo courtesy chef Michael O’Boyle,




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