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Archive for August, 2013

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Trail Mix Day & A Custom Trail Mix Recipe

August 31st is National Trail Mix Day. While the concept of mixing nuts and dried fruit has been popular for millennia, “trail mix” as a concept for a modern, portable energy snack is relatively new.

The term refers to a mixture of high-energy foods such as dried fruit and nuts, combined with other tasty additions. Commonly added ingredients include chocolate morsels or M&Ms, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and breakfast cereals including granola.

According to Wikipedia, two California firms, Hadley Fruit Orchards and Harmony Foods, claim that trail mix was invented in 1968 by two California surfers, who blended peanuts and raisins together for an energy snack.

But in the U.S., the birth of “trail mix” actually happened more than 10 years earlier. Trail mix is mentioned in Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel, The Dharma Bums, when characters plan meals for for a hiking trip. To appear in a book published in 1958, it needed to be around a few years earlier. Variations of portable energy food have been carried by mankind since the beginning.

But the concept of gorp is easily earlier than that:

In Europe, the combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a trail snack dates at least to the 1910s, when outdoorsman Horace Kephart recommended it in his popular camping guide. An Oxford English Dictionary listing of 1913 cites Gorp as a term for trail mix often used by hikers, an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts.” In modern times, some people re-acronym gorp to “granola, oats, raisins, peanuts.”

The combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a trail snack dates at least to the 1910s, when outdoorsman Horace Kephart recommended it in his popular camping guide.

Even earlier than that:

In Denmark, a mix known as studenterhavre “student oats”) dates to an 1833 citation. Studenterhavre consists mainly of raisins and almonds, but at Christmas, chocolate pieces are added.

Mixes are popular in many other countries as well.


M&M & Grahams Trail Mix

[1] An elegant mix from Vital Choice (photo Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE. [2] An M&M mix from Is This My Life (here’s the recipe).



Gourmet Trail Mix

Snack Bags

[3] A gourmet mix from Aurora (photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE). [4] For a party bar, set out the ingredients and let people make their own party favors to go (photo courtesy; here’s the recipe)



Trail mix continues to be a popular snack—especially by hikers, campers and people on the go—because it’s lightweight, easily portable and requires no refrigeration. It’s a delicious, better-for-you- snack at home, school, work and in lunch bags everywhere.


  • Candy: carob chips, chocolate chips/chunks, M&M’s, mini marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, toffee, yogurt clusters
  • Cereal: Cheerios, Corn Flakes, graham cracker cereal, granola, mini Shredded Wheat, rolled oats
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, cherries, coconut, cranberries (Craisins), dates, mangoes, raisins
  • Exotica: crystallized ginger, Japanese rice crackers, jerky bits, sesame sticks, wasabi peas
  • Legumes: dried edamame (soybeans) or peas, peanuts
  • Nuts: almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts or other favorite
  • Salty snacks: mini crackers, pretzels, sesame sticks
  • Seeds: chia, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds
    Keep experimenting with ingredients and proportions until you have your “signature” trail mix recipe. Then consider it as general gifts and stocking stuffers.

    Let guests make their own party favors! Set up a table with:

  • Different trail mix ingredients.
  • Plastic snack bags.
  • Scoops for filling the bags (we used our set of measuring cups).
  • Wide Sharpies so people can keep track of whose is whose.


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    FOOD FUN: Bacon-wrapped Ford Fiesta

    Today is International Bacon Day*, a cause for great celebration among millions of bacon lovers.

    If Ford could only sell each one of them its new bacon-wrapped 2014 Ford Fiesta!

    Bacon has been a staple of Western cuisine since ancient Roman times. The baconmania of the past five years has produced bacon caramel corn, bacon chocolate bars, bacon chocolate chip cookies, bacon toffee, chocolate-dipped bacon strips, and other tweets.

    But this is the first time that it’s being used by car manufacturer. Bacon enthusiasts can have these custom vinyl bacon graphics installed on a new Fiesta. A full “Bacon Wrap” includes 10 giant strips of delicious bacon rolled around the entire Fiesta for a carb-free ride.

    The wraps are produced by Ford Custom Graphics, along with 3M Original Wraps, and are available at Ford Custom Graphics. There are other graphics available for other Ford models.


    Who’s bringing the lettuce and tomato? Photo courtesy Ford.


    For those who want to control their bacon consumption, options include Bacon Racing Strips, two pieces of bacon that go on the car’s hood and resemble classic dual racing stripes; and a Side of Bacon, two individual strips of bacon that wrap over rear wheel.
    **National Bacon Day is celebrated on the Saturday before Labor Day.


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus

    Hummus made from red lentils, not
    chickpeas. Photo courtesy Eat Well Enjoy


    The impressive hummus line from Eat Well Enjoy Life is like a horse of a different color: made not from chickpeas, but from black beans, white beans, red lentils, yellow lentils and edamame.

    The result: a whole new way to enjoy hummus. The flavors are exceptional, and the products themselves inspire innovation at home.

    Beyond a dip or sandwich spread, think of edamame wasabi hummus blended with mashed potatoes or deviled egg stuffing, spicy red lentil hummus atop crostini and in baked potatoes, black bean hummus in stuffed peppers, white bean hummus on veggie pizzas.

    There’s also a line of traditional chickpea-based hummus mixed with Greek yogurt. The result: a milder taste, less fat and fewer calories. The verdict: equally delicious.

    The line is cholesterol free, gluten free and certified kosher, and has won Healthy Food Awards in both the Healthy Living and Diabetes Focus categories.

    Read the full review.



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    TIP OF THE DAY: Add Nuts, Raw Or Roasted

    Nuts are good for you, and you should enjoy an ounce of them daily as a heart-healthy snack or ingredient: added to salads (green, chicken, egg, tuna, pasta, etc.); chopped and mixed with rice; atop hot or cold cereal, pancakes or French toast; on cottage cheese or yogurt; on ice cream and frozen yogurt; and anywhere else your imagination takes you.

    But is there a difference between raw nuts and roasted (toasted) nuts?

    In a recent Science Times Section of The New York Times, C. Claiborne Ray, who writes the Q&A column, quotes Rui Hai Liu, a professor of food science at Cornell University. Dr. Liu has studied the benefits of eating nuts.

    “No research has specifically addressed how roasting nuts may change their nutritional value,” said Dr. Liu.


    Toasted or untoasted? Photo courtesy

    Dr. Lui opines that roasting will not decrease the benefits, and “it may actually improve the bioavailability of some bioactive compounds” like flavonoids (powerful antioxidants). He has found a positive effect when tomatoes and sweet corn have been roasted.

    Phenolic compounds* in nuts “have high antioxidant activity and are able to quench free radicals that lead to cell damage and oxidative stress,” Dr. Liu said. “Nuts also have a very nice fatty-acid balance and are a good source of vegetable proteins.” And they are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.


    Grilled fish with cilantro pesto and slivered
    almonds. Photo courtesy National Almond


    Walnuts have the most phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity, followed by pecans. Then come peanuts, actually a legume. Pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds also have high levels.

    We love nuts raw or roasted, but the flavors are distinctively different. For fun, have a snack tasting or cocktail tasting with two different nuts, each served both raw and toasted. We recommend starting with almonds and walnuts for a broad spectrum of flavors. Here’s how to toast nuts.

  • The health benefits of nuts and the seven healthiest nuts
  • Here’s the original article.

    *Phenols, sometimes called phenolics, are a class of chemical compounds consisting of a hydroxyl group (—OH) bonded directly to an aromatic hydrocarbon group.
    †Flavonoids, called vitamin P until the early 50s, are the most important plant pigments. The highest-antioxidant foods (blueberries, cherries, pomegranate, etc.) get their deep colors from these antioxidants.



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    RECIPE: Strawberry Avocado Salad

    Don’t let summer end without making this yummy strawberry, avocado and goat cheese salad. The recipe can be a side salad or a main course.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • Fresh salad greens: mixed greens, baby spinach, whatever you like
  • 1 pint strawberries, tops removed and halved
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 8 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre) or blue cheese
  • 1 package almonds, regular (to save calories) or butter toffee glazed; or make this candied nuts recipe
  • Vinaigrette dressing (recipe)

    1. PEEL avocados, halve and remove pits. Slice.


    A delicious summer salad. Photo courtesy

    2. PLACE greens, strawberries, onions and dressing in bowl and toss well.

    3. DIVIDE mixture among 4 plates. Place avocado slices on top.

    4. CRUMBLE cheese and sprinkle salad with cheese and almonds.

    The blog makes a similar salad with a poppyseed dressing. Check it out.

    Find more of our favorite salad recipes.


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