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Archive for August 28, 2013

FOOD FUN: Pink Pearl Apples

Like a purple cow, most people have never seen a Pink Pearl apple. The difference is that Pink Pearls exist.

The Pink Pearl apple is an apple cultivar developed in 1944 from Surprise, another red-fleshed apple, by Albert Etter, a northern California breeder. It has distinctive pink flesh beneath translucent, pearly yellow skin. As with blood oranges, the skin can develop a pink blush.

Pink Pearls are harvested in August through mid-September, and don’t last long in storage; they’re a summer apple. Check at farmers markets to see if you can find them; or grow your own: Buy a tree from TreesOfAntiquity.com.

The crisp flesh is tart to sweet-tart. Enjoy them as a hand fruit bake them, especially in tarts where their pink color will be a standout.

 

Pink Pearl apples have a yellow skin and rosy flesh. Photo courtesy Comfort And Joy.

 

  

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GLUTEN FREE: Among Friends Hand-Crafted Baking Mixes

Phil ‘Em Up combines chocolate chips and
dried cranberries. Photo courtesy Among
Friends Baking Mixes.

 

Our gluten-free products editor, Georgi Page, tastes lots of gluten-free baking mixes. We’re as happy as she is when she finds something she likes.

One of the hardest things about being gluten-free has been the difficulty of not being able to have a cookie when I want (need?!) one. Without even realizing I was using it as a crutch, I resorted to making homemade granola, and snacking on that.

It was only when I got a chance to try Among Friends “Phil ‘Em Up” Chocolate Cranberry Cookie mix, made with Oatmeal flour, that I realized just how big the hole in my cookie-loving heart had been.

Among Friends Hand-crafted Baking Mixes come in regular and Gluten-free varieties. All have healthier, better-for-you ingredients.

 

The gluten-free line-up includes Phil ‘Em Up, the oat-y chocolate cranberry mix I baked; Shane’s Sweet-n-Spicy Molasses Cookies; CJ’s’ Double Chocolate Cookies and a Trish the Dish Crisp Mix.

 

The names accurately capture the homey taste and flavor of the end result: toasty, tasty, hearty cookies that are relatively low in fat. The oat cookies I sampled have a very sturdy texture provided by the oat flour, so they’ve got plenty of fiber, without the grittiness of rice flour.

They also have a faint salty, coconut-y aftertaste that I loved. Some gluten-free products have a mysterious aftertaste that is faintly bean-like, or raisin-y, but that is not a problem here.

The chocolate chunks are rich but not so plentiful as to be a distraction, and the cranberries retained a chewy tartness. The cookies made me forget I am gluten-free.

And, I got 14g of whole grain in my serving of two cookies.

Among Friends’ mixes are made with premium GMO-free ingredients, and the price point of $5.99 reflects it. You’re also getting Callebaut chocolate chips, which are top-of-the-line.

 

Nice enough to give as gifts to your GF friends. Photo courtesy Among Friends Baking Mixes.

 

They are a breeze to make. The only advance planning needed was setting out a half stick of butter to soften. Then, you’ll be popping cookies into the oven 5 minutes after opening the adorable packaging (with “stretch of the day” tips on the bottom of the bag).

For more information about Among Friends Baking Mixes, check the website.

Here’s a store locator. You can purchase the cookies at Whole Foods Markets, Meijers and Sprouts (coming soon) and online at Amazon.com and AmongFriendsBakingMixes.com.

— Georgi Page

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Broccoli Salsa & More Ways To Love Broccoli

A broccoli veggie mix, ready to spoon into a
baked potato. Photo courtesy Potatopia |
New York City.

 

We love broccoli, lightly steamed*, raw with dip, puréed as a side dish and as soup. Perhaps the most famous words ever said about broccoli were from our 41st president, George H.W. Bush, and they were not an endorsement:

“I do not like broccoli,” said the president at a 1990 news conference. “And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it.* And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that’s coming in.”

Whew! Broccoli farmers of America did more than wince!

 
That same year, Johns Hopkins University published a cancer study showing that broccoli prevented the development of tumors by 60% and helped reduce the size of the tumor by 75%. But when you’re younger and less health-concerned, what you hear is: “If the president won’t eat broccoli, I don’t have to eat it.”

If you’re not a fan, chop raw broccoli florets finely and add the broccoli to mixed diced vegetables, salsa, sour cream, Greek yogurt or other base—possibly with garlic, green onions, chives or other flavors you like that reduce the prominence of the broccoli. Then, enjoy it in baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, on fish, chicken, rice, etc. Save the stems to enjoy as crudités, steamed as a side veg or puréed into soup.

*Perhaps Dorothy Walker Bush overcooked the broccoli. There’s nothing worse than overcooked cruciferous veggies: the same cancer-inhibiting, sulfur-containing compounds (glucosinolates) are released by long heating in the most unpleasant, odoriferous way. We wouldn’t eat overcooked broccoli either.

 

WHY IS BROCCOLI SO GOOD FOR YOU?

The Brassicaceae family of vegetables (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, cress, daikon, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed, rutabaga and turnip) contain powerful antioxidants that prevent the build-up of destructive, disease-engendering free radicals.

Studies show that broccoli and its cruciferous cousins aid with alkalinization (making the body less acidic), bone health, cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction, detoxification (neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants), digestion (high in fiber), heart health, lowering blood sugar, reducing allergy reactions and inflammation, and much more. Plus, all that fiber helps to curve overeating.

Can you name a food that does more for you?

Broccoli is one of the most “potent” members of the family. So if you like it, eat more. If you’re not a fan, try:

 

Have fun with broccoli, shown here in both purple and conventional green. The green pointy veggie is Romanesco broccoli, also called Roman cauliflower. Check farmers markets and specialty produce stores for these beauties. Photo courtesy The Fat Radish | New York City.

 

And never, ever overcook it (see the footnote above). But if you do, here are two remedies we found online:

  • Add other flavors. Toss the broccoli with olive oil, garlic and chopped olives, capers, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Make broccoli soup. Per head of cooked broccoli, cook some carrots, about 1/4 the volume of the broccoli. Sauté a medium onion with fresh thyme and 3 large garlic cloves; use butter, olive oil or a mix. In a separate pot, add 2 cups of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of any milk or half-and-half. Add some flour to thicken. Simmer, then add in the cooked broccoli and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste; simmer as needed and puréed with an immersion blender. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar or Gruyère (or, you can stir the cheese into the soup).
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