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Archive for May 15, 2014

TRENDS: Chicken Up, Seafood, Pork & Beef Down

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Chart courtesy The Wall Street Journal.

 
 

While Americans are aware of the need to improve their diets, there’s been a decline in consumption of one of the healthiest food choices: fish.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, the last year for which figures are available, the average U.S. consumer ate:

  • 82 pounds of chicken
  • 57 pounds of beef
  • 46 pounds of pork
  • 14.4 pounds of seafood, down from 15 pounds in 2011 and a record high of 16.6 pounds consumed in 2004 (by comparison, the average Japanese consumer eats 120 pounds a year, while Spaniards consume 96 pounds)
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    As you can see from the chart, chicken—affordable and versatile—is the big winner in growth, and the higher-calorie, higher cholesterol beef and pork have experienced some decline. But while the overall category experienced positive gains, the decline in per capita consumption is down.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s a combination of higher prices (quality fresh fish is $15 or more a pound while fresh whole chicken is 10% of that) and consumer hesitance, because they don’t know how to cook fish properly (and at those prices, who wants overcooked fish?).

    Is help on the horizon? Maybe not: The seafood industry is much more fragmented than the beef and pork industries, which organized major marketing campaigns to promote their products.

    Here’s a tip: Although it’s a treat, you don’t need to pay top dollar for fresh fish. Look for values in frozen fish and stock up. Defrost it slowly in the fridge.

    After all, if you order fish at restaurant chains, it’s likely frozen—and few people know the difference.

      

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    RECIPE: Egg-Stuffed Peppers

    We’re always looking for new brunch recipes. This one, a different take on stuffed peppers from Heidi of FoodieCrush.com, lets you prep ahead and let the oven finish the dish.

    “Colorful, sweet bell peppers are the mainstay of the show,” says Heidi, “but the flavor melds of butternut squash with thyme and sweet hint of brandy are what makes this meal memorable.”

    RECIPE: BAKED EGGS IN STUFFED PEPPERS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 sweet bell peppers, red, orange or yellow
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
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    Baked-Eggs-Peppers-FoodieCrush-GoBoldwithbutter-230

    A refreshing variation on stuffed peppers. Photo courtesy FoodieCrush.com | Go Bold With Butter.

  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into a large dice, about 2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. CUT peppers in half and remove ribs and seeds. Place cut side up in shallow microwave safe bowl or dish. Add 1/3 cup water to bowl. Sprinkle peppers with kosher salt and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

    3. HEAT large skillet over medium high heat and melt butter and olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add butternut squash, thyme leaves and kosher salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add brandy.

    4. RETURN to heat and cook for 4-5 more minutes until brandy has cooked down and squash has softened and is easily pierced with a fork. Keep warm and add Ricotta and Feta cheese. Taste and season with more salt if desired.

    5. POUR marinara sauce in bottom of 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Place peppers cut side up and spoon 1/2 to 3/4 cup of butternut squash mixture into each pepper, creating a hollow for egg. Bake peppers and squash mixture for 10 minutes or until warmed through. Remove from oven.

    6. CAREFULLY BREAK egg into small ramekin or measuring cup and slowly pour into each pepper taking care not to overflow egg. Repeat until each pepper is filled. Season with freshly ground black pepper and bake peppers for 10-12 minutes or until whites of eggs are set. Serve each pepper with marinara sauce and extra feta cheese as desired.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Dandelion Greens

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    Dandelion greens, the delightfully edible
    weed. Photo courtesy Webstarts.com.

     

    The scourge of the well-kept lawn—and one of the first signs of spring in the veggie universe—is the delicious, nutritious vegetable, dandelion greens.

    The slightly peppery greens are much more nutritious than broccoli†.

    A relative of the sunflower*, the crowns, leaves and stems are all recipe-worthy. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine.

    Cultivated dandelion greens from the market are less bitter than the wild ones you can forage. A rule of thumb is to taste a leaf to determine the degree of bitterness—and thus, how much to include in your dish.

    Alas, you can’t just dig them from your lawn, or other chemically-treated area. But should you be hiking through a mountain meadow or untreated area with a spade and a basket, there’s bounty awaiting you. (Wild plants that have gone to flower are much more bitter—pass them by.)

     

    HOW TO SERVE DANDELION GREENS

    Discard the tough lower portions of the stems. Depending on the recipe, cut the leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Cook the greens in a pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until the ribs are tender (about 10 minutes). As with spinach, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking, drain in a colander and gently press out excess water.

  • Sauté the crowns and/or leaves with onion and garlic; season with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper or crushed pepper flakes.
  • Add to a salad (how about mixed greens, beets and almonds, or goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts?).
  • Substitute in any recipe that calls for bok choy or kale.
  • Make pesto (add some pumpkin seeds) for pasta and other recipes.
  • Serve wilted greens as a side.
  • Mix with collards, kale and/or spinach.
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    FOOD TRIVIA

    Dandelion greens have long been a homeopathic treatment for a broad spectrum of problems: acne, digestive problems, eczema, edema, gout, jaundice, swelling and inflammation, even viruses. It has potent laxative and diuretic properties, as attested by its French name, pissenlit, “wet the bed.”

    Our word, dandelion, comes from the French dent-de-lion, “lion’s tooth.”

     
    *From the botanical family Asteraceae and the tribe Cichorieae (yes, chicory), the genus and species are Taraxacum officinale. While Asteraceae is a large genus of flowering plants, two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide.

    †One cup raw brocoli: 581 IU vitamin A, 89.4 mcg vitamin K, 41.4 mg calcium, .6 mg iron. One cup raw dandelion greens: 2712 IU vitamin A, 151 mcg vitamin K, 103 mg calcium, 1.7 mg iron.
      

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