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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Beverages

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bai 5 Low Calorie, High Antioxidant Drink

Bai 5 is a new addition to the “healthy drink alternatives” category, and certainly worth checking out if you’re looking for a better beverage choice. It has just five calories and one gram of sugar per serving*, and it’s packed with antioxidants.

It’s also packed with lots of natural flavor. Unlike so many low-calorie drinks, there’s not a hint of artificial flavor.

What there is, surprisingly, is coffee fruit, the red berries that are the fruit of the coffee tree. Coffee beans are actually the seeds of this fruit.

The coffee fruit on its has no taste of coffee (In fact, the green seeds of the berry don’t taste like coffee until they’re roasted. Like the beans, the fruit contains caffeine. A serving of Bai 5 has 35mg of caffeine, roughly the same as a cup of green tea.

Coffee berries are rich in antioxidants, with more than touted antioxidant fruits like blueberries, pomegranates and raspberries.

The line is all-natural, low-glycemic, OU kosher, GMO-free, and gluten-free—not that you’d expect to find gluten, a cereal protein, in a conventional beverage; but it seems that everything these days is touted as gluten free, including olive oil, pasta sauce and other foods that have never been near gluten†.

   

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The Bai 5 line is low in calories and high in
natural flavor. Photo courtesy Bai.

 

 

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One of the 10 flavors of Bai 5. Photo courtesy Bai.

 

Flavors include Brasilia Blueberry, Congo Pear, Costa Rica Clementine, Ipanema Pomegranate, Limu Lemon, Malawi Mango, Molokai Coconut, Panama Peach, Sumatra Dragonfruit and Tanzania Lemonade Tea.

There are also carbonated versions we have yet to taste, in Bolivia Black Cherry, Gimbi Pink Grapefruit, Guatemala Guava, Indonesia Nashi Pear, Jamaica Blood Orange, Peru Pineapple and Waikiki Coconut.

You can turn Bai 5 into a spritzer with an equal amount of club soda, with some optional gin, tequila or vodka. But we’ll keep enjoying the refreshing fruit taste, straight and chilled.

Discover more at DrinkBai.com.

*Note that the 18-ounce bottle contains two servings.

†Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, wheat and other grains: bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt and triticale, for example. Botanically, cereal refers to the entire stalk of grass—think of corn stalks or rice stalks. The grain is the edible part of the grass, e.g. the kernel.

 

  

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PRODUCT: WTRMLN WTR

Back in 2006, we reviewed a wonderful product called Sundia Watermelon Juice. It was celestial, tasting like fresh-squeezed watermelon.

Alas, the company discontinued the product, and it took until 2014 for another commercial brand to come our way.

World Waters debuted its WTRMLN WTR (someone’s idea—not ours—of a clever way to spell “Watermelon Water”). The product was named “Best Juice” at the recent BevNET Best of 2014 Awards.

WTRMLN WTR is an all natural cold-pressed watermelon water that is more than refreshing: It’s packed with electrolytes (the same amount as coconut water and six times the electrolytes of sports drinks) and L-citrulline, a powerful amino acid that aids in workout performance and muscle recovery. Vitamin C and lycopene contribute antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits.

There’s no added sugar. The product is certified kosher by OU.

WTRMLN WTR is a pleasant departure from the never-ending stream of coconut waters we are pitched.

The line debuted New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Los Angeles, expanding to San Francisco and other areas this year.

 

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Drink your watermelon. Photo courtesy World Waters.

 
A 12-ounce bottle is $4.99 at Whole Foods Markets and other fine retailers. You can buy it online at WtrmlnWtr.com, 12 bottles for $72.

So is it as heavenly as Sundia’s version? Not to us: It tastes more “green,” which may or may not be due to the varying sweetness levels of watermelon, or the fact that watermelon rind is pressed along with the flesh.

But it’s still grab-and-go watermelon juice. If your only other option is to juice your own, WTRMLN WTR is a great choice.

Discover more at WTRMLNWTR.com.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: How To Make Cream From Milk

cream-cartons-wmmb-230

No cream? No problem! Make it from milk
and butter. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
Marketing Board.

 

Here’s a fun kitchen trick. Say you need some heavy cream for a recipe (or even a cup of coffee), but have none.

If you have whole milk and unsalted butter, you can combine them to make cream. The difference between milk and cream is the amount of butterfat. The butter, which is at least butterfat, supplies what the milk lacks.

This recipe makes heavy cream, approximately 36% butterfat.

 
HOW TO MAKE HEAVY CREAM AT HOME

Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop.

    2. PLACE in a mixing bowl with the milk.

    3. BLEND with electric beaters or an immersion blender.

    It’s that simple!

     

    BUTTERFAT CONTENT

    Butterfat, also called milkfat, is the fatty portion of milk. The components of milk include:

  • Carbohydrate, 4.9% (this is lactose, or milk sugar)
  • Fat, 3.4% (approximately 65% saturated fat, 29% monounsaturated fat and 6% polyunsaturated fat)
  • Protein, 3.3% (82% casein and 18% whey)
  • Water, 87%
  • Vitamins (cobalamin [vitamin B12], folate, niacin [vitamin B3], pantothenic acid [vitamin B5], pyridoxine [vitamin B6], thiamin [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2, vitamins C, D, E and K)
  • Minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc)
  • Minor biological proteins and enzymes (lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lipases, lactase) [Source]
  •  

    Dairy Products; milk,cheese,ricotta, yogurt and butter

    It’s easy to make cream from milk and butter. Photo © Siberkorn | DRM .

     
    The USDA imposes federal standards for the minimum butterfat content of commercial dairy products. Here are the standards:
     

    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF BUTTER

  • Butter, including whipped butter, must contain at least 80% butterfat.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF CREAM

  • Half and half contains 10.5%–18% butterfat.
  • Light cream and sour cream contain 18%–30% butterfat.
  • Light whipping cream (often called simply “whipping cream”) contains 30%–36% butterfat.
  • Heavy cream contains a minimum of 36% butterfat.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF MILK

  • Skim milk contains less than 0.5% butterfat, typically 0.1%.
  • Lowfat milk (1% and 2% varieties) contain between .5% and 2% butterfat.
  • Whole milk contains at least 3.25% butterfat.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF CHEESE

  • Dry curd and nonfat cottage cheese contain less than 0.5% butterfat.
  • Lowfat cottage cheese contains .5%–2% butterfat.
  • Cottage cheese contains at least 4% butterfat.
  • Swiss cheese contains at least 43% butterfat relative to the total solids.
  • Cheddar cheese contains at least 50% butterfat relative to the total solids.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF FROZEN DESSERTS

  • Sherbet contains 1%–2% butterfat.
  • Lowfat ice cream, also called ice milk, contains no more than 2.6% butterfat.
  • Ice cream contains at least 10% butterfat.
  • Frozen custard contains at least 10% butterfat, but it also must contain at least 1.4% egg yolk solids.
  •   

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    PRODUCT: Boxed Water Is Better

    boxed-water-2-230

    Boxed Water offers grab-and-go convenience with a smaller carbon footprint. Photo courtesy Boxed Water.

     

    If your 2015 goals include drinking more water, our first tip would be to purchase a refillable water bottle. You’ll save money and save the environment in the process. Millions of plastic bottles go into U.S. landfills each year.

    Second choice: Boxed Water, an alternative to bottled water that decreases dependence on non-renewable resources, reduces waste and decreases the carbon footprint. The company fills milk carton-type boxes instead of plastic or glass bottles.

    The Boxed Water container is far more sustainable than plastic bottled water. About 76% of the box is from a renewable resource, trees. The trees used to make the boxes come from certified, well managed forests. These forests remain healthy and stable through ongoing replanting while helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

    The cardboard boxes are easily recyclable, and are shipped flat to the filling plant, which is significantly more fuel-efficient compared to shipping empty plastic or glass bottles. The company uses local water sources—no shipping of water cross-country or across the seas, with a big carbon footprint. The water is purified via reverse osmosis and carbon filtering.

    The rectangular shape reduces shipping waste and carbon footprint versus round bottles.

     

    Finally, the company has partnered with 1% For The Planet to help with world water relief, reforestation, and environmental protection projects to help enable a positive impact on humanitarian and environmental efforts. That’s water for thought in 2015!

    Boxed Water is currently available in more than 6,000 stores in the U.S. with growing distribution in Canada and Mexico. For more information visit BoxedWaterIsBetter.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Candy Cane Cocoa Rim

    cocoa-cup-ziploc-230

    Warm up your day with peppermint-accented
    cocoa. Photo courtesy Ziploc.

     

    For those living north of the Equator, today* is the the winter solstice, shortest day of the year.

    Since antiquity, man has celebrated the winter solstice with feasting, gifts, visiting, drinking and more of the pleasures that counter the daily hardships of life.

    So treat yourself to something special. We recommend a candy cane hot chocolate.

    Start by making a seasonal cocoa cup rimmer with crushed candy canes or other peppermint candies.

    Here’s a recipe for an easy batch of “peppermint dust” from Ziploc. Use it to turn goodies into festive treats all winter long.

    To rim a cup of cocoa, dip the rim in water about 1/4 inch deep. Place the peppermint dust on a plate or in shallow bowl and twist the wet rim in it until it adheres.

     
    HOW TO MAKE PEPPERMINT DUST

    1. PLACE candy canes or other red and white peppermint candies in a Ziploc bag. Gently crush the candies with a rolling pin. Use less pressure for tiny chunks, and more pressure for a fine dust.

    2. STORE the peppermint dust in a a Ziploc bag or other airtight container for easy access.

    3. SPRINKLE on frosted, brownies, donuts, cupcakes. See these and other recipes at LifeLessons.Ziploc.com.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA & HOT CHOCOLATE

    Hot chocolate is made by mixing shaved, ground or other form of actual chocolate like beads or pellets (pistoles). The chocolate is mixed with water or milk, plus a sweetener. If you were to eat the chocolate, it would taste just like chocolate from a chocolate bar.

    Cocoa is made with cocoa powder. Many products made from cocoa powder are called “hot chocolate,” but there is a difference. As chocolate contains far more cocoa butter than cocoa powder, hot chocolate will be smoother and richer than hot cocoa, all things being equal (if both products are made with the same type of liquid—milk, half and half, water, etc.) .

    Check out the different types of cocoa and hot chocolate.
     
    EASY PEPPERMINT BARK

    For an over-the-top treat, have some peppermint bark with your candy cane cocoa.

    Peppermint bark is super easy to make. Simply:

     

    with-rolling-pin-230

    It’s easy to make peppermint dust. Photo courtesy Ziploc.

     
    1. MELT white chocolate chips or a white chocolate bar in a microwave safe bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with peppermint dust.

    2. CHILL in the refrigerator for an hour and break into chunks. Voilà: a special treat with little effort.
     
    *Using the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs between December 20th and December 23rd. Based on the rotation of Earth, the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun at the winter solstice (and closest to the sun at the vernal equinox in June). The Gregorian calendar is used in most western countries: 365 days in a year, 366 days in a leap year.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Rich Hot Chocolate With Fewer Calories

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    Just a few sips hit the spot. Photo courtesy Dolcezza Gelato.

     

    The headline is a bit of a tease, because the way to enjoy rich hot chocolate, laden with cream, is to have it in an espresso cup.

    A mug’s worth can be 600 calories or more. If you’re holding a cup with 12 ounces of delicious, high-calorie chocolate, you’ll finish it.

    So take this tip from Dolcezza Gelato in Washington, D.C.: Enjoy two ounces in an espresso cup.
     
    RECIPE: RICH HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE

    The keys to rich hot chocolate are a rich chocolate bar and cream or half-and-half in addition to the milk. Cocoa powder adds extra chocolatey flavor.

    If you don’t have heavy cream, use light cream, half-and-half or milk with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter.

     
    Thanks to Art Pollard of Amano Chocolate for this recipe.

    Ingredients Per Cup

  • 2 ounces quality chocolate bar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon premium Dutch process cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk plus
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 2 to 3 ounces of chocolate in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Chop into the size of chips.

    2. ADD sugar and cocoa powder, as well as a few grains of salt. Cover; process in ten second “bursts” at high speed just until finely ground (a few larger chunks of chocolate are O.K.).

    3. HEAT milk and cream in a small, nonreactive saucepan. Stir frequently with a small whisk, until the mixture is steaming hot.

    4. ADD the chocolate mixture. Whisk in well until dissolved. Serve immediately, preferably garnished with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Yields one large or two more reasonable servings.

     
    MORE LUSCIOUS HOT CHOCOLATE

  • The Best Hot Chocolate & Cocoa Mixes: our reviews.
  • The history of hot chocolate
  • The difference between cocoa and hot chocolate
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Bailey’s Irish Cream Adult Hot Chocolate

    baileys-peppermint-cream-230

    It’s not an innocent cup of hot chocolate. Photo courtesy Baileys.

     

    It’s National Hot Chocolate Day, or National Cocoa Day if you prefer (the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate). Today we’re making this adults-only version.

    The recipe comes to us from Baileys Irish Cream, using the company’s Original Irish Cream with a hint of Mint Chocolate.

  • If you only have regular Irish Cream, add a bit of peppermint extract.
  • If you have no irish creme at all, you can use 1/2 ounce of crème de cacao and 1/4 ounces of crème de menthe.
  •  
    RECIPE: BAILEY’S PEPPERMINT CREAM HOT CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream with a hint of Mint Chocolate
  • 4 ounces hot chocolate
  • Fresh whipped cream
  • Garnish: crushed candy cane and mint leaf
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CRUSH the candy cane with the back of a spoon. Set aside.

     
    2. POUR the hot chocolate and Baileys Original Irish Cream into a coffee mug. Stir to combine.

    3. TOP with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle the crushed candy cane on top and garnish with the mint leaf.

     
      

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    GIFT: 5 Sparrows Hot Chocolate With Stevia

    5-sparrows-white-hot-chocolate-230

    White hot chocolate with stevia sweetener. Photo courtesy 5 Sparrows.

     

    Five Sparrows is a line developed by coffee shop owners, who wanted commercial products created specifically for handcrafted beverages. They are now available to consumers as well.

    The company makes hot chocolate, chai and frappe mixes, which are available in versions sweetened with sugar or a combination of stevia and xylitol.

    Today’s recommendation is for the stevia products. It isn’t difficult to find a quality hot chocolate mix made with sugar, but good sugar-free versions are hard to come by. These taste very natural—no “artificial sweetener” aftertaste. They dissolve easily into milk.

    (And note that neither stevia nor xylitol are artificial ingredients. Here are the different types of zero-calorie, a.k.a. non-caloric, sweeteners.)

    For friends and family who prefer a beverage with zero-calorie sweeteners, here are:

  • Zero Sugar House Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar House White Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar Monumental Spiced Chai
  •  

    A 10-ounce package is $11.00. Buy them online at 5SparrowsBrand.com.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Seasonal Sangria

    Zulka-Sparkling-Apple-Cider-Sangria-Zulka-230

    Celebrate fall with Apple Cider Sangria. Photo courtesy Zulka.com.

     

    Sangria is a popular party drink, and you can moderate the amount of alcohol or use none at all.

    Here’s the version we’re serving at Thanksgiving, compliments of Zulka Sugar. Fall is apple cider season, so Instead of fruit juice, this recipe uses apple cider and sparkling apple cider.

    Cider s available in alcoholic and non alcoholic versions. In the U.S., alcoholic cider is known as hard cider. (See details below.) Find more delicious recipes at Zulka.com.

    RECIPE: SPARKLING APPLE CIDER SANGRIA

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup Calvados or other apple brandy
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work best)
  • 1 bottle sparkling apple cider
  • 5-6 apples, cored and sliced thin (use red apples for better color, or a combination of red and green)
  • Garnish: Cinnamon sticks
  • Optional: ice cubes
  •  

    PREPARATION

    1. COMBINE the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Pour a little of brandy in another small bowl. Dip the glass rims in the brandy and then the cinnamon sugar. Add a few apple slices to each glass. Set aside.

    2. ADD the remaining cinnamon sugar to a large pitcher. Add the apple cider and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Top with the brandy and wine and mix. Add the rest of the apples. Chill until ready to serve.

    3. ADD the sparkling cider right before serving. Garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Serve chilled. Add ice if desired.
     
    WHAT IS CIDER

    While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff: It’s an alcoholic drink that many prefer to beer.

     

    bottle-glass-original-230

    One of our favorite cider brands. Photo courtesy Crispin Cider.

     
    Usually made from fermented apple juice (although pears can be used—pear cider is known as perry in the U.K.), the juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, is blended, filtered and carbonated.

    The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples. As with beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

    In the U.S., alcoholic cider is called hard cider, and it’s becoming more popular. Like wine, it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants—but enjoy it for the crisp, refreshing taste!

  • Hard cider is best served chilled or over ice.
  • Cider is naturally gluten-free.
  • Cider is less filling than beer.
  • The apple flavor is all-natural (as opposed to artificially-flavored malt beverages).
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

    pumpkin-spice-latte-starbucks-230

    Why run out for one, when you can make Pumpkin Spice Latte at home? Photo courtesy Starbucks.

     

    We know far too many people who have an addiction to Pumpkin Spice Latte. They often require two per day. To them we say: Why spend a fortune on a PSL habit? It’s easy to make Pumpkin Spice Latte at home.

    Sure, it’s easy to brew coffee, steam the milk and add a shot or two of pumpkin-flavored sugar syrup.

    And here’s a better-for-you variation, a recipe that uses canned pumpkin instead of pumpkin-flavored sugar syrup. You get much more pumpkin flavor, plus the ability to customize the amount of sugar, honey, agave, noncaloric sweetener or no sweetener at all.

    Prep time is 10 minutes.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE

    Ingredients For 2 Lattes

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling*)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice†
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
  • Optional garnishes: whipped cream, dash of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon sticks
  • Preparation

    1. HEAT the milk, pumpkin and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot (do not boil). Remove from the heat. Stir in the pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and coffee.

    2. POUR into 2 large mugs. Garnish each with whipped cream, a dash of pumpkin pie spice and a cinnamon stick.

     
    *Pumpkin pie filling is pre-sweetened and spiced.

    †If you do not have pumpkin pie spice, make your own by combining 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. This will make about 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice mix.
     
    MAKE YOUR OWN PUMPKIN SYRUP

    Still want pumpkin syrup in your PSL? Here’s an alternative recipe that uses pumpkin syrup that you make yourself.
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LATTE & CAFÉ AU LAIT?

    Café au lait is a coffee drink made with regular coffee (typically a stronger roast, like French roast or Italian roast), brewed in a ratio of 1:1 milk to coffee with sugar to taste.

    Latte, also made with a 1:1 ratio, uses espresso—the strongest coffee roast. Espresso is the roast most popular in Italy; French Roast is most popular in France.

    Check out the different espresso drinks in our Espresso Glossary.

     
      

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