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Archive for Beverages

TIP: Hot Chocolate From Chocolate Chips & Other Hard Chocolate

It’s snow and ice today on the East Coast; when we look out the window we see…white. So we’re deferring our scheduled tip to tomorrow, to publish something more comforting:

Hot chocolate from chocolate chips, chocolate bars, even Hershey’s Kisses.

Even if you have no cocoa powder at home, you’re still in the chips if you have solid chocolate in any form. Baking chips are the easiest because you don’t have to chop them; although if you have a good chocolate bar—) or Lindt—the chocolate flavor will be better. First…
 
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA AND HOT CHOCOLATE

You’re familiar with cocoa and hot chocolate, terms often used interchangeably. Technically, they’re different. There are also drinking chocolate and sipping chocolate—terms that don’t seem to have existed in the U.S. prior to the end of the 20th century (and the growth of the artisan food movement).

  • Cocoa or hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder and is less rich than hot chocolate. That’s because to make cocoa powder, roasted cocoa beans are ground to a thick paste and pressed between hydraulic plates, which squeeze out about half of the cocoa butter. Products made from cocoa powder are erroneously called hot chocolate.
  • Hot chocolate contains all the cocoa butter; and some better brands even add extra cocoa butter for richness and mouthfeel. It was the original hot chocolate, made in Switzerland by blending hot milk with chopped chocolate bars (THANK YOU, Switzerland!). Authentic hot chocolate is made from ground chocolate plus sugar.
  • Drinking chocolate/sipping chocolate are European terms for hot chocolate. The product has relatively large pieces of chocolate—disks or pellets, but also beads, shavings, or large ground pieces—that are then melted in hot milk or water. If you were to eat it, it would taste just like chocolate from a chocolate bar.
  •  
    RECIPE: HOT CHOCOLATE FROM CHOCOLATE CHIPS & BARS

    This is a very rich recipe, combining whole milk with half and half. If you want something less rich, use less half and half or all milk.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

       

    Hot Chocolate From Chocolate Bars

    Chocolate Chips

    Top: Chop up chocolate bars to make rich hot chocolate. Chocolate chipsalso work, especially top-quality ones from Barry Callebaut or Guittard, available at KingArthurFlour.com. The company also sells sugar-free chocolate chips. Bottom: Melt chocolate chips into hot chocolate.

     
    Ingredients For 3-4 Mugs Or 6 Smaller Cups

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars*
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional flavors: cinnamon, mint (extract, Junior Mints), orange zest
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, chocolate shavings, sprinkles
  •  
    *While semisweet chocolate is the standard, you can use milk chocolate or white chocolate. White hot chocolate is splendid:

     

    Hot Chocolate Made From Solid Chocolate

    Dutched & Natural Cocoa Powder

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the milk and half-and-half in a saucepan. Warm slowly over medium-low heat. When the milk is very hot but not yet boiling, stir in the chocolate chips.

    2. STIR until melted and taste. If it’s too rich, add more milk. If you’ve used a high percentage cacao bar and the chocolate is not quite sweet enough, add sugar one teaspoon at a time.

    3. STIR in optional flavors. Pour into mugs and top as desired.
     
    EVEN MORE HOT CHOCOLATE: RECIPES, FLAVORS & TIPS TO MAKE RICHER HOT CHOCOLATE

  • Everything you need to know.
  • The differences between cocoa and hot chocolate, including more types of, what we’ll categorize as, hot milk drinks flavored with chocolate.
  • The difference between regular and Dutched cocoa powder.
  •  
     
    PHOTOS: Top: Melting a chocolate-covered marshmallow into hot chocolate at Dominique Ansel. Bottom: Natural (left) and Dutched cocoa powders. Photo courtesy SilkRoadSpices.ca.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Drink Kefir, Delicious & Very Healthy

    Strawberry Kefir

    Green Valley Lactose Free Kefir

    Lifeway Frozen Kefir

    Top: Kefir as a midday snack or even a better-for-you dessert. Photo © Viktorija | Fotolia. Middle: Green Valley Organics makes lactose-free dairy products, including kefir, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese. They’re a godsend to dairy lovers with lactose intolerance. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE. If you’re sensitive to cow’s milk, or simply prefer goat’s milk, turn to Redwood Hill Farms kefir. Photo courtesy LAFujimama.com. Bottom: Frozen kefir is an alternative to frozen yogurt with a higher probiotic content. Photo by River Soma | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Media attention is so interesting. In terms of “healthier options,” we’re blanketed with pitches for kale and quinoa, hummus and Greek yogurt, even juice bars.

    But we haven’t heard anything on probiotics in ages. In case you don’t remember: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to promote digestive health and enhance the immune system. Five years ago, probiotics were the “it” food ingredient.

    Today’s tip is to take a look at kefir, a highly probiotic beverage that is also highly delicious.
     
    WHAT IS KEFIR

    Kefir, pronounced kuh-FEAR, is a tart fermented milk beverage. It is often called “drinkable yogurt,” although the recipes for yogurt and kefir vary (see below).

    In fact, kefir is even healthier than yogurt. It has been called “super yogurt,” since it is up to 36 times more probiotic than yogurt.

    Kefir is believed to have originated some 2,000 years ago among the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains region—today’s Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. In more modern times, it has long been enjoyed instead of milk, tea or other beverages in northern and middle Europe and the countries of the former USSR.

    As our “January Healthy Foods Month” winds down, we offer up kefir as a must-try. You can drink it at breakfast, lunch and snack time—or enjoy frozen kefir for dessert.
     
    MODERN KEFIR

    Kefir drinkers have benefited from the the explosion of the yogurt category over the last few decades. What was once only plain, rustic kefir is now a vibrant category of yummy, lowfat, probiotic smoothies, so satisfying that you can substitute them for milkshakes when you want a sweet treat.

  • You can find all the standard fruit flavors (banana, berry, peach and pomegranate, for example) as well as seasonal ones. Lifeway Kefir alone offers Cranberry, Eggnog, Pumpkin Spice and Watermelon flavors.
  • There are veggie flavors, too. Lifeway makes vegetable kefirs in Beet, Cucumber and Tomato.
  • There are conventional lines and organic brands.
  • For frozen yogurt lovers, there’s Lifeway Frozen Kefir.
  •  
    KEFIR AS A HEALTH FOOD

    Kefir is not only delicious, it’s therapeutic. It contains millions of live and active probiotic cultures that clean and strengthen the intestines and help the body with healing and maintenance functions.

    People have been touting the numerous healing effects of kefir since the early 18th century. It has been used to treat allergies, atherosclerosis, cancer, candidiasis, digestive disorders, heart disease, hypertension, HIV, metabolic disorders, nervous system disorders, osteoporosis and tuberculosis.

    While kefir isn’t the panacea many believed it to be, it is a very healthy food, chock full of beneficial bacteria and yeast.

  • It contains numerous vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes, including healthy doses of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A, B2, B12, D and K.
  • Kefir contains a substantial amount of tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids that is known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Some people see it as a “calming” drink.
  •  
    But the reason most people seek out kefir is for digestive health: help from the millions of probiotic bacteria in each serving.

    Probiotic bacteria, which are live and active cultures, occur naturally in the digestive tract, where they help promote a healthy balance, good digestion and overall intestinal vitality. People with digestive problems need more of these cultures than their systems naturally contain.
     
    KEFIR FOR THE LACTOSE-INTOLERANT

    Raw kefir. Some mildly lactose-intolerant people can enjoy kefir, as long as it is is raw and not cooked (cooking destroys the lactase enzyme, which digests the milk sugar, lactose). Read the labels, and if you can’t find raw kefir in your regular market, check the nearest health food store.

    Lactose-free kefir. There’s lactose-free kefir for people with a higher degree of lactose intolerance. Green Valley Organics, a brand of lactose-free dairy products we can’t live without, makes not just kefir and yogurt, but cream cheese and sour cream.

    Goat’s milk kefir. For those who prefer goat’s milk, there’s Redwood Hill goat kefir. People who are mildly lactose intolerant can often tolerate goat’s milk products. Lovers of fresh goat cheese may like the affinity.
     

    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN KEFIR & DRINKABLE YOGURT

    There are several differences between yogurt and kefir, including how each is made, the types of bacteria present in each, and the flavor and consistency.

    Of greatest interest to those who seek probiotics for digestive health, is that kefir and yogurt contain different types of probiotic bacteria, which perform differently. And, as noted earlier, kefir has up to 36 times more beneficial bacteria. Net net, kefir is better for digestion.

  • Yogurt. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called transient bacteria.
  • Kefir. The bacteria in milk kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract and team up with the beneficial bacteria that live there. Kefir also contains contains some yeasts.
  •  
    If you’d like to drill down into the details of the differences, a great source is CulturesForHealth.com. The website can also guide you to making your own kefit, yogurt, and other cultured products at home.
     
    MORE TO DISCOVER

  • All about probiotics in our Probiotics Glossary.
  • All the different types of yogurt and kefir products in our Yogurt Glossary.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Almond Milk

    Homemade Almond Milk

    Homemade almond milk. Photo courtesy
    Juice Queen.

     

    Here’s a fun project for the weekend: homemade almond milk. All you need are almonds, water, cheesecloth and a jar.

    Almond milk is a dairy-free milk alternative, favored by the lactose-intolerant, vegans, raw foodists and as a kosher (pareve) milk alternative. Others simply like the creaminess and hints of almond on the palate.

    Almond milk is the number one nondairy milk in the U.S. It can be used anywhere cow’s milk is used, from morning cereal to afternoon smoothies to after-dinner coffee. (Here’s a nutrition comparison.)

    In just five minutes (plus eight hours soaking time), you can make a batch, From there, you can make flavored almond milk, like vanilla or cocoa. You can add a sweetener of choice—agave, honey, maple syrup, noncaloric sweetener, sugar—or drink it as is (it has its own natural sweetness).

    You can even give a cocoa almond milk kit to a child, useful for everything from Show and Tell to inspiring the joy of cooking.

     

    But today’s project is making a batch of plain almond milk. Sure, you can buy it ready made. But making your own is not only fun; it tastes a lot better than the manufactured, shelf-stable product, which typically contains additives and preservatives.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE ALMOND MILK

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • Jar
  • Water
  • Cheesecloth
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the almonds in a large bowl or jar and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Cap the jar or cover the bowl with a dish towel, and let the almonds soak for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. The almonds will plump as they absorb water. The longer you soak them, the creamier the milk will be. If you plan to soak them for more than 8 hours or overnight, put the bowl in the fridge.

    2. STRAIN the almonds in a colander, thoroughly rinse them with cold water and place them in a blender. Pulse them to break up the almonds. Add 4 cups of water and blend on high until the mixture is very smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. The almonds should break down into a very fine meal and the water should be white and opaque.

    3. PLACE the cheesecloth in a large strainer over a bowl. If you don’t have a strainer, gather the edges of the cheesecloth in one hand so as to create a well. Carefully pour the water and almond mixture into the cheesecloth, taking pains to not let any spill out of the sides. When all of the mixture has been poured…

    4. SQUEEZE the remaining almond meal in the cheesecloth to extract any remaining liquid. You can wring the cheesecloth to get every last drop. See below for what to do with the leftover almond meal. At this point you can taste the almond milk and sweeten to taste. It has natural sweetness, so we don’t add anything more.

    5. STORE the almond milk in an airtight container in the fridge. Since it has no preservatives and isn’t pasteurized, it only keeps for two or three days. Because there are no emulsifiers, the milk can separate. Just shake the bottle.

    If you’ve had commercial almond milk, you’ll be wowed by the fresh flavor.

     

    Make Almond Milk

    Making Almond Milk

    Top: Soaking the almonds. Bottom: Wringing the last delicious drops from the cheesecloth. Photos and recipe courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     
    If you’d like a thinner milk, use more water next time; for thicker milk, use less water.

    If you plan to make almond milk regularly, buy a nut milk bag from a health food store or online. It’s easier to work with than cheesecloth.

    HOW TO USE THE LEFTOVER ALMOND MEAL

    You can toss or compost it, of course. But you can also:

  • Add it to oatmeal, muffin batter or smoothies for extra protein.
  • If you want to keep it for future baking, dry it by spreading it onto a baking sheet and baking it in a low oven (275°F to 300°F) until completely dry, 2 to 3 hours. You can then freeze it for up to 6 months.
  •  
    MAKING ALMOND MILK: BLENDER VS. FOOD PROCESSOR

    You can use either a blender or a food processor to make almond milk. The differences:

  • With a blender, the milk has a silkier texture and subtly sweet flavor notes.
  • With a food processor, the milk is a bit thicker with a nuttier flavor. It may contain some the bits of ground almonds.

     
    ALMOND MILK HISTORY

    In the Middle Ages, almond milk was made in Europe to East Asia. It was a staple because it kept longer than cow’s or goat’s milk; and it was appropriate for consumption during Lent and fast days.

      

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    PRODUCT: DRY Sparkling, A Sophisticated Soft Drink

    Do your guests have sophisticated palates? Do they drink carbonated beverages?

    While it’s tempting to buy those two-liter bottles of soda for 99 cents for parties and dinners, consider treating your New Year’s Eve guests to a better carbonated drink from DRY Sparkling.

    One of the pioneers in adult soft drinks, DRY was founded when a mother-to-be, unable to drink alcohol, wanted something more tantalizing than typical American soft drinks. She developed an “haute” line of sodas: all-natural, caffeine-free and lightly sweetened with pure cane sugar.

    The company, currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, continues to charm foodies with its sparkling beverages. The original four flavors have expanded to include:

  • Blood Orange
  • Cucumber
  • Ginger
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Rainier Cherry
  • Rhubarb
  • Vanilla Bean
  •  
    Fans in the Pacific Northwest, where DRY is produced, can also find the limited edition Lemongrass flavor, a perfect pairing with Asian cuisines and an exotic experience drunk on its own.

    A 12-ounce bottle has just 50 to 70 calories, and is just as enjoyable as a cocktail mixer (see the website for cocktail recipes) as an adult soft drink. Serve it straight in a wine glass or champagne flute for even more panache.

     

    Dry Soda Lavender

    DRY Cucumber Soda

    TOP PHOTO: Lavender lovers, rejoice! BOTTOM PHOTO: Most flavors are available in bottles and cans. Photos courtesy DRY.

     
    DRY is sold at natural and traditional grocers nationwide, including Kroger, Safeway and Whole Foods Market. There’s a store locator on the website.

    The line is also sold on Amazon.com, in 12-ounce bottles, 12-ounce aluminum cans and the special edition Lemongrass bottling.

    A four-pack has an SRP of $9.99. There are also 750 ml bottles, the standard wine bottle size. Impressive looking, they make great gifts for those who don’t drink.

    For more information, visit DrySparkling.com. Your designated drivers and other non-drinkers will thank you.

      

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    RECIPE: Peppermint White Hot Chocolate & Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

    Christmas season is a bonanza for peppermint lovers, from candy canes to peppermint bark to chocolate-peppermint everything.

    Now, have a cup of peppermint white hot chocolate with a dark chocolate peppermint brownie. Both recipes are from McCormick.

    While together they create a chocolate-peppermint symphony, they can be split up and paired with non-peppermint, non-chocolate beverages and cookies.

    RECIPE: PEPPERMINT WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces white chocolate*, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    *We chop up white chocolate bars from Green & Black’s or Lindt.
     
    Preparation

       

    white-hot-choc-peppermint-bars-mccormick-230

    If you’re a big fan of peppermint, this dessert is for you: white peppermint hot chocolate with chocolate peppermint bars. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    1. PLACE the heavy cream and chocolate in medium saucepan. Cook and stir on medium heat until chocolate is melted.

    2. STIR in half-and-half and peppermint extract. Cook and stir until heated through. Pour into serving cups. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.
     
    25+ HOT CHOCOLATE VARIATIONS

    There’s a recipe for every day of the month. See all the hot chocolate ideas.

    Here’s the difference between hot chocolate and cocoa.

     

    peppermint-cream-brownies-mccormick-a-kitchen-addiction-230

    Top chocolate brownies with peppermint
    cream and chocolate ganache. Photo
    courtesy A Kitchen Addiction.

     

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT BARS

    This fudgy brownie is layered with peppermint frosting and a rich chocolate glaze. Prep time is 15 minutes, bake time is 15 minutes.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT BARS

    Ingredients For 36 Bars

  • 1 package (family-size) fudge brownie mix or your own brownie recipe
  • 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 7 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Crushed peppermint candies
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the package. Spread in greased foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool in the pan on wire rack. Meanwhile…

    2. BEAT the confectioners’ sugar, 7 tablespoons of the butter (melted), cream and peppermint extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Spread evenly over the cooled pan of brownies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    3. MICROWAVE the chocolate and the remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick)pf butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH, for 2 minutes or until the butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread over top of chilled brownie.

    4. SPRINKLE with the crushed peppermint candies. Cut into bars.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Topperfino Chocolate Coffee Toppers

    Our Top Pick Of The Week gets high points for innovation, flavor and beauty.

    The clever folks at Topperfino have hand-crafted discs from premium Belgian chocolate, with a lovely assortment of designs. When a disc is placed atop a steaming cup of coffee or cocoa, the beverage transforms into a work of coffee art.

    The thin disc then melts into the cup, releasing a captivating chocolate aroma and—oh, yes—adding chocolate flavor.

    The best Topperfino experience is on a coffee with crèma on top, such as cappuccino or latte. But we tried it on everything, including plain coffee, hot milk and rooibos and chocolate tea blends. (Numi, Republic Of Tea and Zhena sell chocolate tea blends. Our favorite is Buccaneer from Serendipitea.)

    And, per the company’s suggestion, it even works on a bowl of hot cereal (which might finally get the kids to eat their oatmeal and drink their milk).

    Topperfino is a memorable gift for anyone who drinks coffee or hot chocolate, and will delight adults and kids alike. Each disk has just 25 calories, and you can skip the sugar so the calorie switch is even.

    Gently place the Topperfino chocolate topper on top of your coffee cup and watch it melt into a creamy chocolate-y flavorful addition to your morning Joe!

     
    YOUR CHOICE OF DARK OR MILK CHOCOLATE

    Topperfino discs are made in dark chocolate in plain chocolate plus caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut, in more than a dozen designs. Milk chocolate toppers are available in caramel, French vanilla and hazelnut.

     

    Topperfino Chocolate Cup Toppers

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/gift box 230

    TOP PHOTO: Two different designs turn cups of coffee into art. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gift box. Photos courtesy Topperfino.

     
    And what lovely designs: animal prints, circles, coffee beans, geometrics, hearts, music, orbs, paisley and snowflakes, for starters.

    What are you waiting for? Get yours at Topperfino.com. Each box of 10 toppers is just $13.99. There’s free shipping with two boxes or more.

    TIP: We used some aerosol whipped cream that made it easier to place the disc on the hot beverage. When your toppers arrive, you’ll see what we mean.

    TRIVA: Topperfino happened ­by mistake! The inventor, an artist, loved to drink coffee with a bar of chocolate on the side (in France and Italy, a square of chocolate is oftened served with coffee). One morning, a piece of chocolate accidentally fell into his coffee and floated for a short time. The light bulb turned on. After countless tests, he created the unique blend of art and chocolate that he named Topperfino.

      

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    HOLIDAY: National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day

    November 19th is National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day.

    There are seven foods that contain natural caffeine. Can you name them?

    The first one is a giveaway: coffee. The other six are below, but before you look, here’s the caffeine comparison between drip coffee and espresso:

  • A cup of drip coffee has at least twice the caffeine as a cup of espresso, due to its much larger serving size. However, from a volume perspective, espresso has much more caffeine than drip coffee.
  • Eight ounces of drip coffee contains approximately 65-120 mg of caffeine. One ounce of espresso has 30-50 mg of caffeine.
  • On a per-ounce basis, the drip coffee has approximately 8.1 to 15 mg of caffeine per ounce; the one ounce of espresso has 30 to 50 mg of caffeine.
  • On a per-ounce basis, espresso wins; although you’d have to drink at least two of them to get the caffeine content of one eight-ounce cup of drip coffee. No problem: We always order a double espresso! [Source]
  •  

     

    Espresso & Amaretti Cookies

    Many people turn to espresso for a hit of caffeine. But you’d get more caffeine with a cup of drip coffee. Photo courtesy Hiline Coffee Co.

    Now for the rest of the foods and beverages that contain natural caffeine:

    2. Conventional tea, the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. The same leaf, Camellia sinensis, makes black, green, oolong and white tea, depending on how long the leaves are pan-toasted. More about the types of tea.

    3. Cacao, in cocoa and chocolate products. It’s made from the seeds of a large pod (cabosse) that grows on the cacao trees. How chocolate and cocoa are made.

    4. Guarana, a component of energy drinks. The seeds in the berries contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds (which are roasted into coffee beans); about 2%–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1%–2% for coffee seeds.

    5. Guayusa, a leaf from the guayusa tree. Native to the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, it is a member of the holly family. The leaves of the guayusa tree are dried and brewed like a tea for their stimulative effects. You can buy the Runa brand in the U.S.

    6. Kola nut, used to make cola soft drinks. The nut is the fruit of the kola tree, an evergreen native to the tropical rainforests of Africa.

    7. Yerba maté, another South American holly leaf, that originated in Paraguay and was first chewed and brewed by the indigenous Guaraní people. The dried leaves are steeped into the most popular beverage in Argentina (more).

    Now, about National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day: You can find carbonated chocolate drinks, carbonated cola drinks, carbonated energy drinks, even carbonated guayausa and yerba maté. Drink up!

      

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    PRODUCT UPDATES

    blue-diamond-sriracha-230

    FSTG_bean-chips-generalmills-230

    TOP PHOTO: Almonds with a sriracha kick.
    Photo courtesy Blue Diamond. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Bean & Tortilla Chips from Food
    Should Taste Good.

     

    Brands we enjoy and have previously reviewed are busy launching new lines. Here’s what we tasted lately.

    BLUE DIAMOND BOLD SRIRACHA ALMONDS

    Companies that have jumped on the “hot” bandwagon have figured out how to make products hot enough to please hotties, but not so hot that they loses sales from the other segments.

    These “bold” roasted almonds are delightful, and not as intense as the can indicates, or we would not have been able to eat them (medium salsa is the hottest we go).

    Consider them as stocking stuffers. Almonds are a healthful nut, so this is a guilt-free snack. The line is certified kosher by OK. More information.
     
    FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD BEAN CHIPS

    Our favorite line of tortilla chips, known for deftly combining other foods with corn-based tortilla chips, is now adding beans to the mix.

    Food Should Taste Good Black Bean Chips and Pinto Bean Chips combine nutritious, fiber-filled beans to deliver real bean flavors.

    Food Should Taste Good Bean Chips are gluten free, have zero grams trans-fat and are certified kosher by OU. More information.

    We must shout out to the line of tortilla chips in flavors galore. Beyond Cantina chips, there are Cheddar, Falafel, Guacamole, Harvest Pumpkin, Jalapeño, Jalapeño With Cheddar, Kettle Corn, Lime, Multigrain, Olive, Sweet Potato, The Works and White Cheddar.

    Love those chips!

     

     

    NASOYA CHIPOTLE BAKED TOFU

    Who says tofu isn’t flavorful? Nasoya, the country’s largest producer of tofu, has added a new flavor to its line of TofuBaked.

    Chipotle TofuBaked is ready to eat, sliced cold into salads or sandwiches, or heated for scrambles, omelets and Tex-Mex favorites (burritos, fajitas, tacos). Recipes on the website include Seven Layer Chipotle Dip, Southwest Breakfast Bake and Chipotle Tortilla Soup.

    We’re also fans of Ginger TofuBaked.

    The product is USDA certified organic and certified kosher by Star K.

    More information.
     
    POPCHIPS CRAZY HOT

    Quite hot, if not crazy hot, these chips are also quite tart, with as much vinegar as heat.

    In addition to red chili pepper flavor, there are hints of Cheddar cheese. We think it’s a winner for hot stuff lovers.

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K and certified gluten free. More information.
     
    RUNA ICED TEA

    Runa Clean Energy has no sugar added iced teas, which, thanks to the guayusa from which the tea is brewed, has a natural sweetness as well.

    The line is certified kosher by OU, Fair Trade Certified and a Certified B Corporation.

    In 8.4-ounce/250 ml cans, flavors include Berry, Orange Passion and Original. More information.

     

    chipotle-tofu-nasoya-230

    popchips-crazy-hot copy-230

    TOP PHOTO: Spicy tofu, ready to eat from Nasoya. BOTTOM PHOTO: More hot stuff, this time in crunchy potato chips from Popchips .

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Keurig Kold Cold Beverage Machine

    Thanks to Keurig, 20 million American households make their coffee of choice—or tea, cocoa, chicken soup, even iced tea brewed into a cup of ice—one K-Cup at a time.

    Six years ago, fans and industry observers asked Keurig: What can you do for cold beverages?

    On Monday the company launched its long-awaited cold beverage system, Keurig Kold. The result involved 250 engineers and scientists, 10,000 consumers who participated in research, 50 patents issued and another 100 pending globally.

    This plug-in machine offers Keurig’s same ease and convenience for single-serve cold beverages: carbonated sodas and flavored seltzers, still flavored waters, iced teas and sports drinks.

    The good news:

  • Keurig Kold makes delicious soft drinks, perfectly carbonated without a CO2 canister, at the push of a button.
  • The beverages are delivered perfectly chilled, in 8-ounce glasses. Most servings are 100 calories or less, and there’s an excellent variety of low- and zero-calorie options.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/KeurigKOLDdrinkmaker DietCoke 230

    Keurig Kold: the coolest way to make cold drinks. Each Kold Pod makes an eight-ounce drink. Photo courtesy Keurig.

  • The Kold Pods create favorites like Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Dr Pepper and Canada Dry; craft sodas (e.g. Orange Cream, Spiced Root Beer, regular and diet, from brands like Flynn’s and Red Barn); plus plus lemonade, flavored waters, seltzers and iced teas (Tierney’s).
  • There are also sports hydration drinks; cocktail mixers are coming soon, starting with Margarita and Mojito.
  • Keurig Kold is imposing, cool, and at $369.99, a status symbol. You can get one at Keurig.com and selected retailers, in black or white.
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    What’s less than ideal:

  • The price tag. Even if it’s ultimately discounted, it would take a household with money to burn to choose this system over the 99¢ two-liter bottles or club store bargains (or the $59-and-up Sodastream).
  • Depending on the beverage, the pods are $4.49 to $4.99 for a four-pack. That’s $1.12 to $1.25 plus tax for an eight ounce drink.
  • The machine’s footprint is larger than anything else on your kitchen counter. The pods are similarly oversize.
  • The pods are recyclable #7 plastic, but not every municipality recycles #7.
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    Keurig KOLD Wire Carousel

    The pods for Keurig Kold are big: at least three times the size of the K-Cups. Photo courtesy Keurig.

     

    HOW IT WORKS

    Insert a drink pod, press a button and the water in the reservoir is drawn into a proprietary chilling mechanism. When the water is cold enough (39°F), it gets pushes though Karbonator beads that are inside each pod—small, round beads that are perhaps the coolest part of the invention.

    Water + beads = perfect carbonation. A secret imparted by Keurig: Carbonation absorbs into water best when the water is really cold.
     
    IS IT FOR YOU?

    Keurig Kold is impressive. It’s fun. And the drinks are delicious—they seem even tastier than if you purchased the same drink in a bottle or can.

    The big question that vexes the NIBBLE folks who tried Keurig Kold is: Who is the customer for this machine? It must be a household that:

     

  • Doesn’t look for bargains.
  • Wants the latest, coolest wow item.
  • Has space for it.
  • Isn’t into sustainability.
  •  
    Alternatively, it’s a wonderful plaything, a gift for people who have everything. If they already own one, there are other rooms in their home that could make use of another.

    Would we want one? In an ideal world, yes; in our particular practical world, no. Even if someone gave us a Keurig Kold, where would we put it in our small home or office?

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Ginger Beer

    Ginger beer is not alcoholic, but a stronger, spicier version of ginger ale. There are lots of cocktails made with ginger beer, the most famous of which are:

  • Dark And Stormy: ginger beer and Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (a black or dark rum).
  • Moscow Mule: ginger beer, lime juice, vodka (trivia lovers, it was the first vodka cocktail created in America, and is also called a Vodka Buck).
  • Other Mule Drinks: There’s quite a selection, from a Kentucky Mule with Bourbon to Swedish Mule with Aquavit (the different types of mule drinks).
  • Black and Tan Mocktail: a mix of ginger ale and ginger beer (after the Black and Tan beer cocktail, made from a blend of a pale ale or lager with a dark beer).
  • Ginger Beer Mojito: a mocktail or cocktail of ginger beer, fresh lime juice, fresh mint leaves and—for the cocktail—white rum (recipe).
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    We far prefer the heft and sizzle of ginger beer to the more pallid ginger ale.

    You can buy ginger beer in grocery stores, or you can easily make your own. Here’s a shortcut recipe from Chef Jamie Oliver, no fermenting required.

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/dark and stormy marcussamuelsson ps 230

    The Dark and Stormy is named for the “storm cloud” effect created by pouring dark rum into ginger beer. Photo courtesy MarcusSamuelsson.com.

     

    Ginger beer goes well with all spicy or highly-seasoned foods, as well as foods with sweet glazes and sauces, like barbecue or glazed ham. Find recipes below.

    WHY A MULE?

    Mule and buck are old names for mixed drinks made with ginger ale or ginger beer, plus citrus juice. They can be made with any base liquor.

    Some experts claim that a Buck is made with ginger ale, while a Mule uses the spicier ginger beer.

    Why buck? Why mule? That answer is lost to history, but here’s a detailed discussion.

    A bit of cocktail history: The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941 by John C. Hublein, importer of the than-not-well-known-or-popular Smirnof vodka. Here’s the history

    A Dark ‘n’ Stormy is traditionally made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum. Ginger beer was brought to the Caribbean by the English colonists, and full-bodied dark rum was first made by the Gosling family in 1860. It wasn’t a big jump to combine the two (one historian notes that Bermuda is only 20 square miles).

     

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    Avoid refined sugar and save calories with Gosling’s Stormy Diet Ginger Beer. It’s sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. (Stormy is the name of the seal mascot. the ginger beer is also available in the conventional sugar-sweetened form). Photo courtesy Gosling’s.

     

    GINGER BEER VS. GINGER ALE: THE DIFFERENCE

    The main differences between today’s ginger beer and ginger ale are the sweetness and spiciness. Ginger beer is less sweet than ginger ale and has a sizzling ginger kick. The spicier ginger beer provides a bite to cocktails, while the lighter ginger ale provides more sweetness and effervescence.

    Historically, both were fermented. Today only ginger beer is fermented, a reason for the higher price. Here’s more about fermented soft drinks.

    According to an enlightening article by Bill Norris, mass-produced ginger-based soft drinks began to appear in the U.S. by the mid-1800s. Back then, the ginger flavoring extract was aged in oak barrels for four years before use!

    Ginger ale was the most popular soft drink in the U.S. until the 1930s (Coca-Cola first was bottled for distribution in 1899 more).

    These early ginger ales were closer to what we now call ginger beer, described as “powerfully spicy.”

    Canada Dry ginger ale was introduced in 1907; the “dry” style prevails today. It gained favor around the time of Prohibition (1920-1933). Dry ginger ale has a more mellow ginger flavor and is easier drinking—what most Americans seek in a soft drink.

     
     
    COOKING WITH GINGER BEER

    Create a spicy, lightly sweet sauce for meat and poultry with a base of ginger beer. Try:

  • Corned Beef In Ginger Beer (recipe)
  • Ginger Beer And Tangerine Glazed Ham (recipe)
  • Grilled Chicken In Ginger Beer Sauce (recipe)
  • Pork Tenderloin With Pears & Ginger Beer Sauce (recipe)
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