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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 Diet Nibbles

PASSOVER: Danny Macaroons

Passover is around the corner, and macaroons are on the menu. The soft, coconut cookies are a delight year-round, but especially appreciated by Passover observers. Made of shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and egg whites—without the flour or leavening that are verboten during this holiday—they happily replace other baked sweets. (They’re gluten-free, too.)

Dan Cohen of Danny’s Macaroons and author of The Macaroon Bible, is one of the country’s—and probably the world’s—great macaroon makers. Beyond his grandmother’s plain and chocolate dipped, he’s brought macaroons into the new flavor age.

The cookies are made with kosher ingredients, but are not kosher for Passover. Still, those who observe the spirit of the law if not the letter of it, will enjoy every bite.

DANNY MACAROON FLAVORS

Just take a look at these choices:

 

the-macaroon-bible-230

Get the book and bake your own! Photo courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  • Amarena Cherry, topped with an semi-candied cherry
  • Baileys McRoons
  • Bourbon
  • Black Chocolate Stout
  • Chocolate Almond
  • Chocolate Banana Nut
  • Chocolate Caramel
  • Chocolate Dipped
  • Chocolate Malted
  • Guava
  • Jamstand Surprise with spicy raspberry jalapeño jam
  • Maple Pecan Pie
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Plain Coconut
  • Red Velvet
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spiced Pumpkin
  • Stoopid, coconut macaroons are filled with potato chips, pretzels and pieces of Butterfinger, then drizzled with dark chocolate (how this relates to stupid, we can’t say)
  •  
    Get yours at DannyMacaroons.com.

     

    box-danny-macaroons-southportgrocery-230

    How many flavors do we want? All of them!
    Photo courtesy Southport Grocery.

     

    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    “Macaroon” means different things to different people. To some, it’s a big ball of coconut, to others, a delicate, airy meringue. Both are delicious and neither is made with flour, making them options for gluten-free observers and for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s Amaretti di Saronno, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Macaroons traveled to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution (1789-1799), paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters” (the French word is macaron, pronounced mah-kah-RONE).

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening, the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, such as baking powder and baking soda (instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites).

     

    The recipe was introduced to other European Jews and became popular for Passover as well as a year-round sweet.Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds in Jewish macaroons, and, in certain recipes, completely replaced them.

    Coconut macaroons are more prevalent in the U.S. and the U.K.—and they’re a lot easier to make and transport than the fragile almond meringues that became the norm in France.

    Here’s more macaroon history.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Crunchmaster Popped Edamame Chips

    bag-bowl-230

    Chips for wasabi lovers. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We love Crunchmaster: The multigrain crackers were a Top Pick Of The Week. They can be used for anything from snacking to garnishing to making a savory crust.

    Crunchmaster crackers are Japanese-inspired, from the rice used to make them to usuyaki, the art of handcrafting, aging and baking rice crackers on open grills. The American versions are made in Illinois and Nevada from California rice.

    Now, in an even more East-meets-West flavor profile, the company has launched Popped Edamame Chips, rice flour combined with edamame (see below) and seasonings. There are two flavors:

  • Wasabi Soy
  • Sea Salt
  •  
    The chips are light in texture and very crunchy. Both are very tasty, but we love wasabi so Wasabi Soy is a slam dunk.

    Ready to try them? The store locator does not come up in the Firefox (Macintosh) browser, but we were able to access it via Safari.

     
    There’s also an online store and a $1 coupon.

    Rice is a gluten-free grain and the line is certified gluten free.

     

    WHAT ARE EDAMAME?

    Edamame, pronounced eh-dah-MAH-may, are baby soybeans, boiled in salted water and served whole as a snack or appetizer. They can be further flavored with rice wine, Szechuan pepper, nanami togarashi or Chinese Five Spice.

    The name is Japanese for “twig bean” (eda = twig” + mame = bean), referring to young soybeans cropped with their twig (i.e., on the stem). You can find them served this way in Japan, but edamame are an imported product. With the exception of a few ultra-premium Japanese restaurants that import them on the twig, you’ll see the “mame” but not the “eda.”

    The green soybeans in the pod are picked prior to ripening (when they turn into the familiar beige soybean color).

     

    edamame-burpee-230

    Edamame, baby soybeans. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    A popular snack, the boiled soybeans are eaten by pushing them directly from the pods into your mouth; the shell is not eaten. Frozen edamame are available in the pod or shelled.

    Edamame have become a popular addition to recipes as well. Add them to salads, stir-frys, casseroles, soups and almost any savory food. Make a healthy dip. Edamame are attractive garnishes on any food, from baked and mashed potatoes to steaks and chops. They can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.

    And now, turn them into snack chips!

    Edamame are perhaps the healthiest vegetable you can serve. Check out the health benefits of edamame.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dear Coco Toffee Chocolate Bars

    Quite a few artisan chocolatiers are also pastry chefs. Rachel Ferneau makes chocolates as Dear Coco, but was previously the proprietor of Eden Cake, a made-to-order kosher pareve bakery serving metro Washington, D.C.

    While we’ve missed the opportunity to try her desserts, she was kind enough to send us some chocolate.

    Everything from this artisan chocolatier is 100% handcrafted in small batches. The chocolates are completely dairy-free, all natural and certified kosher pareve by Star-K.

    In both her baking and her chocolates, flavors of the world are evoked with coffees and teas, exotic salts, fine herbs, flowers, fruits, roasted nuts and spices.

    Recently, Dear Coco launched a creative line of vegan-friendly artisan chocolate bars: Toffee Chocolate Bars. Eight unique bars are embedded with toffee and the spices that evoke each of the eight globally-inspired locations.

    The toffee is made with vegan butter* in order to be pareve† and lactose free. This substitution, so that the bars can be enjoyed anytime by kosher observers, makes them vegan-friendly as well. Yes, it cuts down on the butteriness of the toffee; but there is so much other layering of flavors that no one will notice.

     

    oaxaca-bar-front-back-230

    The Oaxaca bar invokes the moles of Oaxaca, Mexico with cinnamon toffee and pepitas. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    group-tablecloth-230

    Five of the eight “destination” toffee
    chocolate bars. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    NEW & SPECIAL: TOFFEE CHOCOLATE BARS

    All of the bars are made with dark chocolate and a touch of sea salt.

  • Barcelona Toffee Chocolate Bar: Influenced by the flavors of Spain—roasted almond toffee and sea salt.
  • Istanbul Toffee Chocolate Bar: Inspired by the flavors of baklava—cinnamon clove toffee with rosewater, roasted walnuts.
  • Madras Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the curries of Southeast India—sweet curry toffee with roasted sunflower seeds.
  • Oaxaca Toffee Chocolate Bar: A recognition of the mole dishes of Oaxaca—Mexican cinnamon and smoky hot chile toffee with roasted pepitas.
  • Savannah Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the pecan pie of “The Hostess City of the South”—pie spice toffee with roasted pecans.
  • Shanghai Toffee Chocolate Bar: Honoring a staple spice of Cantonese cooking, Chinese five spice toffee (here a blend of cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves) with roasted white sesame seeds.
  • Sidama Toffee Chocolate Bar: For the coffee lover, crunchy caramelized coffee toffee infused with Ethiopian coffee beans.
  • Tokyo Toffee Chocolate Bar: Homage to the sushi bar—ginger toffee with crispy rice.
  •  

    The 3.5-ounce bars are $7.50 each. A gift set of eight (all the flavors) is $54.00.

    Get yours at DearCoco.com.

     
    *Products like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks are made from expeller-pressed oils that have 0g trans fats. More information.

    †Kosher law prohibits the consumption of dairy and meat products together. Pareve is a classification of foods that contain neither dairy nor meat ingredients, and can be eaten with both groups. Pareve foods include eggs, fish and all foods that are grown—cereals, fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Flavored Water Enhancers For World Water Day

    peach-green-tea-water-bottle-kalviste-230

    Don’t buy flavored water: Make your own
    with this pocket-size squeeze bottle. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    It’s World Water Day, an observance begun in 1993 by a declaration of the United Nations General Assembly, to focus on the challenges of the world’s water supply.

    On previous World Water Days, we advocated buying a permanent water bottle to spare the earth the landfill of billions of plastic bottles a year.

  • More than 80% of empty water bottles end up in the nation’s landfills.
  • Fifty billion water bottles are used every year, about 30 billion of them in the U.S. This equates to 1,500 water bottles consumed per second! Amazingly, we utilize about 60% of the world’s water bottles, even though we represent just 4.5% of the world population and have safe municipal water everywhere.
  • Seventeen million barrels of oil are used each year to produce all of the water bottles—enough to keep one million cars fueled for an entire year.
  • Beyond oil, it takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one empty plastic water bottle. Because of the chemicals used in production, most of that water cannot be reused.*
  •  

    ENHANCE TAP WATER WITH WATER ENHANCERS

    This year, for folks who don’t like plain water from the tap, we’ve advocating portable water enhancers instead of iced tea, Vitamin Water and other options. These small squeeze bottles fit in your pocket and turn your [reusable] bottle of water—or a glass of water—into a zero-calorie flavored beverage.

    The process is simple: Take your water bottle or a glass of water, squeeze in a few drops of water enhancer and shake or stir. No refrigeration is required; the enhancers are caffeine-free and gluten-free.

    As an at-home or on-the-go product, water enhancers are environmentally friendly, leaving one small plastic bottle to recycle instead of up to 32 full size beverage bottles.

    We tried two brands: AriZona, which makes flavored iced tea, and Stur, which creates flavored water.

    ARIZONA WATER ENHANCERS

    From the folks who make AriZona bottled teas, these water enhancers let you recreate your own diet AriZona in seven of the company’s most popular flavors: Arnold Palmer Half & Half, Arnold Palmer Strawberry Fruit Punch, Golden Bear Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Tea, Mucho Mango and Peach Green Tea.

    Made with real tea and flavored with real juice and honey without artificial† colors or flavors, there is added sweetness from sucralose (marketed to consumers as Splenda).

    How can the enhancer have zero calories when juice and honey are ingredients? They have just a pinch to add flavor while keeping the calorie count less than 1%. If it’s less than 1%, the FDA allows the claim of calorie-free. (And by the way, it’s the same with any ingredient, including trans fats.)

    As of now, AriZona Water Enhancers are being sold at Walmart and online. They are expected to roll out to other distributors nationwide.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. For more information, visit DrinkArizona.com.

     

    STUR WATER ENHANCERS

    Stur is a water enhancer that adds flavor and vitamins. Instead of making iced tea like AriZona, it turns plain water into vitamin water.

    Flavors include Freshly Fruit Punch, Lemon Tea, Only Orange Mango,Purely Pomegranate Cranberry and Simply Strawberry Watermelon.

    The line is made with kosher ingredients but has not yet been certified kosher.

    Stur is an all-natural† product that supplies 100% DV of Vitamin C per serving, along with a blend of essential vitamins, including A, D, E, B3, B5, B6, B12.

    The company’s goal is to encourage Americans drink more water, by giving those who don’t like to drink a lot of water a “delicious way to hit those 8 glasses of water a day.”

    You can do more than enhance water:

  • Add to seltzer water for a carbonated beverage.
  • Make flavored milk or smoothies.
  • Top yogurt or sugar-free ice cream.
  •  

    strawberry-glass-230

    Just squeeze a drop into a water bottle or glass of water. Photo courtesy Stur.

     

    You can buy a variety pack on Amazon, and individual flavors on SturDrinks.com, where you can buy any five flavors for $19.95 (which make 90 eight-ounce servings).

    Get some for yourself, and put them on your stocking stuffer list.

     
    *Source: Huffington Post.

    †Stevia, the sweetening agent, is a natural product made from the leaf of the stevia plant. While stevia can be a highly processed product like sucralose, sucralose detractors point out that it is created by the addition of chlorine atoms to sucrose molecules. Here’s more information from the anti-sucralose resource.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE GIFT: Chubby Wubby Cookies

    rasberry_chubby_wubby-damngoodcookies

    Raspberry Chubby Wubby cookies. Photo
    courtesy Cake Chicago.

     

    Gifted cake maker Mary Winslow of Cake Chicago also turns out “Damn Good Cookies” and “Ugly Truffles.” Everything is primo quality and delicious.

    Mary calls her chocolates and cookies “laid back luxury sweets.” The wedding cakes are anything but laid back: both classic and modern designs. If you like looking at wedding cakes, there are dozens in the photo gallery. We picked up a few ideas.

    But before you pop the question (or are the popee), send someone some Chubby Wubby for Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing Valentinesque about them, but anyone who’d rather have chocolate cookies than chocolate candy will be thrilled.

    For gluten sensitive Valentines, there’s a gluten-free version (along with gluten-free brownies and chocolate chip cookies).

     

    Chubby Wubby sandwich cookies are soft, rich, chubby chocolate cookies—about two bites worth—studded with chocolate chips. The sandwich layer flavors are universal favorites:

  • Chubby Wubby Chocolate Cookie—gluten free
  • Chubby Wubby Hazelnut Cream Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Mint Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Caramel Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Chubby Wubby Raspberry Cookie
  •  
    A 12-piece box is $25, a 16-piece box $34. Get yours at Cake-Chicago.com.

     

    peanut_butter_chubby_wubby-230

    Peanut butter Chubby Wubbies: a new way to enjoy chocolate and PB. Photo courtesy Cake Chicago.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pan-Seared Fish, Crispy Skin

    Sear that skin until it’s crisp! Photo courtesy
    Pollen Restaurant.

     

    Fish is healthy, low-fat protein; we all should eat more of it. Grilled or pan-seared fish is at the top of the list many nutritionists suggest for making better changes in your diet.

    This is not news.

    The news is: the fish doesn’t have to be dull. You can prepare it exciting without a cholesterol- and calorie-laden butter sauce.

    Here’s how to keep it health and delicious.

    1. Sear the skin. Crispy skin is a treat, without being a no-no. Yes, there’s some fat—but far less than chicken skin.

    2. Use a very light sauce. Serve the fish in a bowl of broth (just a half inch or so). You can use clear stock, tomato-based broth or even vegetable soup. Another option: tomato sauce, like a chunky pasta sauce. Better brands, without added sugar, are very low in calories. We often use diced San Marzano tomatoes, straight from the can with some fresh herbs.

     

    3. Top the fish with healthy vegetables. Steam the vegetables or lightly sautée them in olive oil. Combine three different vegetables for more arresting color and flavor. Don’t forget the super-healthful cruciferous group, including, among others, bok choy, chard, kale and Napa cabbage. Or instead of a topping, use vegetables as a base with the fish on top (spinach is great as a bed), and hold the broth.

     

    4. Serve with whole grains, beans or legumes. A bed of barley, beans, brown rice, lentils or quinoa hits the trifecta: attractive, healthful, tasty. Or with a dollop of yogurt seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe some grated cucumber, radish, and garlic. Perch it on a bed of greens with an assertive vinaigrette.

    5. Garnish with something artistic. Consider edamame, microgreens, snipped fresh herbs, sprouts, thin slices of baby radishes. Celery leaves are great for this purpose. Most people toss them out, but they’re an attractive and tasty garnish.
     
    HOW TO GET CRISP SKIN

    Crispy skin on a fish filet is a treat. Here’s how to do it.

    1. HEAT a heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron is great, nonstick doesn’t work as well) until it gets very hot; then reduce heat to medium-high heat for several minutes before you start cooking.

     

    Get rid of the butter- or cream-based sauce. Photo courtesy Nobilio.

     

    2. PAT the skin fry with a paper towel before seasoning (season both sides). If the skin sticks to the skillet, either the skin is too damp or the pan isn’t hot enough.

    3. BRUSH fish with oil (canola or grapeseed) and apply an even coating of oil to the pan. It will smoke; that’s when you add the fish, skin side down. When the fillet curves upward, use a spatula to press it once and it will flatten out, ensuring full skin contact.

    4. COOK until you see a golden brown color on the edge of the skin. The fish will be about 70% cooked. Then, gently slide the spatula under the fillet and flip it; cook for a few more seconds. You want to flip it just once; flipping it back and forth impedes proper cooking.

    5. PLATE and serve.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Pineapple Coconut Smirnoff Vodka For A Low-Cal Piña Colada

    Great flavor with fewer calories: Pineapple
    Coconut vodka from Smirnoff Sorbet Light.
    Photo courtesy Smirnoff.

     

    The Smirnoff Sorbet Light vodka line is targeted to women who enjoy a regular cocktail, and would like to shave a few calories from each drink.

    The reduced calories are achieved by lowering the proof of the alcohol: The Sorbet Light line is 60 proof/30% ABV* while original Smirnoff (and most vodka) is 80 proof/40% ABV.

    We like a good flavored vodka: It’s like a cocktail without the extra calories. When we tasted new Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut, it reminded us of one of our favorite drinks—the Piña Colada—without the extra calories of pineapple juice and coconut cream.

    Through the miracle of noncaloric flavor infusions, a shot of the vodka has all the satisfaction of fresh juicy pineapple combined with the luscious coconut. It’s not creamy, but to us, that doesn’t matter. It’s the pineapple-coconut flavor we crave.

     
    *ABV is Alcohol By Volume. Double the ABV to get the proof of any alcoholic beverage.

     

    If you want to “stretch out” the calories, add coconut water like Zico—60 calories for 11 ounces, 30 calories for half of that in your cocktail.

    You can mix up any number of cocktails. Here are some from Smirnoff. All of the recipes are under 150 calories.

    RECIPES

    RECIPE: PIÑA COCO SPRITZER

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Glassware: rocks glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a highball glass with ice; add remaining ingredients.

    2. STIR and garnish with an orange half wheel.

     

     
    RECIPE: TROPICAL TREAT

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut
  • 2 ounces coconut water
  • 1 ounces pomegranate juice
  • Garnish: lime wheel or pineapple wedge
  • Glassware: Martini glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

      

    RECIPE: BLANK SLATE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple
    Coconut
  • 2 ounces coconut water
  • Glassware: Martini glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

    2. GARNISH with an edible flower or a pineapple chunk.

     
    RECIPE: MANGO TANGO

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple
    Coconut
  • 1.5 ounces Crystal Light lemonade (4 ounces
    water to one packet)
  • 1.5 ounces mango juice
  • Glassware: Martini glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

    2. GARNISH with a mango slice.

     

    The “Blank Slate”: a low calorie riff on the Piña Colada. Photo courtesy Smirnoff.

    Comments

    TIP: The Easy Way To Healthier Cooking

    Struggling with that “eat healthier/lose weight” new year’s resolution?

    Nutritionists tell you that you can have your favorite rich foods, just in small portions. One piece of pizza instead of two. One heaping tablespoon of ice cream instead of half a pint.

    But overall, eating healthier means better nutrition and fewer calories. The good news is that even historic “bad eaters” can appreciate the delicious flavors of these other foods. It’s a mind thing.

    So start looking at your favorites an see where you can make revisions. You might want to start with a copy of Cooking Light: The New Way To Cook Light, Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today’s Home Cook.

    While there are numerous books in the Cooking Light series, this books starts with the principles of eating lighter:

     

    Continue to enjoy pasta, but make it whole wheat pasta and 50% “primavera” (half pasta, half vegetables). Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

  • Healthy fats, like olive oil and avocado oil, rather than butter and cream
  • Larger portions of vegetables and more modest portions of meat
  • Whole grains rather than refined ones (white flour, white rice, e.g.)
  •  
    The recipes use “real” ingredients instead of fat-free sour cream, artificial sweeteners, etc.

    They provide more than enough flavor, texture, color and mouthfeel to satisfy everyone at the table.

    The adjustments are easy, the taste results negligible, the overall transition painless. And if you want to lose weight without working at it, this is how!

     

    The best way to start a new eating regime:
    Read an inspiring, calorie-cutting cookbook like
    this one. Photo courtesy Cooking Light.

     

    OUR PERSONAL TIPS

  • Substitute nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream and cream cheese. Whether on a bagel or a burrito, it works!
  • “Pad out” pasta and rice with vegetables. Aim for a half and half ratio, and vary the veggies and the cuts (dice, julienne, circles, etc.) so they don’t get routine.
  • Make exciting salads. A plate of boring greens cries out for caloric dressings. Instead, add other, more flavorful vegetables and a vinaigrette: artichoke hearts, broccoli, capers, edamame, hearts of palm, olives, pimento and/or water chestnuts, for example. When tomato isn’t in season, it’s pretty flavorless—again, crying out for caloric dressings. Substitute grape or cherry tomatoes in red or the more catchy yellow, pimento or sundried tomatoes. And don’t use inexpensive oil and vinegar: treat yourself to the good stuff.
  • Drink lots of water or plain iced tea with meals. The more you drink, the fuller you get. Vary with club soda, flavored unsweetened seltzers and other low calorie options. Drink wine in spritzers (half wine, half club soda).
  •  

  • Enjoy your favorite cake in cubes. We’d rather eat a tiny piece of rich cream cheese cheesecake than a slice of “cheesecake lite.” A solution:
    Bake the cheesecake in a pan, like brownies—shorter than a standard cheesecake. Keep it in the freezer, and cut small squares as needed for a “fix,” or to top a larger dish of mixed berries for dessert.
     
    Send us your favorite tips, and keep working it.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pasta Without The Carbs

    Have all the noodles you want; these tofu
    shirataki are very low in calories. Photo
    courtesy House Foods.

     

    Why is “comfort food” high-carb food? What’s a pasta lover to do?

    Well, there’s spaghetti squash, and you can shred zucchini into a form that cooks up like pasta (and is delicious topped with sauce and grated cheese).

    And then there’s shirataki.

    WHAT IS SHIRATAKI?

    Shirataki are Japanese noodles that are very low in calories and carbohydrate (many have zero). They are thin and translucent, made from the colorfully named devil’s tongue yam (also called elephant yam or konjac yam). They are fat-free, gluten-free and soy-free. There are also varieties made from tofu, which does have soy and a modest number of calories.

    The Miracle Noodle brand is certified kosher by OU. The company also makes “rice” from the same yam.

     

    “Shirataki” means “white waterfall” in Japanese, a term that describes the appearance of the very white yam noodles (the tofu noodles have a more pasta-like color).

    Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber from the yam, they have little flavor of their own. But top with tomato sauce or add to a cup of broth, and you’ve got a pretty darn good pasta substitute. Like tofu (and the tofu shirataki), they easily absorb the flavors of any dish or sauce.

    A special benefit: The soluble fiber slows digestion and prolongs the sensation of fullness.

     

    The yam-based noodles have recently been joined by tofu-based shirataki-style noodles. They require refrigeration and contain a minimal amount of carbohydrate.

    Shirataki noodles can be found both in dry and “wet” forms in Asian markets, some supermarkets and online. The wet noodles, most frequently found, are packaged in liquid.

    There are many offerings out there. The NoOodle brand has meal starters at 20 calories per serving, that allow you to enjoy great-tasting meals without packing on the pounds. They also have 50-calorie soups. The line includes:

  • Tomato Infused Angel Hair, angel hair NoOodles in a tomato flavored broth
  • Chicken Flavor Infused Angel Hair NoOodles in a light chicken broth
  • Chicken NoOodle Soup, prepared with chicken and fresh vegetables in a natural chicken broth
  •  

    Shirataki noodles are made in favorite cuts, from angel hair and fettuccine to spaghetti. There are even ziti and “spinach noodles.”Photo courtesy Miracle Noodle.

  • Tomato Risotto with diced tomatoes, spinach, and basil prepared in a tomato sauce
  •  
    COOKING TIPS

  • There is a fishy aroma when you open some packages, possibly from the preservatives. Once the noodles are rinsed and boiled, it is gone and there is no unpleasant taste. Be sure to follow the package directions.
  • The texture is gelatinous. Pat the noodles dry with paper towels) before adding to the recipe. If you still don’t like the texture, try this technique: Rinse 4-5 minutes, boil for 5-7 minutes, then rinse again in cold water again for a minute. If you want the noodles hotter, put them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
  • An easy dish: heat olive oil and a garlic in a pan and add the rinsed, blotted noodles. Add whatever proteins and vegetables you have. It’s a delicious dish. You can also toss shirataki into stir-frys.
  • Some fans say the recipes taste better the next day.
  •  
    We’re coming up on the Year Of The Horse; but this may also be the Year Of The Shirataki Noodle.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Amoretti Sugar-Free Caramel & Chocolate Syrups

    We tried the chocolate and caramel syrups,
    in drinks desserts. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    Amaretto, Butterscotch, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Fior di Sicilia, French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Lemon, Mojito Mint, Orange and Raspberry…hungry yet?

    You can have all of these flavored syrups for just 15 calories a “pump,” in Amoretti’s line of all natural syrups made without any sweetener. You can use your sweetener of choice, or none at all (other sugar-free brands tend to use Splenda).

    The company also makes conventional syrups with sugar.

    If you’re looking to cut calories or carbs in the new year but don’t want to give up that daily caramel macchiato, or if you need Valentine gifts for calorie counters, consider a bottle or two.

    Use the syrups in:

  • Cocktails
  • Coffee drinks
  • Hot chocolate
  • Cold milk, diet milkshakes, steamed milk
  • Smoothies
  • Soda, seltzer and flavored seltzer
  • Tea/iced tea
  •  

    Use them to top:

  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt (use sugar-free, fat-free ice cream for a diet sundae)
  • Pancakes or waffles
  • Shaved ice
  •  
    There are about 62 servings per bottle, $14.65. You can buy them at fine retailers and online. Amoretti is pricier than other brands, but has superior flavor. And over the course of 62 beverages, the extra cents per serving don’t amount to much.

    We mix the Fiori di Sicilia flavor with nonfat ricotta, Splenda and a few mini chocolate chips for “diet ricotta cream” (cannoli is one of our passions). Fiori di Sicilia (“Flower of Siciliy”), which may not be familiar to many Americans, is an extract used in Italian desserts that combines vanilla, orange and flower essences.

    We also add flavors to nonfat Greek yogurt, and have become very fond of raspberry iced tea. Once you have a bottle, you’re free to experiment. Be sure to let us know what your “winners” are.

    The line is certified kosher by Kehilla Kashrut.

    For more information about the Amoretti product line, visit the company website.

      

    Comments

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