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Archive for Low Calorie

TIP OF THE DAY: Trim Your Cocktail Calories

Red Cocktail Mint Garnish

Herradura Agave Nectar

Top: Fruit purée and flavored spirits cut the need for sugar in cocktails. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful. Bottom: Agave nectar is a superior alternative to simple sugar. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

 

Right after the new year, we were listening to the four principals on a top morning news show discuss what they would give up for a better new year. Not one could give up drinking!

Yet, everyone wanted to eat more healthfully.

An obvious choice is to avoid sweet, sugared cocktails in favor of savory ones: Bloody Mary, Martini, Scotch and Soda and the like. But some people insist on a sweet cocktail.

Mixologist Sam Fuerstman at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. has crafted a few lower-calorie cocktails, including a “no-guilt Gimlet” and a “cheat-free Margarita.”

The recipes are below. Here are general tips for cutting cocktail calories:

  • Rethink simple syrup, the main cocktail sweetener, which is half sugar, half water (or worse, HFCS in a prepared mix product). Instead, use much-lower-calorie, low-glycemic agave nectar*. If you want a zero-calorie simple syrup, dissolve one part stevia or Splenda in four parts boiling water. It won’t be thick, but it will deliver sweetness.
  • Use flavor-infused spirits. They contribute flavor without extra calories, and are available in any flavor you could desire.
  • Avoid cocktails with high-calorie juices (e.g. alas, no Piña Colada).
  • Use fruit purée or freshly squeezed juice instead of store-bought juice, which may have added sugars. Take a look at Trop 50: nine different juices, including orange juice, with half the sugar and calories.
  • Use diet mixers instead of sugar-laden ones. Even if you don’t normally buy diet drinks, you can use diet tonic water, ginger ale, cola, cranberry juice, etc. in your drink.
  •  
    and…

  • Sip flavored spirits straight. They taste like a mixed drink; but remember that they’re 80 proof. To us, SKYY’s Pineapple Vodka is a low-calorie alternative to a Piña Colada. Make straight spirits more cocktail-like with crushed ice and a fruit garnish.
  •  
    *Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, has a natural sweetness that’s more elegant than table sugar. It’s never cloying or “sugary.” Its glycemic index is 32, half that of sugar (GI 60-65) and more than 40% less than honey (GI 58) and pure maple syrup (GI 54); it’s diabetes-friendly. A teaspoon of agave has 20 calories; sugar has 16 calories and honey has 22 calories. But since agave is 1.4 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, you don’t need to use as much (we use half as much).

     

    RECIPE: NO-GUILT RASPBERRY VODKA GIMLET

    This no-guilt gimlet has a double raspberry twist: raspberry purée plus raspberry-flavored vodka.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 tablespoon homemade raspberry purée
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces raspberry vodka
  • Garnish: cucumber wheel, fresh raspberries, lime wedge or lime wheel, lemon curl
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the raspberries in a food processor or blender. Taste; if you need more sweetness, add a bit of Splenda or agave.

    2. COMBINE with the other ingredients. You can serve the drink on the rocks, or shake it with ice and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass.

     

    RECIPE: NO-PANIC POMEGRANATE MARGARITA

    Here, fresh fruit juice substitutes for the standard sugary Margarita mixes. Here’s how to make pomegranate juice from fresh pomegranates. You can also purchase pomegranate juice with no added sugar.

     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • ½ ounce of fresh pomegranate juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • Coarse salt and optional lime zest for rim
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ZEST the lime before juicing it and blend with the salt in a shallow dish. Rub the rim of the glass with a slice of lime slice to make the salt mixture stick to it; then dip the glass rim into the salt and twist to coat.

    2. SHAKE the other ingredients with ice, and then carefully pour into the glass, taking care not to dislodge any salt. Serve over ice.
     

    RECIPE: SUGAR-FREE MINT GIN FIZZ

    Sprite Zero substitutes for the simple syrup in a Gin Fizz.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 fresh mint sprigs
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2½ ounces Sprite Zero
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprig(s)
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Pomegranate Margarita

    Mint Cocktail Garnish

    Top: Pomegranate Margarita with homemade pomegranate juice. Photo courtesy Tony Roma’s. Bottom: Fresh mint provides flavor and aroma that trumps the lack of sugar in this Gin Fizz. Photo courtesy Junoon | NYC.

     
    1. MUDDLE the mint sprigs in a glass with the lime juice. Add the gin and top with Sprite Zero.

    2. POUR over ice and garnished with a sprig of mint leaves.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red Grapefruit, The Best Winter Fruit

    Grapefruit is a winter fruit, and we’re glad to have it.

    America is the world’s largest consumer of grapefruit, with large commercial groves in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. But the grapefruit’s ancestor, the pummelo (also pomelo, pomello and other spellings), comes from far away. It’s native to Malaysia and Indonesia.

    THE HISTORY OF GRAPEFRUIT

    In 1693, pummelo seeds were brought from the East Indies to the West Indies—Barbados—by an English ship commander, one Captain Shaddock. The grapefruit may have been a horticultural accident or a deliberate hybridization between the larger pummelo and the smaller sweet orange. The original grapefruit was about the size of the orange.

    Its name evolved in English to a descriptive one: The fruit grows on trees in grape-like clusters. The fruit was pretty but very sour and the thick took time to peel. For a long time, it was grown only as an ornamental tree.

    The grapefruit arrived in the U.S. in 1823, but it was not immediately popular for eating. The tart fruits had numerous tiny seeds and required a generous sprinkling of sugar.

    Growers learned how to breed selective fruits that were sweeter, and in 1870, the first grapefruit nursery was established in Florida.

    In 1885, the first shipment of grapefruits arrived in New York and Philadelphia, generated interest and helped to create the commercial grapefruit industry.

    Here’s a longer history of grapefruit.

    Most grapefruit grown is white grapefruit. But hopefully that will change: Red grapefruit (not pink) is where it’s at.
     
    HOW RED GRAPEFRUIT DEVELOPED

    The first grapefruits were white. Pink grapefruit, a mutation, was first discovered in 1906 in the groves of the Atwood Grapefruit Company in Manatee County, Florida.

       

    Sweet Scarlett Red Grapefruit

    Star Ruby Grapefruit

    Top: Sweet Scarlett red grapefruits. Photo courtesy Wonderful Fruit. Bottom: The yellow rinds often have a pink blush. Photo of Star Ruby grapefruits courtesy Specialty Produce.

     
    One day, a grove foreman peeled a grapefruit with the intention of eating it, and discovered that the fruit inside was pink! A local nurseryman was able to propagate the pink fruit, and it met with big success: In addition to a more pleasing color, the flesh tended to be sweeter.

    Another mutation gave us red grapefruit, which was originally discovered growing on a pink grapefruit tree in Texas. It was patented as Ruby Red grapefruit in 1929. Red grapefruit is known in agriculture as a “limb sport,” a mutation of one limb (branch) that has different fruit characteristics than the rest of the tree.

    A hit from the start, sweeter with alluring rosy red flesh, Ruby Reds are marketed under different names: Flame, Rio Red, Rio Star, Ruby-Sweet, Star Ruby, Sweet Scarletts, TexaSweet and others.

    While consumers call these different red grapefruits “varieties,” botanically it’s more accurate to call them different “selections” because they are all derived from one another as descendants of the original Ruby Reds. Each has different small attributes, tailored to succeed in different climates and soils.

    Otherwise stated, all of the different deep red grapefruits grown around the world—Rio Red in Texas, Star Ruby in South Africa, Flame in Florida, etc.—are not botanically different, but have been adapted to the the climate and soil in each region.

    Different selections also have different shades of flesh. For example, Florida’s Ruby Reds are deep pink, while Flame grapefruits have deep red flesh.

     

    Red Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

    Simple yet elegant: Rio Star grapefruit
    sections in an avocado half. Here’s the easy
    recipe
    . Photo courtesy TexaSweet.

     

    WHAT MAKES THE FLESH RED?

    Red and pink grapefruits contain lycopene, a phytochemical (antioxidant) found in tomatoes and some other red fruits and vegetables such as papaya, red carrots and watermelon. Red grapefruits have a greater concentration than pink grapefruits.

    Why are red grapefruits sweeter?

    It’s all in the weather. Sweet Scarletts, for example, are grown in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where hot days, cool nights and the unique terroir† merge to create the ideal grapefruit.

    Most red grapefruits are grown in Texas, since the The Texas climate produces the sweetest red grapefruits.
     
    DON’T LET THE SEASON PASS YOU BY

    Different regions are ready to harvest at different times; but in general, red grapefruit is available from October through March.

    We have been enjoying a box of Sweet Scarletts, and couldn’t be happier. They’re so sweet and lush, who needs ice cream?

     
    If you aren’t already a grapefruit lover, head to the store and bring some home. They’re sweet, juicy, and low in calories* (42 calories per 3.5 ounces of flesh). It’s one of our favorite great-tasting and great-for-you foods.
     
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT WAYS CAN YOU SERVE RED GRAPEFRUIT?

    Here are nine pages of red grapefruit recipes, from cocktails and appetizers through main courses, sides and desserts.

  • One of our favorite preparations is red grapefruit sorbet. Here’s a recipe from Emeril via Martha Stewart.
  • Red grapefruit sorbet is also delicious in a dessert cocktail. Fill a Martini glass or coupe with sparkling wine and add a scoop of sorbet. Garnish with some grated grapefruit zest.
  • Another favorite preparation: broiled grapefruit. It takes just three minutes: Sprinkle a half grapefruit with brown sugar, place on a cookie sheet and broil for three minutes. It’s ready when the sugar melts and gets crispy—the grapefruit version of crème brûlée.
  •  
    Many thanks to to Etienne Rabe, Vice President, Agronomy at Wonderful Citrus in California, for explaining the fine points of this “wonderful” fruit.
     
    ______________________________________
    *For those who closely monitor their nutrition, they’re high in the cancer-fighting antioxidant vitamin A; the free-radical-fighting antioxidant vitamin C; the vision-friendly flavonoid antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, naringenin and xanthin; the dietary fiber pectin (which also lowers cholesterol); and potassium, which counters the negative effects of sodium; among other nutrients such as B vitamins. Red grapefruit also contains the powerful flavonoid antioxidant, lycopene, which protects skin from damage from UV rays and fights macular degeneration and several types of cancer.

    †Terroir, a French word pronounced tur-WAH, refers to the unique combination of geographic location, climate and microclimate, soil and temperature that creates the individual personality of an agricultural product. As in the growing of grapes for wine or beans for coffee, terroir dramatically affects the flavor profiles of the product.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Biscotti Bites

    Biscotti Bites

    Almond Biscotti Bites

    Top: Each Biscotti Bite is a 12-calorie treat. Photo: Thomas Francois | FOT. Bottom: Almond, one of the three flavors of Biscotti Bites. Photo: The Bites Company.

     

    Every person who is mindful of calories searches for those magical foods that deliver the satisfaction without the calories. We discovered one such food in Biscotti Bites from The Bites Company.

    Before we wax poetic, note that other companies market products called Biscotti Bites. Some are miniature biscotti like Nonni’s Biscotti Bites, a product we enjoy very much.

    But The Bites Company makes little round cookies, just 1-3/8 inches in diameter.

    They’re less dense than biscotti yet still crunchy. And they deliver lovely biscotti flavor in in Almond, Cocoa and Lemon.

    Company founder Dana Upton had made traditional biscotti for 30 years. She reworked her recipe so that her cookies would still deliver a biscotti experience at 12 calories a bite.

    The recommended serving size is 10 cookies for 120 calories; 9 cookies have 3 Weight Watchers points.

    The cookies are all natural, made in small batches from scratch with top-quality ingredients. The Almond flavor evokes traditional biscotti. The Lemon flavor contains fresh lemon peel, for a lilting lemon flavor. The Cocoa flavor is more subtle; we prefer the first two.

    As for nutrition, Biscotti Bites are:

  • Are low in sodium, with no added salt.
  • Have less than 1 gram of sugar in each cookie.
  • Have the right “no” list: no canola oil, no GMOs, no high fructose corn syrup, no MSG, no soy, no trans fat.
  •  
    They are also kosher-certified, although the company is using up its supply of packaging without the hechsher.

    Biscotti Bites are sold in 4.5-ounce bags, and the Almond variety is available in 1-ounce single serve bags. You can buy them on the company website, TheBitesCompany.com, or head to Amazon for:

  • Almond Biscotti Bites
  • Cocoa Biscotti Bites
  • Lemon Biscotti Bites
  •  

     
    The MSRP for single packages is $5.99; a three-pack is $15.00. We promise, they’re worth every penny.

    They are so delicious that you can’t eat just one. Fortunately, you can have 10 at a time.
     
    BISCOTTI TRIVIA

    Biscotti date back to ancient Rome. They were originally made not for a leisurely snack with an espresso, but as a long-shelf-life food that could be carried by travelers, back in the day when you were not likely to find food on the road.

    Among the travelers who took biscotti with them were the Roman Legions. Here’s the history of biscotti.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serving Raw Mushrooms

    We really appreciate mushrooms. They’re what we call a “bonus” food: extremely low in calories and a versatile ingredient in cooked foods from omelets to rice pilaf to meat loaf to sauces.

    They’re also delicious raw. Our marinated mushroom salad is very popular (recipe below) and we typically serve mushrooms with other crudités and dip. But we were newly inspired by this mushroom carpaccio from Qunciple.com (a produce delivery service like a CSA, but representing the best of many farmers).

    A beautiful presentation, you can make a large platter for a buffet or to pass at the table, or prepare individual plates.

    RECIPE: MUSHROOM CARPACCIO

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1/2 pound white button mushrooms, wiped cleaned
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (we use basil oil or
    rosemary oil)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh herbs for garnish: basil or parsley
  •    

    Mushroom Carpaccio

    A pretty presentation: mushroom carpaccio garnished with basil leaves. Photo by Julia Gartland | Quinciple.

     

    Preparation

    Ideally use a mandolin, which makes uniform slices and can cut them as thin as possible.

    If you don’t yet have a mandoline, it’s a good excuse to get one. They don’t take up much room, and if you cook regularly, you’ll appreciate the convenience it provides in slicing fruits and vegetables, including crinkle and waffle cuts; as well as cheese and chips. You want one that’s slip-free, has multiple attachments (to make different shapes), and the indispensible hand guard. This mandoline has it all.

    1. HOLD each mushroom by the stem and use the mandoline to cut very thin slices off the top of the mushroom cap. Stop before you reach the stem. Remove the stems (they will still have some of the cap attached); you can add them to grains, omelets, sauces, soups or stocks.

    USING A KNIFE: If you don’t have a mandolin use a large, sharp knife. Lay each cap flat on a cutting board and trim one edge, slicing off 1/8″ or so. Turn the cap on its edge so that the cut side is flush against the board and the mushroom is steady on the board. Slice the mushrooms as thinly as you can.

    2. ARRANGE the mushrooms on one or two plates in overlapping concentric circles (start at the outside and work your way to the center). Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, finish the plate(s) with a generous squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve.
     

     

    Marinated Mushrooms

    Marinated Mushroom Salad

    Top: Marinated mushrooms in a lettuce cup;
    photo courtesy Taste Of Home. Bottom:
    Marinated mushrooms with a side of dressed
    greens. Photo courtesy A Shifted Perspective.

     

    RECIPE: RAW MUSHROOM SALAD

    This recipe is so flexible, you can add whatever you like: baby corn, capers, fennel, etc. You can also use other than white mushrooms, and it’s even more interesting with an assortment of mushrooms. Check out the options in our Mushroom Glossary.

    Ingredients

  • 1 8-ounce container white mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine or sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs (basil, chives, dill, oregano, parsley, thyme), minced (we use two different herbs)
  • Optional ingredients for color: diced red pepper or pimento, red onions, sliced green onions or chives
  • Optional ingredients for variety: broccoli or cauliflower florets, edamame, sliced olives
  • Optional heat: 1 chili, seeded and white pith removed, finely sliced
  • Baby arugula, baby spinach, mesclun, watercress or lettuce/cabbage/radicchio cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLEAN the mushrooms and pat dry. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt. Toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand for about 30 minutes so the salt can remove excess water from the mushrooms. Brush any remaining salt from the mushrooms with a mushroom brush or a paper towel.

     
    2. COMBINE the marinade ingredients in a bowl: olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, pepper and herbs. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade to coat. (We don’t add salt at this stage because of the residue salt on the mushrooms.)

    3. COVER the bowl refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend (we often let it sit overnight). Taste and adjust the seasonings.

    4. SERVE as desired. We enjoy marinated mushrooms as a salad course, along with dressed greens.

      

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    PRODUCT: Halo Top Low Calorie, High Protein Ice Cream

    chocolate-lemon-bowls-230

    Good stuff, fewer calories. Above, Chocolate
    and Lemon Cake. Photo courtesy Halo Top
    Creamery.

     

    When we were first offered samples of Halo Top, we accepted but wondered: How good could an ice cream be at 70 or 80 calories per serving? The calories are so low, the carton promotes them in big numerals on the front of the package: 240 or 280, depending on the flavor.

    Many of the ice creams we eat contain that many calories in 1/4 cup! Otherwise stated, this ice cream has one-quarter the calories of premium brands.

    Yes, this is great ice cream for people who like to consume it by the pint.

    Halo Top was developed by an attorney who felt guilty about his ice cream habit. The lower-calorie ice ceams on the market had artificial ingredients he wanted to avoid. So he took a year and a half to develop a brand that met his criteria: all-natural, non-GMO, hormone-free milk and cream, greatly reduced calories and greatly increased protein (a major “guilt-free” factor).

     
    Each pint has 24 g protein. By comparison, Breyers has 10.4 g protein per pint.

    Equally noteworthy is the taste: Made with top-shelf ingredients like Belgian chocolate, organic fruits, organic cane sugar, cage-free eggs and hormone-free milk and cream, these are lovely pints!
     
    HALO TOP ICE CREAM FLAVORS

    The line currently includes:

  • Birthday Cake*, with rainbow sprinkles
  • Chocolate, made with Belgian cocoa powder
  • Lemon Cake, textured with lemon zest
  • Mint Chip, with Belgian chocolate chips
  • Mocha Chocolate Chip*, made with Belgian chocolate chips and cocoa powder
  • Strawberry*, made with organic strawberries
  • Vanilla Bean, made with organic Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla
  •  
    *This flavor has 280 calories per pint. Flavors without an asterisk have 240 calories.

     

    CLEVER INGREDIENTS

    The calories are reduced by substituting part of the sugar for non-caloric stevia and erythritol, both natural ingredients. The extra protein comes from milk protein concentrate and prebiotic fiber.

    It’s an inspired approach, a boon to ice cream fans who eat too much of it and would like to cut back somehow.

    This is how. We affirm that the ice cream deserves its halo—represented by a gold circle on the rim of the pint.

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K and certified gluten free.

    Discover more at HaloTop.com, including a store locator.

     

    mint-chip-pint-230

    Each pint has a golden halo. Photo courtesy Halo Top Creamery.

     

      

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