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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 Low Calorie

COCKTAILS: Save Calories With VitaFrute From VeeV

Ready to drink, VitaFrute lower calorie
cocktails reduce the sugar calories in
cocktails. Photo courtesy VeeV Spirits.

 

Typical mixed drinks can pack on the calories. The standard 1.5 ounce serving of 80-proof alcohol has 96 calories, which seems reasonable. But start to add mixers:

  • Cranberry juice cocktail (8 oz.): 136 calories
  • Light orange juice (8 oz.): 50 calories
  • Orange juice (6 oz.): 84 calories
  • Soft drink (cola, 7-Up, etc., 8 oz.): 100 calories, 25g sugar
  • Piña colada mix (6 ounces): 130 calories, 25g sugar
  •  
    But there are calorie-saving solutions:

     
    LOOK FOR REDUCED CALORIE READY-MADE COCKTAILS

    One easy way to control a sweet cocktail while controlling the calories is the new line of VitaFrute cocktails from VeeV Spirits, in Margarita, Organic Lemonade and Organic Cosmopolitan. The base spirit is VeeV, the world’s first spirit made from the superfruit açaí.

     
    Sweetened with low-glycemic agave nectar, cocktails are under 125 calories per serving. By comparison, a four-ounce glass of wine has 125-150 calories.

    The suggested retail price of VitaFrute is $13.99 to $14.99 per bottle. Learn more about VeeV spirit and VitaFrute cocktails at VeeVLife.com.

    Here are more tips to cut back on the calories in cocktails:

    HOW TO REDUCE THE CALORIES IN MIXED DRINKS

  • If you can, choose savory, not sweet, cocktails, such as the popular Bloody Mary and Martini.
  • Use calorie-free flavored club soda instead a soft drink mixer (lemon seltzer instead of 7-Up, for example).
  • Use club soda and bitters, or diet ginger ale, instead of ginger ale; and use the diet versions of other soda mixers (cola, lemon-lime, tonic water, etc.).
  • Use “light” or diet mixers: eight ounces of light cranberry juice have 40 calories, light lemonade has 5 calories, diet soda or diet tonic water has 0 calories.
  • Avoid premade cocktail mixes; there’s sugar hidden in everything, including spicy Bloody Mary mix.
  • Look at coffee- and tea-based cocktails such as a Chai Tea Martini or Espresso Martini; coffee and tea have zero calories.
  •  

  • Use low glycemic agave nectar or noncaloric sweeteners to sweeten cocktails.
  • Use sugar-free, calorie-free syrups from DaVinci or Torani to sweeten and flavor cocktails.
  • Try sugar-free mixers. We’ve tried Baja Bob’s Margarita and Sweet ‘n’ Sour mixes, but find that we prefer agave nectar and fresh lime juice for a Margarita, and fresh lemon juice and agave for a Whiskey Sour; .5 ounce of lemon or lime juice has just 10 calories.
  • Use fresh fruit and herb garnishes to add flavor and eye appeal.
  • Avoid creamy cocktails, whether dairy cream (Brandy Alexander, White Russian) or cream of coconut (Piña Colada). Substitute coconut water to add coconut flavor to a cocktail, or use coconut-infused vodka (see our next tip).
  •  

    VeeV, the açaí-based mother spirit of VitaFrute cocktails.

     

  • Try infused vodkas straight instead of a similarly-flavored mixed drink; UV Vodka has every flavor under the rainbow including chocolate, and Skyy Infusions’ 12 infused vodkas are a NIBBLE favorite (Pineapple vodka is our replacement of choice for the high-calorie Piña Colada). The infusions add no calories.
  • Dilute your cocktail with club soda or sparkling water (we’ve been enjoying wine spritzers since we were old enough to drink) to half and half, with a squeeze of lime juice.
  •  
    Finally, our favorite calorie-saving cocktail strategy:

  • Alternate cocktails with no- or low-calorie “mocktails”: noncaloric or low-calorie drinks, from club soda with bitters to a Virgin Mary.
  •  
    If you’ve got additional tips, use the Contact Us link to send them in!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sparkling ICE Calorie-Free Soda

    Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE, calorie-free, is a delicious substitute for sparkling cider. Photo courtesy Talking Rain Beverage Company.

     

    Sparkling ICE is a line of zero-calorie soft drinks—the company calls them flavored sparkling waters (*see the footnote below for the difference between soda and flavored sparkling waters—produced by Talking Rain Beverage Company of Preston, Washington. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the source water is from a pristine artesian spring that originates in the Cascades.

    The sweetener is sucralose, the generic form of Splenda. The line is enhanced with vitamins and antioxidants. Perhaps it’s the mountain spring water, along with natural flavors, that has created such charming tastes.

    Spakling ICE is made in Black Raspberry, Coconut Pineapple, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Lemon Lime, Orange Mango, Peach Nectarine, and Pink Grapefruit.

    But for us, the star is Crisp Apple, which has the flavor of sparkling cider. We had to check the label to be sure it really was zero calories. What a great way to enjoy the taste of a crisp apple!

    Whether you want an apple or an Appletini, spare the calories and start with a bottle of Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE.

     

    You can check the store locator on the Sparkling ICE website, or head to Amazon.com, where all the flavors are sold.

    We’d prefer a case of Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE to most of the gifts we tend to receive. Friends and relatives, please take note!

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SODA AND FLAVORED, SWEETENED SPARKLING WATER

    Sparkling water is water that is carbonated, a process discovered in 1767 by an English chemist, Joseph Priestley. Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius added flavors (spices, juices and wine) to carbonated water in the late 18th century. This led to the evolution of soda fountains in pharmacies.

    In the early 19th century, American pharmacists added birch bark, dandelion, fruit extracts, sarsaparilla and other flavorings to the sparkling water, which was called “soda water” because it is made by infusing with carbon dioxide gas and bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda) a stabilizing element.

    Soda fountains became ingrained in the popular culture—like today’s coffee bars—with many Americans frequenting the soda fountain on a daily basis (source: Wikipedia). In the 1970s, unsweetened, flavored sparkling water appeared: club soda, mineral water and seltzer. These bottled drinks are differentiated from sodas by their lack of added sweetener.

    There are different types of bubbly—fizzy-sparkling water:

  • Carbonated water is a broad term that encompasses all fizzy waters. The term is used interchangeably with sparkling water and soda water.
  • Club soda has a pinch of salt added to it. It can be sodium chloride (table salt), sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate.
  • Seltzer is totally salt-free, the sodium bicarbonate is left out. Seltzer is what you get when you carbonate water at home with a Sodastream or other device.
  • Mineral water is something completely different: It’s plain water with a sufficient level of dissolved minerals to differentiate it from spring water. See our Water Glossary for the different types of water.
  •  
    So what’s the difference between soda and flavored sparkling water? Soda (not club soda) is sweetened, flavored carbonated water; “flavored sparkling water” is sweetened flavored carbonated water; it can also be flavored and unsweetened, in which case it is also called flavored club soda.

    In sum, soda and flavored sparkling water are the the same thing.

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE SOFT DRINKS.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Lower Calorie Piña Colada

    In our youth, we used to have an annual “Tropical Winter” party on Valentine’s Day. It was for everyone who had nothing else to do, those who disliked Valentine’s Day and anyone who simply liked a good Piña Colada.

    Piña Coladas were the drink of the evening. The fare was tropical-inspired, from fruit skewers and chicken skewers to rumaki*, a broiled, bacon-wrapped chicken liver and water chestnut hors d’oeuvre that was all the rage at the time.

    Coconut water was years from appearing in American markets. If only Tropical Winter had lasted until it arrived, we’d have offered a Piña Colada Lite, substituting very-low-calorie coconut water (6 calories/ounce, or 12 calories per drink) for very-high-calorie Coco López (130 calories/ounce, or 260 calories per drink; plain coconut milk is 65 calories/ounce).

     

    Go light with coconut water instead of Coco López. Photo courtesy TasteNirvana.com.

     

    Piña Coladas are delicious, but they sure pack in the sugar and saturated fat. Here’s a “drink this, not that” tip from coconut water brand Taste Nirvana, on how to lower your Piña Colada calories while still enjoying a taste of the tropics and natural coconut flavor.

    CLASSIC PINA COLADA RECIPE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Coco López Real Cream of Coconut (substitute coconut water)
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1½ ounces rum
  • 1 cup ice
  • Optional garnish: pineapple wedge and/or maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into a tall glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

    WHAT’S COCO LÓPEZ?

    Coco López is a brand of cream of coconut, invented in 1954by Ramón López Irizarry, a professor of agriculture at the University of Puerto Rico. The ingredients on the can include coconut milk, sugar, water, emulsifiers, stabilizers and thickeners (guar gum, locust bean gum, mono- and diglycerides, polysorb 60, sorbitan monostearate, Propylene glycol alginate) and preservative (citric acid).

    The creamy heart of the coconut had long been used in Caribbean desserts. But separating it from from the coconut pulp was an arduous process.

    With funds from the government, Irizarry worked on a solution. He ulimately left teaching to produce and sell his product, which was adopted not just by cooks but by bartenders.

    According to the book “La Gran Cocina Del Caribe” by José L. Díaz de Villega, the Piña Colada made its debut on August 16, 1954 at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a watering hole for a star-studded clientele. The hotel management had requested that bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero create a new signature cocktail. Marrero worked for three months on the recipe.

    Piña is Spanish for pineapple, and colada means strained; the drink is usually served blended with ice. The Piña Colada has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978.

     
    *Rumaki is a mock-Polynesian hors d’oeuvre, believed to be invented by Victor Bergeron, founder of Trader Vic’s.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Nonfat Cucumber Yogurt Dip

    A few hours ago, we were discouraged to hear one of the anchor team members on our favorite morning show opine that Super Bowl foods “should be the foods we love to eat, not vegetables.” She was referring to the fatty, high-calorie usual suspects.

    Fortunately, another team member jumped in in support of the veggies.

    We admire people who watch what they eat, and we always have a crudités (raw vegetables) platter and a fruit platter or fruit salad as part of any party buffet. We’re also personally grateful to have something better to nibble on than cholesterol.

    The morning show discord inspired us to publish this recipe for a tasty, nontfat cucumber dip, adapted from a recipe provided by the Australian Institute Of Sport.

    TIP: Make this dip at least two hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop. It can be made a day in advance.

     

    Nonfat cucumber dip: Serve it with crudites or as a sauce. Photo courtesy Australian Institute Of Sport.

     

    CUCUMBER YOGURT DIP RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 seedless cucumbers
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • Optional: salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional heat: chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce
  •  
    PREPARATION

    1. PEEL cucumbers and cut in half lengthways. If not a seedless variety, use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds.

    2. GRATE the flesh, and place in a bowl with dill, garlic, yogurt and mint. Stir to combine and serve chilled. Season with freshly ground black pepper and garnish with fresh dill, if desired.

    Makes about 1½ cups.

    MORE USES FOR CUCUMBER DIP

  • Dip: For pretzels, potato chips, pita chips and other snacks
  • Layered or Mezze: In a layered dip or on a mezze plate with babaganoush,hummus, tabbouleh and other ingredients (see layered dip recipe)
  • Garnish: On baked potatoes, rice and other grains, cooked vegetables
  • Sauce: On grilled or poached fish or seafood, including shrimp cocktail
  •  
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE DIP RECIPES.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hey Shuga! Organic Sugar Cane Syrup & Stevia Syrup

    What if there were a sweetener that was all natural, organic and delicious? Lower in calories? Better for you? And as a bonus, packaged in a fun enough way to be giftable?

    Refined sugars (such as table sugar) are stripped of nutrients; most noncaloric sweeteners are artificial. Sugar isn’t all that convenient when you’re trying to get it to dissolve in iced coffee, iced tea or lemonade.

    One solution: liquid cane sugar and liquid stevia dissolve easily and are available in natural food stores. But one family business is treating them with imagination and sass. We bought quite a few bottles for ourselves and for holiday gifts.

    The Hey Shuga! line of all natural, organic liquid sweeteners dissolve instantly in cold beverages and cocktails, and are equally delicious in hot beverages, as topping for cereal and fruit, in baking and glazing.

    The two initial products are:

     

    Lil’ Shuga liquid stevia-cane sugar blend and Hey Shuga! liquid cane sugar. Photo courtesy Hey Shuga!

     

  • Hey Shuga! is a flavorful organic sugar cane syrup, 20 calories per teaspoon.
  • Lil’ Shuga! cuts calories by blending sugar with noncaloric stevia, 15 calories per teaspoon. However, since stevia makes the blend much sweeter than sugar, you use 1/3 as much: 5 calories’ worth.
  •  
    Both are alternatives to agave. corn syrup/golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, refined white sugar and conventional stevia. Lil’ Suga! has so few calories, you can use it instead of noncaloric sweeteners.

    Both have a delicious cane sugar taste, nothing artificial and are USDA organic certified, GMO free, gluten free and kosher certified by SKS.

    The line expects to expand next year to all-natural Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Maple and Vanilla flavors.

    You can purchase them on Amazon or on the HeyShuga.com website, which sells:

  • Hey Shuga! 12-ounce bottle, $7.99; case of 12, $80.000 ($6.66/bottle)
  • Lil’ Shuga! 8.5-ounce bottle, $9.99; case of 12, $94.00 ($7.83/bottle)
  •  
    There are also tall bottles, glamorous for gifting:

  • Hey Shuga! 33.8-ounce bottle, $20.00
  • Lil’ Shuga! 23.7-ounce bottle, $24.00
  •  

    Check out all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Spice Water

    For Thanksgiving, infuse the water pitcher with seasonal spices and herbs. Try one or more of the following (we use all of them):

  • Cardamom pods
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Fresh ginger slices
  • Lemon or orange slices
  • Mint leaves
  • Whole cloves
  •  
    Refreshing and thirst quenching, the spices and herbs also add a boost of antioxidants to the water. Ginger also helps to stimulate digestion, which makes it a good-to-include ingredient for Thanksgiving dinner spice water.

    You may like spice water so much, that you’ll drink it year-round.

     

    Add cinnamon sticks and other seasonal
    spices to the water pitcher. Photo courtesy
    Factory Direct Craft.

     

    You can also buy bottled spice water: Ayala’s Herbal Water, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Seasonal flavors include Clove Cardamom Cinnamon, Cinnamon Orange Peel and Ginger Lemon Peel.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fish Ceviche (Consider Trout!)

    Trout ceviche. Photo courtesy
    ILoveBlueSea.com

     

    Ceviche, raw fish or shellfish cured by acidic citrus juice, has been popular in Latin America for many centuries. In the early 1500s, the Spanish conquistadors wrote of an Inca dish of raw fish marinated in chicha, a fermented maize beer that dates back some 2,000 years.

    The concept evolved into ceviche (pronounced say-VEE-chay) (here’s the history of ceviche). There is something about fresh, homemade ceviche that is refreshing and satisfying, as well as low in calories and healthful (here’s why ceviche is so good for you).

    We love the tangy twist of lime, the briny hit of fish or seafood, the sprightly cilantro and creamy avocado.

    Throughout South America, the mix of fish or seafood changes depending on the local catch and regional preferences.

     

    This recipe can be used with any fish or seafood. It is courtesy of chef Giovanna Garcia and I Love Blue Sea, an e-tailer of premier seafood, where the team enjoys their ceviche with raw tuna or trout.

    The recipe is so easy to make, you’ve just got to try it. Warning: You may become a ceviche addict.

     

    TROUT CEVICHE/FISH CEVICHE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh rainbow trout
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  •  

    MacFarland Springs Trout. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

     

    Preparation

    1. CUT trout into pieces and place in a glass dish or bowl. Cover trout with lime juice and let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. DRAIN the lime juice from the fish and add to the bowl. Toss to combine.

    3. TASTE and season with sea salt and pepper.

    4. SERVE with crackers or tortilla chips, in a lettuce cup or with mixed greens.

    Here’s THE NIBBLE’s ceviche recipe for mixing and matching your favorite ingredients into your dream ceviche.

    Find more of our favorite fish recipes.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: BettaSnax, Diet Biscotti

    Bettasnax is an artisan bakery that specializes in better snacks. Using only premium ingredients, the bakery aims to “fill the gap”: the gap in healthy snacks, the gap between lunch and dinner.

    They’ve scored a hit with their first product, all-natural biscotti slices. Conventional biscotti have been whittled down to thin rectangles, approximately 1″ x 1-1/2″. Their sweetened modestly (great for those who don’t like sugary cookies), and each little cookie has just 10 calories.

    Now at coffee break or for dessert, you can have several super-crunchy pieces without blowing the calorie budget. BettaSnax also go well with cheese and can be served as a crunchy side with soup or salad. The resealable bag is easy to tote around.

    The ingredients are very clean: flour, egg whites, cane sugar, almonds and vanilla extract. There’s no added fat, no cholesterol, no preservatives, no artificial flavors.

    You can buy a case, twelve four-ounce bags, four portions per bag, on Amazon. If you have some every day, that’s a six-week supply—more if you have only three cookies instead of the one-ounce portion size of nine.

    But you’ll probably find yourself saring them with friends.

     

    Bites of biscotti, just 10 calories apiece, from BettaSnax. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    For more information, visit BettaSnax.com.

    Find more of our favorite diet cookies.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker

    A frozen banana (or your favorite fruit) goes into the machine, banana soft serves comes out in a minute. Photo © Corinna Gissemann | Fotolia.

     

    Are you an ice cream addict but want to give up those refined sugar calories and carbs? Do you want to add more fruit to your diet?

    Now, you can make your own 100% fruit soft serve “sorbet” without added sugar, thanks to the Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker.

    Yonanas almost instantly transforms your favorite fruits—banana, berries, mango, pineapple, the whole fruit department—into a silky-smooth frozen confection.

    The frozen fruit—pre-frozen or frozen by you—goes into the chute (see the photo in the full review). It emerges as thick, creamy soft serve-like “sorbet.”

    The compact Yonanas machine is well worth the cost (list $49.99) and the space. It’s not only easy to make, it’s easy to clean the machine. Everything but the motor portion goes right into the dishwasher.

     

     

    Get yourself a Yonanas machine: You deserve it!

    And, you may become more popular as people begin to invite themselves over for some Yonanas. Tell them to BYOFF: bring your own frozen fruit.

    Read the full review.

    Find more of our favorite frozen desserts and recipes.

     

    Get a Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker. You deserve it! Photo courtesy Yonanas.

     

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Healthy Chips And Dip

     

    As a nation, we love crunchy snacks and creamy dips. As calorie counters, we don’t.

    In this video, chef Curtis Stone shows how easy it is to make your own lowfat baked chips (commercial chips can have 30% fat) and lowfat, low-calorie dips.

    They taste good and keep you looking good (Chef Stone looks great!).

    See our Snacks Section with healthful snacks and recipes.

       

       

    Comments

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