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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

PRODUCT: Diet Snapple Half ‘n Half

Photo courtesy Snapple.

 

Snapple didn’t invent the “Half ‘n Half,” a refreshing beverage made of half iced tea, half lemonade.

The drink was popularized by golfing great Arnold Palmer.

As the story goes, in the 1960s, after a long day spent designing a golf course in Palm Springs, Palmer asked a bartender for a mixture of lemonade and iced tea.

A woman sitting next to him told the bartender, “I’ll have that Palmer drink”—which quickly became known as an “Arnold Palmer.”

Whether Palmer created it himself or got the idea elsewhere is currently lost to history. And the term “Half ‘n Half” has long been used in the U.K. to describe various combinations of beverages.

 

So don’t be confused when you see Diet Snapple’s new Half ‘n Half. It’s a diet Arnold Palmer—and it’s delicious.

The entire 16-ounce bottle has just 10 calories,* and it’s worth many times that in terms of refreshment. The sweeteners are sucralose and acesulfame potassium. There’s no “diet” taste: just total deliciousness.

Mix your alcohol of choice into an Arnold Palmer and you get a John Daly—named for a golfer who is not happy that his name is being used. But if you want to put some vodka (or citrus vodka) in your Half ‘n Half, Diet Snapple provides the base for a low-calorie cocktail.

*Per 8-ounce serving: 5 calories, 0 g total fat, 5 mg sodium, 1 total carb, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein.

  

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RECIPE: 7 Tips To Make Healthier Mashed Potatoes

Healthier mashed potatoes. Photo courtesy
U.S. Potato Board.

 

To eat better in the new year, here’s an alternative for healthier mashed potatoes. Use one or all of the tips; play around with different variations to see what you like best:

  • Use half boiled or steamed potatoes, half steamed cauliflower. The recipe is also known as cauliflower mashed potatoes. Mashed cauliflower looks like mashed potatoes, and is a mom’s trick to get kids (and reluctant adults) to eat their veggies. Sneak it into your mashed potatoes and save calories (plain boiled potatoes have 136 calories per cup, cauliflower just 25 calories). You’ll also get a better blend of nutrients: Both foods are rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C; potatoes are also rich in potassium and vitamin B6. Cauliflower offers a richer nutrient profile including manganese, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, thiamin and vitamins B6, B9 (folate) and K.
  • Keep the skin on the potatoes. The skin contains approximately half of a potato’s total dietary fiber and nutrients. The fiber is an important addition to your recommended daily intake of 42g of fiber (here’s why), and fiber makes you feel fuller.
  •  

  • Reduce the butter. Use whipped butter instead of solid butter sticks: It contains more air and thus fewer calories. We use half butter and half basil olive oil. Any flavored or regular olive oil will do, but use extra virgin olive oil—the better the oil, the better the taste.
  • Use nonfat milk. Instead of whole milk or half and half, use nonfat milk. We use the Skim Plus Milk from Farmland Dairies, which is 0% fat but as rich as 2% milk because extra milk protein is added, thickening the milk and concentrating the flavor. (It’s therefore more expensive, but well worth it). Each regional dairy has a different name for this type of product, and it’s not necessarily the most logically descriptive. For example, another brand in our area, Tuscan Dairy Farms, calls its concentrated nonfat milk “Over The Moon.” If you can’t find this type of milk, ask your grocer to point out the “extra rich nonfat milk.”
  • Replace sour cream with fat-free sour cream or nonfat Greek yogurt. We don’t ordinarily use sour cream in our mashed potatoes, but know quite a few people who do. We tested the recipe with both fat-free sour cream and nonfat Greek yogurt. We preferred the yogurt.
  • Use sea salt instead of regular table salt. They have the same basic nutritional value, but sea salt has a better flavor and texture. It’s also a natural product, produced through evaporation of seawater with little processing, so the trace minerals and elements from the water remain (providing the flavor and color). Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits, then heavily processed to eliminate all the minerals.
  • Add fresh herbs for flavor. We love to snip fresh herbs into our mashed potatoes. Basil, chives and parsley are personal favorites—singly or together. They bring such sprightly flavor notes that no one will notice that far fewer creamy fats—butter, sour cream and/or whole milk—are there. A grind of fresh pepper completes the new recipe.
  •  
    Please share your own tips and tricks.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Radish Eyeballs For Adult Halloween Food

     

    How about some “eyeball” nibbles with your Halloween cocktails?

    This healthy hors d’oeuvre or snack uses a radish base for the white and “veins” of the eyeball. The pupil and iris are a pimento-stuffed olive. All you have to do is peel the radishes and insert the olives (buy large radishes and small olives).

    Fun to look at, crunchy radish eyeballs are a low-calorie and healthy food. (Yes, fun, delicious and healthy do co-exist!) Serving ideas:

  • Relish Tray: Serve the eyeballs as part of a retro relish tray, with celery and carrot sticks or other favorite crudités (our favorites include broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, grape tomatoes and zucchini), plus gherkins or pickle slices. We also like to add spiced apple slices and pickled pears.
  • Cheese Plate: Add radish eyeballs to a platter with Halloween cheeses.
  • Halloween Platter: Present the radish eyeballs on a Halloween plate, perhaps with some plastic spiders (check out this tarantula) or a more standard garnish (parsley or a bed of shredded lettuce). Or, treat yourself to a Halloween platter where the “garnish” is the built-in design.
  • Ice Cubes: Freeze the eyeballs in ice cubes and use to create a Halloween Martini (a regular Martini with eyeball ice).
  • Pasta: Garnish a dish of “blood and worms” pasta (spaghetti with tomato sauce).
  •  
    Add your ideas to this list!

       

       

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Save Calories With Healthy Lettuce Wraps

    Lettuce wraps are a carb- and calorie-reducing way to enjoy your favorite foods at lunch, dinner or for a snack.

    Just substitute low-cal, crunchy lettuce for tortilla wraps, sandwich bread, pita and even rice.

    For example, Asian dishes that typically pair with rice can be eaten in lettuce wraps instead of with rice. We were first served romaine leaves for this purpose at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris, many years ago. Today, we regularly go out for Korean barbecue, where meat, pickles, garnishes and condiments are rolled into a romaine leaf and eaten. It’s so delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s so low in calories.

    Lettuce wraps are also a sneaky-fun way to get the family to eat more low-calorie lettuce. A .17 ounce/5 gram lettuce leaf has 1 calorie; two pieces of extra-thin-sliced bread have 90 calories.

    What Types Of Lettuce Should You Use?

    Just about anything works: leaves of Boston lettuce, iceberg lettuce, red leaf lettuce, romaine, napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage (bok choy) and radicchio. Pick the largest head with pliable leaves (you can blanch cabbage leaves to make rolling easier).

     

    Save calories with lettuce wraps instead
    of bread. Photo by W.S. Mahar | IST.

     

    Wash and dry the leaves well in advance of serving. They will stay crisp in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

    What Should You Put In Your Lettuce Wraps?

  • Your favorite sandwich salads (chicken, egg, shrimp, tuna, etc.)
  • Your favorite sandwich meats and/or veggies, chopped into bite-size pieces (try a BLT!)
  • Burrito, fajita and taco fixings—anything you’d put in a tortilla
  • Salad (think chopped salad, Israeli salad and Greek salad)
  • Leftovers
  • Your favorite stir fry
  •  
    Wrap Sandwich Recipes

    The easiest way to serve wraps to anyone old enough to fix a sandwich is to keep the filling and the lettuce wraps separate and let people roll their own.

  • Set up a “wrap buffet” with one or more types of lettuces and fillings, plus garnishes like fresh mint leaves and basil leaves, chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, shredded cheese, sliced pickles, olives and capers. Watch everyone go to town creating their own custom wraps.
  • Provide sauces and condiments that are appropriate for the fillings: vinaigrette, hot sauce, hoisin or other sweet and spicy sauce, yogurt sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.
  • An easy dressing for seafood and vegetable wraps: 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and 2 tablespoons fish sauce (in the Asian condiments aisle).
  • Core the lettuce and soak it in ice water for an hour, for easy removal of intact leaves. Separate the leaves and drain each one individually, then refrigerate on a towel for a couple of hours to crisp them.
  • Lettuce leaves can be prepared hours in advance or overnight. Rinse, dry and stack the leaves in a plastic bag in the fridge. Be sure to dry the lettuce well before serving.
  •  
    SANDWICH TYPES

    How many types of sandwiches can you name? See our Sandwich Glossary.

    There are more sandwich recipes in our Gourmet Bread Section.
      

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    PRODUCT: Crystal Light Pure

    We’re enjoying all the flavors of new Crystal
    Light Pure. Photo courtesy Kraft Foods.

     

    Just in time for warmer weather, there’s a new way to hydrate.

    Crystal Light has introduced a tasty sister, Crystal Light Pure, which replaces Crystal Light Pure Fitness. Because there’s no artificial sweetener, there’s no artificial aftertaste, which is what kept us from enjoying regular Crystal Light (yes, we know that millions of people love it, including some of our closest friends).

    But if you’d like a more natural-tasting, low calorie fruit drink—as well as one made of all-natural ingredients—we nominate Crystal Light Pure.

    All-natural Crystal Light Pure has no artificial sweeteners, flavors or preservatives. It’s sweetened with sugar and Truvia, a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant (a member of the holly family). Stevia has no calories, so even after the addition of sugar, the drink has just 15 calories per 8-ounce serving, with 4g sugar. (Regular Crystal Light has 5 calories per serving and 0g sugar.)

    The sweetness level is so natural that even those who normally use all-sugar-sweetened drink mixes should give it a try.

     

  • Crystal Light Pure is available in five popular flavors: Grape, Lemonade, Mixed Berry, Strawberry Kiwi and Tropical Blend.
  • Two flavors, Grape and Strawberry Kiwi, also contain electrolytes, potassium and sodium that help to aid hydration during light physical activity.
  •  
    You can make a pitcher of Crystal Light Pure or add it to a reusable water bottle and drink sustainably all summer long.

    And, a bit of gin, vodka or tequila turns it into a fruity, lower-calorie cocktail.

    Crystal Light Pure is available at supermarkets nationwide and on Amazon.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sugar Snap Peas

    Sugar snap peas. Photo by Louis Hiemstra |
    IST

     

    Almost everyone loves peas, but few people serve snap peas—even though they’re available year-round.

    Sugar snap peas are a cross-breed of the English pea and the Asian snow pea, delivering the best traits of both. Completely edible like snow peas (but with a crunchier pod), the sweet pea pods are filled with plump, round green peas.

    And they’re a culinary bargain.

  • There are two grams of dietary fiber and 35 calories per 2/3 cup serving of sugar snap peas.
  • Sugar snap peas are rich in minerals, with high concentrations of magnesium and calcium.
  • They’re also a good source of potassium and phosphorus.
  • One serving provides a 90% of the RDA of vitamin C, along with niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and vitamin A.
  • They have no cholesterol or fat, and very low in sodium.
  • Sugar snap peas can be eaten raw or cooked (boiled, microwaved, steamed or stir-fried). They can be enjoyed plain, with a dab of butter or a sprinkle of soy sauce (we like a mix of low-sodium soy sauce and yuzu juice).

    We serve them alongside fish, meat and poultry:

    Try this recipe for Seared Wild King Salmon with Sugar Snap Peas, Avocado and Tangerine-Fennel Beurre Blanc. More ideas:

  • Toss them into a green salad or a salad with radishes and cucumbers with ginger dressing, or tossed in a 4:1 vinaigrette of olive oil and yuzu or lime juice.
  • They’re delicious with asparagus, steamed as a side or in a salad.
  • Add them to pasta with shrimp or scallops.
  • Steam them as part of a mixed vegetable medly.
  •  
    You’ll enjoy the snap in your recipes.

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Low Fat Donuts

    Who couldn’t to discover that their favorite snack pastry is low in fat with half the calories? Today’s a lucky day: We’ve found delicious low fat donuts and cinnamon buns.

    You can have your cake and eat it too, thanks to Holey Donuts!. The secret is in the process: they use a method that takes 22 steps to make and avoids deep fat frying.

    You can order donuts in just about type you can imagine, including filled donuts (our favorite and the best sellers) and filled donut holes.

    What are you waiting for? Stock up!

  • Read the full review.
  • Who invented the donut?
  • See many different types of pastry in our beautiful
    Pastry Glossary.
  •  

    Low fat and delicious. Photo by River
    Soma | THE NIBBLE.

    Comments

    RECIPE: Easy Healthy Recipes With Salsa

    Want a home-cooked meal that’s good for you and couldn’t be easier?

    Cook with salsa!

    These two recipes for Chicken Salsa and Fish Salsa show just how easy it is to take the protein, a jar of salsa, and create an easy and delicious dinner. They also work with tofu.

    While the protein is cooking, make a green salad, steam a green vegetable and make some brown rice (microwave precooked frozen or cook it in the pressure cooker for the same 15-20 minutes that the protein takes.)

    To Microwave Brown Rice
     
    1. Add 1 cup brown rice and 3 cups cold water in a 2-1/2 quart microwave-safe dish. (We enjoy our square CorningWare casserole dish, which also looks nice at the table.)

    2. Microwave uncovered for 10 minutes on HIGH.

     

    Salsa Chicken is one of the easiest chicken
    recipes to make. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

    3. Reduce power to 50%. Microwave uncovered 20 minutes.

    4. Allow to sit for 5 minutes in the microwave (you can remove it if you need the microwave for another task).

    5. Fluff with a fork and add any seasonings. For healthy cooking, don’t add butter, but look to herbs, spices and/or veggies: chives (or green onions), diced bell peppers and/or toasted sesame seeds, for example. A sprinkling of slivered almonds, walnuts or other healthy nuts also pairs well with the nutty flavor and chewy texture of brown rice.

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chef Gerard & Chuck’s Salsa Verde

    Salsa verde is made from the green tomatillo
    berry, which is not a tomato. Photo by
    Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We’re a nation of salsa lovers; but much of that is salsa roja, red salsa.

    In Mexico, the land from which we obtained our love of salsa, it’s the opposite. Only the northern states of Mexico, closest to the U.S. border, have red salsa as their tradition.

    Green salsa is based on the tomatillo, which is a distant relative of the tomato (the difference between tomatoes and tomatillos).

    We’ve had salsa verde from jars, but only recently experienced the joys of fresh salsa verde, from Chef Gerard & Chuck’s. It made us ask, why isn’t there more fresh salsa verde on the market?

    Of course, that’s the very question that got Chef Gerard into the business!

  • Read the full review.
  • Watch the video and learn how to make salsa verde.
  • Check out all the different types of salsa in Latin America, including 20 types you’ve probably never heard of.
  • The history of salsa, all the way back to the Aztecs.
  • How did salsa, the food, become salsa, the dance? The origin of salsa dancing.
  •   

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: How To Make Salsa Verde

     

    Our Top Pick Of The Week, which will be posted tomorrow, features salsa verde.

    Spanish for “green sauce,” salsa verde is made from a base of tomatillos, seasoned with chiles, cilantro and spices. A salsa verde can be fresh or cooked. It is typically much thinner than a tomato-based salsa roja.

    In this video, you’ll see how easy it is to make salsa verde:

       

       

    Tomatillos are not small, green tomatoes. They’re only distantly related to tomatoes.

    Here’s the difference between tomatoes and tomatillos.

    Comments

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