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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Low Calorie

TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ice Pops, Regular Or Diet

Cool off with minimal calories. Photo
courtesy Sparkling Ice.


With record heat in many parts of the country, including ours, our thoughts ran to the different ways to cool off—without packing on the calories.

So we kept making bottles of seltzer with our Soda Stream, and mixed lots of our favorite new 5-calorie Lipton Tea and Honey To Go Stix Iced Tea Mix (in the Blackberry Pomegranate flavor) into individual bottles of cold water.

Then, we made our first diet ice pops of the season. All you need is ice pop molds and your favorite flavor of diet soda (we prefer fruit and root beer).

This tasty recipe uses calorie-free Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE with fresh raspberries. If you’re not counting calories, you can also use regular soda, juice or kefir.

The chopped fruit helps to bulk up the thinness of the soda.




  • 1 17-ounce bottle Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE or other raspberry soda
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries, chopped

    1. In a bowl, stir together soda and chopped raspberries.

    2. Ladle mixture into ice pop molds and insert handles.

    3. Freeze for at least 2 hours or until frozen.
    The other Sparking ICE flavors can be adapted to pops as well: Coconut Pineapple, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Lemon Lime, Orange Mango, Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate Berry. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    The over-21 crowd can add a half teaspoon of gin, tequila or vodka per pop. Don’t add more without testing, or your pops may not freeze.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Lipton Iced Tea & Honey, Whenever, Wherever

    As the weather warms up and we get thirstier and thirstier, we plan how to hydrate on-the-go.

    That’s why we’re delighted that Lipton has launched its Tea & Honey To Go packets. This new line of iced tea mixes contains natural honey, real tea leaves and real fruit flavors.

    Wherever you can find a glass of water—or fill your water bottle—you can have a refreshing glass of iced tea for just 5 calories per eight ounces. The packets themselves weigh nothing and can be carried in a pocket. So today’s tip is: Consider the convenience of to-go packets to make instant drinks from water.

    These Lipton Tea & Honey iced green tea drink mixes include:

  • Black Currant Raspberry
  • Blackberry Pomegranate
  • Lemon
  • Mango Pineapple
  • Peach Apricot
  • Strawberry Açaí
    The mixes also come in pitcher-size packets.


    Pour the packet contents into water to turn it to flavorful iced tea. Image courtesy Lipton.


    And the except for sucralose, the mixes are all natural.* The ingredients include honey granules,† citric acid, green tea powder, maltodextrin,‡ natural flavor and color.

    The products are hitting stores now nationwide. You can get a free samples when you like Lipton on Facebook, while supplies last.

    *Although sucralose is made from sugar, the sugar molecule is chemically modified, which classifies it as an artificial sweetener.

    †Honey granules are pure honey, dried and cut, with no additives, into pinhead-size pieces. You can buy them online.

    ‡Maltodextrin is a starch filler made from natural corn, rice or potato starch. It is a white powder used as a thickener or a filler without altering flavor. It’s in artificial sweetener packets, for example, because the very few grains of aspartame or sucralose required as a sweetener wouldn’t fill a packet.


    A box of packets makes 10 bottles of tea. Photo courtesy Lipton.


    Why We’re Big Fans Of Tea & Honey To Go Packets

    1. 5 Calorie Fruit Flavor. The added honey neutralizes the sucralose flavor. The drinks are sweet and fruity, for just 5 calories per eight-ounce cup/10 calories per bottle.

    2. Instant Drink. Open the packet, add to water and stir or shake. How easy is that?

    3. Sustainability. Keep reusing the same water bottle, save the landfill from empties.

    4. Price . At $3.29 for 10 packets (prices will vary), you can enjoy fruity ice tea for 32¢ a bottle instead of buying a ready-made drink for $1.79.

    We see many products launched that aren’t really needed. We do need

    Honey, Tea & Lady Antebellum

    You can also enter the brand’s Drink Positive Sweepstakes with Lady Antebellum on Facebook, for the chance to win a visit with the band in Nashville and exclusive live music downloads. There’s also a series of Lady Antebellum’s behind-the-tour webisodes.


    We were Lipton’s guest at the Lady Antebellum concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Great group, great evening and lots of great Lipton Tea & Honey.



    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.



    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.



    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!




    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.

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

    There are more sandwich recipes in our Gourmet Bread Section.


    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



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sugar Snap Peas

    Sugar snap peas. Photo by Louis Hiemstra |


    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.


    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.


    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

    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.


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