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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

TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Healthy Recipes, Part 3

We’re halfway through January. How’s the New Year’s resolution to “eat healthier” working for you?

We’re here to help with another way to make easy, healthy recipes for dinner. This tip turns plain grilled, poached or roasted proteins into glamour dishes. (See Part 1 and Part 2.)

The photo shows pan-sauteed catfish, but you can use this concept for any fish or seafood, meat, chicken or other protein. The key is to select interesting greens for your salad topper, and to be sure everything is small or delicate—a light layer instead of an avalanche.

  • Eschew the standard iceberg or romaine lettuces in favor of a mixture of one or two of these: baby arugula, baby spinach, mâche (lambs’ lettuce), fennel, mesclun, mizuna, sprouts or watercress.
  •  

    Garnish your protein with your salad. Photo
    courtesy Whole Foods Market. Get the recipe.

  • Add color. This can be as simple as the tomato and parsley salad shown in the photo; but you’ll find a wealth of options as you peruse the produce aisle. Carrot curls (we like a thick curl going down the length of the carrot), cherry or grape tomatoes (whole or halved, or diced standard-size tomatoes in season), sliced sundried tomatoes, enoki mushrooms and diced red or yellow bell peppers are basic, but give you plenty of opportunity to select two different combinations every day.
  • Look for specialty items in season. If you see something interesting, grab it: It may not be there next week. Fiddlehead ferns, for example, have a season that lasts only two weeks (from April in the South to July in the North).
  • Don’t forget fresh herbs. Americans add too much salt and sugar to recipes because we don’t take the time to buy and savor the fabulous flavors of fresh herbs. That’s why French and Italian cooking is so spectacular. Go for basics like basil, cilantro, dill and parsley. Use them up by adding them to everything you make (including eggs and sandwiches).
  • Like onions? We love ‘em. Add some thinly-sliced onions or green onions to your salad topper.
  • Dress the salad in a healthy olive oil vinaigrette or a lime vinaigrette (one of our favorites), substituting fresh lime juice for the vinegar. Grapefruit juice and lemon juice work as well. You can combine different juices and even add a splash of orange juice.
  •  
    Bon appétit et salud!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Appliances That Make Low Calorie Foods

    It’s easy to make your own grilled chicken,
    fish, kebabs and roasts in this Cuisinart
    Vertical Rotisserie
    .

     

    It’s easy to cook low calorie foods when you have the right appliances.

    One of our most popular articles last January was 10 Appliances For Low Calorie Cooking.

    Take a look at how you can whip up low calorie foods—with high taste—using a:

  • Countertop Grill
  • Food Dehydrator
  • Food Steamer
  • IngenuiTea Easy Loose Tea Brewer
  • Milk Frother
  • Modern Wok
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Vapor Cookware
  • Vertical Rotisserie
  •  

    Let us know your favorite calorie-saving appliances.

    Find our favorite low calorie products in THE NIBBLE’s Diet Foods Section.

      

    Comments

    FOOD VIDEO: How To Choose Healthy Snacks

     

    If you’re one of the millions of people who have just made a New Year’s resolution to pursue better food choices, here’s an “inspirational” video. It shows some simple, portion-controlled snack ideas that let you treat yourself without going overboard.

    Whether you have a sweet tooth or prefer savory flavors—and there’s no reason you can’t have both—pick up some tips to maintain your 2011 eating plan.


    Some of our favorites:

  • Quality lower-calorie, fat-free and no-sugar-added ice cream is as close as your local supermarket. If your goal is to have more ice cream more often, trade away the superpremium brands for those with half the calories, fat and carbs. It’s not plain vanilla: Edy’s, Dreyer’s and Breyer’s, among others, make exciting flavors.
  • Check out different sugar-free preserves. You can’t tell the difference with the best ones, imported from Europe made sweetened with maltitol. Or check out the organic Fiordifrutta line, sweetened with apple juice instead of sugar and available in an orchard of flavors: Apricot, Blackberry, Cherry, Cranberry, Lemon, Peach, Plum, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry, Wild Berries and Wild Blueberry.
  • No Sugar Added preserves also make good low calorie dessert toppings for ice cream and yogurt, as well as pancake toppings.
  • Salsa is low in calories but bursting with flavor and nutrition. Salsa and baby carrots are a ready-to-eat, healthy snack. Check out some of our favorite salsas and salsa recipes.
  • And speaking of veggies, treat yourself to pickled vegetables. Our two favorite brands are Rick’s Picks and Tillen Farms. Asparagus, okra, red pepper strips, string beans and other veggies never tasted so good!

    Find more healthy ideas in our Cooking Videos Section.

  • Comments

    Cooking Video: Low Calorie Cocktails

     

    You can still enjoy a few drinks on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, without breaking the calorie bank.

    Registered Dietician Elizabeth Somer provides tips that help you to “drink this, not that,” to borrow a phrase from the popular book by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding.

    In fact, the book series that includes Drink This, Not That, Eat This, Not That and Cook This, Not That will help jump-start your New Year’s diet.

    But back to our weekly cooking video: Spend a few minutes with it and you’ll be mindful of which drinks are highest in calories and which alternatives are just as satisfying. Or as we see it, trade off drink calories for a piece of pecan pie or cheesecake.

  • Enjoy these low-carb cocktail recipes at your Christmas dinner, New Year’s party and throughout 2011.
  • Find more food and drink videos in our Cooking Videos Section.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Strawberries For The Holidays

    Holiday season is high-calorie season. But you can help your calorie-stressed guests.

    In addition to serving crudités as an option to the seductive Brie Torte, provide fresh fruit for guests who are watching calories or carbs, don’t eat refined sugar or are doing their best to avoid plunging into your brownies and butter cookies.

    Fresh fruit pickings are slim in December, but a big bowl of strawberries is seasonal in color, festive in appearance and usually abundant, thanks to California’s strawberry growers. (It’s warm enough in the southern part of the state to harvest strawberries in December.)

    Packed with antioxidants that are heart-healthy, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. Strawberries are just about perfect as a fruit. Just compare:

  • Apples: 65 calories/cup, 17.3 g total carb, 16.2 g sugar
  • Grapes: 62 calories/cup, 15.8 g total carb, 14.9 g sugar
  • Pears: 96 calories/cup, 25.5 g total carb, 16.2 g sugar
  • Pineapple: 78 calories/cup, 20.3 g total carb, 20.3 g sugar
  • Strawberries: 49 calories/cup, 11.7 g total carb, 7.4 g sugar
  •  

    A bowl or basket of strawberries is a healthy
    and low calorie holiday option. Photo courtesy WellPict.com.

    The numbers to note are carbs and sugar: Strawberries have half as much sugar than most other fruit, including canteloupe.

    Serve strawberries with a low-calorie, fat-free cinnamon-yogurt dip. Sweeten with a non-caloric sweetener or low calorie, low-glycemic agave nectar.

    Nutrition information from CalorieCount.About.com.

     
    A nice presentation is to place the strawberries in a napkin-lined basket with a bowl of dip in the center. If the caps on the berries are bright green and perky, leave them on—they add to the beauty. Just provide a small bowl for the discarded stems.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bitters & Water

    Start the event with a two glasses of
    water. Photo by Fred Redhat | Dreamstime.

     

    An article in a medical journal, recently reported by The New York Times, scientifically confirmed the efficacy of an old dieting trick:

    Water drunk before meals helps to aid in weight loss, by filling the stomach so one is more full than ravenous.

    Use this trick to minimize over-indulging on tempting food and drink this holiday season.

    The first thing to do when you cross the threshold of a party, bar or restaurant is to imbibe two glasses of water: tap water, mineral water or club soda. (While not part of the study, we opine that you can substitute diet soda, iced tea/iced coffee or hot tea/coffee.)

    If plain water doesn’t float your boat, go for flavored club soda or add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or a good shake of aromatic bitters, which aren’t bitter but add nice flavor and aroma. Angostura bitters, available in most supermarkets and liquor stores, have a nice ginger flavor; the company also makes orange bitters.

     
    A few companies, including The Bitter Truth, are making artisan bitters. The Bitter Truth has a generous selection: celery bitters, chocolate bitters, creole bitters, grapefruit bitters, Jerry Thomas bitters (named after the writer of the first cocktail manual) and orange bitters. They’re part of our liquor gift ideas for Holiday 2010.

    Club soda with bitters (lots of them!) are our favorite no-calorie “cocktail.” The four-ounce bottles of bitters are small enough to carry in a purse or pocket, so you can BYO.

    The other benefit to starting a celebration with two glasses of water: It hydrates you to counter the dehydrating effect of alcohol.

  • How many types of water are there? See our Water Glossary.
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Minute Maid Light

    A satisying O.J. Lite. Photo by Erika Meller |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    If you’re still stuffed from Thanksgiving dinner, it’s a good time to read about Minute Maid Light fruit drink, instead of some rich, heavy food.

    At only 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per 8-ounce glass, it’s an orangey way to start your day or quench your thirst throughout it. Each 8-ounce serving contains 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.

    We tried Orange Tangerine and Lemonade fruit drinks. The products are made with real juice from concentrate, sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and are certified kosher by Triangle K. Both can also be used as low-calorie cocktail mixers.

  • Orange Tangerine scored well with us; we’ll buy it again. For very few calories, we’ll trade the natural O.J. at 110 calories a glass for 15 calories per glass. You know you’re drinking a light version, but for those who can quickly drain an eight-ounce glass, it’s a good substitute (and makes a nice reduced-calorie Screwdriver).
  •  

  • The Lemonade didn’t fare as well with us. Even though we added a two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, it didn’t perk up as we’d hoped. We could taste the artificial sweetener and the drink reminded us of Crystal Light. It’s easy to squeeze a lemon and make a glass of fresh lemonade sweetened with low-glycemic agave nectar or a packet of sucralose (e.g., Splenda).
  • The line also includes Limonada-Limeade and Raspberry Passion, which we couldn’t track down at our local markets. A colleague tells us that Limonada-Limeade, some Orange Tangerine (substituting for the Cointreau) plus tequila makes a lower-calorie, No Sugar Added Margarita.

    Minute Maid, the world’s largest marketer of fruit juices and fruit drinks, is a brand owned by The Coca-Cola Company.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FACTS: How Much Water Do You Need To Drink?

    Are you thirsty? Hot? Using a low-calorie beverage instead of food to fill you up?

    Jane E. Brody, health writer for the New York Times, provides a bucket full of facts in this week’s Personal Health column.

  • Dehydration can produce symptoms from fatigue and irritability to headache and muscle cramps.
  • How much water do you need each day? Multiply your weight (pounds) by .08; the result is your requirement in eight-ounce cups. But, before 200-pound folks panic about having to drink 16 cups of water per day, note that about half of one’s daily requirement can come from fruits, vegetables, soup and other high-water-content foods.
  • Dry air, whether air conditioning or heating, increases the body’s needs for water.
  • So does sugar. Aim for unsweetened thirst-quenchers or drinks with sugar substitutes. Many of today’s most popular bottled drinks are loaded with sugar and HFCS that increase the body’s need for water.
  •  

    Hydrate with something satisfying, yet
    sugar-free. Photo by Naheed Choudhry | THE NIBBLE.

     

  • Sugar-sweetened sodas are the single largest source of calories in the American diet (7.1%). Yet, they provide no nutrition and, aside from the water content, no value to the body.
  • Flavored bottled waters sweetened with sugar may carry healthy-sounding labels like “antioxidant,” “green tea” and “vitamin.” But check the label: How many calories of sugar are there that counter the “healthy” claims?
  • While caffeine is a mild diuretic that causes the body to expel water (via trips to the bathroom), coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages do count toward one’s daily liquid intake. However, they contribute to a lesser extent than water. We don’t have an exact formula, but assume 50%.
  • Alcohol increases the body’s need for water. Our trick: For every beer, cocktail or glass of wine, drink a glass of water.
  •  
    And take a look at David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding’s book, Drink This, Not That. You’ll be floored by the number of calories in popular brands of smoothies, lattes and other harmless-sounding beverages.

      

    Comments

    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats & “The Skinnygirl Dish” Book With Recipe Cards

    We love bread, and we love companies that figure out how to make it less caloric. That’s why we’re fans of the new 100-calorie Deli Flats from Pepperidge Farm, this week’s Gourmet Giveaway prize sponsor. The winner will receive three packages of Deli Flats, which are easy to substitute for standard bread (and we think, are more fun). We use them as morning toast, for sandwiches and snacks with PB & Polaner Sugar-Free Preserves.

    Want some more ideas of how to use the Deli Flats? The winner will also receive a copy of “Real Housewife Of New York” Bethenny Frankel’s latest book: The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes For Your Naturally Thin Life, plus her exclusive sandwich recipe cards for Deli Flats. Check out more of what we did with Deli Flats in THE NIBBLE’s review. (Also check out our review of Bethenny’s Skinnygirl Margarita.)

     

    A chicken sandwich on Deli Flats. Photo
    courtesy Pepperidge Farm.

  • THE PRIZE: One winner will take home three packages of Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats along with The Skinnygirl Dish book and Ms. Frankel’s exclusive Deli Flats recipe cards. Share the recipes with your carb-watching friends and take turns making delicious, low-carb meals.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Diet Nibbles Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, June 21st at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Zoku Ice Pop Maker

    You can become the most creative glacier in town with the Zoku Quick Pop Maker from Williams-Sonoma.

    It’s easy to create your own customized frozen pops, including cream-filled varieties, in as little as seven minutes.

    Use your favorite juices and other beverages (coffee, tea, kefir, smoothies) or fresh fruit purées to make the gourmet pops of your dreams.

    Designed to be very user friendly—quick freezing, easy release from molds, reusable plastic pop sticks that have drip guards—Zoku looks to be the best pop-making option we’ve seen.

    Why should you give up storage space to a pop-making machine?

     

    It’s easy to make gorgeous ice pops with
    your favorite flavors and add-ins. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

    • You can make gourmet pops in the exact flavors you want, and express yourself artistically in flavors, colors and patterns. (One of our favorites is to freeze cocktail mixes into Margarita Ice Pops and savory Bloody Mary Mix ice pops. Alcohol doesn’t freeze well, but you can try a teaspoonful per pop.)

    • You have something new and special to serve guests.

    • Things you’d normally drink for health can be turned into pops—from pomegranate juice to probiotic peach kefir.

    • You can control for dietary needs—reduced sugar, no sugar or kosher, for example—and allergies.

    • Ice pops have fewer calories than ice cream and are fat- and cholesterol-free (unless you elect to make cream pops).

    • It’s a fun way to teach the whole family that they can enjoy preparing their own food.

    • And thanks to the plastic sticks, there’s no yucky wood flavor that we so dislike with commercial ice pops.

    Find more of our favorite frozen treats, plus recipes, in our Ice Cream Section.

    Comments

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