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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: Soulfully Sweet Great Gluten-Free Cookies

    If you’re looking for a great gluten-free cookie, look no further than Soulfully Sweet.

    You can tell that many, many test batches were baked to find the magic mixture that makes these cookies taste so good.

    With the right mix of ingredients and technique, you can’t tell that baked goods are gluten free. Soulfully Sweet has pulled this off, creating crunchy, very flavorful cookies that easily pass for conventional gourmet cookies.

    The best ingredients are not inexpensive, so don’t be dismayed that a box of eight cookies (2-1/2 inches in diameter) is $10.99, and you’ll want all eight flavors. They are a find for the cookie-lover on a gluten-free diet. Once you taste them, you’ll be happy to give up something else to fit them into your budget.

    We loved every one of the eight flavors:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Toasted Pecan Cookies
  • Double Chocolate Cookies For Chocoholics
  • Molasses Ginger Cookies With Spice Infusion
  • Oatmeal Cookies With Cherries & Chocolate Chips
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies With Toasted Walnuts
  • Orange Cookies With Pistachio & Cranberry Chunks & Orange Essence
  • Peanut Butter Cookies With A Peanut Avalanche
  •  
    In addition to gluten-free, the ingredients are non-GMO, mostly organic* and “virtually” soy-free. The cookies are preservative free and all natural.
     
    A taste is worth a thousand words, so head to SoulfullySweet.com and indulge your cookie passion.
    __________________________________
    *The combination of gluten-free and organic ingredients is often hard to find and very pricey when you do find it. The cookies range from 84% to 90% organic ingredients. This brand doesn’t cut back on the absolute best-tasting gluten-free ingredients, and that, plus the small batch artisanal production, is why the cookies are so expensive.

     

    Gluten Free Cookies

    Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Gluten Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Soulfully Sweet cookies in three of the eight flavors: Molasses Ginger, Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Chip. Photos courtesy Soulfully Sweet.

     

      

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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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    TIP OF THE DAY: [Almost] Ready To Eat, Good For You Foods

    Purdue Short Cuts

    Rebel Fish Cajun Blackened Salmon

    Swanson Mexican Tortilla Broth

    Top: Purdue Short Cuts, ready to heat and
    eat. Center: Rebel Fish salmon fillets
    microwave in 90 seconds. Bottom:
    Swanson Flavor Infused Broth, flavorful by
    themselves or with added veggies and/or
    protein.

     

    Forty-five percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. The Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions include weight loss (#1) and healthier eating (#5). [Source]

    Now for the bad news:

  • Just 10% of people who fully commit to making resolutions are successful at keeping them.
  • 1 in 3 people ditch their vows by the end of January.
  • 66% set fitness goals as part of their resolutions, but 73% of them give up before meeting their goal.
  •  
    Many of us sabotage a good eating plan because it’s usually easier to make bad choices than good ones. But it’s really easy to make small fixes. Just pick three better-for-you foods to incorporate into your diet, using the new USDA Nutrition Guidelines.

    Here are some of the foods we rely on: tasty and good for you, and either ready to eat or ready to heat and eat. We promise: You won’t be disappointed.
     
    9 OPTIONS THAT ARE READY TO EAT OR READY-TO-HEAT & EAT

    When you’re tired and/or pressed for time, it’s easy to microwave something. Stock up on good-for-you products to microwave:

  • Cooked Chicken Breasts. We buy grilled, boneless, skinless, individually wrapped chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s. A package of five is under $7, and they’re shrink-wrapped for a four-week shelf life. You can find roasted cooked chicken and turkey from regional brands as well as Perdue and Tyson. Add a healthy sauce—dill-yogurt or mustard-yogurt, marinara, pesto, vinaigrette or anything with no added sugar—and microwave. Or, stop a bed of whole grain or a salad.
  • Pre-Cooked Or Frozen Fish Fillets. Rebel Fish Salmon goes from package to plate in 90 seconds. It can be cooked in all of the traditional ways (baked, broiled or pan fried), but it’s specifically designed to be microwaved. There are six flavorful rubs: Cilantro Lime, Lemon Pepper Herb, Barbeque, Maple Mesquite Smoked Sea Salt, Cajun Blackened and Thai Chili, so it doesn’t gets boring. Serve it with grain, mixed vegetables, on a Caesar salad, in a salmon taco or other good-for-you preparation.
  •  

  • Flavored Tuna, Tilpia & Salmon Pouches. Chicken Of The Sea and StarKist have 90-calorie pouches of already-seasoned fish that turn a bag of washed salad into lunch; or be used as a topper for grains or pasta. Chicken Of The Sea has the best flavored salmon options—Barbecue, Lemon Pepper, Sweet & Spicy and Sriracha—as well as flavored tuna pouches and flavored tilapia in Marinara, Santa Fe, Teriyaki and Yellow Curry. StarKist has flavored tuna Hot Buffalo, Lemon Dill and Thai flavors.
  •  

  • Whole Grains. There’s a proliferation of heat and eat grains: 90 seconds in the microwave. We like the Lundberg Heat and Eat Bowl of long grain brown rice, and the Village Harvest whole grains (freekah and three whole grain blends) that are ready in five minutes.
  • Swanson Flavor Infused Broth. This is not your mother’s diet broth, but nicely-seasoned alternatives that can be drunk straight or loaded with chopped vegetables, cooked proteins, etc. Mexican Tortilla Flavor Infused Broth, Thai Ginger Flavor Infused Broth and Tuscan Chicken Flavor Infused Broth have just 25 to 30 calories a cup, plus whatever you choose to add. We keep a container in the fridge at work for a protein-filled “coffee break.” At home, we add diced chopped vegetables (you can buy them prepared), enoki mushrooms or leftover cooked grains. And of course, these broths can be used in recipes, of which there are many on the Swanson website.
  • Low Sodium Canned Beans. Prepare them as a side, plop them into infused broth, add them to green salads. We also mix them with scrambled eggs and use them as omelet fillings.
  • Hummus. A nutritionist’s delight, America has gone hummus- happy and flavors proliferate. Even people who aren’t big hummus fans can enjoy flavors like Boar’s Head Fiery Chipotle Hummus or Tribe Everything Hummus, which has all the toppings of an “everything” bagel. Get a bag of baby carrots and you’re set for snacking.
  • Oatmeal Cups. Last year we switched to Modern Oats Oatmeal Cups as a quick microwaved breakfast. Whole grain, fast cooking and easy to eat on the go (BYO spoon), the only question is the 17 grams of sugar. But compared to the bagels, toast, breakfast pastry we used to eat, it’s a way better choice. Pick Nuts & Seeds over the fruit flavors for 14 grams of sugar, plus added nutrition from the nuts and seeds.
  • Fruit Desserts & Snacks. Fresh berries, frozen banana slices and baked apples are some of our go-tos. But at 90 calories per serving, Bare Apple Chips are like candy to us, even though there’s no sugar added. This is a brilliant product from BareSnacks; Try it and you’ll be hooked. You can also make a low-calorie dip by adding noncaloric sweetener and cinnamon to plain fat-free yogurt, but really, the chips alone are just heavenly.
  •  
    What are your go-to, good-for-you foods? Let us know!

     

    Flavored Tuna Pouches

    Low Sodium Canned Beans

    Oatmeal Cups

    Bare Fruit Apple Chips

    Top photo: Flavored tuna pouches are really yummy. Second photo: Low-sodium canned beans can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Third photo: Oatmeal cups are convenient and so much better than bagels and doughnuts. Bottom photo: The best sweet snack with no added sugar.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Make Cranberry Mimosa cocktails or mocktails. Photo courtesy Ocean Spray.

     

    There’s still time to create a signature drink for Christmas: a Cranberry Mimosa cocktail or mocktail. It combines cranberry juice with sparkling wine (or ginger ale), instead of the orange juice of a traditional Mimosa.

    Or use cranberry liqueur for a Cranberry Kir Royale, a.k.a. Kir Royale à la Canneberge (if you haven’t guessed, canneberge [can-BERZH] is French for cranberry). Note that using liqueur instead of juice creates a stronger drink.

    You can also serve a Mimosa mocktail with cranberry juice and ginger ale, and a diet version with diet cranberry juice and diet ginger ale.

     
    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS MIMOSA, CRANBERRY KIR ROYALE OR CRANBERRY MOCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces cranberry juice or cranberry liqueur
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine*, regular or rosé, chilled
  • Optional garnish: lemon curl, strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry juice/liqueur and the sparkling wine in a Champagne flute or wine glass. Add the juice first. If you need to stir, do so gently, once, so as not to collapse the bubbles.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     
    *Well-priced sparkling wines include Asti Spumante and Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France and our Top Pick Of The Week, Yellow Tail Bubbly.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented circa 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, by bartender Frank Meier. Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar color to the drink.

    The optional addition of a small amount of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier complements the juice and gives the drink more complexity.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. A Grapefruit Mimosa with grapefruit juice is a popular variation. A related drink, the Buck’s Fizz†, has two parts Champagne to one part juice—and sometimes a splash of grenadine. Created at London’s Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarryhe, the Buck’s Fizz predates the Mimosa by about four years.

    If you’re making Mimosas, fresh-squeezed orange juice makes a huge difference. One expert recommends trying different types of orange juice: The sweeter Navel juice vs. the more acidic Valencia, for example. Blood oranges, with their rosy color and raspberry notes, will provide a different experience entirely (and a wonderful one!).

    [Source]
     
    †Buck and mule are old names for mixed drinks made with ginger ale or ginger beer, plus citrus juice. They can be made with any base liquor. Why buck? Why mule? That answer is lost to history, but here’s a detailed discussion.
     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Better For You Candy & Treats

    Every time we dip into a bag of Bare Fruit Apple Chips, we wonder: Why isn’t everyone eating these?

    So before Halloween, we’re recommending them as the better-for-you treat, for the people you love. Everyone else can get those miniature junk candies from the supermarket. (Sorry if we have maligned your favorite candy bars; but honestly, you hardly taste the chocolate for the sugar/corn syrup.)

    Consisting simply of baked apple chips—no added sugar—these sweet, crisp chips satisfy the desire for sweetness an crunch. They’re fat-free, gluten free, fiber-filled.

    The apple chips are made from non-GMO project verified Washington State apples. And they’re certified kosher by Earth Kosher, an organic and kosher certifier.

    There are four flavors of all-natural apple chips, 90-100 calories per ounce (half cup serving), depending on the flavor.:

  • Fuji Red Apple Chips
  • Granny Smith Apple Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips
  • Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips
  •  
    There’s also an organic line, including each of the flavors above plus a combination of all of them in one bag, Medley Apple Chips.

    There’s also an organic line, including each of the flavors above plus a combination of all of them in one bag, Medley Apple Chip
    This time of year we particularly like Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips, but will gladly eat whatever is closest. Who needs apple pie when you can have Bare Fruit Apple Chips?

    But you may think that Caramel Apple is better for Halloween. Plan ahead for stocking stuffers, and keep a supply in your glove compartment, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

       

    cinnamon-apple-chips-bare-230

    chips-lovewithfood-230

    TOP PHOTO: It’s like apple pie in a crunchy chip. Phot6o courtesy Bare Fruit. BOTTOM PHOTO: Out of the bag. Photo courtesy Love With Food.

     
    You can get Bare Fruit products on Amazon.com or find them at retail via the company’s store locator. The “BUY” tab on the company website takes you to their Amazon store.

    They’re available in individual .53-ounce bags and in 1.69-ounce bags, three portions’ worth.
      
    NUTS FOR CRUNCHY COCONUT CHIPS

    After success with the apple chips, Bare Fruit came out with a divine line of coconut chips:

  • Chocolate Bliss Coconut Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Chips
  • Simply Toasted Coconut Chips
  • Sweet ‘n Heat Coconut Chips
  •  
    Loved ‘em all, but Chocolate Bliss truly is.

    GO BANANAS
     
    Most recently, the company has introduced crunchy banana chips. We haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying them, but you can let us know how you like them:

  • Cinnamon Banana Chips
  • Cocoa Dusted Banana Chips
  • Simply Baked Banana Chips
  •  

    HalfPops

    These crunchy popcorn nuggets are popped without oil. Photo courtesy Halfpops.

     

    HALFPOPS POPCORN NUGGETS

    If you grew up loving CornNuts, as we did, take note of the non-fried, gourmet version.

    Some people dig through the popcorn bowl to find those crunchy, half-popped kernels that taste even better than the fully popped corn. Smaller than a fully popped kernel, they’ve got the soft popped portion on the inside while the kernel remains crunchy on the outside.

    Halfpops is an entire bag of them. We like this fiber-filled half-popped popcorn even better than the conventional full-popped. It was love at first bite for us. These little nuggets are a go-to snack whenever we need something crunchy and salty.

    These are healthy, whole grain snacks. They’re all-natural, with zero sugar or preservatives. As a whole grain product, each bag contributes 3g fiber/serving. Halfpops are certified gluten-free and are also nut-free.

     

    Halfpops are currently available in four flavors:

  • Natural Butter & Sea Salt
  • Aged White Cheddar
  • Caramel & Sea Salt
  • Chipotle Barbeque
  • Each one-ounce serving contains 130 calories and 260 mg salt. And we love each flavor Don’t decide: Try them all!

    They’re certified kosher (dairy) by OU. Get yours at HalfPops.com. There’s also a retail store locator on the website.

      

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    PRODUCT UPDATE: Gluten Free Comfort Food

    Blake's Chicken Pot Pie

    blakes-pkg_Chicken_Pot_Pie-230sq

    This gluten-free chicken pot pie will please many. Photos courtesy Blake’s All Natural.

     

    BLAKE’S GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN POT PIE & SHEPHERDS PIE

    With the fall season, the gluten-freer’s thoughts turn to comfort foods—which usually mean soups, hearty stews, pot pies, mac and cheese and heaping dishes of pasta.

    This is also, as it turns out, one of the most challenging categories in the gluten-free realm. Most of the hot comfort foods contain noodles or crusts of some kind, and substitutions are not easily made.

    Enter Blake’s All Natural, an 80-year old family firm that was acquired by ConAgra in May 2015. Most of the line is conventional, but there’s a GF version of their most popular item, Chicken Pot Pie; as well as Shepherds Pie, which is naturally GF (the crust is made from mashed potatoes instead of grain).
     
    Blake’s Chicken Pot Pie

    I tasted their Chicken Pot Pie in a bit of a fever, recalling happy afternoons spent at my Gram’s where my favorite treat was classic pot pie. Grandmas know what makes a child’s heart go pitter patter. Hence my bar for Chicken Pot Pie is quite high, attached as it is to golden memories.

    Blake’s did not let me down. You can taste the quality and the care.

    The filling is delicious! You can taste the distinct flavors, yet also appreciate the blended sauce and the good crust, which is the hallmark of a top pot pie. There was a little too much sauce for my liking (not atypical in store-bought pot pies), but I relished the classic pot pie flavor.

     
    There are no chemicals, no antibiotics, no wheat. Bonus: The pot pie is also microwavable

    The brand makes both all-natural and organic products. With the gluten-free pot pie, the vegetables and crust are organic. The chicken is not, although it is natural (antibiotic free), and quite tasty!

    I was surprised that I actually preferred the cornmeal crust variety of the two options. The brown rice crust was a bit sweet and shortbread-y (I prefer buttermilk-y/salty flavor notes), whereas the cornmeal crust was hearty, had better body and just enough salt.
     
    Blake’s Shepherds Pie

    Next I tried the Shepherds Pie, made with organic corn and organic mashed potatoes.

    As with the pot pie, the veggies are organic but the beef is not. (Although organic meat is important to many, it would raise the price beyond where enough consumers are flexible. Hence the balance between organic and natural ingredients.) The beef was perfectly spiced and tasted of a high quality, so I added points back for flavor. I liked it even better than the pot pie.

    My recommendation: Absolutely give Blake’s a try! Their products are great cool- and cold-weather comfort food options, a great convenience when you don’t have time to make your own. That goes for the “regular” line, too.

    You can also send a GF gift box, containing four gluten-free pot pies and four shepherds pies.

    Discover more at BlakesAllNatural.com.

    —A review from Georgi Page, Gluten Free Specialist

     

    LUCY’S COOKIES

    It was 2010 when we first selected Lucy’s Gluten Free as a Top Pick Of The Week, followed by a product update in 2011. The brand continues to treat consumers new gluten-free baked treats.

    This year, the new GF treat is Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp, the first flavor of Lucy’s new brownie line to hit shelves. It’s made with chocolate chips, 72% dark chocolate chunks and cocoa powder (comprising the “triple chocolate”), plus Madagascar vanilla.

    A cross between a chewy brownie and a crunchy cookie, Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp is a symphony of deep, rich chocolate flavor. A serving size of three crisps contains just 100 calories.

    As with all Lucy’s products, Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp is allergy friendly: no gluten or wheat, dairy milk, butter, eggs, casein, peanuts or tree nuts.

     

    triple-chocolate-brownie-crisp-230

    There are three types of chocolate in Lucy’s Triple Brownie Crisp. Photo courtesy Dr. Lucy.

     
    The line is also Non-GMO Project Verified, certified vegan, and certified kosher (pareve) by Star K.

    Brownie Crisp is currently available in a 4.5-ounce pouch size and a 1.25-ounce grab ‘n go individual bag.

    Continued thanks to Lucy’s founder and chairman, Dr. Lucy Gibney, for showing that allergen-free can also be delicious. Discover more at DrLucys.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chermoula Sauce

    Last night at a nine-course feast at the home of our wine editor, we were served a dish of scallops, sautéed greens and a hearty topping of freshly-made pesto.

    A conversation ensued among the nut-averse and lactose-intolerant in attendance, that they didn’t use pesto because of the cheese or the nuts.

    There’s an easy alternative: chermoula, a Middle Eastern marinade and sauce popular in the cuisines of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

    As with pesto recipes, there are countless regional variations both in ingredients and proportions. But chermoula usually starts with a mixture of fresh herbs (especially cilantro), olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and salt.

    Flavorful chermoula is typically used with fish and seafood, and its green color adds brightness to what we personally refer to as “beige and brown foods.” It is also used to flavor meat, poultry and vegetable dishes.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chermoula offthemeathook 230

    At Off The (Meat) Hook, it’s used to coat broiled halibut. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy OffTheMeatHook.com.

     

    Variations include black pepper, fresh coriander, ground chiles, onion, pickled lemons and saffron, among other ingredients.

  • The preferred recipe in Sfax, a port city in Tunisia, incorporates a purée of dried dark grapes, with onions sautéed in olive oil, black pepper, cumin and chiles, but also cinnamon and cloves.
  • Two countries to the west, in Morocco, one popular recipe uses dried parsley, cumin, salt and pepper with paprika as the variable seasoning. It’s often served with grilled meat and fish.
  •  

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    Chermoula on lamb chops, rice and vegetables. Photo courtesy Taste.com.au.

     

    RECIPE: CHERMOULA SAUCE

    In the Middle East, chermoula is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. In our tests making pesto, the mortar and pestle produced a more flavorful pesto than the food processor. So we pulled it out to make this recipe. Feel free to switch on the food processor instead.

    This recipe is a Moroccan variation, with paprika. As with pesto, it is easy to make. Prep time is just 10 minutes. You can make extra and freeze it.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves*
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika (or a combination)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes or 1/2 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil†
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  •  
    You can put your own stamp on the recipe, of course. We had some leftover fresh mint, so added it to the second batch.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a mortar or food processor. Grind or pulse into a thick paste. It’s that easy!

    2. STORE the chermoula in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It will last for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, needing only to be stirred.

    3. FREEZE extra in the compartments of an ice cube tray that has been sprayed with nonstick olive oil spray. When the cubes have frozen, remove them to a freezer bag.
     
    MORE GOOD FOOD FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

    This weekend we perused a book that had been sent to us on The Food of Oman, a sultanate on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

    When we pulled it out of its packaging, our first reaction was, “We have no time to figure out the cooking of Oman.” But as we thumbed our way through the book, we wanted to eat everything!

    If you enjoy learning new cuisines, or know someone who does, pick up a copy. The author, an American food writer who lived in the Middle East, takes readers on a journey that is delightful.
    ____________________________

    *You can include the small stems that attach the leaves to the main stalks.

    †A fruity style (as opposed to peppery) is preferable.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Carrot Pasta

    While we’re enjoying the warmth of Indian Summer, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog suggests these raw, vegetable-based noodles made from carrots.

    Inspired by classic cold sesame noodles, delicate strands of carrots and cucumbers mingle together in crisp tangles of “pasta,” as vibrant as they are flavorful.

    Instead of peanut sauce based on peanut butter, Hannah substitutes cashew butter for a different take on the nutty, lightly spiced sauce.

    “Deceptively simple in composition,” says Hannah, “it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special on paper, but one taste and you’ll be hooked on the creamy cashew elixir. Lavish it over everything from salads to grilled tofu and beyond. Although you may end up with more than you need for this particular dish, trust me: It won’t be a struggle to polish off the excess in short order.”

    Note that this recipe comes together very quickly but needs to be eaten as soon as it’s made. The recipe makes 2-3 main dish servings or 4-5 side servings.

       

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    Cut the carbs and add the protein: carrot “pasta” in cashew sauce. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    RECIPE: CARROT CASHEW NOODLES

    Ingredients For The Cashew Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons smooth cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  •  
    For The Carrot Pasta

  • 5 Large carrots, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped
  •  

    spiral grater

    A spiral grater, also called a spiralizer. Photo
    courtesy Microplane.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the sauce. This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Place the cashew butter in a medium bowl and slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly to loosen and smooth out the thick paste. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk thoroughly until homogeneous and set aside.

    2. MAKE the carrot and cucumber “noodles.” Toss them together with half of the sauce; for easier mixing, use your hands. Add more sauce as needed, toss in the scallions and move to a serving plate.

    3. TOP with chopped cashews and serve.

     

      

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