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PRODUCT: Good Zebra Gourmet Animal Crackers

Good Zebra Animal Crackers

Good Zebra Animal Crackers

Spirit animals await you, in chai, lemon and vanilla. Photos courtesy Good Zebra.

 

Good Zebra calls their animal crackers “spirit animal crackers.” That’s because their four varieties represent different spirit animals.

You can take the quiz to find your spirit animal—a totem representing you in the animal kingdom.

A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual.

Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides.

Cultures around the world consider their spirit animal to be an otherworldly guide, who appears during difficult times to offer love, healing and/or support.

It generally takes the form of an animal with which a person (or a clan) shares a certain set of characteristics, and thus a kinship.

The animal acts as a guide and protector for humans. In death, the humans’ spirits are absorbed into the animal. (Here’s more from The Atlantic.)

You don’t have to pursue your spirit animal in order to enjoy Good Zebra animal crackers, however.

We call Good Zebra gourmet animal crackers, because the sophisticated flavors taste so good—in chai, lemon and vanilla.

There are 11 different animal shapes*, inspired by original tattoo art, “each with a soul-touching message to enlighten, uplift and empower,” according to the producers.

 

Each 2-ounce resealable bag contains approximately 20 animal crackers, delivering 12 grams of protein.

The crackers are all natural, nothing processed or refined (they’re sweetened with honey and coconut sugar). Made with 70% organic ingredients, they’re certified kosher by OU.

You can buy 12 packages for $28 or four packages for $17.

Get yours at Good-Zebra.com.

If you’d prefer to bake your own animal crackers, here’s a recipe.

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*We identified a butterfly, deer, fox, grizzly bear, kestrel, owl, peacock, turtle, unicorn, wolf, and of course, zebra. There is a Native American zodiac with additional animal symbols.

 
  

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PRODUCT: Easy Coconut Macaroon Mix For Passover

Macaroons are a delicious cookie year-round. The originals were invented by Italian monks from ground almonds. The name derives from the Italian maccherone.

Italian Jews adopted the cookie for eight-day observation of Passover, because it was free of restricted ingredients like flour and leavening.

The macaroon was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet. Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in certain recipes, replaced them.

Macaroons arrived in France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II.

But the French macaron, a meringue sandwich, was centuries away.

The concept was invented by Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, had the idea to join two meringues and fill them with ganache.

Here’s more history of macaroons and macarons.

MAKE MACAROONS FOR PASSOVER

You can make them from scratch, or pick up a box or two (or three) of King Arthur Flour’s Coconut Macaroon Cookie Mix.

It’s $5.95 per box, yielding approximately 2 dozen macaroons; and it’s certified kosher.

They’re super-easy to make: Just add water to the mix, scoop them into balls and bake.

If you love coconut, this is your cookie. Ever so slightly toasty on the outside, moist and chewy inside.

They’re as good or better than any from-scratch recipe we’ve had.

While the ingredients themselves do not have gluten, the mix is not certified gluten-free because it hasn’t been tested for the presence of gluten.

VARIATIONS

You can dress them up macaroons by:

  • Dipping them in quality chocolate, all dipped or half dipped.
  • Drizzling them with chocolate.
  • Adding mini chocolate chips or toffee chips to the batter.
  • Making them thumbprint style, with a chocolate or other flavor disk on top (photos #1 and #2).
  • Baking squares with a chocolate bottom (photo #3).
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    BAKING TIPS

    Use parchment so the white bottoms don’t get too dark or scorch, and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F,

    Even so, watch them closely as they bake.

    If the mix is too dry, before baking, add another 1/4 cup of water (or as needed).

     

    White Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Mix

    All photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook Sorghum For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    When we first saw the word sorghum, it was as a tween, in the reading of “Gone With The Wind.”

    There was no sugar available in the blockaded, war-torn South, so Scarlett O’Hara sweetened her coffee substitute, chicory, with sorghum syrup, a molasses substitute.

    For decades, we thought of sorghum as a sweetener. After all, it’s not something you come across in the American diet.

    That is changing, with the rise in demand for gluten-free whole grains.

    Sorghum is an ancient Old World whole grain that has been cultivated for millennia.

  • It’s an energy food that’s gluten free, cholesterol free and non-GMO.
  • It’s a good source of fiber and iron.
  • It has 5g of protein per serving.
  • Its neutral flavor can be paired with any foods; it can be substituted for rice or lentils in dishes like paella and biryani.
  • You can find whole grain sorghum, pearled sorghum, sorghum flour and sorghum-based flour mixes.
  • It cooks, freezes and reheats easily.
  •  
    You can also pop sorghum seeds. The result looks just like popcorn.

    COOKING SORGHUM: WHERE TO START?

    Click to the links featured in the photos, and/or pick up a sorghum cookbook.

    WHAT IS SORGHUM?

    Sorghum is a genus of plants in the grass family—the family that includes the other grains (see the list below).

    Seventeen of the twenty-five sorghum species are native to Australia. One species, Sorghum bicolor, native to Africa, has become an important crop worldwide.

    Most varieties of sorghum are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important crops in arid regions, where the grain is a dietary staples for the poor and rural populations.

    Sorghum is not only used for food (as grain and sorghum syrup, similar to molasses), but is brewed into alcoholic beverages, used as animal fodder, and made into biofuels.

    Nutritionally, it is similar to raw oats. A serving contains 20% or more of the Daily Value of protein; the B vitamins niacin, thiamin and vitamin B6; and several dietary minerals, including iron (26% DV) and manganese (76% DV).

    HULLED VS. PEARLED GRAINS

    When you see a grain labeled “hulled,” such as barley or sorghum, it indicates a whole grain.

    Hulled means that the the three parts of the seed—the bran, germ and endosperm—are intact, or “whole.” A whole grain provides optimum nutrition—vitamins, minerals and fiber.

    Only the inedible outermost layer, the hull, has been removed. This is true for all grains for human consumption: We can’t digest the hulls.

    Pearled grains are processed, like white rice. The polishing (pearling) removes the nutritious bran layer. The flavor is more delicate, not earthy; and it cooks faster. But a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber are lost in the process.

    Here’s more about whole grains and their nutrition.
     
    WONDERGRAIN: A LINE OF PREMIUM SORGUM PRODUCTS

    In 2012 Patricia Alemdar was given a taste of crushed sorghum from Haiti, where it’s considered a medicinal food. Although she liked the taste, she didn’t really care for the texture.

    (The common variety of sorghum is too dense to be cooked whole, so it needs to be crushed.)

    After months of research and testing, she and her mother produced a better, premium version of sorghum.

    It didn’t have to be crushed to be eaten whole. It had the softest bite and fastest cooking time. They launched it in 2014, and branded it Wondergrain.

    It’s a delicious addition to our table! The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Discover more at Wondergrain.com.
     
    FOOD FUN: NAME THE WHOLE GRAINS!

  • Amaranth
  • Barley (but not pearled barley)
  • Buckwheat (Kasha®)
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Chia/Salba®†
  • Corn (whole grain corn or cornmeal, yellow or white)*
  • Farro (emmer wheat)
  • Flaxseed
  • Grano
  • Hemp
  • Kamut® (Khorasan wheat)†
  • Millet
  • Oats (oatmeal, whole or rolled oats)
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa
  • Rice: black, brown, red, wild
  • Rye (whole)
  • Spelt
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Triticale (barley/wheat hybrid)
  • Whole wheat
  • Wild rice
  • ________________
    *Grits are refined and are not whole grains.

     

    Sorghum

    Pearled Sorghum

    Sorghum Hot Cereal

    Sorghum Grain Bowl

    Sorghum Salad

    Roast Chicken With Sorghum

    Sorghum Squash Pilaf

    [1] Sorghum (photo courtesy Wondergrain). [2] Pearled sorghum cooks faster, but is not a whole grain (see the discussion below—photo courtesy Healthy Nibbles And Bits). [3] BREAKFAST: A bowl of hot sorghum (here’s the recipe from Clean Eating Magazine). [4] LUNCH: Sorghum grain bowl with beans and avocado (here’s the recipe from Street Smart Nutrition). [5] Sorghum salad with kale pesto (here’s the recipe from Healthy Nibbles & Bits). [6] DINNER: Serve chicken or fish with a side of sorghum (here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit). [7] Add some grated cheese to this sorghum and squash pilaf (here’s the recipe from Cooking Light).

    †Salba is a trademarked name for chia, Kamut® is a trademarked name for khorasan wheat.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Banza Chickpea Pasta

    Banza Penne Bolognese

    Banza Mac & Cheese

    Banza Rotini

    Fresh Chickpeas

    Enjoy your favorite pasta dishes with more protein and fiber, fewer carbs, and no gluten! [1] Penne Bolognese. [2] Mac and Cheese. [3] A box of rotini, one of five Banza pasta shapes (all photos courtesy Banza). [4] Fresh chickpeas in the pod (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

     

    Toward the end of 2016, we went on a gluten-free pasta-thon, tasting every type of GF pasta we could find.

    We love rice noodles: gluten free, but they don’t complement European pasta sauces and other noodle dishes.

    So we tried pasta made from brown rice, brown rice-kale blends, corn, farro, lentils, soybeans, even quinoa. (We found the last, which we like as an earthy grain, undesirable as pasta.)

    The winner by far: chickpea pasta, which looks, cooks, and tastes like regular pasta.

    Yes, the same lovely legume that gives us hummus makes the best pasta!

    The pasta has a slight chickpea flavor if you eat it plain; but covered with sauce, cheese and perhaps meatballs, sausage or anchovies (or sausage and anchovies, for surf and turf), most people aren’t likely to notice a difference.

    Bonus: Chickpea pasta has double the protein, four times the fiber and almost half the net carbs.

    Interestingly, Banza was not developed because the founder sought a GF pasta, but because he wanted more nutrition from pasta, one of his favorite foods.

    He achieved just that: The nutrient-dense pasta boasts 25 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber and just and C43 grams of carbs in each serving.

    It has been embraced by athletes and vegans looking for more protein in their diets, by the gluten-sensitivite community, by parents trying to sneak more “good stuff” into the family’s diet via their favorite carbs.
     
    Types of Banza Chickpea Pasta

    The line includes:

  • Elbows
  • Mac And Cheese: Classic Cheddar, White Cheddar, Deluxe Rich & Creamy
  • Rotini
  • Penne Rigate
  • Shells
  • Spaghetti
  •  
    There are delicious recipes on the brand’s blog. You can buy the pasta on the website, or at some 5,000 retailers and etailers nationwide.

    Even if you aren’t looking for gluten-free pasta, how about some high-nutrition pasta—for hot dishes, cold pasta salads, even a sweet noodle pudding, made with elbows, ricotta and raisins?

    The brand is certified kosher by OU.

     

     
      

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    GIFTS OF THE DAY: Artisan Honey, Spicy Honey

    SAVANNAH BEE COMPANY ARTISAN HONEYS

    Anything from this wonderful company makes a great gift, including the honey beauty products. Since 2002, we’ve been avid customers.

    The company gathers varietal honeys:

  • Acacia Honey
  • Lavender Honey
  • Orange Blossom
  • Rosemary Honey
  • Sourwood Honey
  • Tupelo Honey
  •  
    They’re sold in different sizes, with prices varying slightly by varietal. These prices are for the tupelo honey:

  • 3 ounce jars, $15.00 for a two-jar package
  • 12-ounce jar, $22.00, 12-ounce pump top jar, $27.00
  • 20-ounce flute, $38.00
  • 80 ounces (for foodservice, unless you eat a heck of a lot of honey), $150
  •  
    You can’t go wrong with anything, but if you need a recommendation:
     
    FOR ANYBODY: WHIPPED HONEY

  • In Original, Chocolate, Cinnamon or Lemon. The cinnamon version is nicely seasonal; the chocolate flavor is a must for chocolate lovers. There are also samplers.
  • This creamy honey spreads like butter. We especially like it for breakfast with toast or spooned into oatmeal or tea.
  • Anyone who has a jar may or may not admit to eating it by the spoonful as a snack.
  • A 12-ounce jar is $16.55, two 3-ounce jars are $12.00 (put one jar each into each of two stockings).
  •  
    FOR THE CONNOISSEUR: TUPELO HONEY

       

    Savannah Bee Whipped Honey

    Savannah Bee Tupelo Honey

    [1] Whipped honey: spreadable in four luscious flavors. [2] Tupelo honey: 12-ounce jar, 20-ounce flute, 3-ounce jar (photos courtesy Savannah Bee).

     
    Tupelo honey is “the gold standard by which all other honey varieties are measured,” says company founder Ted Dennard. “It’s like a thick, slow-moving river of liquid sunshine.”

    For two weeks each spring, white tupelo trees in the Southeastern swamps bloom with flowers that glisten with nectar. The bees flock to the blossoms. The result: tupelo honey with its buttery undertones and mellow, clean sweetness.

    Tupelo honey complements numerous foods, and it’s definitely another one of those “eat from the spoon” delights.

    The entire line is certified kosher by KSA. Just try some on those latkes!

    NOTE: The honeys recommended here have nothing to do with “supermarket honey,” which is gathered overseas from many sources and blended to create a profile that will appeal to the lowest common denominator (with all due respect).
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HONEY

    THE HISTORY OF HONEY

     

    Bee's Knees Honey

    Bee's Knees Spicy Honey

    Oh honey: The spicy honey is one of our favorite new [to us] products of the year (photos courtesy Bushwick Kitchen).

      SOME LIKE IT HOT: CHILE PEPPER-INFUSED HONEY & OTHER SPECIAL FLAVORS

    Sugar with spice is certainly nice. We love the palate buzz that comes with the chile-infused honey from Bushwick Kitchen.

    Wildflower honey from New York State’s Hudson Valley is infused with fresh chiles in Brooklyn, delivering a New York state of mind that we love.

    The artisans also produce Meyer Lemon Honey and Salted Honey, flavored maple syrups and other products that we hope to try soon. Take a look at Bushwick Kitchen.

    The honey we’ve had several times (and loved so much we didn’t sufficiently pay attention to the other flavors) is the Bee’s Knees Spicy Honey. The honey is first infused, and for a finishing touch a single red chile is suspended in the bottle.

    This charmer of a hot honey condiment goes well with…

  • Berries and other fresh fruits
  • Beverages, including hot and iced tea, club soda and cocktails
  • Cakes and other baked goods
  • Cheese and charcuterie plates
  • Chicken and other poultry
  • Croissants, muffins and toast
  • Ice cream and sorbet
  • Ribs
  • Sandwiches and crostini
  •  
    A 13½-ounce squeeze bottle is $15.95 at King Arthur Flour.

    But we bet your bottle won’t last the week. So…

    A gift set of all three bottles is $44.99 at Bushwick Kitchen.

    Honey Trivia: Honey is the oldest edible food, found in the tomb of a pharaoh. It doesn’t decay because it has virtually no moisture. That’s also why it was used to dress wounds in ancient times: No bacteria could survive to infect the injury.

    MORE HONEY TRIVIA

     

      

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