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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 NutriNibbles/Organic

RECIPE: Crispy Fried Cauliflower (Lashooni Gobi)

Junoon is one of the most popular Indian restaurants among gourmand New Yorkers. The name, which means passion, interprets Indian cuisine with a modern spin. The space is large and comfortable, unusual for New York City. And the food: Well, it inspires passion.

While many American home cooks are wary of taking on Indian cuisine without the benefit of a class or an expert friend, here’s one of Junoon’s dishes that’s easy to make. The Indian name is Lahsooni Gobi, but Crispy Fried Cauliflower sounds so much more tempting.

We love cauliflower in all its forms, plain and fancy. But here, lightly battered and tossed in a tomato garlic sauce, this hearty appetizer or side will make even those who don’t typically crave cauliflower want more.

No eggs are used in the batter because in India, eggs are not part of a vegetarian diet (this recipe is actually vegan). This recipe is also gluten-free. Chef Vikas Khanna notes, “I use rice flour here, not just for its superior crisping quality but also for people who are gluten sensitive. It’s a warm and homey dish and can easily be adjusted in terms of heat and garlic to suit anyone’s palate.”

 

crispy-fried-cauliflower-junoon-worleygig-ps-230

Junoon’s delicious Crispy Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy Worleygig.

 

RECIPE: LAHSOONI GOBI, CRISPY CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoons to make the sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato purée
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two pinches salt
  • Two pinches sugar
  • Two pinches ketjiap spice (recipe below)
  • Garnish: 2 sprigs cilantro
  •  

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn an everyday cauliflower into something special. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SPRINKLE 2 teaspoons of sea salt evenly over the cauliflower and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 350°F: Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

    3. ADD the tomato purée, water, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and ketjiap spice; mix well with a whisk until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary just before serving.

    4. PREPARE the batter by quickly blending the rice flour and water together in a large bowl. Coat the florets in the batter by placing all of the florets in the bowl. Toss gently and then carefully drop the florets into the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    5. BRING the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and then add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir and toss gently to coat the cauliflower with the sauce until well combined. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl garnished with cilantro.

     

    KETJIAP SPICE MIX

    Ketijap is a traditional Indonesian spice mix used for the many different sauces that are loosely called cat-siop and ketjiap (and other spellings*). A pinch or two livens up soups and sauces. You can keep the spice tightly covered in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon mace flakes†
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, preferably tellicherry
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY TOAST the whole spices in a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat for about one minute.

    2. COOL, then grind to a fine powder with the cinnamon in a spice grinder.
     
    *Yes, this is the origin of our word catsup/ketchup, although our familiar tomato ketchup was a New World invention. Here’s the history of ketchup.

    †It can be difficult to find mace flakes, also called mace blades, in consumer markets. Use ground mace instead.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Plum Vida Fruit & Veggie Pouches

    plum-vida-pouches-230

    A delicious and better-for-you snack alternative for adults. Photo courtesy Plum Organics.

     

    Squeeze tubes of fruits and veggies are not just for kids. While they started out targeted to the junior set, moms and other adults started to enjoy the benefits of the easily portable, wholesome fruit and vegetable snacks.

    So Plum Organics, which had been making products for kids, developed the Plum Vida line for grown-ups. The flavors are more complex and sophisticated, and the portions are larger. The five-ounce pouches can be kept in pockets, purses, lockers, glove compartments, desk drawers—pretty much anywhere.

    Each pouch delivers a light, flavorful, refreshing and healthful snack, made entirely from organic fruits and vegetables with a hint of herbs and spices.

    You can sip it from the pouch or mix it with hot tea or club soda. You can even use it as a sweet salad dressing (we added a splash of good vinegar). We eat it at room temperature, but on a hot summer day, you can chill it in the fridge.

     
    Plum Vida pouches are available in three delicious flavors:

  • Pear, Kale, Spinach & Celery, a base of leafy greens softened by the natural sweetness of juicy pear.
  • Cherry, Berry, Beet & Ginger, a mix of natural sweetness and tartness with a subtle ginger zing.
  • Pineapple, Carrot & Mint, a burst of tropical flavor with a refreshing minty kick.
  •  
    Each pouch delivers:

  • 1/2 cup fruits and veggies in every pouch
  • 3g fiber
  • A snack for 70-90 calories
  •  
    The line is certified kosher by OU, certified USDA Organic and Non GMO verified. It is currently sold exclusively at target stores (in the beverage aisle), for $1.99 a pouch.

    And there’s a $1.00 coupon on the Plum Vida website to make your first pouch even sweeter.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bone Broth

    Suddenly, everyone is talking about bone broth. Rich in nutrition, nourishing for body and soul, bone broth has long been used by cultures throughout the world for millennia, to sip straight or as cooking stock.

    Yes, bone broth is an alternative to stock, a flavorful liquid made by slowly simmering chicken or turkey bones, cartilage and tendons (with some bits of meat). The difference is that while stock can be made in three or four hours, bone broth is simmered for 24 hours or more, extracting the maximum amount of nutrition from the bones.

    Bone broth can be made from any type of animal bones, including fish. But Pacific Foods uses only the bones from organically raised, pastured or grass-fed animals. It is seasoned with onions, rosemary and apple cider vinegar.

    The Bone Broth is available in six delicious flavors:

  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken
  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken with Ginger
  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken with Lemongrass
  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken Original
  • Organic Bone Broth Turkey
  • Organic Bone Broth Turkey with Rosemary, Sage & Thyme
  •    

    chicken-lemongrass-bone-broth-pacificoraganics-230

    A quick hot drink as well as a cooking ingredient, Pacific’s Bone Broth comes in six varieties. Photo courtesy Pacific Foods.

     
    On a cold winter day like today, it more than hits the spot. And it’s a great base for leftovers: We variously added leftover barley, chicken, pasta, rice, shrimp and veggies to turn a cup of bone broth into a light meal.
     
    Sold in eight-ounce cartons, it is a hearty drink to sip it by the cup. Pour from the carton and enjoy instead of coffee or tea.

    Want to cook with it? It’s also sold in 32-ounce cartons. You can cook beans and legumes, pasta, rice and other grains in it for added protein and flavor, or use it as a base for soup. You can garnish plane bone broth with a splash of basil oil or chili oil.
     
    Why bone broth? Why now?

    According to a 2014 study by NDP Group, more than seven out of 10 consumers are looking to add more protein to their diets. With high protein, low calories and a myriad of reported wellness benefits, it’s in demand by health enthusiasts, Paleo diet practitioners and CrossFit-ers, many of whom have taken up the practice of making bone broth from scratch. (Want to make your own? Here’s a recipe. Note that we have seen comments that cage-raised chickens tend to produce stock that doesn’t gel as well. So try to find bones from organic or free-range poultry.)

     

    bone_broth-chicken-veg-wholesomeness.com.au-230

    Turn bone broth into a meal by adding proteins and vegetables. Photo courtesy Wholesomeness.com.au. Here’s their recipe for beef bone broth.

     

    THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH

    Rich in amino acids and minerals and fat-free, the broth delivers 9 grams of protein per cup for only 355-40 calories. While the actual recipe simmers for days, you can enjoy this snack or first course in little more than 30 seconds.

    nourishing for both your body and your soul. If you’re fighting off a cold or the flu, homemade bone broth is excellent for speeding healing and recuperation from illness.

  • Digestion. The gelatin in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thus supporting proper digestion
  • Pain. Bone broth contains chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine—the components of joint pain pills—plus other compounds from the boiled down cartilage. They reduce joint pain and inflammation. The amino acids in bone broth—arginine, glycine and proline—also have anti-inflammatory effects
  • Bone Health. Bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients that help with healthy bone formation.
  •  

    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BROTH, BONE BROTH, STOCK & MORE

    If you’re wondering how bone broth fits into the broth pantheon that includes aspic, bouillon, consomme and stock, here’s the scoop:

    Broth. Broth is typically made with meat and can contain a small amount of bones. It is typically simmered for a far shorter period of time—45 minutes to 2 hours. The result is very light in flavor and thin in texture, although rich in protein.

    Aspic. Aspic is jellied broth made from meat or fish stock. It is refrigerated, where it becomes solid, like gelatin; then is cubed and used as a relish for meat, fish or vegetable dishes. Or, it is used as a filler mold that holds meat, fish or vegetables.

    Bouillon. Bouillon is a clear, thin broth made typically by simmering chicken or beef in water with seasonings. It can be consumed in this state, or used as a base for other dishes, sauces, etc. Bouillon can be made from mixed sources, e.g. chicken and vegetables. Bouillon (not to be confused with bouillon cubes) is a stock that is strained, and then served as a clear soup. It can be enhanced with other flavors—for example, sherry, herbs and spices—and this is the key difference between bouillon and plain broth.

    Stock. Stock is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat that adheres to the bones. The bones are often roasted before simmering, which improves the flavor. Stock is typically simmered for a longer time than broth, 3 to 4 hours. The result is rich in minerals and gelatin and more flavor than broth, extracted from the longer cooking time.

    Consommé. Consommé is a clear liquid made by clarifying stock for a more elegant presentation. Typically, egg whites are added to the stock; the cloudy particles in the stock attach themselves to the egg whites and rise to the surface, where they are skimmed off. The word means “consumed” or “finished” in French, indicating a more finished soup than a stock or a broth. In classic French cuisine, a bowl of consommé was often served at the beginning of a meal.

    Bone broth. Like stock, bone broth is typically is made with bones and the small amount of meat adhering to them. As with stock, bones are typically roasted first to improve the flavor of the broth. The key difference is that bone broth is simmered for a much longer time, 24 hours or more. This long cooking time helps to extract the maximum amount of minerals and other nutrients from the bones.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Leblebi)

    This recipe came to us from our friends at Rancho Gordo, a great purveyor of heirloom beans.

    In Tunisia, chickpea soup is a street food, served as a hearty breakfast to men on their way to work. But you can garnish it and serve it at any meal.

    Middle Eastern cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi’s advises:

    “Leblebi is yet another ingenious combination of legumes and all kinds of readily available vegetables, herbs, and spices that create an irresistibly satisfying dish. Slowly cooking the chickpeas in the oven, inside a clay pot, as Paula Wolfert suggests, makes a wonderfully flavored, silky base. But precooked frozen chickpeas, simmered briefly with garlic in their broth, will make excellent leblebi, flavored with homemade h’rous and sprinkled with Aegean herb and hot pepper mix.”

    Take a look at Aglaia Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts.

    RECIPE: TUNISIAN CHICKPEA SOUP (LEBLEBI)

    A note about the chickpeas: Don’t use them from a can, as easy as it is. Cooking them from scratch makes a huge difference. You can make them ahead of time, refrigerate, and reheat them when you want to serve your soup.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

       

    tunisian-chickpea-soup-leblebi-MediterraneanVegetarianFeasts-abrams-230r-r

    Eat more beans and legumes for the new year. They’re high quality, inexpensive protein. Photo courtesy Stewart, Tabori and Chang.

  • ½ pound (225 g) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight in water to cover with a pinch of baking soda added
  • 2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth or water, plus more as needed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Toppings Per Person

  • 1 poached egg*
  • ½ cup (about 50 g) cubed day-old, whole-wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon harissa, thinned with some water
  • 1 sun-dried tomato, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and drained
  • Diced roasted red or green bell peppers (optional)
  • 1 pinch of ground cumin
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 black olives, preferably Kalamata
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • Good, fruity olive oil
  • 1 lemon wedge
  •  
    *If you don’t like runny poached eggs, substitute chopped or sliced hard-boiled eggs.

     

    Mediterranean-Vegetarian-Feasts-230

    More ways to eat the better-for-you Mediterranean diet. Photo courtesy Stewart, Tabori and Chang.

     

    GARNISHES

    Let people customize their soup garnishes. Select a variety from the following, and place them in ramekins or small bowls:

  • Canned tuna fish, flaked
  • Coarse sea salt or flaked salt
  • Croutons/crostini
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Green and red bell peppers, chopped
  • Lemon wedges
  • Pickled turnips
  • Preserved lemons, sliced
  • Scallions, thinly sliced
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 225°F (110°C). Drain the soaked chickpeas and place them in a clay casserole with a lid (a Dutch oven will work, too). Add the broth, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste, and extra broth as needed to cover the chickpeas by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover, and place in the oven for at least 3 hours, until the chickpeas are soft and silky. (Note from Rancho Gordo: “Our chickpeas are so fresh, it may not take anywhere near this long to cook. Check frequently after about an hour.”)

    You can make the soup up to this point and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you are ready to serve…

    2. REHEAT the chickpeas in their liquid while you poach the eggs. You should have one egg for each bowl of soup.

    3. POACH the eggs with this method from Paula Wolfert: Fill a bowl with ice water. In a pan of boiling water, add the eggs, still in their shells. Cover with the lid and turn off the heat. After 6 minutes, slip the eggs into the ice water to cool. Once they are cool, peel them carefully.

    4. PLACE a few cubes of bread in the bottom of a bowl and cover with some of the chickpeas and their cooking liquid. Set an egg on top and cut it so that the yolk runs. Drizzle some harissa over the top, add sun-dried tomato and roasted pepper (if using), and sprinkle with the cumin and black pepper. Top with olives and capers. Drizzle good, fruity olive oil on top and squeeze the lemon wedge over the soup. Repeat for each serving.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Switch To Olive Oil

    Here’s a New Year’s resolution that isn’t tough to keep: Switch from olive oil to butter for your everyday fat.

    You’ve been hearing it for 10 years: olive oil is a heart healthy fat. Here’s what the Harvard School Of Public Health has to say:

    It’s time to end the low-fat myth. That’s because the percentage of calories from fat that you eat, whether high or low, isn’t really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat.

  • Choose foods with healthy fats, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid foods with trans fat.
  • “Good” fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower disease risk. Foods high in good fats include vegetable oils (such as olive, canola, sunflower, soy, and corn), nuts, seeds and fish.
  • “Bad” fats—saturated and, especially, trans fats—increase disease risk. Foods high in bad fats include red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream, as well as processed foods made with trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil.
  • And if you have lactose sensitivity, remember that butter is dairy.

       

    Olive_Oil_vs_Butter_Olive-OilEmporium-230

    The choice is yours, but make the right choice. Photo courtesy Olive Oil Emporium.

     

    In 2004, the FDA allowed this health claim:

    “Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.”

    Last year, researchers at Glasgow University in Scotland suggested that two teaspoons (20 ml) per day of extra virgin olive oil for 6 weeks “would be enough to see beneficial effects for the heart.”

     

    olive-oil-bread-loaf-flavoryourlife-230

    Dip bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter. Use a more flavorful EVOO, and add seasonings—herbs, pepper, salt, spices—as well as a splash of balsamic vinegar if you like. Photo courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

     

    NUTRITIONAL COMPARISON: OLIVE OIL VS. BUTTER

  • Butter: 100 calories per tablespoon, 12 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 3 grams monounsaturated fat. 31mg cholesterol, 82 mg sodium.
  • Olive Oil: 120 calories per tablespoon, 14 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fats, 12 grams healthy fats, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium.
  •  
    Breads, eggs, grains, meat and poultry, popcorn and just about anything cooked with butter can all be cooked in, or accented with, heart-healthy oils instead.

    If you miss the flavor of butter, transition away from it by cooking in oil and finishing the dish by adding a small amount of butter at the end.

    You don’t need to cook with extra virgin olive oil: The heat destroys the delicate flavors that you pay for. Instead of EVOO, look to virgin olive oil or what is known as ordinary olive oil—the major supermarket brands like Bertolli and Filippo Berio. Here are the different grades of olive oil.

    Do, however, use EVOO as a garnish: toss it with pasta, rice and vegetables; use it as a bread dipper. Select olive oils with the flavor profile you prefer—fruity, herbal, peppery, etc. (Alas, since flavor information is rarely on the label, you need to experiment or get recommendations from your retailer.)

    Use the appropriate grade of olive oil for different types of food preparation.

     

    WHAT ABOUT BAKING?

    We use butter for cakes and cookies, because our palate wants butteriness in those foods. But, as everyone who follows the cake mix directions to mix the dry ingredients with olive oil, oils work just fine. Unless you want the flavor of olive oil (Italian olive oil cakes are delicious!), use a neutral oil like canola.

    While you won’t get buttery flavor with oil, it does produce a moist cake, which tends to be be lighter and taller than a cake made with butter. The texture is is a bit more coarse and the crumb is more open (less dense).

    Butter produces shorter, more compact cakes, with a finer texture and a smaller crumb due. The texture will be a bit creamier, and of course it sports that rich, buttery taste.

    Here’s a conversion chart for baking, courtesy of Castillo de Piñar, which has many tips for cooking with olive oil:
    butter-olive-oil-conversion-chart-castillodepinar

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Find Healthier Versions Of Your Favorite Recipes

    skinny-enchiladas-deniseaustin-230

    Skinny enchiladas: great flavor with lower calories and cholesterol. Photo courtesy Denise Austin.

     

    As we were writing this, we heard two television newscasters discussing their diet resolutions for 2015.

    “I lasted five minutes into the Rose Bowl,” said one. “I made it to yesterday [January 2nd]”, said the other.

    Sure, it’s tough to diet. But on a daily basis, it’s easy to downsize the calories and saturated fat. If you must have Fettuccine Alfredo or cheesecake, look for Cooking Light-style alternatives to your favorite dishes, from Fettuccine Alfredo to cheesecake.

    Here are two Mexican favorites “downsized’ by health and fitness expert Denise Austin, who debuted a new online diet and fitness program this month. Try them, and if they please your palate, look for more “skinny” versions.

    RECIPE: DENISE’S SKINNY ENCHILADAS

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder (use half ancho chili powder for a smokier flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cooked skinless boneless chicken breast, shredded
  • 3 cups loosely packed spinach, roughly chopped
  • 8 organic corn tortillas
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with oil spray.

    2. HEAT the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and very soft, about 7 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth, and salt and cook until hot, 3 to 5 minutes.

    3. RESERVE 3/4 cup of the sauce. Add the chicken and spinach to the remaining sauce and cook until the spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

    4. WRAP the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 30 to 60 seconds to heat through.

    5. DIVIDE the chicken filling evenly between the 8 tortillas. Roll the tortillas and arrange them seam sides down in the baking dish. Spread the reserved 3/4 cup sauce evenly over the tortillas and top with the cheese. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and broil the top for 3 to 5 minutes to brown the cheese.

    6. TOP each serving (2 enchiladas) with 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt and scallions.

    Calories per serving: 510.

     

    RECIPE: DENISE’S SKINNY NACHOS WITH VEGETARIAN CHILI

    Ingredients

  • 20 organic corn tortilla chips (if following gluten-free diet, check label to ensure chips are gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato
  • 2 tablespoons sliced black olives
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 cups vegetarian chili
  •  
    For The Vegetarian Chili

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  •  

    healthy-nacho-sandwiches-deniseaustin

    Skinny nachos amp up the flavor with spices. Photo courtesy Denise Austin.

  • 1 cup cooked black, pinto, or red kidney beans (if using canned, choose no-salt-added or low-sodium beans and rinse and drain well before use)
  •  

    Preparation: Nachos

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

    2. ARRANGE the tortilla chips in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is just melted.

    3. SPRINKLE the tomato, olives, and scallion evenly over the nachos. Divide into 2 equal portions and serve each portion with 2 cups Vegetarian Chili topped with 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt.

     

    Preparation: Chili

    1. HEAT the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.

    2. ADD the onions, carrot, cilantro, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir well and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.

    3. ADD the tomato juice and beans. Simmer for 10 minutes.

    Calories per serving: 430.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Something From This Healthy Food “Hot List”

    Chipotle-RedQuinoa-tuna-2-BumbleBee-230

    A tuna salad with quinoa. Photo courtesy Bumble Bee.

     

    How many trending foods did you try—or adopt—in 2014?

    Acccording to MyFitnessPal, a calorie counter app, the food trends sought by its users last year are predicative of what will continue to be hot and healthful in 2015.

    Their data showed that it was not the year of kale, as much as it was the year of Brussels sprouts—with food entries up a whopping 224% in 2014.

    Here are the top trending foods going into the new year, based on what the app users logged in 2014 over 2013:

  • Brussels sprouts: up 224%. More about Brussels sprouts.
  • Matcha green tea: up 66%
  • Chia seeds: up 52%. More about chia.
  • Kale: up 50%. More about kale.
  • Kombucha tea: 38%. More about kombucha.
  • Quinoa: up 30%. More about quinoa.
  • Coconut water: up 17%. More about coconut water.
  •  

    So make this food resolution: Whatever you haven’t yet tried on the list, do so before the end of January.

     
      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spread

    Following on the heels of the burgeoning Greek yogurt market, ready-to-eat yogurt dips and spreads are finally raising their hands.

    While some people like to putter over dips and spreads, making their favorite recipe or seeing what new flavors they can add to cream cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, others like to grab and something already made. We belong to both groups, depending on how hungry we are at the moment.

    For the latter group, Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads will be welcome. The product’s stated goal is “to raise the bar in the retail cream cheese category with superior flavors, functionality and nutrition.”

    The brand differentiates itself by promoting its healthy probiotics (or “good bacteria”) and their calcium-rich yogurt spreads as “the new cream cheese.”

    It is spreadable, like cream cheese. It’s also dippable.

    Compared to the leading cream cheese (that’s you, Philadelphia), Blue Isle has nearly 40% fewer calories and fat, with only 60 calories and 6g of fat per two-tablespoon serving. Like Philadelphia, it is certified kosher by OU. The company says that Blue Isle contains 180% less sodium per serving than the leading cream cheese. Who knew cream cheese was salty?

    Blue Isle is available in savory and sweet flavors:

  • Blueberry
  • French Onion
  • Honey
  • Original
  • Spicy Vegetable
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    blue-isle-yogurt-spread-stack-230

    The new spread in town, made from probiotic Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy Karoun Dairies.

     

    In its debut year, Blue Isle Original won the 1st Place award from the American Cheese Society in the Labneh, Greek Style Yogurt, and Other Strained Yogurt Products category. It is made by family-owned Karoun Dairies.

     

    blue-isle-yogurt-spread-crudites-230

    While developed as a spread, Blue Isle is easily dippable. Photo courtesy Karoun Dairies.

     

    We enjoyed all of the flavors, alternately spreading them on bagels and using them to dip crudités. The sweet and savory flavors—a opposed to the plain Original—were equally beguiling. We look forward to experimenting with canapés and dessert canapes (using our Stackable Appetizer Maker device, loaf cakes with Honey Blue Isle and raspberry jam were a good start).

    Made from rBST-free California milk, you can:

  • Spread it on bagels, flatbread and toast
  • Blend it into deviled eggs and mashed potatoes
  • Thicken or garnish soup
  • Use it as a sandwich condiment
  •  

    The line is available at better supermarkets and natural food stores nationwide (partial list: Central Market, Fiesta Mart, Fred Meyer, The Fresh Market, Harmon’s, H-E-B, Jon’s Marketplace, Lucky’s, Mollie Stones, New Seasons, QFC, Strack and Van Til).

    The suggested retail price is $3.29 for an 8-ounce tub.

    Discover more at BlueIsleSpread.com.

     

      

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    NEW YEAR: Consider Better-For-You Resolutions

    Before making New Year’s resolutions, plan ahead. Start by reminding yourself that the stats are bleak. Some surveys indicate that only 8% of people who set New Year’s resolutions stick to them.

    In a recent poll conducted by ORC International for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Americans said that some of the more challenging resolutions to keep include:

  • Losing a significant amount of weight, or approximately 30+ pounds (86% of responders)
  • Going to the gym regularly, or approximately 3+ times per week (68%)
  • Giving up dessert completely (66%)
  •  
    Rather than going all-in with high-demand resolutions, set smaller, more realistic goals for yourself, say the experts. Poll respondents indicated that the following resolutions are easier to stick to:

  • Spending more time with family (79%)
  • Eating more healthy foods (72%)
  • Paying off credit cards (52%)
  •    

    skim-plus-half-gallon-230

    A “super” skim milk tastes like 2%, but still has 0A% fat. Photo courtesy Farmland Dairy.

     

    Case in point: We’d resolved to lose weight every year for decades. Like most inveterate dieters, sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t; but it always found its way back.

    Twelve years ago, we switched our strategy to healthier eating. Each year, we resolved to make one better-for-you switch. And it’s easy!

    Our switches to date follow, with the disclaimer: We’d never hold ourself up as a paragon of good eating. Our job is to taste lots of food, including the sugar laden and the fat laden. But we do feel good that we’ve made one of these swaps every year, and have never once felt deprived.

     

    whole-wheat-everything-bagel-230

    Whole wheat instead of refined white flour is another easy switch. We love a Whole Wheat Everything bagel. Photo courtesy Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company.

     
  • Bloody Marys, Martinis or on the rocks drinks for sweet cocktails. After we realized the sugar levels in most cocktails, we’d rather have ice cream and drink alcohol with no sugar added.
  • Brown rice for white rice. We’re big sushi eaters, and try to patronize restaurants that offer the brown rice option.
  • Cheese for cheese less often. We had a daily craving for fine cheese, and we could eat half a pound at a sitting, eight times the recommended portion, eight times the calories and cholesterol. We had no interest in reduced-fat cheeses. Instead, we opted for a “eat all the cheese you want” day once a month.
  • Club soda for diet soda. After reading scientific studies on the impact of artificial sweeteners on the endocrine system, we bought a SodaStream and drink lots of club soda with wedges of citrus.
  • Fish and tofu for red meat. We made this choice not because of cholesterol, but to do our small part to save the environment from the ravages of raising meat.
  • Fresh fruit every day. It really helps cut down on the yen for cookies and other processed sugar. In the winter months, there are plenty of apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and strawberries. In the summer months, we revel in the explosion of choices.
  •  

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream. We had a bad sour cream habit—we could eat it from the container with a big spoon. Now, we eat plain Greek yogurt and use it instead of sour cream—with cottage cheese and other foods. It’s so thick that we even use it as a bread spread, instead of cream cheese.
  • Oatmeal and other whole grain cereals. So long, Corn Flakes and Snap, Crackle and Pop. Our breakfast cereals now focus on whole grain oatmeal and Cheerios. (We discovered that, while corn is a whole grain, the manufacturing process used to make Corn Flakes over-processes the corn to the point where little fiber is left.) A trick for enjoying our favorite oatmeal, steel cut oats, daily: Instead of spending 30 minutes stirring every day, cook a large batch on Sunday and reheat a portion each morning.
  • Olive oil instead of butter. From sautéeing to bread dipper, heart-healthy olive oil is our go-to fat. We did compromise on baking, however. We love the buttery taste of olive oil in brownies, cookies and cakes. On the other hand, an Italian-style olive oil cake works.
  • Salad every day, no matter what. We love a big salad, but some days our food journey doesn’t lead us to one. We now have a Plan B: Snacks of crudités (raw vegetables). It’s easy to carry baby carrots around, and we pay extra for ready-to-eat broccoli and cauliflower florets so we have no excuse.
  • “Super skim milk” for regular skim, 1%, 2% or whole milk. We can drink two glasses of milk a day. We got rid of the whole milk and the half and half for “super” skim milk, a premium variety that removes more of the water so that the 0% fat milk actually resembles 2% (and has more protein as a result). Our local Farmland Dairy makes Skim Plus brand, which became so popular that it is now also made in variations with added Omega 3 or added fiber.
  • Whole wheat for white flour. Whether in bread, bagels or pasta, this was a surprisingly easy switch. We only miss the taste of white flour in pizza crusts, and pizza isn’t something we eat often.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rich Hot Chocolate With Fewer Calories

    valrhona-hot-chocolate-dolcezzagelato-230

    Just a few sips hit the spot. Photo courtesy Dolcezza Gelato.

     

    The headline is a bit of a tease, because the way to enjoy rich hot chocolate, laden with cream, is to have it in an espresso cup.

    A mug’s worth can be 600 calories or more. If you’re holding a cup with 12 ounces of delicious, high-calorie chocolate, you’ll finish it.

    So take this tip from Dolcezza Gelato in Washington, D.C.: Enjoy two ounces in an espresso cup.
     
    RECIPE: RICH HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE

    The keys to rich hot chocolate are a rich chocolate bar and cream or half-and-half in addition to the milk. Cocoa powder adds extra chocolatey flavor.

    If you don’t have heavy cream, use light cream, half-and-half or milk with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter.

     
    Thanks to Art Pollard of Amano Chocolate for this recipe.

    Ingredients Per Cup

  • 2 ounces quality chocolate bar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon premium Dutch process cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk plus
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 2 to 3 ounces of chocolate in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Chop into the size of chips.

    2. ADD sugar and cocoa powder, as well as a few grains of salt. Cover; process in ten second “bursts” at high speed just until finely ground (a few larger chunks of chocolate are O.K.).

    3. HEAT milk and cream in a small, nonreactive saucepan. Stir frequently with a small whisk, until the mixture is steaming hot.

    4. ADD the chocolate mixture. Whisk in well until dissolved. Serve immediately, preferably garnished with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Yields one large or two more reasonable servings.

     
    MORE LUSCIOUS HOT CHOCOLATE

  • The Best Hot Chocolate & Cocoa Mixes: our reviews.
  • The history of hot chocolate
  • The difference between cocoa and hot chocolate
  •   

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