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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Grandma Hoerner’s Apple Pouches

Grandma Hoerner’s is a company that makes Big Slice Apples, one of our favorite new snacks and toppings.

Big Slice Apples were first cooked in Grandma Hoerner’s farm kitchen in Kansas in the late 1800s, made from apples straight from the orchard.

Grandson, Duane McCoy, rcalling the wonderful big slices of cooked apples from his youth, could find no commercial product like it. In 1987, after experimenting to replicate her recipe, he was ready to bring them to the world.

Big Slice Juicy Cooked Apples may be the best apple “sauce” you can buy. Thick slices of kettle-cooked apples resting in an a sauce made from reduced apple juice.

It is the way it was originally made with big slices of fresh apples, slow cooked, with only natural ingredients added. These are chunky apples that can be eaten with a fork, although a spoon will do.

The Big Apple Slices are all natural, non-GMO, HFCS free and slow cooked, using domestic apples—just as Grandma Hoerner made them. They are both a luxurious dessert or topping and a healthful grab-and-go snack—a great source of vitamin C and naturally gluten free.

The product, originally (and still) sold in 19.5-ounce jars, is now available in grab-and-go pouches—lots of them—in 4.5-ounce portions, 80 to 90 calories depending on flavor, for $2.50. We found 16-packs on Amazon, but not on the Grandma Hoerner’s website.

Three flavor lines focus on flavor profiles:

  • Pure Line, simply flavored: Apricot, Blueberry Pomegranate, Chai, Cherry Vanilla, Natural, Orange Ginger
  • Fit Line, with added nutrition: Banana, Mango & Hemp Seed; Peach, Green Tea & Aloe; Honey Berry Chia; Pineapple, Passion Fruit & Fiber, Raspberry Hibiscus & Green Coffee Extract
  • Luxe Line, with indulgent additions: Boysenberry Chocolate, Caramel, Cinnamon Candy, Cinnamon French Toast, Peach Bellini
    The only challenge is where to begin. We received samples of each flavor, and can’t decide what to re-order. We may have to proceed alphabetically!

    For starters, here’s how we enjoyed the different Big Slice flavors:

  • Breakfast: with cottage cheese, French toast, omelets, porridge, toast, yogurt, pancakes, waffles
  • Lunch & Dinner: as a condiment or side with fried chicken, ham, pork, turkey
  • Dessert: crêpes, ice cream/sorbet, parfait, pound or angel cake, tartlet shells
  • Snack: straight from the pouch, on a rice cake

    Grandma Hoerner's Big Slice Apples

    Pancakes With Grandma Hoerner's Apples

    Big Slice On Yogurt

    [1] A great grab-and-go snack. [2] A topping for pancakes and other breakfast foods. [3] A yogurt mix-in or topping (photos courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).


    Apple Tartlets

    [4] Time for dessert or company for tea? Fill tartlet shells for dessert (photo courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).



    The pouches are available at Costco, H -E-B, Hy-Vee. Kowalski’s, Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix, Sprouts, Whole Foods Market, and more than 7,000 food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.

    You can buy them online at and in multipacks at

    A portion of the purchase to the A Sparkle Life, a non-profit organization aiding women in need.





    PRODUCT: Justin’s Peanut Butter & Banana Chips Snack Packs

    How do you enjoy bananas as a better-for-you snack?

    From the peel? With PB? On your cereal? With yogurt? As snack chips? On PB sandwich?

    Justin’s has created a new way: a better-for-you grab-and-go snack that combines Justin’s artisan peanut butter and organic bananas chips.

  • Justin’s Original Peanut Butter + Banana Chips Snack Packs
  • Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter + Banana Chips Snack Packs
    They’re the world’s first all-in-one, non-perishable fruit and nut butter pairing.

    Toss them in briefcases, cars, desk drawers, handbags, gym bags, lockers, lunch bags, pockets and tote bags.

    The new Snack Packs are:

  • All natural.
  • Convenient/shelf stable.
  • Dippable (no plate or utensils required).
  • Energy Giving.
  • Filling.
  • Fiber (3g).
  • Filling.
  • Gluten Free.
  • Kosher (OU).
  • Made to Matter* (handpicked by Target).
  • Non-GMO.
  • Portable.
  • Potassium-rich (200mg).
  • Protein (5-6g).

  • The Original Peanut Butter is 200 calories, 140 from fat.
  • The Honey Peanut Butter is 210 calories, 150 from fat.
    See the section below on peanut butter healthfuliness†.

    The snacks with banana chips join Justin’s nut butter and pretzel snacks:

  • Classic Almond Butter + Pretzels Snack Packs
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Butter + Pretzels Snack Packs
  • Honey Almond Butter + Pretzels Snack Packs
  • Maple Almond Butter + Pretzels Snack Packs


    Justin's Peanut Butter With Bananas

    Justin's Honey Peanut Butter Jar

    [1] Toss a Snack Pack anywhere. [2] A jar of Justin’s Peanut Butter, which is scooped into the Snack Packs. Photos courtesy Justin’s.

    *Target’s Made To Matter program brings together 20 purpose-driven brands to make natural, organic and sustainable products more accessible to consumers. The products meet at least one of these five criteria: reduced waste and packaging, reduced sugar, dietary and allergen restrictions, clean label products and closed loop systems.

    †Editor’s Note: People are healthy; products are healthful.

    Doesn’t it have saturated fat?

    Here’s an abridged response from Walter C. Willett, M.D., Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health

    The presence of saturated fat doesn’t automatically kick a food into the “unhealthy” camp. Olive oil, wheat germ, and even tofu [are healthy foods that] have some saturated fat. It’s the whole package of nutrients, not just one or two, that determines how good a particular food is for health.

    Let’s take a look at the peanut butter [fat] package. One serving (about 2 tablespoons) has 3.3 grams of saturated fat and 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, or about 80% unsaturated fat. That puts it up there with olive oil in terms of the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat.

    (Justin’s Snack Packs have a bit less than 2 tablespoons of PB. Here’s more on the different types of fats and how good they are for you.)

    Peanut butter also gives you some fiber, some vitamins and minerals (including 200 milligrams of potassium), and other nutrients. Salted peanut butter still has about twice as much potassium as sodium. That profile compares quite favorably with bologna, roast beef, and many other sandwich fixings [unsalted PB is even better].

    Over the years, numerous studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who rarely eat nuts.

    Saturated fat isn’t the deadly toxin it is sometimes made out to be. The body’s response to saturated fat in food is to increase the amounts of both harmful LDL and protective HDL in circulation. In moderation, some saturated fat is okay. Eating a lot of it, though, promotes artery-clogging atherosclerosis, the process that underlies most cardiovascular disease. In contrast, unsaturated fats, which make up the majority of the fat content in peanut butter, help reduce LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.

    In other words, as with most things, enjoy it in moderation.



    FOOD FUN: Savory Mashed Potato Waffles

    Mashed Potato Waffles Recipe

    Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa

    Top: Turn leftover mashed potatoes into waffles for breakfast or brunch (photo Idaho Potato Commission. Bottom: Top the waffles with salsa, syrup or this pineapple-jalapeno salsa recipe from Whole Foods Markets.


    What to do with leftover mashed potatoes? You can heat them up, make Shepherd’s Pie, or whip up these Mashed Potato Waffles for breakfast or brunch.

    This recipe, from the Idaho Potato Commission, was This was created as a vegan recipe. We used conventional buttermilk (homemade!), cheese and eggs. could be sweet instead of savory, but savory waffles with garlic, cheese and scallions are a nice change of pace. It can also be used with mashed sweet potatoes.

    We served them with a side of Applegate sausage and a baby arugula and spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup vegan buttermilk (see Step 1) or regular buttermilk
  • 2 egg replacers* or two large eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes†
  • 3 tablespoons chopped scallions or chives (omit if your mashed potatoes already have herbs or onions)
  • ½ cup shredded vegan or regular cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon garlic powder†
  • 1 cup all-purpose or gluten free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: vegan or regular breakfast meat
    For The Garnish

  • Vegan or regular sour cream
  • Chopped chives, scallions, parsley
    Optional Condiments

  • Chutney
  • Maple syrup
  • Salsa

    1. MAKE the vegan buttermilk. Combine ¼ cup non-dairy milk with ¼ teaspoon lemon juice; allow to sit for 15 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the waffle maker and grease it with cooking spray.

    3. WHISK together the oil, vegan buttermilk and egg replacer, in a large bowl. Stir in the mashed potatoes, scallions and cheese until well-combined. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder, if using.

    4. WHISK together in a small bowl the baking powder and baking soda. Fold the flour mixture into the potato mixture until well-combined.

    5. SCOOP 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the mixture (depending on the size of your waffle maker) into the prepared waffle maker, spreading it into an even layer. The potato mixture will not spread or expand as much as a regular waffle, so take care to spread it evenly.) Close the lid and let the waffle bake until golden brown.

    6. REPEAT with the remaining potato mixture. NOTE: If the waffle is too wet, add more flour to the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time until you get a doughy consistency.

    7. TOP the waffles with vegan sour cream, garnish and serve.

    *The Idaho Potato Commission recommends Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg. You can also use EnerG or make your own: For the equivalent of one egg, combine 1 tablespoon ground chia/flax seed mixed with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Allow to thicken.

    †If your mashed potatoes are plain, add in 1 teaspoon powdered garlic as well as salt and pepper, to taste.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Vietnamese Cabbage Slaw, a.k.a. Cole Slaw

    Asian Slaw

    Classic Cole Slaw

    Red Boat Fish Sauce

    Top: Vietnamese slaw, made with a fish sauce-accented vinaigrette. Center: Conventional American cole slaw with mayonnaise (photo courtesy Blu Restaurant | NYC). Bottom: Vietnamese fish sauce (photo courtesy Red Boat).


    So many slaws, so little time! On summer weekends, we try different slaw recipes and different potato salads.

    When made without mayonnaise, cole slaw is a very low calorie food, and cabbage is an antioxidant-packed cruciferous vegetable. That’s what you’ll find in the Asian-style slaw recipe below.

    Today’s tip also highlights a relatively unfamiliar ingredient to Americans, fish sauce. But first:

    Long part of the culinary repertoire, “koolsla,” short for “koolsalade,” means cabbage salad in Dutch; Dutch travelers to the New World made the dish with local cabbage. Instead of being torn into bite-size pieces like lettuce salad, the cabbage was thinly sliced or shredded.

    Cabbage, the “kool,” is pronounced “cole.” “Sla” is short for “salade.” The term got anglicized in the 18th century as cole slaw (and sometimes, cold slaw).

    In English, “slaw” came to specify a salad of shredded vegetables. Over time, shredded cabbage slaw was joined by carrot slaw and more recently, broccoli slaw and shaved Brussels sprouts slaw.

    Called nam pla in Thai and nuoc mam (“salted fish water”) in Vietnamese, fish sauce is an amber-hued condiment prepared from fermented anchovies and salt. An umami flavor lauded as “the fifth taste” after sweet, sour, bitter and salty, fish sauce is a major ingredient and condiment in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.

    Numerous brands are imported to the U.S., including Red Boat Fish Sauce.
    Umami, The Fifth Taste

    Fish sauce provides a flavor known as umami, often explained as savory or brothy.

    We consume “umami foods” every day: anchovy paste, asparagus, beef stew, bouillon, cured ham, ketchup, lamb shank, miso sauce and soup, MSG, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, ripe and sun-dried tomatoes, soy sauce, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce, among others.
    European Garum & Colatura Di Alici

    Umami and fish sauce are also part of Western culture. Beginning in Greece and appearing in nearly every ancient Roman recipe as early as the 7th and 8th centuries B.C.E., garum, a fermented fish sauce, was the universal condiment used to add flavor to food.

    As ketchup (and more lately, hot sauce) is to American fare, as soy sauce is to Chinese cuisine, the favorite condiment in ancient Rome was garum, an anchovy sauce. It involved into colatura di alici, juice of anchovies, still popular in Italy. It’s also called anchovy sauce or anchovy syrup; the latter is inaccurate, as a syrup is a thick, viscous liquid.

    As strange as “anchovy juice” may sound, colatura is an aromatic condiment that enhances any dish, adding flavor without fuss.

    Ask any great Italian chef, and you’ll probably find that colatura di alibi is their secret ingredient. Chef Lidia Bastianich uses a touch of colatura instead of salt.

    Colatura (the word comes from the Latin colare, to strain) is made by curing anchovies with salt and extracting the free-run liquid that drains from them. It’s a laborious and painstaking process to create a truly artisan food. Different brands are imported from Italy.

    Things came full circle in the 19th century when a British sea captain Henry Lewis Edwardes (1788–1866) brought the recipe for a fish sauce condiment home after travels in India. It somehow got to John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, two dispensing chemists (pharmacists) in Worcester, England, who created the first “umami sauce” (Worcestershire Sauce) sold commercially in England, in 1837.

    Here are more uses for fish sauce, colatura di alici, or whatever you choose to call it.



    This recipe was created by Gail Simmons for Pure Leaf Tea. She pairs it with Sweet Honey Green Pure Leaf. We paired it with Unsweetened Green and Unsweetened Lemon Flavor Pure Leaf.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Dressing

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
    For The Slaw

  • 1/2 head small red cabbage
  • 1/2 head small Napa cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 4 radishes
  • 2 mini seedless cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples
  • Garnish: ¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds

    1. MAKE the dressing so the shallots have time to marinate. Whisk the ingredients except the shallots in a large mixing bowl. Then add the shallots and set aside.

    2. FINELY SLICE the cabbages, radishes and cucumbers using a mandolin or a food processor with the slicer and grater attachments. Grate the carrots and separate the cilantro leaves.


    Asian Cabbage Slaw

    Apple-Infused Coleslaw in a Jar-nestle-230

    Top: Thai Cabbage Slaw. You can add an optional peanut garnish (photo courtesy, which added coconut). Bottom: Use your Mason jars to serve slaw (photo courtesy Nestle).

    3. CORE the apples and finely slice them into thin half–moons. Place everything into the mixing bowl with the dressing and toss together well. When ready to serve, top with the peanuts and extra cilantro leaves.

  • Apple Cole Slaw With Lemon Ginger Yogurt Dressing
  • BLT Slaw
  • Dijon-Vanilla Broccoli Slaw
  • Pear & Cabbage Slaw


    TIP OF THE DAY: Rice Paper For Fun Food & Serious Food

    Shrimp Summer Rolls

    Summer Rolls


    Rice Paper For Spring Rolls

    Top: Vietnamese Summer rolls with shrimp (here’s the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Second: Vietnamese Spring Rolls with added fruit (photo California Strawberry Commission). Third: Rice paper wrappers (photo © Denzel Green | Bottom: Traditional packaging (photo Three Ladies Brand).



    Rice paper is a name for everything different products, including edible paper and decorative papers, including wallpaper. The edible kind, made from rice flour, is the white, translucent wrapper used for Vietnamese spring and summer rolls, chilled and raw or fried and hot. They can be used to wrap savory or sweet ingredients—or a combination.

    Here’s more about rice paper from

    Beyond traditional spring and summer rolls rolls (here’s the difference between spring rolls and summer rolls), you can make lots of fusion food. Some of the uses we’ve tried:

  • Asian ravioli (i.e., dumplings) with an Asian sauce or an Italian sauce (pesto or olive oil).
  • Baked salmon in “parchment” (the rice paper becomes “edible parchment”—recipe).
  • Gluten-free lasagna.
  • “Leftovers” rolls: proteins, noodles/pasta, salmon usually) and soba noodles, raw or cooked vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, etc.
  • Salad rolls/crudité rolls, with your favorite raw veggies.
  • Wrap “sandwiches”: curried chicken salad, smoked salmon, tuna salad, BLT (bacon, butter lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes).
    Some supermarkets carry rice paper in the Asian products aisle; or get them from an Asian grocer or online. They may be called spring roll wrappers or spring roll skins.


    This is a fun dish made by each person at the table, like Moo Shoo Pork. We first had it at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris in our late teens, and it was love at first bite: grilled beef and fresh mint wrapped in butter lettuce leaves with condiments.

    We’ve since added rice paper for do-it-yourself spring rolls. You can make them vegetarian or add a grilled protein of choice.

    Set the table with ingredients of choice. You can use them all (we do) or make a selection of five or so.

  • Basil or cilantro, freshly minced or shredded
  • Butter lettuce leaves
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Chiles, thinly sliced
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Cucumber, julienned
  • Fresh fruit: mango, blueberries, strawberries, apple
  • Fresh mint sprigs (substitute basil leaves)
  • Daikon, shredded
  • Green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • Protein: grilled beef or tuna slices, shrimp, crab, etc.
  • Red cabbage, shredded or made into slaw with Asian vinaigrette*
  • Rice noodle vermicelli, cooked
  • Rice paper wrappers with bowls of warm water
  • Optional: Asian chili sauce, sambal olek†, watercress or baby arugula, whatever appeals to you

  • Dipping sauce: choose from Nuoc Mam Cham (recipe below), peanut sauce, chimichurri sauce (especially with grilled proteins), Asian-style vinaigrette†, or other sauce of choice.
    *Asian vinaigrette: For 1/2 cup, combine 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 cup olive oil or other salad oil, 1/2 teaspoon dark/toasted sesame oil, 1/2 small garlic clove finely grated. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and/or grated lime zest.

    †You can make your own sambal olek simply by grinding chiles with water to form a paste. We used a mortar and pestle.



    Nuoc cham is Vietnamese for “dipping sauce.” Nuoc mam cham is specifically a fish sauce-based dipping sauce.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye chile†, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    †Bird’s eye is a very hot chile, 100,000 ~ 225,000 Scoville Heat Units. You can substitute the less hot jalapeño or serrano—pick the smallest ones. (See the different types of chiles.)


    Whether you have kids or a sense of whimsy, this Hummus and Crudités “Clock” is a fun and good-for-you snack (photo above).

    We adapted the idea from a photo on the Tio Gazpacho Facebook page, and created the face of the clock from hummus.

  • Rice paper sheets
  • Hummus (flavor of choice)
  • Cucumbers, sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Scallion tops
  • Optional garnish: minced parsley

    Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

    Top: Nuoc mam cham sauce (photo and recipe variation from Bottom: Hummus “clock” on rice paper (photo Tio Gazpacho | Facebook).


    1. SOFTEN the rice papers according to package directions. Spread with hummus and place on a plate. (It’s difficult to make a perfectly round clock face, so the we use the rice paper for a clean look).

    2. ADD the crudités as shown in the photo to make the face of the clock.

    3. SPRINKLE the the rest of the plate with minced parsley if you need to “fill out the plate.”



    TIP OF THE DAY: Stovetop Kabobs In A Cast Iron Pan

    Who needs a grill to make kabobs?

    With the recipe below from Good Eggs, you can make delicious and healthful kabobs on the stovetop, using a cast iron pan to char the meat. A hot cast iron pan yields all of the smoky flavor of a grill—and a lot more.


    Cast iron vessels have been used for two thousand years. The first known use was during the Han Dynasty in China, 206– 220 C.E.

    Cast iron cookware was prized for its durability and ability to retain heat—a challenge when cooking in a hearth or an even iffier open fire (the kitchen stove was not created until the mid-19th century).

    The original cast-iron vessels were cauldrons and pots. The flat cast iron skillet as we know it appeared in the late 19th century.

    While cast iron cookware was popular among home cooks during the first half of the 20th century—along with affordable aluminum and expensive copper—the second half led to stainless steel, less durable and flexible but more attractive.

    Even more attractive and less durable was the pricier enamel-coated cast iron, like Le Creuset (the enamel coating will chip if dropped and can’t be repaired).

    Nonstick, easy to clean Teflon-coated cookware became the choice of housewives beginning in the late 1960s, although cast iron, copper and stainless continued to be used in professional kitchens.

    Here’s a longer history of cookware, which began with animal hides in prehistoric times.

    And they’ll endure forever. Ours was purchased by our grandmother in the 1920s! Today, a 15-inch cast iron skillet, large enough for steaks and chops, is $40.

    Cast iron skillets are available from the petite (6 inches in diameter) to the jumbo (17 inches). Lodge, a top producer of cast-iron cookware, sells them in one-inch increments (6, 7, 8, 9, etc). Lodge-brand pans, our favorites, are pre-seasoned and ready-to-use, eliminating the main objection to buying cast iron.

    In addition to a lifetime of service for an affordable buy-in, cast iron:

    Skillet Cookbook

    Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

    Top: A cast iron skillet is the beginning of a cooking odyssey. Three cookbooks from Lodge are also a good start. Bottom: A 15-inch cast iron skillet from Lodge Manufacturing in Tennessee. A line with beautiful craftsmanship, it is the only cast iron cookware manufacturer still in the U.S.

  • Delivers the best heat distribution, which is why it’s the choice of professional chefs. The ability of cast iron to withstand and maintain very high cooking temperatures makes it best for searing or frying. Using cast iron ensures that there’s no “hot spot” on the pan, when some of the food cooks faster, overcooking or burning it before the rest of the contents are ready.
  • Versatility: Excellent heat retention makes cast iron preferable for braises, stews and other long-cooking, as well as quick-cooking dishes like eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. Before there was bakeware, cast iron skillets were used to make breads, cakes, cobblers, pies, and so forth.
  • Is a “grill” for apartment dwellers, providing char, smoky flavor and a perfect crust on fish and meat.
  • Is nonstick after seasoning. Seasoning must be done before first using the cookware, to create a nonstick surface and prevent rust. It is the process of covering the cooking surface with vegetable oil and baking it at 250°F for 90 minutes. When the pan cools down, the oil is wiped off. After each use, the pan is not washed, but wiped. While this is very easy to do, the concept is foreign to many modern cooks, who therefore avoid cast iron.
  • Can be heated beyond 500°F, the limit of stainless steel. Campfire temperatures average 1,571°F.
  • Provides great performance at a low price for a long time. You can cook anything in it, and it goes from stovetop to oven. If a minuscule amount of iron leaches into your food, that’s a good thing—like taking an iron supplement.

    Chicken Yogurt Kabobs Recipe

    Spring Red Onions

    Top: Healthful and delicious: yogurt-marinated chicken kabobs with charred vegetables. Bottom: Spring red onions. Spring onions are immature onions, harvested early. If left in the ground, these would grow into conventional red onions. You are more likely to find white spring onions, but Good Eggs specializes in fine produce. Photos courtesy GoodEggs.



    Feast on tender chicken and charred vegetables. Prep time is just 20 minutes, and you can marinate the chicken overnight. This dish pairs well with a side of grains—ideally whole grains (barley, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, etc.), but is fine with good old, less nutritious white rice.
    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

    For The Chicken & Marinade

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2” cubes
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Optional: pinch cayenne or other heat
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Bamboo skewers*
    For The Charred Vegetables

    Three of the four vegetables here are spring vegetables. You can substitute any veggies you like.

  • 1 bunch spring onions†, roots and outer layer pared away
  • 1 bunch carrots, peeled and (if larger) halved
  • 1 pound whole fava beans, rinsed
  • ¼ pounds ramps (wild leeks), greens intact but roots pared away
    *If you don’t have skewers, you can cook the chicken pieces without them.

    †Spring onions are not the same as green onions (a.k.a. scallions). Spring onions are immature onions, harvested early in the season. They are milder than regular onions. You can substitute sweet onions or shallots.(



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Place the bamboo skewers in a large bowl of water and soak for 5 minutes. (Or cook the chicken without skewers. It will taste the same, but skewers are a more special presentation.) Mix the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, add the chicken and toss to combine.

    2. THREAD five cubes onto each skewer. You can do this in advance and store the prepped kebabs in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

    3. HEAT a large cast-iron skillet, then add enough two tablespoons of olive oil, or as much as you need browning. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 2 minutes per side; then place the entire pan into the oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F. Remove the kebabs from the skillet and set aside.

    4. HEAT a second large pan (or wipe the first pan clean), adding the olive oil when the pan is very hot. Add the vegetables in one layer without crowding (cook in two batches if necessary). Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. When the vegetables are a bit tender, very browned and (hopefully) a bit charred, remove them from the pan. Dress with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, and serve alongside the kabobs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Delicious Ways To Eat More Grains & Legumes

    Grilled Vegetables On Bean Puree

    Poached Egg On A Bed Of Beans

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/black eyed peas collards goodeggs 230rsq

    Top: Bean purée topped with grilled vegetables and aged balsamic, as a starter or vegetarian main (photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine). Center: Try poached or fried eggs on a bed of beans or lentils; here, kidney beans and diced sweet potato (photo courtesy U.S. Dry Bean Council). Bottom: Ham with black-eyed peas and collards (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF).


    Head to any fine-casual dining spot and the menu is sure to include quinoa, other whole grains (barley, buckwheat, bulgur, farrow) and often, bean and lentil dishes.

    While consumers increasingly respond to these healthful alternatives when dining out, many of us still aren’t in the groove of serving them at home. Some people do their best to put nutritious meals on the table, while others have to default to convenience.

    But with some easy planning, you can have both deliciousness and healthfulness: Just about every grain and legume can be prepared in an hour or two on the weekend, and heated up as needed.

    Grains and legumes have also been turned into convenience. You can buy them frozen or in boil bags, and boil or microwave them. As with the frozen vegetables, enjoy the same nutrition.

    And all of us should now know how to season better with herbs and spices, instead of the salt and pepper shakers of yore.

    Since the dawn of personal wealth, meat has been a sign of prosperity. Diets of mostly grains, beans and vegetables were fare for the less prosperous.

    Whereas in other cultures meat—especially beef—remains a luxury, the U.S. has always had enough grazing land to produce large quantities of it. Quantity drove down prices, and a result, people ate more meat. In fact, many families could eat it at every meal, starting with breakfast meats.

    As a result, the grains and legumes that still comprise a major part of other cuisines were passed over in favor of meat-and-starch diet: bacon or sausage at breakfast, a ham or roast beef sandwich for lunch, beef, chicken or pork for dinner.

    Our eating habits grew out of balance. Case in point:

    Spaghetti and [large] meatballs that are a signature “Italian” dish are actually Italian-American. It doesn’t exist in classic Italian cuisine. Few people in the old country could afford large amounts of meat on a regular basis—but working-class immigrants to the U.S. could.

    Americans eat too much processed food (and too much meat) and not nearly enough whole food. This is one reason why we have growing rates of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and gastrointestinal disorders like constipation.

    While selling the general public on whole grains and legumes as “healthful” isn’t the best marketing approach for many consumers, “delicious” usually works. And truth to tell, it is easy to make these foods taste delicious.

    There’s an easy solution below. But first…


    Whole grain are cereals with that have their germ, endosperm and bran intact, in contrast to refined grains which retain only the endosperm, and thus tend to retain little nutritional value after being processed.
    Whole grains contain far more fiber than heavily-processed grains. They also provide protein, iron and other minerals, even some trace minerals (chromium, copper, molybdenum, selenium, etc). Their valuable phytonutrients (antioxidants) are removed in the refining process.

    There’s overwhelming evidence that a diet including a sufficient quantity of whole grains can result in a healthier, and therefore better, life. The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains per day. It doesn’t matter if the grains are cooked ass is or ground into flour: Corn on the cob is a whole grain food, as are cornbread and polenta, made from cornmeal (corn flour).

    The choice boils down to this: Eat refined white flour and white rice, or switch to better-for-you whole grains from the chart below. You can snack on potato chips, or switch to whole grain snacks like popcorn and whole-grain pretzels. (Note: “multigrain” is not “whole grain”: It can indicate a combination of two or more refined grains.)

    Here’s more about whole grains.

    List Of Whole Grains



    Legumes are plants that contain their fruits in pods. They are generally low in fat, high in protein and full of fiber and other nutrients (calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, etc.).

    Examples include all forms of dried seeds, beans and peas, such as chickpeas, navy beans, soybeans, black beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas.

    Among other things, legumes can help prevent blood sugar spikes. They help to lower cholesterol and contribute to gastrointestinal well-being. The USDA recommends that individuals consume three servings of whole grains each day—about half of your total grain intake—and about half a cup of legumes daily.

    They can be easily substituted for pasta, white rice and potatoes.


    In our youth, one of the women’s magazines our mother bought had a meal calendar for the month: literally, a monthly calendar page with a suggested dinner menu for every day.

    The meals were very varied—beyond the meat and potatoes that were popular at the time—and the dishes easy to make. As kids, we delighted in selecting which Birdseye frozen vegetables would be served at dinner.

    But the point is the planning. If you take one of the wall calendars you picked up at the bank, you can write in a whole grain and/or legume for every day of the month. Then, implementing is easy.

    Here are just a few ideas that can be incorporated into your everyday meals:

  • Burgers: There are delicious veggie burgers made with beans. Don’t knock them until you’ve tried them—and serve them on whole grain buns.
  • Bread: Buy whole wheat bread or oatmeal bread, including bagels.
  • Eggs: Add beans to an omelet or a scramble, or serve a side of well-seasoned beans with the eggs.
  • Hummus: In addition to dipping and snacking, use hummus or bean purée as a bread spread instead of butter, and as a sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise.
  • Meat loaf: Make your meat loaf with a 3:1 ratio of ground meat to cooked whole grains or legumes. (We love Lentil Meat Loaf.)
  • Mexican/Tex-Mex: Use corn tortillas instead of white flour tortillas. The same goes for wrap sandwiches. Serve brown rice and puréed beans as rice-and-beans sides with non-Mexican mains.

    Barley Side

    Bean Tostada

    Red Rice Thai Croquettes

    Top: A side of barley, sugar snap peas and sundries tomatoes (All-Clad pot from Williams-Sonoma). Center: Make bean tostadas for lunch or snacks (photo courtesy U.S. Dry Bean Council). Bottom: Red Rice Thai Croquettes (photo courtesy

  • Oats beyond porridge: Add rolled oats to muffins, pie crusts and cookies. Instead of conventional chocolate chip cookies, make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Pan-fry leftover oatmeal and serve it plain like polenta (with maple syrup or grated cheese), or with eggs. You can also whip up a large batch of oatmeal on the weekend and heat up your daily breakfast.
  • Pasta: Use whole wheat pasta instead of refined white flour pasta. If you don’t like the more pronounced flavor, combine half whole wheat pasta and half white flour pasta.
  • Pizza: Use chickpea flour (gluten free) or whole wheat flour instead of white flour—or buy whole grain pizza dough—for homemade pizza crusts. Purée white beans—cannellini, great northern or navy beans—as a pizza topping instead of tomato sauce, and top with roasted vegetables and mozzarella cheese.
  • Potatoes: Instead of potatoes on most nights, cut back to four nights a week and serve whole grains or legumes on the other nights. You may find yourself happily planning more nights of the better-for-you options.
  • Rice: Beyond brown rice, there are other good-for-you whole ready-to-heat-and-eat grains on the store shelves and in the freezer case. If you’ve never had wild rice, what a treat-well worth the extra time (and higher cost) to prepare it.
  • Salads: Add barley, beans (including edamame) or wheatberries to green salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Snacks: Substitute popcorn or roasted chickpeas for potato chips and other “empty calorie” snack foods. Buy bags of frozen edamame in the pods, microwave them and serve as them with a sprinkle of coarse salt for a yummy snack (it’s fun to squeeze the beans from the pods). And for a sophisticated snack, make bruschetta or crostini with cooked beans and/or bean purée and a garnish of fresh herbs.
  • Soups: Enjoy more bean or lentil soup, and add beans, lentils or whole grains to other soups.
    We know you’ll have even more ideas!
    This article was inspired by one in the health newsletter.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Riced Cauliflower, Cauliflower Rice

    Cauliflower Risotto

    Cauliflower Rice

    Flavored Cauliflower Rice

    Top: No rice involved—this mushroom “risotto” was made by from riced cauliflower. Here’s the recipe. Center: JoyLoop brand is sold at Good Eggs | San Francisco, perhaps the most wonderful food purveyor in the U.S. Bottom: In the U.K., sells plain cauliflower rice, plus Indian, Mediterranean and Thai flavors.


    Cauliflower rice, also called cauliflower couscous, is poised for fame. There’s no actual rice involved; it’s a grain-free rice substitute made from cauliflower, that can be used in just about every rice recipe from plain boiled to fried rice to risotto.

    Cauliflower rice—cauliflower chopped in a ricer, became popular with the Paleo Diet, and it is takes time to make it from scratch.

    Fortunately, the Paleo Diet is making people more aware of it, and small producers have begun to cut and package it. It can be found minced or pulverized, fresh and frozen.

    Who invented cauliflower rice? There may be several different “inventors” who first pulverized a head of cauliflower. The Italian supplier who makes other cauliflower products for Trader Joe’s ended up with lots of leftover florets and trim. Rather than toss them, Trader Joe’s says, “We put our heads together and came up with a new product made from this extra cauliflower.”

    Cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse, a “superfood,” a term that evaluates foods based on their calorie density vis-a-vis their amount/types of nutrients. A member of the Brassica family, it is rich in immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C (also an antioxidant). It is low in calories and low on the Glycemic Index (GI). But there’s more:

  • Cauliflower contains more vitamin C per 100g than an orange.
  • It has a range of protective plant compounds (the antioxidants quercetin, beta carotene and caffeic acid) that help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, a key risk factor for cancer.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and helps to alleviate symptoms of other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
  • Its sulphur compounds support detoxification in the liver, and promote levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • As with cauliflower mashed potatoes, you can pass it off to kids and adult finicky eaters as regular rice.

    Now here’s the rub: Cauliflower rice is not yet available as widely as it should be. But it’s poised for fame and on its way: We recently spoke with a specialty food manufacturer who will be bringing it to market soon. In the interim:


  • Trader Joe’s imports it frozen from Italy. It was so popular that as of this writing, it is sold out and the retailer is waiting for a new shipment.
  • Joyloop Foods, in greater San Franciso, sells to some California retailers and online.
  • Paleo On The Go, a meal delivery service, packages it and sells it on Amazon.
  • You can buy Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles in a Steam In Pack. Although the crumbles are larger than riced cauliflower, you can cook them al dente and rice them.
    And of course, you can make your own from a head of cauliflower.
    *Brassica is the plant genus of cruciferous vegetables, nutritional powerhouses packed with potent, cancer-fighting phytonutrients (antioxidants). They include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others.



    Cauliflower rice can be buttered, sauced or otherwise made more flavorful by adding vegetables, herbs and/or spices. This recipe, from, advises that homemade versions will taste more strongly of cauliflower and less like actual rice, but we have no issue with the homemade “rice.” Light seasoning, butter, etc. will mask any subtle cauliflower flavor.

    Prep time is 10 minutes.
    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper and/or other seasonings (herbs, spices)
  • Optional: cooking oil
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Food processor with an “S” blade, or a hand grater

    1. WASH the cauliflower and remove any leaves. Remove the main stem and set it aside for another purpose†. The fine stems that hold the florettes together need not be removed.

    2. CUT or break the florettes into chunks so they better fit into your food processor. Attach the ‘S’ blade and place the florettes into the processor bowl. Pulse until the cauliflower is the texture of couscous (course grains) or until all large lumps disappear. Do not over-process, as this will result in mushy cauliflower rice when cooked. If you have a particularly large cauliflower, or a small processor or hand grater, you may have to do this in batches.

    3. MICROWAVE for 3 minutes. Microwaving retains more moisture than dry-frying or oven baking, and is CauliRice’s preferred method. Place the cauliflower rice into a microwave-safe dish. Add a teaspoon of water—no more, or the cauliflower rice will become too wet. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid. Cook for 3 minutes at 900 watts.

    4. LEAVE the cauliflower rice covered, and let it stand for another 2-3 minutes. It will continue cooking in its own heat. Add seasoning to taste and serve.


    Cauliflower Rice

    Trader Joe's Cauliflower Rice

    Top: Homemade cauliflower rice from Here’s their recipe and a video. Bottom: Cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s.

    †You can steam and slice or purée it, finely dice or slice and add to salads, add to soups and stews, etc. You can also stick it in the freezer and decide later.


    1. HEAT a tablespoon of your preferred cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the cauliflower bits and spread evenly across the base of the pan. Cover the pan and cook for approximately 7-8 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. If you prefer a less crispy cauliflower rice, add a tablespoon of water to the pan about halfway through cooking—but be sure to cook this added moisture off before serving.

    2. Add seasoning to taste, and serve.

    Oven cooking produces a drier, crunchier cauliflower rice that some people prefer, although it gives a less rice-like effect.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Spread the cauliflower pieces evenly across a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the cauliflower every 5 minutes or so.

    2. REMOVE from the oven, add seasoning to taste and serve.



    RECIPE: Creamed Spinach Without The Cream

    March 26th is National Spinach Day, honoring the most iron-rich vegetable, the reason Popeye was strong to the finish. Many people name Creamed Spinach as their favorite way to enjoy the vegetable—along with a juicy steak. It’s a steakhouse staple.

    To help tone down the richness a bit, some steakhouses are making their Creamed Spinach without cream. Chicken stock, flour and butter are substituted for the heavy cream or cream cheese.

    Executive Chef Eddie Advilyi from Angus Club Steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan is one of the steakhouse chefs turning out Creamless Creamed Spinach (we’ve also had the dish at Benjamin Steakhouse). Chef Eddie shares his recipe with us:


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound chopped spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base*
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (substitute black pepper)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup of melted butter
    *Chicken base is a highly concentrated stock available in powder or cube form.


    1. BOIL or steam the chopped spinach and drain well.

    2. ADD the other ingredients. Mix until it becomes creamy, about 5 minutes.

  • Pxali, Georgian spinach dip with walnuts
  • Savory Spinach Bread Pudding
  • Spanakoita, Greek spinach pie
  • Spinach & Artichoke Dip
  • Spinach & Grapefruit Salad
  • 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip
  • Warm Spinach Mascarpone Dip

    Creamless Creamed Spinach

    Ribeye, Creamed Spinach

    Fresh Spinach

    Top: Creamless Creamed Spinach at Benjamin Steakhouse. Center: Ribeye steak with Creamless Creamed Spinach at Angus Club Steakhouse. Bottom: Fresh spinach from Good Eggs.


    Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), is native to central and western Asia (think ancient Persia). It is a member of the botanical family Amaranthaceae, which also includes amaranth, beet, chard, lamb’s quarters (mache) and quinoa, plus numerous flowering house and garden plants.

    At some point, spinach was introduced to India and subsequently to Nepal. It arrived in China around 647 C.E., where it was known as “Persian vegetable.”

    It became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean, and in 827 was brought to Italy by the Saracens. It arrived in Spain by the latter part of the 12th century, and in Germany by the 13th century.

    Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century and quickly became popular because it could be harvested in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce.

    Spinach was supposedly the favorite vegetable of Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589), wife of King Henry II of France. Dishes served on a bed of spinach are known as “Florentine” after her birthplace, Florence. Florentine dishes are sometimes served with Mornay sauce, a béchamel sauce with cheese (usually Gruyère and Parmesan).



    PRODUCT: Boulder Canyon Potato Chips With Healthier Oils

    March 14th was National Potato Chip Day, a good time to focus on what’s new in chips. We spent the day tasting Boulder Canyon chips fried in 100% better-for-you oils: avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil:

  • Avocado Oil Chips: Canyon Cut, Jalapeno, Malt Vinegar & Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
  • Coconut Oil Chips: Kettle Chips, Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil Chips: Canyon Cut,
    They are variously made in standard cut kettle chips or “Canyon Cut,” with ridges. The potato chips are thicker (less breakage), very crisp, much less greasy and lower in sodium. We couldn’t stop crunching away.

    Find a retailer near you.


    Mass-market brands use different oils to fry their chips: canola, corn, cottonseed, sunflower or soybean oil, depending on price and availability. These are O.K., but are not better-for-you oils.

  • If you care about genetically modified foods, be aware that canola, corn, cottonseed and soybean oils are often made from them.
  • Sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E antioxidants, but it’s also high in inflammatory compounds.
    On the other hand, avocado, coconut and olive oils are among the healthiest oils you can use.

    Yes, some of Boulder Canyon’s other chips use sunflower and/or safflower oil, but the new specialty oil chips are for consumers who care about the difference.

    The entire Boulder Canyon line is:

  • Certified gluten free
  • Non GMO
  • No MSG
  • No Trans Fat
  • Certified Kosher (by OK)
  • No Cholesterol
  • Low Sodium
  • Vegan

    Boulder Canyon Olive Oil Chips

    Boulder Canyon Coconut Oil Chips

    Olive oil and coconut oil, two of the three better for you oils used by Boulder Canyon potato chips. Photos courtesy Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods.



    Since its inception in 1994, Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods has focused on premium snacks sold through the natural foods channel, where consumers were looking healthier alternatives to traditional snacks.

    The ingredients are top quality, non-GMO and minimally processed. The chips are cooked in small batches, in kettles instead of mammoth factory vats.

    A good community citizen, the company offsets 100% of its energy usage with Renewable Energy Credits. The purchase prevents as many as 3,421,989 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere annually.

    The company also participates in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, with a certification audit that the corrugated cardboard packaging used to transport and store products meets the standards of the Initiative.

    Here’s more about Boulder Canyon Foods.



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