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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Biotta Organic Juices & More Good-For-You Foods

Biotta Organic Juice

[1] Biotta, king of bottled organic juices, is available in 10 flavors (photo courtesy Biotta).

Pete & Gerry's Organic Hard Boiled Eggs
[2] An egg-cellent grab-and-go snack from Pete & Gerry’s.

Tsamma Watermelon Juices

[3] Tasty, hydrating watermelon juice Photo courtesy Tsamma Juice | AJC.

 

This edition of Top Pick Of The Week contains the tastiest good-for-you products. Our Top Pick, Biotta Organic Juices, is joined by two other favorites-of-the-week.

1. BIOTTA ORGANIC JUICES

Juicing is hot, but you don’t have to go to a juice bar for a satisfying, healthful glass of vegetable or fruit juice.

Biotta Juices, imported from Switzerland, raise the juice bar about as high as it can go. An early organic producer—since 1957—they make juices that are beyond delicious. They’re exciting, vibrant and organic to boot.

How do they get those delicious flavors?

  • Field-ripened produce is carefully harvested, and minimal processing ensures that the juices’ natural minerals and vitamins are left intact.
  • Biotta goes to great measures in the crushing of the fruit and vegetables to ensure that the most nutrients go into the juices.
  • And, of course, the juices are 100% pure juice, “from field to bottle.”
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    Each of the juices offers different health and nutrition benefits. The line includes:

  • Apple Ginger Beet Juice
  • Beet Juice
  • Breuss, a blend of beet, carrot, celery root, potato and radish juices, recommended by The Breuss Cancer Cure
  • Carrot Juice
  • Celery Root Juice
  • Elderberry Juice
  • Mountain Cranberry Juice
  • Sauerkraut Juice
  • Tart Cherry Juice
  • Vegetable Juice
  •  
    These juices are more than just sippers. You can cook with them, make ice cream and sorbet, turn them into kickin’ cocktails, use them as gazpacho or fruit soup bases.

    Beetroot Martini? You can keep it organic with the fine organic gin and vodka from the Organic Spirits Company.

    Frozen yogurt pops? Yes, and you won’t believe how good beet and carrot yogurt pops are.

    The line is certified USDA organic, vegan and Non-GMO Project Verified. It is available at retailers nationwide and online. See more at BiottaJuices.com.
     
     
    2. PETE & GERRY’S ORGANIC HARD-BOILED EGGS

    Should your eggs come from small family farms, or from faceless factory farms, asks Pete & Gerry’s.

    These fourth-generation family farmers have been selling high-quality organic eggs for more than 60 years. As pioneers of humane and environmentally sustainable egg production, Pete & Gerry’s produced many of the first organic and free-range eggs available in supermarkets. They were the first Certified Humane egg farm in the country.

     
    The hens, and their eggs, are free of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, GMO feed or animal byproducts. So these eggs not only taste good: They make you feel good. No hens were mistreated, crammed into cages or onto barn floors so crowded that they can’t move.

    To make their quality eggs available more widely, Pete & Gerry’s joined with some 45 other independent, small family farms that produce eggs to their specifications. The network of farms span seven states, with more to come. The commitment is to stay small.

    Products include dozens and half dozens cartons of eggs, liquid egg whites, and the latest: Hard Boiled, Peeled and Ready to Eat packs.

    The latter are great grab-and-go snacks, halved or quartered into salads, sliced onto sandwiches or chopped into egg salad.

    Learn more at PeteAndGerrys.com.
     
     
    3. TSAMMA WATERMELON JUICE

    Some 12 years ago, we were madly in love with Sundia Watermelon Juice, liquid watermelon in a bottle. When the line was discontinued, we scoured markets for a replacement.

    That’s because it takes a pound of watermelon to make 12 ounces of watermelon juice. Our small kitchen has no space for a juicer.

    But other brands didn’t taste pure, like Sundia. They tasted like Jolly Rancher. Some brands include the bottom white portion and rind, which are nutritious but add unwanted flavor components. Heartbroken, we couldn’t even finish the bottles.

    A new entry has cheered us: Tsamma Watermelon Juice. The name pays homage to the Tsamma melon, a variety was first cultivated in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, “the ancient ancestor of all watermelon varieties.” Tsamma juices are made of good old American watermelons, but the name stands out.

    The brand offers pure watermelon juice and a watermelon-coconut water blend.

    Watermelon juice is packed with nutrition:

  • Lycopene for the heart, skin and cancer prevention.
  • Other flavonoids and carotenoids that fight inflammation.
  • Citrulline for better blood flow.
  • Lots of vitamin C, plus beta-carotene (that is converted into vitamin A).
  •  
    As with Biotta juices, you can use Tsamma in cocktails and other recipes, and freeze it into ice pops. Discover more at TsammaJuice.com.

    The line is certified kosher by Star K.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: National Hummus Day: Try A New Brand!

    Hope Black Garlic Hummus

    Salad-Topped Hummus

    Chocolate Hummus

    [1] Black Garlic, one of 11 delicious flavors of Hope Hummus (photo courtesy Hope Foods). [2] One of our favorite ways to serve hummus: topped with salad ingredients and, as a lunch dish, with a hard-boied egg (photo courtesy Shayla | NOLA). [3] Woo hoo, chocolate hummus (photo courtesy Hope Foods).

     

    May 13th is International Hummus Day.

    Over the last two decades, hummus has evolved from a mezze at Mediterranean restaurants to the hottest, most nutritious dip and spread at supermarkets nationwide. It’s the darling of nutritionists, nutritious and versatile, and a better-for-you snack.

    Hummus is Arabic for chickpea. The more long-form name for what we refer to as hummus is hummus bi tahina, chickpeas with tahini. Tahini is a paste made of toasted, hulled sesame seeds, which can been joyed as a dip on its own.

    The recipe for hummus is simple: chickpeas, tahini and seasonings (including garlic), mashed and puréed*.

    THE HUMMUS RENAISSANCE

    Two decades ago, the hummus available in the U.S. was the classic: plain. If you didn’t order it at a restaurant or live near a neighborhood with an international market that carried it, you made your own the recipe is easy, once you found a store with tahini).

    But since the hummus renaissance, stores have been sagging under the weight of so many brands and so many flavors. We’ve counted more than two dozen flavors among different brands. Our personal favorites: horseradish and black olive, which we found at Trader Joe’s.

    But, we like everything. So we were very pleased to receive samples of a new brand from Hope Foods. If you head to the website now, you can enter to win a year’s supply of hummus.

    HOPE FOODS ORGANIC HUMMUS

    There are 11 flavors of hummus. We tried three of them, all especially delicious.

    First, the consistency is wonderful, like well-mashed homemade hummus.

    While we enjoy the ultra-smooth texture of big brands like Tribe, we welcome the return of toothsome texture, like Grandma used to make (if your grandma’s ancestry was in the eastern Mediterranean).

    Second, the flavor selection is a bit more interesting, with black garlic, Thai coconut curry, and spicy avocado hummus (the most popular flavor).

    The line is preservative free, certified Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Certified, OU kosher and USDA Organic. There’s a store locator on the website.

    HOPE HUMMUS FLAVORS

    Currently, the line of hummus includes:

  • Black Garlic Hummus
  • Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus
  • Kale Pesto Hummus
  • Lemon Peppercorn Hummus
  • Original Recipe Hummus (nice and peppery)
  • Red Pepper Hummus
  • Spicy Avocado Hummus
  • Sriracha Hummus
  • Thai Coconut Curry Hummus
  • Plus, Dessert Hummus

  • Dark Chocolate Hummus
  • Dark Chocolate Coconut Hummus
  •  
    While we haven’t had Hope’s chocolate hummus, we have had other brands: Thumbs up!

    The company also makes guacamole, which we have not yet tried.

    “Spread” the word!
    ________________

    *Some brands also add olive oil.

     

    THE HISTORY OF HUMMUS

    Chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic have been eaten in the Levant† for millennia. Though widely consumed, chickpeas were cooked in stews and other hot dishes. Puréed chickpeas eaten cold with tahini do not appear before the Abbasid period (750 to 1517 C.E.) in Egypt and the Levant.

    The earliest known recipes for a dish similar to hummus bi tahina are in 13th-century cookbooks from Cairo.

    Some food historians believe it appeared a century earlier, prepared by Saladin, the first sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty (1174–1193); and if so, it was more likely created by a cook in his kitchen, the idea of the warlord Saladin-as-cook being tough to swallow.

    Recipes for cold purée of chickpeas without tahini, but with vinegar, oil, pickled lemons, herbs, spices (but no garlic), appear in medieval cookbooks; as do recipes with nuts vinegar (though not lemon), but it also contains many spices, herbs, and nuts. [source]

    Whomever and however, we’re grateful that it came to be part of our [almost] daily diet,

    ________________

    †The Levant is an English term that first appeared in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.
    ________________

    WHAT IS/ARE MEZZE?

    Mezze (MEH-zay) or meze is the singular form for a number of small dishes served in the Middle East to accompany drinks (add an “s” for the plural form in English). In some countries, an assorted mezze plate is served as an appetizer.

    Each country has its favorites. The ones most often found in the U.S. are:

     

    Mezze Platter

    Hummus Platter

    [4] A mezze plate in California: babaganoush, feta, hummus, olives, pita and a local touch, pickled carrots (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [5] Hummus itself is gluten-free, but not the pita. This gluten-free hummus plate from Glutino Foods offers other options.

  • Babaghanoush, mashed eggplant mixed with seasonings.
  • Dolmades can take many forms. In the U.S., they’re usually Greek-style: grape leaves stuffed with rice, chopped mint and lemon juice (these are also called sarma). In some countries, eggplants, peppers and zucchini are stuffed, often with the same ingredients plus minced lamb.
  • Falafel, a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.
  • Fattoush – salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread.
  • Feta cheese or other local cheese.
  • Halloumi cheese, sliced and grilled.
  • Hummus, a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas.
  • Kibbeh, a mixture of bulghur, minced onions, finely chopped meat, and spices. Depending on the region, it is shaped into balls or patties and fried, baked, cooked in broth, or served raw (tartare).
  • Souvlaki, bite-sized lamb cubes, grilled on a skewer.
  • Labneh, strained yogurt that is more tart, like sour cream.
  • Tabbouleh, bulgur wheat, finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, green onion, with lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings.
  • Taramasalata, a carp roe dip based whipped with lemon juice and olive oil. Sometimes, mashed potatoes or bread are added to stretch the recipe. We buy the Krinos brand, which does not add fillers.
  • Tzatziki, a dip made from plain yogurt, chopped cucumber with finely chopped garlic and mint leaf.
  • Yogurt.
  •  
    They are typically served along with Greek-style olives and pita, or other flatbread.

    MORE HUMMUS

  • Beyond Dipping: More Ways To enjoy Hummus
  • Black Garlic Hummus Recipe
  • Carrot Hummus Recipe
  • Hummus Sushi
  • Make Your Signature Hummus
  • Rancho Gordo Hummus Recipe
  • Turn Plain Hummus Into Flavored Hummus
  • 20 Ways To Make A Hummus Sandwich
  •   

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    TRIVIA: National Egg Month

    May is National Egg Month, a time for some consciousness-raising.

    We look for Certified Humane eggs and don’t mind paying the premium for them. You’ve no doubt heard the horror stories of mass egg production.

    We buy from Pete and Gerry’s whenever we can: eggs produced on small family farms with a commitment to the humane treatment of the chickens.

    Pete & Gerry’s eggs are also USDA Organic, OU kosher and B-Corporation Certified: committed to sustainability.

    They shared these fowl facts with us:

  • There’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. The color of the egg is actually determined by the color of the hen!
  • Young hens produce smaller eggs. The medium-size eggs come from pullets, hens that are less than a year old.
  • The smaller the egg, the thicker the shell. This makes them easier to crack (no fragments to fish out) and, for hard-boiled eggs, easier to peel.
  • What creates a double yolk? In a young hen that is just learning how to lay eggs, two eggs merged before the shell was formed.
  • All eggs aren’t equally flavorful. Aside from freshness (e.g., farmers market eggs), the tastiest eggs come from free-range hens they have real access to grass, where they can peck for worms and other insects that contribute to the flavor.
  • Fresh water, the space to roost and access to earth so they can dust-bathe are also essential. Cage-free and conventional hens spend their lives crammed together indoors. Cage-free hens aren’t confined to sit in a tiny cage, but are crammed onto the floor of a building with no room to move.
  • What’s the deal with cholesterol? In the 1980s, news warned against the consumption of eggs for people with high cholesterol. But the new news is, research has returned to the side of egg consumption. Don’t steer clear of eggs because of cholesterol. (If you have an issue, consult with your healthcare provider).
  •  
    That’s good news, because…

  • The egg is a nutritional powerhouse, with 7 grams of high-quality protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, including the disease-fighting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and the macro-ingredient choline. Yes, there are 5 grams of fat, but only 1.6 grams are saturated fat (types of fat). And all for just 75-78 calories per large egg.
  • The sell-by date, is not the expiration date. The eggs should be edible for a 3-4 weeks after that date. If you’re not sure an egg is still good, crack it. Your nose will perceive an unpleasant odor if the egg is no good.
  •  

    Natural Hens' Eggs Colors

    Tufted Araucana Chicken

    These eggs are all natural in color. The colors come from different breeds of hens. Those breeds don’t produce eggs as economically as breeds that produce white and brown eggs, so they are not sold commercially, except by some farm stands (photo courtesy The Egg Farm). [2] This tufted arcauna chicken, originally from South America, lays pale blue eggs (photo courtesy Awesome Araucana.

     
    Now for the fun trivia:

  • Why are eggs sold by the dozen? In England and other European countries from as early as the 700s and continuing until around 1960, the Imperial Unit System was used. There were twelve pennies to a shilling, which meant that an egg could be sold for a penny, or a dozen eggs could be sold for a shilling, with no change-making required.
  • By the Elizabethan period (1550-1600), selling eggs by the dozen was the standard practice. The English who emigrated to North America brought the system with them. Other countries have their own standards.
  • The world’s largest egg was laid in England in 2010, measuring a hefty 9.1 inches in diameter (photo).
  • The average American eats 250 eggs per year. If you eat a three-egg omelet every morning, so that means roughly 1,095 eggs per year .
  •  
    TIPS

  • To crack an egg: The best technique is to tap it on the counter, not on the rim of the bowl. You’ll avoid fragments, splinters, or whatever you call those exasperating little pieces that drop into the bowl.
  • To check if an egg is fresh or stale, raw or hard boiled: Just spin the egg on the counter. If it wobbles, it’s raw. If it spins easily, it’s hard boiled. A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float.
  • Egg sandwiches: A fried egg sandwich with bacon was popular in our youth. These days, one of our go-to quick meals for breakfast, lunch or light dinner is a sliced hard-boiled egg sandwich on rye toast. We buy the eggs pre-boiled and peeled (a great time saver!) and use an ever-changing variety of seasonal fixings (a favorite: roasted red pepper (pimento) with baby arugula) and mayo flavors. For weekend brunch: a slice of smoked salmon.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS

    If you think of eggs as either white or brown, check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary. There are 10 choices in chicken eggs alone!
     
    SOME EGG-CELLENT LINKS

  • Egg Salad Recipes & The History Of Egg Salad
  • How To Make The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Egg Nutrition
  • Quail Egg Recipes
  •   

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    PRODUCT UPDATES

    blue-diamond-sriracha-230

    FSTG_bean-chips-generalmills-230

    TOP PHOTO: Almonds with a sriracha kick.
    Photo courtesy Blue Diamond. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Bean & Tortilla Chips from Food
    Should Taste Good.

     

    Brands we enjoy and have previously reviewed are busy launching new lines. Here’s what we tasted lately.

    BLUE DIAMOND BOLD SRIRACHA ALMONDS

    Companies that have jumped on the “hot” bandwagon have figured out how to make products hot enough to please hotties, but not so hot that they loses sales from the other segments.

    These “bold” roasted almonds are delightful, and not as intense as the can indicates, or we would not have been able to eat them (medium salsa is the hottest we go).

    Consider them as stocking stuffers. Almonds are a healthful nut, so this is a guilt-free snack. The line is certified kosher by OK. More information.
     
    FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD BEAN CHIPS

    Our favorite line of tortilla chips, known for deftly combining other foods with corn-based tortilla chips, is now adding beans to the mix.

    Food Should Taste Good Black Bean Chips and Pinto Bean Chips combine nutritious, fiber-filled beans to deliver real bean flavors.

    Food Should Taste Good Bean Chips are gluten free, have zero grams trans-fat and are certified kosher by OU. More information.

    We must shout out to the line of tortilla chips in flavors galore. Beyond Cantina chips, there are Cheddar, Falafel, Guacamole, Harvest Pumpkin, Jalapeño, Jalapeño With Cheddar, Kettle Corn, Lime, Multigrain, Olive, Sweet Potato, The Works and White Cheddar.

    Love those chips!

     

     

    NASOYA CHIPOTLE BAKED TOFU

    Who says tofu isn’t flavorful? Nasoya, the country’s largest producer of tofu, has added a new flavor to its line of TofuBaked.

    Chipotle TofuBaked is ready to eat, sliced cold into salads or sandwiches, or heated for scrambles, omelets and Tex-Mex favorites (burritos, fajitas, tacos). Recipes on the website include Seven Layer Chipotle Dip, Southwest Breakfast Bake and Chipotle Tortilla Soup.

    We’re also fans of Ginger TofuBaked.

    The product is USDA certified organic and certified kosher by Star K.

    More information.
     
    POPCHIPS CRAZY HOT

    Quite hot, if not crazy hot, these chips are also quite tart, with as much vinegar as heat.

    In addition to red chili pepper flavor, there are hints of Cheddar cheese. We think it’s a winner for hot stuff lovers.

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K and certified gluten free. More information.
     
    RUNA ICED TEA

    Runa Clean Energy has no sugar added iced teas, which, thanks to the guayusa from which the tea is brewed, has a natural sweetness as well.

    The line is certified kosher by OU, Fair Trade Certified and a Certified B Corporation.

    In 8.4-ounce/250 ml cans, flavors include Berry, Orange Passion and Original. More information.

     

    chipotle-tofu-nasoya-230

    popchips-crazy-hot copy-230

    TOP PHOTO: Spicy tofu, ready to eat from Nasoya. BOTTOM PHOTO: More hot stuff, this time in crunchy potato chips from Popchips .

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Way To Eat Whole Grains

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/guac sandwich yvonne triedandtasty 230

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    Top: Doesn’t this look so much better
    than white bread? Photo courtesy
    Tried And Tasty via Dave’s Killer Bread.
    Bottom: Photo courtesy Dave’s Killer Bread.

     

    September is Whole Grains Month. Why whole grains? You need the fiber no matter your age, what shape you’re in (here’s why you need whole grains).

    When you tell people they need to add more fiber to their diet via whole grains, you get push back. We understand: We, too prefer the taste of white-flour pancakes, pasta and pizza crust to whole grain versions.

    But bread? Did you ever meet a piece of bread you didn’t like? That’s why you should make a small switch to whole grain bread.

    Sandwiches and toast are just as delicious with whole wheat bread. And if you use Dave’s Killer Bread, they are resplendent!

    So today’s tip is: Stop buying white bread for sandwiches and toast, and try all the whole grain versions available to you.

    Our favorite is Dave’s Killer Bread, available in 14 different loaf varieties plus hamburger and hot dog buns. There’s also a better-for-you cinnamon roll. It’s one of our favorite Top Picks Of The Week.

     
    WHAT’S IN DAVE’S BREAD?

    It is, indeed, killer. In addition to marvelous flavor and texture, the breads are organic, all natural, whole grain and packed with protein, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids. Whole grain bread has never tasted better. We’ll support Dave’s claim that this is “the best bread in the universe.”

    In addition, the breads are vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified and certified kosher (parve) by Oregon Kosher.

    Our only lament is that our local store carries only one variety.

    Once only available in greater Portland, Oregon, Dave’s Killer Bread has quietly become the country’s largest baker of organic bread—the #1 organic bread brand!

     
    The first four Dave’s Killer Bread varieties (Blues, Good Seed, Nuts & Grains and Rockin’ Rye) launching at the Portland Farmers Market in 2005. Ten years later, it’s traversed the U.S. Waste no time in finding it, even if your local store has only one of the 14 loaves.

    Here’s a store locator. Discover more at DavesKillerBread.com.
     
    PICK YOUR SANDWICH

    We had Dave’s Killer Bread for breakfast this morning, toasted. It’s so flavorful that it needs no spread. And since, as far as bread is concerned, Dave’s is as guilt-free as it gets, we’re deciding on what to put on our DKB sandwich for lunch:

  • BLT?
  • Chicken salad?
  • Egg?
  • Grilled cheese?
  • Grilled vegetables?
  • Ham and Emmental (the real Swiss cheese) or pimento cheese?
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Turkey and guacamole?
  •  
    All are in THE NIBBLE coffers; we just can’t decide. But we hope we’ve sold you.

     

    HOW TO BE SURE IT IS WHOLE GRAIN

    While you can rest assured that Dave’s Killer Bread is whole grain, there’s a lot on the store shelves that appear to be—but aren’t. Package labels are deceptive.

  • Multigrain is not whole grain.
  • Cracked grain and rye breads are not whole grain.
  • Pumpernickel, other dark breads are not whole grain.
  • Only “whole wheat” and “whole grain” are whole grain.
  • Corn bread can be whole grain if it’s made with whole-grain cornmeal and, if there’s wheat flour in the recipe, whole-wheat flour.
  • Here’s more on what is and isn’t whole grain bread.

    NOTE: If you eat gluten-free, millet is a GF whole grain bread.

     

    chickpea-burgers-thebojongourmet-230

    Put your burgers and hot dogs on whole grain buns, too. Photo courtesy The Bojon Gourmet via Dave’s Killer Bread.

     

      

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