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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 Organic

TIP OF THE DAY: Healthy Valentine Gifts

Choose your snacks from 25 sweet or savory
mixes. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
NIBBLE.

 

Sure, it’s easy to give a box of candy or cupcakes for Valentine’s Day.

But for anyone who can benefit from better snacking, how about something more healthful—and fun?

There are fruit gifts, of course, and delicious artisan nuts. There are portion-sized snacks like Peeled Snacks and GoBites.

GoBites is in the healthful snacking business, delivering portion-controlled snacks that are easily portable and plentiful in variety.

The nutrient-rich ingredients are 100% natural and USDA Certified Organic: the right ingredients and the right amount of them to please both snacker and nutritionist.

Note that not all so-called “healthy snacks” are that healthy. Read the labels to see if they are chock full of added sugar and artificial ingredients.

GoBites, on the other hand, are pure goodness: wholesome nuts, seeds, grains and fruits in creative blends.

 

 

A DIFFERENT SNACK EVERY TIME

There are some 27 choices. You can make your choices, or fill out a profile and have them selected for you (do you prefer sweet, savory, both, nuts, no nuts, etc.). A sample of the snacks:

  • Antioxidant Mix
  • Forbidden Rice Mix
  • Heart Health Mix
  • Pineapple Coconut Mix
  • Tropical Gluten Free Granola
  • Umami Crunch
  •  
    You can make a single purchase or sign up for a no commitment subscription program that delivers each week’s worth: 14 packages.

    Check out all the options at GoBites.com.

     

    The snack packages are easily portable. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolate

    Make your daily chocolate nibble fairly-
    traded. Photo of Equal Exchange Minis by
    Elvira Kalviste.

     

    This year, we went Fair Trade for Halloween. That means that the chocolate we handed out was ethically produced.

    While you won’t see many articles about it, cacao is an agricultural product that uses child slave labor in the fields. Just search for “chocolate slave labor” and you’ll read all about it.

    Start with this article from CNN. The journalists document that “child labor, trafficking and slavery are rife in an industry that produces some of the world’s best-known brands.”

    So, with a small effort to help make the world a better place, we buy Fair Trade/fairly traded products whenever we can. Especially for Halloween, we don’t want to give kids chocolate that enslaves other kids.

    Equal Exchange chocolate is a producer/packager of chocolate, cocoa, coffee and tea, supporting small-scale farmers and their families in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.

    All of the products are organic as well as fairly-traded. The company motto: “Small Farmers, Big Change.”

     
    WHY FAIR TRADE CERTIFICATION MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE

    Fair Trade ensures that farmers are paid fair value for their beans. In more than a few situations, brokers buy up crops for less than it costs to produce them, keeping small farmers in an endless loop of poverty.

    Fair value affords money for adult labor (enabling the farmers’ children to go to school instead of working in the fields), a minimum standard of living and sound agricultural practices that protect both workers and the environment.

    This issue impacts mass-marketed chocolate brands. In the case of the expensive gourmet chocolate, the chocolate makers are already paying top dollar to the best farmers (those fortunate to have the land in the areas that produce the best beans) to secure the limited supply of the world’s finest cacao (so you can feel good about paying $6.00 or more for that chocolate bar).

    “Fair Trade” is a trademarked term authorized by TransFair USA, a nonprofit organization that audits transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified™ products and the international suppliers from whom they source. TransFair is one of 20 members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). Read more on the issues of Fair Trade.

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAIR TRADE & “FAIRLY TRADED”

    Only products certified by TransFair USA can use the trademarked term, “Fair Trade.” Products certified by other organizations must call themselves “fairly traded.”

     

    EQUAL EXCHANGE HOLIDAY GIFTS

    If you want to buy products that are ethically sourced, Equal Exchange and other producers are more than happy to provide them.

    Equal Exchange has candy bars for stocking stuffers, boxes of minis (single bites of chocolate) for those who like to nibble and tins of cocoa, along with tea, coffee and gift baskets.

    Shop online at Shop.Equal.Exchange.com.

    And spread the word about Fair Trade.

     

    Equal Exchange’s fairly traded, organic candy bars. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Gnosis Raw Organic Chocolate

    You’ve heard that chocolate is good for you, but those claims leave out two key points:

  • Many of the flavanoids, the healthy antioxidants in cacao beans, are cooked out of the beans during the roasting process.
  • Chocolate contains lots of refined sugar—milk chocolate and white chocolate have the most sugar, bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao or higher) the least.
  •  
    If you want to try a healthier chocolate, check out Gnosis Chocolate (gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge).

    Gnosis celebrates “the origins of cacao, the well-being of our society, and Earth’s natural majesty.” This specialty line:

  • Is made from raw cacao, which keeps those healthful antioxidants
  • Uses low-glycemic sweeteners, such as agave and coconut palm sugar (more about the glycemic index)
  • Uses ingredients that are ethically sourced and organic wherever possible
  •  

    Healthier chocolate for Halloween. Photo courtesy Gnosis Chocolate.

     

    The bars are available plain or flavored with popular herbs and spices (chili, coconut-almond, hazelnut, mint, sea salt) as well as nutrient-dense superfoods (cashew-fig, cinnamon-goji, pomegranate-açaí).

    Some bars have holistic and ayurvedic ingredients rarely found in chocolate: camomile essential oil, chaste berry, dong quai, evening primrose oil, goldenberry, Inca berry, hemp seed, mulberry, yumberry, schizandra berry, shatvari, Sunwarrior Protein Powder (vegan) and valerian.

    In addition to chocolate bars, Gnossis makes truffles, hot chocolate and trail mix.

    The products are certified kosher, organic and vegan and are free of soy, gluten, and dairy. The bars are wrapped in PCW* recycled, biodegradable packaging printed with vegetable inks.

    Gnosis was founded by Vanessa Barg, a board certified holistic health counselor, who began making chocolate in 2006 as gifts for her clients. In her search for raw, unadulterated cacao, she studied the beans, working on cacao farms and processing beans from the pod. She personally visits the sources and works with growers to assure bean quality and working conditions and to support the growth of organic farming.

    Learn more and shop online at GnosisChocolate.com.

    *Post consumer waste.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Prometheus Springs Spicy Juice Drinks

    Fruit drinks, doubly spiced. Photo courtesy
    Prometheus Springs.

     

    Prometheus Springs is an exciting new line of juice drinks. You might call it the hottest line around, thanks to delectable blends of fruit juice, hot spices and capsaicin, the component that gives the heat to hot chiles. As a bonus, it’s certified organic and kosher.

    There’s a big market of people who love spicy foods. They’ll love these terrific, refreshing, spicy drinks, which make great cocktail mixers as well.

    We love every one of the six flavors:

  • Citrus Cayenne
  • Lemon Ginger
  • Lychee Wasabi
  • Mango Chili
  • Pom Black Pepper
  • Spicy Pear
  •  
    In addition to the spices in each fruit, capsaicin—the heat component of hot chiles—is added for double sizzle.

     

    But the drinks are “mainstream hot.” We prefer mild salsa, for example, and found the heat levels to be just fine.

    Check out the full review, and perhaps send some Prometheus Springs to a spicy-hot loving friend.

    Or, use them to add sizzle to your Labor Day bash.
     
    Find more of our favorite beverages: reviews and recipes.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Flavored Kefir Instead Of A Smoothie

    You can blend your own smoothie or pour it
    ready-to-drink from a bottle of flavored
    kefir. Photo courtesy RevivalSoy.com.

     

    Many people think that kefir is the same as drinkable yogurt. That’s close, but not exact. Kefir is even healthier than yogurt. In fact, kefir is often called a “super yogurt,” since it is up to 36 times more probiotic than yogurt.

    While the recipes are similar, kefie has even more live and active cultures (naturally occurring bacteria and yeasts) and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It contains easily digestible, complete proteins, and is recommended for those with digestive issues, including colitis, Crohn’s disease, IBS and lactose intolerance.

    The once-exotic drink is now available in supermarkets nationwide. It’s available in luscious fruit flavors in addition to plain.

    The addition of fruit creates what we think of as a kefir smoothie (to differentiate it from a conventional yogurt smoothie). It’s just as delicious and better for you. And it’s more drinkable—less thick—than smoothies made with non-drinkable yogurt.

     

    Our favorite flavored kefir, from Green Valley Organics, is made with lactose-free milk that is Certified Humane® plus a probiotic-rich combination of 10 live and active cultures. A blend of strawberry, pomegranate and açaí, It has less added sugar than many flavored kefirs. Also available in plain, the kefir is kosher-certified, organic and gluten free.

    It is so delicious, an eight-ounce serving (150 calories, 20 from fat) satisfies our craving for ice cream or frozen yogurt, which has more than twice the calories and typically, none of the healthy components.

    Another brand, Lifeway Kefir, makes Blueberry, Cherry, Peach, Pomegranate/Açaí, Raspberry and Strawberry kefir flavors, in addition to plain.

     

    You can make your own kefir smoothie by blending two cups of kefir with a cup of fruit (frozen fruit is just fine) and 2 tablespoons of sweetener (you can use noncaloric sweetener or lower-glycemic such as agave nectar, honey or maple syrup).

    More Kefir Magic

  • The health benefits of kefir.
  • Another way to enjoy kefir: frozen kefir, like frozen yogurt.
  • Check out all the different types of yogurt in our Yogurt Glossary.
  •  

    Just remove cap and pour yourself a delicious strawberry-pomegranate-açaí “smoothie.” Photo courtesy GreenValleyOrganics.com.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Gluten-Free Pizza From Bold Organics & Mozzarelli’s

    With the increased consumer interest in gluten-free products, we find ourselves tasting more of them. Our rule of thumb with any special-diet product is: It’s got to be so good that anyone would enjoy it, and not notice that it’s meant for people on a restricted diet.

    Last week our Top Pick was My Dad’s gluten-free cookies. Now we have two new items to add to our gluten-free roster: delicious pizzas.

    Frozen Gluten-Free Pizzas From Bold Organics

    The Bold Organics pizza line is not just gluten-free: It’s milk-free (no lactose, casein or whey), egg-free, peanut- and treenut-free.

    It not only tastes like conventional pizza; it’s better than many of the other frozen choices in the supermarket, even the ones made with traditional wheat and dairy.

     

    All of the flavor, none of the gluten (or other
    allergens). Photo courtesy Bold Organics.

     

    These are individual pies, approximately eight inches in diameter. The number of servings is listed as two—for two five-year-olds, perhaps, but you’ll know that when you see the size of the box. Just count on one pizza per adult.

  • The crust has a nice texture, only slightly softer than the crispy thin-crust style we’re used to in New York City. If you like it extra crispy (we do), you’ll want to cook it a bit longer than instructed.
  • The cheese, largely made of soy, is also impressive. It tastes like authentic cheese and has a nice melty, stretchy texture, like regular pizza cheese.
  • In addition to good basics of crust and cheese, obvious care is taken with all the other ingredients. The sauce, made with organic tomatoes, spices and herbs, is flavorful and has just a touch of heat. Organic vegetables and nitrite/nitrate-free meats are used on the topped varieties.
  •  
    These tasty pizzas are available in four different flavors:

  • Vegan Cheese (plain—we like to buy this one and add our own toppings)
  • Veggie Lovers (onions, red peppers, shiitake mushrooms)
  • Meat Lovers (uncured pepperoni and sausage)
  • Deluxe (all the meat and vegetables above)
  •  
    Bold Organics pizzas retail from $6.99 to $10.29. They’re being rolled out at retail locations around the country this month, with representation in Whole Foods and increased presence overall expected later this year. See the company website to view a store locator.

    The line is certified by Organic Certifiers, the Non GMO Project and the Celiac Sprue Association.

     

    Put your favorite toppings on a great
    gluten-free crust. Photo courtesy
    KingArthurFlour.com.

     

    Fresh Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts

    If you want the crust only, we highly recommend the ones made by Mozzarelli’s. These are the same folks who make My Dad’s gluten-free cookies.

    Mozzarelli’s is a gourmet pizza emporium in New York City. Conventional and gluten-free pizzas are available. We’ve been there and really enjoyed it.

    The crust is made from rice flour, corn starch, potato starch, potato flour and tapioca flour. Unlike Bold Organics, it does contain nonfat dry milk and eggs, so it’s not a vegan product.

    It is, however, delicious. Each crust comes in a disposable/recyclable pan.

     

    The company also sells Better Crumbs, gluten-free bread crumbs.
     
    Pizza Party Idea

    Ask each guest to bring a different topping to share. Then set up a pizza-making table and let guests create their own combinations before you pop the pizzas into the oven.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Wallaby Organic Greek Yogurt

    One of 5 varieties of organic Greek yogurt.
    Photo courtesy Wallaby.

     

    Wallaby Yogurt Company, a family-owned producer of organic yogurt, has launched its first line of organic Greek yogurts.

    Greek yogurt—properly called Greek-style yogurt when made outside of Greece—is typically triple-strained, removing much of the water to create a very thick texture.

    Wallaby, based in Napa Valley, California, is known for its creamy, pudding-like yogurts which they call Australian-style, a term we’ve not come across elsewhere. We’d call them custard-style, French-style or Swiss-style (see our Yogurt Glossary for the different types of yogurt). The founders were inspired to make the yogurt while enjoying many a yogurt in Australia.

    A press release notes that “Once the founders had decided [to make Greek yogurt], they tried every brand of Greek yogurt that they could get their hands on. When they were done, they ultimately concluded that there just weren’t any organic Greek yogurts out there that tasted really great. What followed was an intense effort of repeated trial and error, to come up with what they ultimately felt would be a Greek yogurt unmatched in taste.”

     

    While we certainly respect the effort, this is a a different style of Greek yogurt than we’re accustomed to. It’s lighter and less thick, not too removed from the company’s regular lines. Instead of a thick, sour-cream-like consistency, Wallaby’s version of Greek yogurt is silky and elegant.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you’re an organic yogurt eater who is fond of Oikos* Greek yogurt from Stonyfield—or delight in the Greek-style yogurts from Chobani and FAGE Total—note that Wallaby takes a different approach.

    *The Oikos brand name is also licensed to Dannon, a part-owner of Stonyfield, which produces a non-organic line of Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt. Yes, it is confusing!

    Wallaby Organic Greek Lowfat Yogurt is available in a variety of flavors and sizes.

  • Flavored Yogurt. The 5.3-ounce flavored varieties—Blueberry, Cherry, Honey and Strawberry—are packaged in the same type of two-compartment cup used by FAGE Total yogurt. We’ve never been fans of this cup. The intent is to allow consumers to control the amount of flavor they get. But regardless of the brand, we find that scraping out the last morsel of fruit or honey yields barely enough to flavor the cup—and it’s a lot more work than the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it “fruit on the bottom” alternative.
  • Plain Yogurt. Conventional plain yogurt is available in 6-ounce and 16-ounce sizes.
     
    The Greek yogurt line is now available nationwide in Whole Foods Markets. The 5.3-ounce and 6-ounce sizes are priced at $1.99; the 16-ounce size retails for $3.99. The line is certified USDA organic and certified kosher by the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of San Francisco (K-ORC).
  •  
    Learn your yogurt types in our Yogurt Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Best Granola & Muesli

    Our intrepid reviewer tasted her way through 49 granola and nine muesli brands to find the best—including gluten-free, kosher, organic and raw varieties. Wow, that’s a lot of fiber!

    The good news: Seven granolas and four mueslis were selected as “favorites.”

    In this review, you’ll discover:

  • The difference between granola and muesli
  • If granola is really “healthy”
  • A brief history (both products were invented by
    doctors at sanatoriums)
  •  
    Head for the review.

    Make your own granola at home: a video
    demonstration and recipe.

     
    Find more of our favorite cereals.

     

    Fiber-rich granola is a popular way to start
    the day. Photo by Lynn Seeden | IST.

     

      

    Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Kanon Organic Vodka

    In 1580, King Karl IV of Sweden built the Åkers Styckebruk foundry to produce cannons for the Swedish army. Along with the foundry, he built a distillery to make vodka for the workers (nice benefit!).

    Over time, the distillery became privately owned and the largest distillery in Sweden. Nearly 300 workers produced more than a million liters of vodka annually.

    After a succession of monarchs, King Gustav IV outlawed the private production of spirits, in order to reap the revenues via a state monopoly. The distillery was closed for more than 200 years. The monopoly was lifted in the 1990s and a new owner set out to revive the legacy. In 2010, the first case of Kanon Organic Vodka was shipped to New York.

    The vodka is produced with 400-year-old traditional techniques in an artisan environment: The distillery employs just 15 people.

    Kanon Organic Vodka makes a good gift at any time; but is especially easy to grab as a last-minute gift.

     

    Photo courtesy Kanon Vodka.

     

    WHY ORGANIC VODKA?

    Organic vodka is a feel-good product—and not just because the vodka is delicious. At Kanon, the entire production process is not only organic, but totally sustainable.

  • Organic means freedom from chemical pesticides and other artificial ingredients; organic production means that the environment was not harmed in the growth and harvesting of the ingredients. More about organic agriculture and products.
  • Sustainable agriculture and manufacturing use environmentally and socially responsible methods of production. It preserves natural resources by choosing natural, recycled and bio-degradable products, bio-friendly cleaners, and solar power where possible. More information.
  •  
    The superpremium vodka uses only the heart* of the distillation: The heads and tails are converted into ethanol to make environmentally-friendly biogas for local buses.

    The only ingredients in the bottle are wheat and artesian water. The taste and character of the vodka are maintained in perfect balance, with no “burn.”

    We keep our vodka in the freezer and drink it neat. Skal!

    Learn more at KanonVodka.com

    *Look at distillation as a bell curve. The distillate in the center (heart) of the curve is of higher quality than that produced at the beginning (head) or end (tail). The heads and tails can be re-distilled to get a second heart, but the heart from the first run is superior. The heads and tails, which are included in inferior alcohols, produce hangovers.

    THE SCOOP ON MULTIPLE DISTILLATION

    You’ve seen vodka claims: distilled three times…five times…50 times. Kanon Organic Vodka is only distilled once. Here’s why:

    When the ingredients aren’t pure enough to begin with, when parts of the head and tail are included, then multiple distillations with charcoal filtration are needed to remove impurities. The impurities in Kanon are removed after a single distillation.

    Multiple distillations also remove the taste and character of the vodka.

    Skål!

      

    Comments

    STOCKING STUFFER & YEAR-ROUND TREAT: Sun Cups

    If you love peanut butter, you may have the same reaction we do when we hear of someone with a peanut allergy: “I’m so sorry.”

    Those who know the joys of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or peanut butter cups empathize with those who can’t have them.

    But everyone can have sunflower butter!

    Sunflower butter is a smooth spread that looks and tastes almost identical to peanut butter. It’s made from sunflower seeds and is completely peanut- and tree nut-free.

    It’s healthier than PB, with one-third less saturated fat and 27% of a day’s recommended allowance of vitamin E, along with a much higher iron and fiber content (but 25% less protein).

    In jars, it’s available in the same variations as peanut butter: creamy, crunchy, natural, organic, unsweetened, even individual snack-size packs. Sunflower butter is also an ingredient in snack foods that previously relied on peanut butter, including energy bars, granola bars and peanut butter cups.

     

    All the lusciousness of peanut butter cups with no nuts whatsoever! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Sun Cups are chocolate cups filled with sunflower butter instead of PB. They’re made by Seth Ellis Chocolatier in Boulder, Colorado.

    They resemble Reese’s peanut butter cups, with a similar flavor (there’s just a hint of sunflower seed tanginess).

    How Sun Cups Differ From Peanut Butter Cups

  • Sun Cups are filled with sunflower butter instead of peanut butter (and sunflower butter is perfectly creamy-smooth).
  • They’re made with a better-quality chocolate.
  • They’re available in flavors: not just dark chocolate and milk chocolate but caramel and mint (we’re partial to the dark chocolate).
  • Unlike Reese’s, they’re organic, nut-free and gluten-free. The chocolate is Rainforest Alliance Certified. The wrapper is compostable.
  • Like Reese’s, they’re vegetarian and kosher (dairy) [OU-certified for Reese’s, EarthKosher—an organic kosher certifier—for Sun Cups].
     
    The manufacturing plant and the entire supply chain (the ingredients suppliers) is nut-free, so even folks with the strongest of peanut allergies can nibble safely. The Sun Cups team must wear “inside shoes” so nothing gets tracked in from outside. The sunflower seeds are even grown in a region too cold to grow peanuts, so the fields can’t be contaminated with migrating peanut plants.

    And the cost: about $1.00 per cup. A 20-pack of duos is less than $40 on Amazon.com.

    Or if you just want to test them out, Sun Cups offers a $1.99 sampler of the four flavors.

    Sun Cups are a safe bet for stocking stuffers, school lunch boxes and Halloween. They‘re a sweet treat for anyone—with nut allergies or without.

    And they’re a favorite at THE NIBBLE. Try them!

      

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