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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

PRODUCT: Chocolate Covered Banana Bites

Kopali Organics specializes in chocolate-covered snacks: banana, cacao nibs, espresso beans, goji, goldenberry, mango, mixed fruits, mulberry and pineapple.

The products are also Fair Trade Certified, which means that the enterprise supports thousands of family farmers and communities worldwide (more about Fair Trade certification).

Plus, 100% of profits go to The Sylvia Center, a garden-to-table program that inspires young people to discover good nutrition on the farm and in the kitchen. You can feel good about your purchase.

We’re become enamored of Kopali’s Organic Chocolate Covered Banana snacks, bits of banana covered in delicious semisweet chocolate.

 

Even better than a plain chocolate snack! Photo courtesy Kopali.

 
AND THEY’RE ON SALE!

For a limited time, you can save more than $1 a bag by purchasing a 12-pack of Kopali Chocolate Banana (normally $3.99 a bag, now $2.92). Buy them directly from the company website.

Don’t worry that 12 bags might be too many. These treats may become your favorite snack…and are certain to earn the appreciation of any friends you share them with.

Learn more about Kopali Organics snacks at Kopali.net.

  

Comments

TIP OF THE DAY: Save Money With Organic Bulk Foods

Buy nuts in bulk for daily healthful snacking
and recipe ingredients. Photo courtesy The
Almond Board.

 

April is Earth Month; April 22 is Earth Day. You can make every day Earth Day and do something sustainable.

Research findings show compelling reasons for shoppers to buy in bulk (from the bulk bins at the grocery store). If you don’t buy organic because of the higher price, you can save an average of 89%* by purchasing natural and organic foods in the bulk foods aisle of the grocery store (we get ours at Whole Foods Market).

What can you buy in organic bulk?

  • Baking & Cooking Ingredients, Beans & Legumes
  • Candy & Snacks, Cereals & Granola
  • Coffee, Dried Fruits, Flour & Grains
  • Nuts & Seeds, Pasta
  • Spices & Herbs, Sweeteners
  •  
    Bulk doesn’t mean “jumbo amount”: You scoop what you need from the bin into a bag, and pay by weight. When you get the food home, you can transfer it into a canister or other storage container.

    *The study was conducted by the Portland State University’s Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC) on behalf of The Bulk is Green Council (BIG). Conducted in the fall of 2011, researchers studied three main areas: cost comparisons (to packaged counterparts), environmental impact and consumer attitudes toward buying in bulk. To arrive at the overall average cost savings of 89%, researchers made cost comparisons between organic bulk foods and organic packaged foods in a number of key categories, including coffee and tea, nut butters, flour and grains, dried fruit, spices, beans, pasta and confections. The percentage of savings when buying in bulk differed from category to category, but averaging the savings across all categories resulted in an average of 89% lower costs. For more information, visit BulkIsGreen.org.

     

    In addition to lower costs and the general benefits of organic food (pesticide-free, GMO-free food, sustainably grown), there is a big environmental advantage to buying in bulk: reducing the amount of product packaging that goes into landfills. According to the findings, for example:

  • If Americans purchased all of their coffee in bulk for one year, nearly 240 million pounds of foil packaging would be saved from becoming landfill.
  • If Americans purchased all their almonds in bulk for one year, 72 million pounds of packaging waste would be saved from landfills.
  •  
    TAKE THE PLEDGE

    To help celebrate Earth Month, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG) invites eco-conscious consumers to take the pledge to “Love Bulk Foods,” for the chance to win a gift basket filled with everything needed to help create a natural and organic pantry filled with eco-friendly bulk foods.

     

    Do you blow through boxes of cereal? Look at the options in the bulk foods aisle. Photo courtesy Grape Nuts.

     
    Just head to the Love Bulk Foods pledge page on and sign a digital pledge to purchase bulk foods once a week during Earth Month.

    Pledgers automatically will be entered in a weekly drawing for a gift basket.

    Here’s the Love Bulk Foods pledge:

    I pledge to purchase natural and organic foods from the bulk bins of my local grocer once a week during Earth Month. By purchasing bulk foods, I am helping to reduce the amount of packaging waste that enters landfills each year. I also pledge to spread this message to my family, friends and neighbors.

    Don’t you feel good already? It’s a good teaching moment for the kids.

      

    Comments

    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

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