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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: Flavored Half & Half

If you love flavored coffee, check out Organic Valley’s new flavored Half & Half pints for an instant treat. They turn plain coffee into hazelnut or vanilla coffee. A soy creamer is also available in vanilla varieties.

Half & half, which is a combination of cream and whole milk, adds just the right amount of richness to a cup of joe.* The new flavors add the perfect amount of hazelnut or vanilla, as well.

*Why is coffee called a cup of joe? The true story is lost to history, but here are the three top contenders.

The only catch, for those of us who don’t add sugar to our coffee, is that the flavors are presweetened – with Fair Trade certified, unrefined organic cane sugar.

Beyond coffee, we used the flavored half & halfs on our morning Cheerios and oatmeal. It’s a delicious touch, if not exactly contributing to a healthy, whole-grain breakfast.

Organic Valley is a co-op of family farms that practice organic dairying. Their cows are antibiotic- and hormone-free; no pesticides are used in the pasture or to grow their feed. The line is certified kosher by OU.

 

A rich splash of flavor for your coffee,
in half & half plus soy creamer. Photo
by River Soma| THE NIBBLE.

 

  

Comments

PRODUCT: The Best Chocolate Sauce

There are lots of chocolate sauces out there. The best ones are made from, not surprisingly, the highest quality chocolate.

While we’ve had a variety of tasty dessert sauces, four brands have been named Top Picks: The King’s Cupboard, Robert Lambert Chocolate Sauces, Sassy Sauces and Somebody’s Mother’s. Except for Robert Lambert, which focuses on chocolate only, the brands offer both chocolate and caramel sauces.

The King’s Cupboard has introduced three new flavors:

  • Irish Cream made with real Irish cream liqueur, perfect for St. Patrick’s Day
  • Crème De Menthe, a robust chocolate mint that is certain to delight
  • Bourbon Caramel, with a splash of Bourbon whiskey (it’s family-friendly; we’d add an extra splash)
  •  

    Three new dessert sauce stars. Photo
    by River Soma | THE NIBBLE. Tray from PacificMerchants.com.

     
    Chocolate or caramel sauce drizzled over cake, crêpes, ice cream or fresh fruit elevates something plain to something special. Mix a teaspoon into a cup of coffee to make a fancy drink or add to milkshakes instead of chocolate syrup. If you need a sweet fix, just dip a spoon into the jar.

    The products are kosher-certified (dairy) by OU. Crème de Menthe and Irish Cream are also certified organic.

  • Read our full review of The King’s Cupboard.
  • See our favorite dessert sauces and recipes in our Dessert Sauce Section.
  • How many types of dessert sauce are there? See our Dessert Sauce Glossary. You’ll discover new options to serve with your desserts.
  •  

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice

    Absolutely delish: a mix of quinoa and brown
    rice, deftly seasoned. Photo courtesy Seeds
    Of Change.

     

    The Uyuni Salt Flats of southeast Bolivia, high in the Andes Mountains, are best known for salt production. But quinoa has been cultivated there by the Incas for some 5,000 years.

    Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wa or KEE-noo-ah, is an exceptionally nutritious supergrain (in fact, it’s the Quechua/Inca word for “mother grain” or “super grain”).

    Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. A complete protein equivalent to milk, it contains all eight essential amino acids and a portfolio of vitamins and minerals. Everyone should eat more quinoa.

    Our discovery of the week is a shelf-stable (no refrigeration required), 90-second microwavable package of quinoa and whole grain brown rice from Seeds Of Change.

    This whole-grain combo is deftly seasoned with black pepper, garlic, onion, parsley and sea salt. The earthy flavor of quinoa tempered with nutty brown rice is a winner. We consume lots of quinoa and lots of brown rice, and the mixture is magical.

     
    Serve it with anything or enjoy it as a high-protein, whole grain snack.

    Seeds Of Change products are certified organic by the USDA and QAI. The company contributes 1% of net sales to advance the cause of sustainable organic agriculture world wide.

    Print out a $1.00 coupon at SeedsOfChangeFoods.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kiss My Cheesy Grits

    If your only exposure to hot cereal is instant packages of oatmeal, you’re depriving yourself of a real treat. For us, Cream Of Wheat, Cream Of Rice, grits, polenta and cornmeal mush are some of life’s great comfort foods.

    Today’s shout-out is to grits (hominy grits), a versatile hot cereal or side dish to other breakfast foods, lunch or dinner or as a main dish (shrimp and grits are a match made in heaven).

    If you don’t like grits, you’ve never had the real deal. Anson Mills’ honest-to-the-core organic-certified antebellum sweet Carolina corn grits have no relation to the gluey, pallid, tasteless grits served up at so many diners.

    They’re cold-milled grits, handmade from certified organic whole heirloom seed corn. To our knowledge, they’re the best grits that money can buy. They’re not instant, but they’re terrific: true grits, indeed.

     

    Enjoy cheesy grits or plain grits for
    breakfast, lunch or dinner. Photo courtesy
    AnsonMills.com.

     
    Try them and fall in love with the full-flavor taste of these organic heirloom grains: fresh corn flavor, texture, nutrients and richness with the additional floral flavors from fresh corn germ. This style of grits was popular before the Civil War and was still available until World War II, fresh-ground every Saturday morning in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Fresh-milled hominy grist, right out of the mill, is a food lover’s delight.

    Here’s a basic grits recipe from Anson Mills. Add 1 tablespoon of grated cheese (we use Parmesan) to make cheesy grits/cheese grits.

    You can purchase grits at your local supermarket, too. They’re fine—we use them all the time. But for a special treat, get the artisan version from AnsonMills.com.

  • Read our review of Anson Mills grits, including a “grits vocabulary.”

  • Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Sustainable Coffee

    We were thrilled to discover Tiny Footprint coffee, an organic brand that is doubly sustainable through negative carbon emissions.

    We taste most things blind. So before we knew it was organic or carbon negative, we thought it was a great cup of coffee.

    Then, we found out how sustainable it is, first through organic agriculture (no pesticides to pollute the environment or the farmers plus conservation of the land).

    The name, Tiny Footprint, refers to the company’s carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas produced, directly and indirectly, to create and sell a product.

    For an individual, one’s carbon footprint is the result of everything it takes to support all of one’s life activities—food, shelter, transportation and so forth. Everything you buy and use makes your footprint grow. The larger your carbon footprint, the more greenhouse gas you generate. Greenhouse gas creates climate change (previously known as global warming).

     

    Delicious coffee for you, a bonus for the
    environment. Photo by Katharine Pollak |
    THE NIBBLE.

    The growing, harvesting, roasting and distribution of Tiny Footprint coffee provides a tiny footprint indeed.

    For each pound of coffee purchased, the company more than offsets the carbon impact of harvesting, roasting and distributing its coffee by planting a small plot of saplings in the Mindo Cloudforest of Ecuador.

    Reforestation helps to protect dozens of threatened bird species and other forest animals by replacing habitats that have been cut down for cattle ranching, lumbering, tourism and general human expansion. And it helps the atmosphere: Plants take in carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, for photosynthesis. In the process, they expel oxygen.

  • Read the full review, which also directs you to where you can calculate your own carbon footprint.
  • Find more of our favorite coffee brands and recipes.
  • Master the language of coffee in our Coffee Glossary.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kamut Khorasan Wheat

    Say what?

    KAMUT® (kah-MOOT) is the manufacturer and brand name of a Khorasan wheat that is available in the US. Khorasan is an ancient wheat, the grain of which is two times larger than modern wheat. It has a rich, nutty flavor. As produced by Kamut, it’s organic and whole grain—just as it was in the time of the Pharaohs.

    And it’s better for you than modern wheat: higher in protein and many minerals, especially magnesium, selenium and zinc. It has a higher percentage of lipids, which produce more energy in the body than wheat’s carbohydrates. Think of it as high energy wheat, better for athletes and anyone looking for high energy food. Learn more at Kamut.com.

    While we haven’t loved every whole grain pasta we’ve tried, pasta made from Kamut/Khorasan wheat merits your attention. We’ve been serving it up and no one has noticed that it isn’t conventional pasta—whereas we did get complaints from picky eaters about whole other wheat pasta.

     

    Pasta made from the ancient wheat,
    Khorasan. Organic and whole grain, it’s
    become our daily pasta.

     
    So we stocked up on lots of Kamut/Khorosan elbow macaroni, spaghetti, rigatoni and spirals from Eden Organic, and have been feeling good about eating more pasta (after all, we must have three servings of whole grain daily!).

    The ancient grain of the Pharaohs was einkorn (a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week).

    But at some point, Khorasan wheat was introduced into Egypt (the modern name is balady durum, or native durum), possibly by invading armies of Greeks, Romans, or the later Byzantines.

    Khorasan is the Pahlavi (Persian) word for “the land of sunrise.“ The ancient land of Khorasan included territories that presently are part of Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

    The wheat can still be found growing in small plots in Turkey, the home of Mount Ararat and Noah’s Ark. Legend says that Khorasan wheat, which is also called Camel’s Tooth or the Prophet’s Wheat, was the grain Noah brought on the ark.

    So, have a taste.

    Kamut sells its Khorasan wheat to different manufacturers, who turn it into hot cereal, cold cereal puffs and corn flakes, pancakes and much more, from puffed corn cakes (similar to rice cakes) to baking flour.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Bergamot Sage Tea

    A memorable cup of sage tea: healthy,
    organic and kosher. Photo by River Soma |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    Last year, strolling through the farmers market at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, we met a farmer who grew fresh sage and turned it into sage tea.

    It was splendid, but we lost her card and never ordered any.

    Good karma brought a tin of Rishi Tea’s organic Bergamot Sage Tea, a blend of sage, peppermint, bergamot and lemon thyme. It may be even more splendid!

    Rishi organic teas are also certified kosher.

    While the expert tea blenders at Rishi have worked long and hard to come up with a stellar blend, it’s easy to make your own simple sage tea and sage iced tea:

    Hot Sage Tea Recipe
    1. Per cup, steep 1 tablespoon dried sage in 8 ounces of boiling water.
    2. Enjoy plain or add a bit of agave nectar or honey.
    3. If you have fresh sage in the garden or left over from another recipe, by all means use it (but use twice as much fresh sage as dried sage).

    Iced Sage Tea Recipe
    1. You can simply chill the sage tea.
    2. Or, make a variation of an Arnold Palmer, the famed golfer’s favorite drink: half iced tea, half lemonade. To each glass of iced tea, add the juice of 1 lemon (we add the grated rind as well). Drink plain or sweetened to taste.

    Sage has long been an herbal remedy for sore throat and mild gastrointestinal upset, but we now drink Rishi’s Bergamont Sage tea daily because it’s soooo refreshing.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Lemon Zest

    If you’re zesting lemons, limes, oranges or other citrus for a recipe, buy organic fruit if you can.

    Conventional citrus crops are heavily sprayed with pesticides, and a simple rinse won’t dislodge all of it from the nooks and crannies of the rind.

    The zest is the outermost part of the rind of citrus fruits (the white part underneath is called the pith). It has both a strong citrus flavor and intense, perfume-like aromatic oils.

    To zest a citrus fruit:

  • If you’re handy with a knife, peel the zest from the rind with a sharp paring knife; or use a vegetable peelere. Then use a chef’s knife to cut it into julienne strips.
  • The less handy can use a special utensil called a zester.
  •  

    They may look pretty, but they’re covered in pesticide. Photo courtesy SXC.

  • If you need grated zest, simply use your hand-held grater and grate gently, avoiding the pith. A microplane makes this easy.
  • If you can’t get organic lemons and limes and don’t have a spray bottle of fruit and vegetable wash, take a kitchen brush and scrub the citrus thoroughly. You can use a bit of soap, as it washes off easily.

  • See the different types of lemons in our Lemon Glossary.
  • See the different types of limes in our Lime Glossary.
  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Amy’s Organic Chocolate Loaf Cake

    Hankering for a piece of chocolate cake?

    Keep one of Amy’s new Organic Chocolate Cakes in the freezer—regular or gluten-free—and slice a piece whenever the mood strikes.

    For a vegan product—no butter or eggs—the cakes are rich and moist, and a good quick fix. The gluten-free version disappeared from our freezer as quickly as the conventional recipe. The one thing we could wish for is a bit more cocoa flavor. But add a scoop of ice cream and you won’t notice.

    For a crowd-pleasing dessert, top a slice with a scoop of ice cream and provide ramekins of chocolate and/or butterscotch chips, chopped nuts, dried cherries or other favorite toppings. People will have fun customizing their garnishes. Or drizzle a warm dessert sauce—such as recent Top Pick Of The Week, Sassy Sauces.

    In addition to being organic, the cakes are certified kosher by Ner Tamid K.

     

    Vegan chocolate cake, regular or gluten-free.
    Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

  • Find our favorite cakes and recipes in our Gourmet Cakes Section.
  • Find our favorite gluten-free products in our Gluten-Free Section.
  • Comments

    PRODUCT: “Beefed Up” Tofu

    Nasoya has created a new product for vegetarians, vegans and others on a no meat/low meat diet.

    Tofu Plus is fortified to provide 20% of the daily value of five nutrients that others get from meat: vitamins B2, B6, B12, D2 and calcium.

    Replacing three ounces of meat (the size of a medium hamburger) with three ounces of Tofu Plus avoids six grams of saturated fat and 53 milligrams of cholesterol.

    Tofu in general is low in saturated fat, is sodium- and cholesterol-free and is a good source of iron and phosphorus. It contains 8g of protein per serving.

    Tofu Plus is certified organic. The fortified tofu is available in Firm and Extra Firm textures. Extra Firm is better for grilling, baking or stir-fry; Firm is best for salads, crumbling and scrambling.

    Try this GRILLED TOFU SALAD recipe from Nasoya (find more recipes at Nasoya.com):

     

    Tofu Plus: the same tofu flavor and texture
    fortified with the nutrition of meat. Photo
    courtesy Nasoya.com.

    Ingredients: Marinade & Dressing
    • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
    • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 inch of grated fresh ginger
    • 1 clove of minced fresh garlic
    • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

    Ingredients: Salad
    • 1 pkg Nasoya firm or extra firm tofu, cubed
    • 1 bag spring mix or spinach
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/4 cup walnuts
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
    • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

    Preparation
    1. Mix the marinade and dressing ingredients. Pour over the tofu and let sit for 15 minutes to 12 hours.

    2. Grill the tofu on high, flipping once there are grill marks. This will improve the texture of the tofu, making it more similar to meat. You can also pan-fry the tofu in a stovetop skillet or bake it in the oven. Once the tofu is lightly browned, let it cool.

    3. Toss the tofu and the remaining dressing into your salad and enjoy!

    HOW TOFU IS MADE

    Tofu is made from curding soymilk, much in the same way cheese is made from milk. First soybeans are ground with water and heated. The soymilk is separated from the solids, the hot soymilk is stirred and a coagulant (a natural firming agent) is added. The curds that form are poured into a forming box (a mold) and the whey is pressed out. The pressing action forms the curd into a solid block of tofu, which is also known as bean curd. Read all about tofu.

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