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RECIPE: Collard Wraps

Tuna Collard Wrap

Hummus Collard Wrap

Collard Wrap

Top: tuna-collard wrap from Happy Bellies
with cooked spinach, grated carrots and
diced avocado. Center: hummus-collard wrap from The Pomelo Blog, with ham, tomato,
cucumber and sprouts. Bottom: For
portability or neater eating, tie a piece of
parchment or wax paper around the wrap.
Photo of Reuben collard wrap courtesy Spring
Vegan
.

 

A few days ago, with the announcement of the new USDA Nutrition Guidelines, we mentioned collard wraps as a better-for-you sandwich option that fit right in.

HOW TO BUILD A COLLARD WRAP

There are two basic ways to make a collard wrap:

  • Simply cut off the stem (you can save it for salad or steaming) and trim down or remove the spine so the leaf will lie flat. If you remove the spine, you simply overlap both sides of the leaf, and fill and roll as if it were a whole leaf.
  • We like to first blanch or lightly steam the leaves to make them more flexible and easier to both roll and bite.
  • Whether or not you blanch, place the leaf underside-up, load the ingredients on one side of the underside, and roll like a burrito: Fold up the bottom, fold in the sides and roll. Here’s a video.
  •  
    Like any wrap or other sandwich, the creativity is up to you. You can simply roll up egg or tuna salad in the collard, or use a variety of different ingredients for layered flavors and textures. You can also accent your wrap with a dipping sauce.

  • Collard wraps can be vegetarian or vegan, or rolled with eggs, fish/seafood, meat or poultry.
  • Proteins can be main ingredients or accents: cheese, chopped nuts, fish/seafood, legumes (beans, lentils), meat, seeds, seitan/tofu, sprouts, whole grains
  • Vegetables: mashed/puréed, pickled, raw, roasted, steamed
  • Condiments: barbecue sauce, chili sauce, cranberry sauce, guacamole, horseradish sauce, hummus, ketchup, mayonnaise/aïoli, mustard, nut butter, pesto, pickle relish, salsa, tahini, tapenade, Thai peanut sauce, vinaigrette or other salad dressing, yogurt or any dip or spread.
  • Spices: You can sprinkle the fillings with any spice, from curry to sesame seed.
  • Herbs: You can add dry or fresh herbs (we like fresh basil, chives, cilantro, dill, ginger, horseradish, mint and parsley).
  • Fruit: You can add sweet notes with fresh or dried fruit.
  • Heat: If you prefer heat to sweet, add red chili flakes, diced jalapeño and/or a splash of hot sauce.
  • Zest: If you have fresh lemons and limes, grate in some zest.
  •  
    While they don’t get as much press as collard wraps, Swiss chard and Savoy cabbage make equally good wraps.

     
    RECIPE: REUBEN COLLARD WRAP

    We adapted this wrap idea from Spring Vegan, which made it as a vegan wrap. We used actual corned beef and Swiss cheese, the fundamentals of a Reuben Sandwich.

    Ingredients

  • Collard leaves
  • Corned beef or vegan substitute
  • Swiss cheese or Swiss-style soy cheese
  • Russian dressing
  • Optional: Sliced tomato
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems from the collards, blanch them, let them cool.

    2. ADD the ingredients to the collard leaf and roll up as you would would a burrito.

     

    RECIPE: RAW COLLARD WRAP

    This recipe, for a classic raw vegetable wrap, is from Urban Remedy. However, we do prefer our sesame seeds toasted (how to toast seeds).

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 1 collard leaf, stem and rib removed
  • 1 sheet of raw nori (toasted seaweed sheets)
  • ¼ cucumber, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned, grated or shredded
  • ¼ avocado, cut in long strips
  • Optional vegetables: green onions, red bell pepper, sprouts
  • ¼ cup raw sesame seeds
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons hummus
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt or seasoned salt
  • Optional: Asian chili sauce, peanut sauce, ponzu or soy sauce for dipping
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the nori sheet on a dry cutting board. Pat the collard leaf as dry as possible, and lay it atop the nori.

    2. PLACE the carrots, cucumber, avocado and sesame seeds on one end of the collard leaf. If using hummus, spread it on the leaf before adding the vegetables. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt.

    3. ROLL the leaf tightly, starting at the end with the vegetables. Eat it like a Japanese hand roll. If you haven’t used hummus, you can dip the roll in chili sauce, peanut sauce or soy sauce for moisture and flavor.

     

    Egg Wrap With Collard

    Purple Collard Greens

    Top: Make an egg wrap with fried, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs. Photo courtesy Pancake Warriors. Bottom: purple collard greens (the stems are purplish) from Good Eggs.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: [Almost] Ready To Eat, Good For You Foods

    Purdue Short Cuts

    Rebel Fish Cajun Blackened Salmon

    Swanson Mexican Tortilla Broth

    Top: Purdue Short Cuts, ready to heat and
    eat. Center: Rebel Fish salmon fillets
    microwave in 90 seconds. Bottom:
    Swanson Flavor Infused Broth, flavorful by
    themselves or with added veggies and/or
    protein.

     

    Forty-five percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. The Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions include weight loss (#1) and healthier eating (#5). [Source]

    Now for the bad news:

  • Just 10% of people who fully commit to making resolutions are successful at keeping them.
  • 1 in 3 people ditch their vows by the end of January.
  • 66% set fitness goals as part of their resolutions, but 73% of them give up before meeting their goal.
  •  
    Many of us sabotage a good eating plan because it’s usually easier to make bad choices than good ones. But it’s really easy to make small fixes. Just pick three better-for-you foods to incorporate into your diet, using the new USDA Nutrition Guidelines.

    Here are some of the foods we rely on: tasty and good for you, and either ready to eat or ready to heat and eat. We promise: You won’t be disappointed.
     
    9 OPTIONS THAT ARE READY TO EAT OR READY-TO-HEAT & EAT

    When you’re tired and/or pressed for time, it’s easy to microwave something. Stock up on good-for-you products to microwave:

  • Cooked Chicken Breasts. We buy grilled, boneless, skinless, individually wrapped chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s. A package of five is under $7, and they’re shrink-wrapped for a four-week shelf life. You can find roasted cooked chicken and turkey from regional brands as well as Perdue and Tyson. Add a healthy sauce—dill-yogurt or mustard-yogurt, marinara, pesto, vinaigrette or anything with no added sugar—and microwave. Or, stop a bed of whole grain or a salad.
  • Pre-Cooked Or Frozen Fish Fillets. Rebel Fish Salmon goes from package to plate in 90 seconds. It can be cooked in all of the traditional ways (baked, broiled or pan fried), but it’s specifically designed to be microwaved. There are six flavorful rubs: Cilantro Lime, Lemon Pepper Herb, Barbeque, Maple Mesquite Smoked Sea Salt, Cajun Blackened and Thai Chili, so it doesn’t gets boring. Serve it with grain, mixed vegetables, on a Caesar salad, in a salmon taco or other good-for-you preparation.
  •  

  • Flavored Tuna, Tilpia & Salmon Pouches. Chicken Of The Sea and StarKist have 90-calorie pouches of already-seasoned fish that turn a bag of washed salad into lunch; or be used as a topper for grains or pasta. Chicken Of The Sea has the best flavored salmon options—Barbecue, Lemon Pepper, Sweet & Spicy and Sriracha—as well as flavored tuna pouches and flavored tilapia in Marinara, Santa Fe, Teriyaki and Yellow Curry. StarKist has flavored tuna Hot Buffalo, Lemon Dill and Thai flavors.
  •  

  • Whole Grains. There’s a proliferation of heat and eat grains: 90 seconds in the microwave. We like the Lundberg Heat and Eat Bowl of long grain brown rice, and the Village Harvest whole grains (freekah and three whole grain blends) that are ready in five minutes.
  • Swanson Flavor Infused Broth. This is not your mother’s diet broth, but nicely-seasoned alternatives that can be drunk straight or loaded with chopped vegetables, cooked proteins, etc. Mexican Tortilla Flavor Infused Broth, Thai Ginger Flavor Infused Broth and Tuscan Chicken Flavor Infused Broth have just 25 to 30 calories a cup, plus whatever you choose to add. We keep a container in the fridge at work for a protein-filled “coffee break.” At home, we add diced chopped vegetables (you can buy them prepared), enoki mushrooms or leftover cooked grains. And of course, these broths can be used in recipes, of which there are many on the Swanson website.
  • Low Sodium Canned Beans. Prepare them as a side, plop them into infused broth, add them to green salads. We also mix them with scrambled eggs and use them as omelet fillings.
  • Hummus. A nutritionist’s delight, America has gone hummus- happy and flavors proliferate. Even people who aren’t big hummus fans can enjoy flavors like Boar’s Head Fiery Chipotle Hummus or Tribe Everything Hummus, which has all the toppings of an “everything” bagel. Get a bag of baby carrots and you’re set for snacking.
  • Oatmeal Cups. Last year we switched to Modern Oats Oatmeal Cups as a quick microwaved breakfast. Whole grain, fast cooking and easy to eat on the go (BYO spoon), the only question is the 17 grams of sugar. But compared to the bagels, toast, breakfast pastry we used to eat, it’s a way better choice. Pick Nuts & Seeds over the fruit flavors for 14 grams of sugar, plus added nutrition from the nuts and seeds.
  • Fruit Desserts & Snacks. Fresh berries, frozen banana slices and baked apples are some of our go-tos. But at 90 calories per serving, Bare Apple Chips are like candy to us, even though there’s no sugar added. This is a brilliant product from BareSnacks; Try it and you’ll be hooked. You can also make a low-calorie dip by adding noncaloric sweetener and cinnamon to plain fat-free yogurt, but really, the chips alone are just heavenly.
  •  
    What are your go-to, good-for-you foods? Let us know!

     

    Flavored Tuna Pouches

    Low Sodium Canned Beans

    Oatmeal Cups

    Bare Fruit Apple Chips

    Top photo: Flavored tuna pouches are really yummy. Second photo: Low-sodium canned beans can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Third photo: Oatmeal cups are convenient and so much better than bagels and doughnuts. Bottom photo: The best sweet snack with no added sugar.

     

      

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    NEWS: New USDA Nutrition Guidelines

    Kale Chips

    Thai Collard Wrap

    Kale is the current nutrient-dense darling, but collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard and watercress have the same top score on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI). Top: kale chips (here’s the recipe). Bottom: Use collard greens instead of other sandwich wraps. Here’s how. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    Every five years the USDA reviews and releases its recommended nutrition guidelines, which change over time as science generates more information. Here is the full report.

    None of it will be news to anyone. Here’s what you should eat:

    More fruits and vegetables; grains, especially whole grains; low-fat or fat-free dairy products; seafood, lean poultry and meats; beans, eggs, and unsalted nuts. Limit solid fats, cholesterol and trans fats; consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fats. Limit salt (sodium) and added sugars. And exercise regularly.

    Here’s the summary of the guidelines:

    THE GUIDELINES

    1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across your lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. (Editor’s Note: It’s never too late to start.)

    2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts. (Editor’s Note: Nutrient dense foods are those that provide the most nutrients for the fewest calories. Here’s a guide to the most nutrient-dense foods in every category.)

    3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats and sodium (salt). Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.

    4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.

     
    5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

     

    KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

    The Dietary Guidelines’ Key Recommendations for healthy eating patterns should be applied in their entirety, given the interconnected relationship that each dietary component can have with others.

    1. Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level.

    A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starches.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Oils.
  •  

    Baked Salmon With Quinoa

    Fish is the most nutrient-dense protein, with wild salmon at the top of the list. Second- best is chicken breast. Shown here is baked salmon atop a bed of quinoa; photo courtesy Nestlé.

     
    2. A healthy eating pattern limits saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. The following components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits.

  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars.
  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats.
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium.
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.
  •  
    PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

    In tandem with the recommendations above, to help promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease, Americans of all ages—children, adolescents, adults, and older adults—should meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Americans should aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight.

    Editor’s Note: You knew all of this; now you just have to make small adjustments to get closer to the ideal. Good luck to us all.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grain Bowls With Roasted Vegetables

    Grain Bowl With Squash

    Grain Bowl With Squash

    Top: Grain bowl with delicata squash.
    Bottom: Wild rice bowl with kabocha squash.
    Photos courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    Did grain bowls originate in healthy “salad” food chains? All we know is that in the last few years, grain bowls have become a go-to light and nutritious meal, whether you buy yours from a food shop or bring it from home.

    Make one of your new year healthy food switches a weekly grain bowl. The options are endless, and you’ll get to try different grains and explore other ingredients, including different varieties of squash. (Squash and grains are a great marriage.)

    Grain bowls can be served at lunch or dinner; hot, warm or chilled. They can be:

  • Meatless for meatless Monday
  • Topped with small amounts of meat, poultry, fish or seafood
  • Vegan
  •  
    You can top it with your favorite garnishes (olives, please!). You can use up leftovers.

    No time to cook grains? Look at precooked grains; add or substitute canned beans.

     
    GRAIN BOWLS: HOW TO MIX & MATCH

    The formula is simple: cooked grain topped with vegetables and proteins, drizzled with dressing, and garnished.

  • Grains: Make them whole grains, and expand your experience. Barley? Couscous? Kamut? Quinoa? Peruse the choices at your regular food store, and seek out natural food stores for even more options.
  • Proteins: beans/other legumes*; crumbled/shaved/shredded cheese; fried, hard cooked or poached eggs; fish/seafood; meat or poultry; tofu.
  • Vegetables: marinated, pickled, raw (avocado, cucumber, radish), roasted, steamed, wilted.
  • Garnishes: baby arugula, capers, cherry/grape tomatoes, dried fruit (apricots, dates, cherries, cranberries, raisins), fresh herbs, green onions, green peas/edamame, hummus, kimchi, nuts/seeds, olives, plain yogurt, sprouts, sundried tomatoes, watercress.
  • Heat: chile flakes, chipotle, hot sauce, minced jalapeño.
  • Dressing: lemon/lime wedges, regular or flavored oil and vinegar, tahini.
  •  
    RECIPE: WILD RICE & ROASTED SQUASH SALAD

    This recipe, from Good Eggs, takes 15 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cook time. It specifies kabocha squash; but as mentioned above, you can take the opportunity to try any squash you like.

    Ingredients

  • 1 kabocha squash (or substitute)
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup arugula, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    *The difference between beans and legumes: All beans are legumes, plants with pod fruits. But the category also includes peas, pulses (like lentils), even pod-based vine nuts like peanuts.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Using a sturdy knife and a steady hand, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. (Save ‘em to roast if you like!) Slice kabocha halves into 1” thick wedges and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Toss with a pinch of salt and a bit of olive oil—just enough to coat each piece—and place the sheet in the oven. They should take about 30 minutes to cook.

    2. PUT the rice in a pot with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. When the water boils, cover the pot and turn down to a simmer until the rice is cooked (about 25-30 minutes). While the rice and the squash cook…

    3. WASH and dry the watercress and arugula. Chop them very roughly and set aside. Toast thewalnuts until they’re golden brown (about 4-5 minutes in the toaster oven or 3 minutes in the oven—they’re deceptively fast toasting nuts). Chop once they’ve cooled.

    4. CHECK the rice. If it’s fully cooked, turn off the flame and let it sit for a few minutes in the covered pot. If all of the water is absorbed but the grains are not yet cooked, add a bit more water and continue to cook it with the cover on for a few more minutes. When it’s done, scoop the rice into a bowl and place in the fridge for a few minutes.
    Step 5

    5. CHECK the squash. When it is fully cooked (golden brown and tender) after about 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. Let it cool slightly if you don’t want to wilt the greens. In a bowl, combine the rice, squash, greens, sesame seeds, parsley, walnuts and feta. Dress with a couple splashes of rice vinegar, a bit of olive oil, and a few drops of sesame oil. Mix gently with a large spoon.

    6. ADJUST seasonings (salt and pepper) to taste and serve.

     

    A SQUASH ODYSSEY

    What do these have in common: acorn, Australian blue, banana, buttercup, butternut, calabaza, carnival, chayote, delicaza, gold nugget, hubbard, kabocha, orangetti, red kuri, spaghetti, stripetti, sweet dumpling and turban?

    They’re all winter squash—but you probably guessed that from the headline. Do you know how delicious they all are, though? We went on a two week squash odyssey and found a personal favorite (carnival squash, so good we ate the rind; sweet dumpling squash was our runner-up).

    Squash Is A Guilt-Free Food

  • It’s good for you, with tons of vitamin A (one serving has four times the RDA—and 52% of vitamin C) and a good source of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
  • The calories are just 80 to 100 per cup, depending on variety.
  • Read more about these gorgeous vegetables in our Squash Glossary.
     
    WHAT ARE KABOCHA SQUASH?

    Kabocha is also called Japanese pumpkin, especially in Australia and New Zealand. It is the variety of squash used in tempura. You may find different varieties in farmers markets. We’ve included photos of three varieties.

    Many of the kabocha in the market are kuri kabocha, a variety bred from seiyo kabocha, buttercup squash. It has a strong yet sweet flavor; its texture and flavor have been described as a combination of pumpkin and sweet potato. The rind of a kabocha is edible.

    Kabocha is available year-round but peaks in the late summer and early fall.

    Squash History

    The ancestors of all squash originated, and were domesticated, in Mesoamerica, some 8000 to 10,000 years ago. That’s 4,000 years earlier than the domestication of maize and beans, other local staples.

    Christopher Columbus brought squash back to Europe, along with tobacco, potatoes and tomatoes. From there, the vegetable was dispersed around the world.

     

    Gray Kabocha Squash

    Red Kabocha Squash

    Sunshine Kabocha Squash

    Top: gray kabocha squash. Center: red kabocha squash. Bottom: sunshine kabocha squash. Photos courtesy Good Eggs.

     
    In 1541 squash was brought to Japan from Cambodia on Portuguese ships. The sailors then went to Japan, where they introduced the squash as Cambodia abóbora, (Cambodian pumpkin). The name was shortened by the Japanese to kabocha, and kabocha became the generic term for all squash. [Source]

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Just Mayo, Egg-Free Mayonnaise

    Just Mayo Bottles

    Crab Cakes Just Mayo

    French Fries Sriracha Mayo

    Top photo: the Just Mayo line. Second photo: Crab cake with Chipotle Just Mayo. Third photo: Sriracha Just Mayo with fries. Photos courtesy Just Mayo. Bottom photo: Grilled Mexican corn (elote) with Original Just Mayo. Photos courtesy Hampton Creek.

     

    The Just Mayo line from Hampton Creek has been getting a lot of attention since its debut in 2013.

    The San Francisco start-up focuses on foods with plant-based egg alternatives. Its first two products are Just Mayo and Just Cookie Dough, with Just Dressing, Just Pancake Mix and an eggless, plant-based scramble on the horizon.

    The full-fat mayonnaise alternative is made from expeller-pressed canola oil so for starters, they’re cholesterol free, allergy friendly and more sustainable (no animals to pollute the environment). The ingredients are non-GMO.

    The line is vegan, but you won’t find that designation promoted on the current product label. Rather, it’s marketed as healthier, better tasting and more sustainable for the planet.

    The brand did such a good job of attracting attention that Unilever, the parent company of mayo megabrand Hellmann’s, filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek in 2014, since government specifications dictate that mayonnaise is made with eggs. The FDA was tipped off, as well.

    Last month, it was reported that the issues have been resolved, by changing the product label. The new label describes the product as egg-free and non-GMO, and explains that “Just” in the product name means means “guided by reason, justice and fairness.” The brand will not claim to be cholesterol-free or heart-healthy. Here’s a report of the FDA’s decision.

    The new label is not yet out, but we’re guessing the image of a whole egg will be removed, too.
     
    JUST MAYO’S FOUR FLAVORS

    Just Mayo is made in four flavors: Original, Chipotle, Garlic and Sriracha. The flavored varieties especially add zing.

    So what are the ingredients?

    Canola oil, water, white vinegar and 2% or less of organic sugar, salt, pea protein, spices, modified food starch, lemon juice concentrate, fruit and vegetable juice for color) and calcium disodium EDTA to preserve freshness.

    If you have a sharp eye you’ve noticed the substitution: pea protein, a relatively new ingredient that is used as an alternative to whey protein in cheeses and yogurt. Made from a specific variety of the Canadian yellow pea, it has a neutral taste.

    And speaking of taste: In our blind taste test, about half of the testers preferred Original Just Mayo to Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise.
     
    USES

    Just Mayo can be used as a substitute for mayonnaise anywhere. For example:

  • Burgers and sandwiches
  • Dips
  • Mayonnaise-bound salads: carrot salad, cole slaw, egg salad, pasta salad, potato salad, tuna and seafood salads, etc.
  • Salad dressing for green salads
  • Sauces and plate garnishes
  • Anywhere you use mayonnaise (check the website for basic recipes: cole slaw, potato salad, salad dressings and other favorites)
  •  
    A FEEL GOOD PRODUCT

    In addition to the environmental benefit (no animal pollution), we feel better about egg-free products. Much as we love eggs, most sold in the U.S. are laid by hens raised in cruel conditions. About 88% are housed in tiny battery cages.

    Just Mayo is available at grocery stores nationwide, including Costco, Safeway, Walmart and Whole Foods Market. You can also use the website store locator. The product is available in 8 ounce (SRP $3.99) and 16 ounce (SRP $4.49) bottles.
     
    AT THE END OF THE DAY…

    While we enjoyed Just Mayo enough to make it a Top Pick, we’ll stick with our personal favorite (and eggy) mayonnaise, Lemonaise from The Ojai Cook (here’s our review).

    We love the added nuance of a flavored mayonnaise, and Lemonaise is made in Original, Light, Cha Cha Chipotle, Fire And Spice (tomato, cayenne, cumin) Garlic Herb (basil and tarragon), Green Dragon (mustard, cilantro, wasabi) and Latin (chiles, lime, cumin).
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: White Whole Wheat

    White Whole Wheat Flour

    White Whole Wheat Flour Comparison

    Top photo: White whole wheat flour may
    soon become one of the hot “better for you”
    foods. Bottom photo: white whole wheat
    flour compared to whole wheat flour from red
    wheat. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    We always start January with better-for-you tips of the day. There are a few weeks between the holidays and Valentine’s Day temptations where we can actually focus on better-for-you foods.

    Americans say that their number one resolution for the new year is to lose weight. “Eat healthier” is in the top five.

    One of the easiest switches Americans can make is to whole wheat flour in daily bread products—bagels, sandwiches, pasta, pizza crusts; baked goods like chocolate chip cookies and brownies; and family favorites like pancakes and waffles. Whole wheat provides lots of nutritional benefits and helps to mitigate the guilt of enjoying carbs.

    But many Americans don’t like the stronger taste of whole wheat.

    Enter white whole wheat flour, also called whole white wheat flour and marketed by some bread manufacturers as whole grain white bread. It’s milder in flavor and whiter in color than conventional whole wheat, and is a terrific option for nutrition-oriented people who aren’t crazy about the flavor of conventional whole wheat.

    Aren’t “white whole wheat” and “whole grain white bread” contradictions in terms?

    Friends, it’s only confusing at first. Just think of white whole wheat as “albino whole wheat.”

    WHAT IS WHITE WHOLE WHEAT?

    Most of the wheat grown in the U.S. is hard red winter wheat. In Australia, most of the wheat grown is hard white spring wheat. Both genuses of wheat are milled into whole grain flour (containing the bran, endosperm and germ) that is equally nutritious.

    While white wheat has been grown in Australia for decades, different varieties needed to be developed to do well in American soil and climate. It has been slowly creeping into retail America, both in sacks of flour and baked goods. Even Wonder Bread now sells whole grain white bread!

    Why is it whiter?

    Hard white wheat lacks the genes for bran color. Traditional red wheat has one to three bran color genes.

     
    The bran of white wheat is not only lighter in color but it’s also milder in flavor, because it also lacks the strongly-flavored phenolic compounds in red wheat. The milder flavor also means that products made with white whole wheat require less added sweetener to attain the same level of perceived sweetness.

    The flavor of whole white wheat flour is more appealing to people who prefer refined white flour. If that’s you, you can now have your cake [or bread] and eat it, too.

    In sum:

  • Hard white spring wheat flour yields milder-tasting baked goods than the red winter wheat flour traditionally used in the U.S.
  • Breads and cakes made with whole white wheat flour are lighter in color than those made with whole red winter wheat.
  • White whole wheat provides the same nutrition and fiber as flour made from red winter wheat.
  •  
    Here’s more information from The Whole Grains Council.

     

    TIPS FOR BAKING WITH WHITE WHOLE WHEAT

    Use it as you would regular whole wheat flour. Try these tips from King Arthur Flour, useful for both red and white whole wheat flours:

  • If you substitute whole wheat flour in a yeast bread recipe calling for refined white flour, let the dough rest for 15 minutes before kneading.
  • Substituting orange juice for some of the water in a whole wheat bread recipe tempers any potential strong flavor in the wheat.
  • Whole wheat dough shouldn’t be kneaded as long or as vigorously as dough made with all-purpose flour. That’s because whole wheat bran particles are sharp, and can potentially cut the developing gluten strands if the dough is handled roughly.
  • If the recipe is a bit too sweet (from the naturally sweeter white flour), cut down on the sugar next time.
  •  

    Cinnamon Swirl Bread

    Plan ahead for brunch next weekend: Try this cinnamon swirl bread recipe from King Arthur Flour.

     
    YOUR NEXT STEP

    Pick up a sack of white whole wheat flour and try it with some favorite recipes. See if you can tell the difference in flavor.

    If you can’t find it at your supermarket, look at natural food stores.

    Get yours at KingArthurFlour.com.

      

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    PRODUCT UPDATES

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    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.

     

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    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: A Pre-Holiday Diet Of Low-Calorie Comfort Food

    Why do we only get pitches for slimmer versions of food in spring, before “bathing suit weather?”

    After an especially tasty month visiting restaurants, for everything from fried skate sandwiches to duck confit mac and cheese, we noticed that clothes were getting snug.

    As if on cue, we got this list of tips from Warren Honeycutt’s new book, Comfort Food without the Calories: Seven Delicious, Healthy Substitutes for Cold-Weather Favorites. The author of Get Lean for Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss shared these tips with us.

    Given the upcoming calorie fests of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can’t think of bathing suit weather, but we can think of fitting into something for New Year’s Eve.

    Our tip today is: Plan ahead for all the great holiday fare ahead. Here’s advice from Honeycutt, who starts off by reminding us that “flavorful” and “nutritious” aren’t always mutually exclusive. Here are seven guilt-free substitutes for some classic comfort foods:

       

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    To save calories, make your own hot chocolate recipe instead of a mix. Photo courtesy OpenSky.com.

     

    Cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Substituting cauliflower for potatoes is a healthy alternative that’s gaining more and more popularity—and for good reason. When prepared correctly, cauliflower mimics the texture and taste of mashed ‘taters, with fewer calories and carbs. Boil or steam the cauliflower until tender, pour off the water and beat the cauliflower with a mixer to the consistency you like. Top it with fat-free sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, fat-free cheese, Butter Buds, and/or Molly McButter. Reheat each serving in the microwave for two minutes until piping hot. Add chives, bacon bits, salt, and pepper as desired.

    Spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles. Spaghetti squash isn’t nearly as carb-heavy as noodles, and it contains nutrients like vitamins A, B-6, and C, as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids. When baked or microwaved, this veggie can be shredded into spaghetti-like strands with a fork and enjoyed with any tasty sauce of your choosing. Top with lean chicken breast or seafood for a healthy and delicious boost. Alternative #2: zucchini noodles. Alternative #3: a half-and-half mix of spaghetti and zucchini noodles.

    Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are filling and delicious, rich in vitamin A, and contain more vitamin C and fiber than white potatoes—with fewer carbs and calories. But that’s not a license to eat sweet potato fries. Enjoy them baked.

     

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    Here’s our recipe for cauliflower mashed potatoes. Also look at our cauliflower mac & cheese. Photo courtesy FAGE Greek yogurt.

     

    Tea instead of hot chocolate. Tea is full of antioxidants and may, according to several studies, help lower the risk of diseases ranging from Parkinson’s to many different kinds of cancer. It’s also great for weight loss, especially when sweetened naturally with stevia or xylitol (we admit to using Splenda). What, you say: How is tea a substitute for hot chocolate? We agree with you, not with Mr. Honeycutt. If you just have to have a cup of hot chocolate, make your own a healthy recipe (unsweetened cocoa powder, nonfat milk, noncaloric sweetener, peppermint extract) without the sugar and corn syrup of commercial hot chocolate mixes.

    Thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant for pasta-free lasagna. Layer all that delicious low-fat ricotta cheese and tomato sauce between zucchini or eggplant slices to cut down on the carbs in this classic comfort food. Both zucchini and eggplant are low in calories and full of nutrients and antioxidants, making them healthy replacements for pasta.

     
    Baked vegetables instead of potato chips or French fries. Delicious, nutritious chips and fries can be made by slicing squash, radishes, beets, sweet potatoes, zucchini, apples, or any other fruit or vegetable, then seasoning the slices and baking them in the oven for a delicious, crispy treat. If you’re craving fries, cut carrots, zucchini, asparagus and/or eggplant into sticks. Brush them with olive oil if you like, then season them with Parmesan cheese, flaxseed, ground nuts, oats, or sea salt before baking.

    A NIBBLE favorite is a microwave chip maker. These chips go fast, so buy several (they stack in the microwave).

    Health-conscious homemade soups instead of salty store-bought brands. There’s nothing that says comfort like a warm bowl of soup, but the condensed canned soups you buy at the supermarket are often loaded with cream and sodium. When making soup at home, use low-sodium stock, plenty of herbs and spices for flavor, and cauliflower puréee in place of cream. Add nutritious, low-calorie veggies like spinach, kale and carrots, as well as beans and chunks of lean meat for protein. You may never buy a can of soup again!

      

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    RECIPE: Moroccan Quinoa & Roasted Carrots

    October 1st is World Vegetarian Day, the annual kickoff to Vegetarian Awareness Month.

    Vegetarian diets have proven health benefits, are kind to animals and help to preserve the Earth (meat production is a major source of greenhouse gas and deforestation).

    According to ProCon.org, some prominent vegetarians include/have included: Lord Byron, Bill Clinton, Leonardo da Vinci, Ellen DeGeneres, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Dick Gregory, Steve Jobs, Carl Lewis, Franz Kafka, Paul McCartney, Martina Navratilova, Pythagoras, Voltaire and Leo Tolstoy.

    But you don’t need to have particular beliefs to enjoy this delicious vegetarian (actually vegan) side or main course. The quinoa supplies excellent nutrition, and the Moroccan spices are irresistible.

    The recipe is from Good Eggs, a San Francisco purveyor of artisan foods.

    RECIPE: MOROCCAN QUINOA & ROASTED CARROTS

    The addition of allspice, cinnamon and raisins impart a wonderful North African flavor profile and fragrance to this simple dish.
     
    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 2 bunches carrots, tops cut off, halved lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 handful* parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • Squeeze of lemon†
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: plain or seasoned yogurt‡
  •    

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    Delicious, nutritious and good-looking: quinoa and carrot salad with Moroccan seasonings. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    *What is a “handful” of parsley? It’s an indefinite amount; please don’t write recipes like this! The size of “a bunch” varies widely by retailer. Try this: For “a bunch,” use one cup loosely packed herbs and 1/2 cup for “a handful.”

    †What’s a “squeeze” of lemon? Is it a squeezed half lemon or a wedge of lemon? A medium lemon has 2-3 tablespoons of juice, a large lemon can have 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup). For a “squeeze,” try 1-2 teaspoons. Take notes and adjust both parsley and lemon measurements next time, as needed.

    ‡Give plain yogurt some savory flavor by stirring in one or more of the following: roasted garlic, chopped fresh parsley, minced chives or thin-sliced green onions (scallions). You can also use the zest from the lemon.

     

    Raw White Quinoa

    Uncooked white quinoa. Photo | Wikimedia.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Soak the quinoa in water for 15 minutes.

    2. PLACE the carrots on a baking sheet and toss with some olive oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes.

    3. STRAIN the quinoa and add it to a pot with the water. Turn the flame to high and bring to a boil, uncovered. As soon as it boils, reduce the flame to a simmer and cover the pot.

    4. CHECK after 15-20 minutes. When all of the water has been absorbed and the grains are still slightly opaque in the center, turn off the heat and let the quinoa steam with the cover on for 5 minutes.

    5. PLACE the quinoa in a bowl with the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon each of allspice and cinnamon, the raisins and lemon juice. Add a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Adjust the salt and spices to taste and add pepper to taste.

     
    6. REMOVE the carrots when they begin to caramelize and crisp up. Toss them gently with a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. To serve, spoon the quinoa onto a serving plate or individual plates and top with the carrots. Pass the optional yogurt as a condiment.

      

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    RECIPE: Carrot Pasta

    While we’re enjoying the warmth of Indian Summer, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog suggests these raw, vegetable-based noodles made from carrots.

    Inspired by classic cold sesame noodles, delicate strands of carrots and cucumbers mingle together in crisp tangles of “pasta,” as vibrant as they are flavorful.

    Instead of peanut sauce based on peanut butter, Hannah substitutes cashew butter for a different take on the nutty, lightly spiced sauce.

    “Deceptively simple in composition,” says Hannah, “it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special on paper, but one taste and you’ll be hooked on the creamy cashew elixir. Lavish it over everything from salads to grilled tofu and beyond. Although you may end up with more than you need for this particular dish, trust me: It won’t be a struggle to polish off the excess in short order.”

    Note that this recipe comes together very quickly but needs to be eaten as soon as it’s made. The recipe makes 2-3 main dish servings or 4-5 side servings.

       

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    Cut the carbs and add the protein: carrot “pasta” in cashew sauce. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    RECIPE: CARROT CASHEW NOODLES

    Ingredients For The Cashew Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons smooth cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  •  
    For The Carrot Pasta

  • 5 Large carrots, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped
  •  

    spiral grater

    A spiral grater, also called a spiralizer. Photo
    courtesy Microplane.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the sauce. This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Place the cashew butter in a medium bowl and slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly to loosen and smooth out the thick paste. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk thoroughly until homogeneous and set aside.

    2. MAKE the carrot and cucumber “noodles.” Toss them together with half of the sauce; for easier mixing, use your hands. Add more sauce as needed, toss in the scallions and move to a serving plate.

    3. TOP with chopped cashews and serve.

     

      

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