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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Rebel Fish Salmon Fillets

THE NIBBLE has always written about better-for-you foods. But each January, when people make their resolutions to eat better in the new year, we declare it Healthy Food Month.

In January, we don’t tempt you with gourmet potato chips, artisan chocolates or lemon meringue pie. Instead, we show that it really is easy to find or make delicious foods that are good for you.

Take salmon. We all should eat more of it; but buying fresh fish or defrosting frozen fish, then cooking it, takes time and planning. You have to cook the fresh or defrosted fish in a day, before it starts to go “fishy” and deteriorates.

(NOTE: Do not thaw frozen seafood at room temperature; it enables bacteria to multiply. Instead, thaw it in the fridge, allowing one to two hours per pound; or defrost it in the microwave right before cooking).
 
BETTER EATING WITH REBEL FISH

We have become very fond of Rebel Fish, the first U.S. branded line of fresh salmon that comes prepackaged with seasoning packets.

Always fresh, never frozen and of very high quality, the product should become an instant favorite with consumers. A scrumptious fish fillet can be cooked in 90 seconds. It’s all natural: no artificial flavors or preservatives.

The founders of Rebel Fish believe that we would eat more fresh fish if it were easier to buy and prepare. They’ve made it super easy.

  • The salmon is packaged in an innovative way that preserves freshness. The shelf life is 7 days or longer.
  • The fillet rests in a plastic tray inside the outer carton. All one need do is roll back the plastic and place the tray in the microwave. It’s fool-proof.
  • It can be cooked on the stove top or in the oven, but you can’t beat the 90-second microwave technique.
  •  
    The result: moist, silky, flaky salmon that’s the best we’ve ever cooked at home. We don’t even use the seasonings. We prefer the fish plain (that’s how tasty it is), or with a touch of freshly-ground pepper.
     
    WHAT YOU GET

    Inside each Rebel Fish carton is a 6-ounce salmon fillet and a packet of seasoning that you can sprinkle on it. Choices include:

  • Barbeque
  • Cajun Blackened (our favorite)
  • Cilantro Lime
  • Lemon Pepper Herb
  • Maple Mesquite
  • Smoked Sea Salt
  • Thai Chili
  •    

    Rebel Fish Packages

    Raw Salmon Fillets

    Grilled Salmon Nicoise

    Top: Each flavor is packaged in a different bright color. Second: What’s in the package? One six-ounce salmon fillet and a seasoning packet. Bottom: A 90-second cooked filet atop salad greens. All photos courtesy Rebel Fish.

     
    The only difference is the seasoning packet. Frankly, the blends are not our cup of tea—too complicated, with (egad!) added sugar. We, and likely most retailers, would prefer only one SKU (stock keeping unit*, more in the footnote at the bottom).
     
    The MSRP is $5.99 per serving. We’re more than happy to pay it.
    ___________________________
    *SKU, stock keeping unit, is a retailer identification that allows a product to be tracked for inventory purposes. Each size, flavor, etc. has a different SKU. Thus, the six different flavors of Rebel Fish require six SKUs.

     

    Grilled Salmon With Bowtie Pasta

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    Salmon With Mixed Vegetables

    Top: Salmon atop bow tie pasta. Middle:
    With a Mexican influence: corn kernels, diced
    bell pepper and crumbled cotija cheese. Bottom: With asparagus and baby potatoes. Photos courtesy Rebel Fish.

     

    WHERE DOES THE SALMON COME FROM?

    Rebel Fish salmon is raised in pristine Pacific Ocean waters. It is farmed rather than wild, but the fish are isolated and contained in a pure environment that nearly replicates the wild and may be even better: guaranteed food, clean water, space and habitat without predators.

    Conditions are ideal for producing premium salmon with great flavor and delicate texture. Farming ensures a reliable year-round supply of fresh salmon.

    Rebel Fish salmon are nurtured throughout their natural growth cycle to ensure their welfare, as well as to guarantee high quality. State-of-the-art, stress-free farming practices are both sustainable and healthier for the fish.

    The program is SQF certified, which assures wholesale buyers and retail customers that food has been produced, processed and handled according to the highest standards.

    SQF is a food safety program that is recognized globally for food safety certification, and is the only program that the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) endorses for food production, manufacturing, storage and distribution agencies.

    The brand’s parent company is Marine Harvest Group, the world’s leading seafood company and largest producer of farmed salmon, with top certification.
     
    SALMON NUTRITION

    Farmed salmon is as nutritious as wild salmon. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that farmed salmon typically has more omega-3† fatty acids than wild salmon.

    Note that actual amounts can fluctuate as they are influenced by factors such as species of salmon, water temperature, type and availability of food, and stage of maturity. One big difference is that farmers can create consistent levels of omega-3s in their salmon by controlling the amount and composition of the feed to produce consistently nutritious salmon.

    Rebel Fish Salmon is an excellent source of protein and vitamin D that contains natural omega-3 fatty acids in addition to other critical vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc, and vitamins A and B. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, at least twice a week to ensure you get plenty of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
     
    What about the name? The company says that it encourages consumers to “rebel against the ordinary” when it comes to meal preparation.

     
    ____________________________________
    †Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that may promote brain development, heart health and may also reduce the risk of chronic disease. Seafood is a natural source of two healthy omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Since our bodies cannot make omega-3, it’s important to regularly include them in our diets. The American Heart Association recommends that adults have two servings of omega 3 per week to maintain optimal health benefits.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Drink Kefir, Delicious & Very Healthy

    Strawberry Kefir

    Green Valley Lactose Free Kefir

    Lifeway Frozen Kefir

    Top: Kefir as a midday snack or even a better-for-you dessert. Photo © Viktorija | Fotolia. Middle: Green Valley Organics makes lactose-free dairy products, including kefir, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese. They’re a godsend to dairy lovers with lactose intolerance. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE. If you’re sensitive to cow’s milk, or simply prefer goat’s milk, turn to Redwood Hill Farms kefir. Photo courtesy LAFujimama.com. Bottom: Frozen kefir is an alternative to frozen yogurt with a higher probiotic content. Photo by River Soma | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Media attention is so interesting. In terms of “healthier options,” we’re blanketed with pitches for kale and quinoa, hummus and Greek yogurt, even juice bars.

    But we haven’t heard anything on probiotics in ages. In case you don’t remember: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to promote digestive health and enhance the immune system. Five years ago, probiotics were the “it” food ingredient.

    Today’s tip is to take a look at kefir, a highly probiotic beverage that is also highly delicious.
     
    WHAT IS KEFIR

    Kefir, pronounced kuh-FEAR, is a tart fermented milk beverage. It is often called “drinkable yogurt,” although the recipes for yogurt and kefir vary (see below).

    In fact, kefir is even healthier than yogurt. It has been called “super yogurt,” since it is up to 36 times more probiotic than yogurt.

    Kefir is believed to have originated some 2,000 years ago among the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains region—today’s Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. In more modern times, it has long been enjoyed instead of milk, tea or other beverages in northern and middle Europe and the countries of the former USSR.

    As our “January Healthy Foods Month” winds down, we offer up kefir as a must-try. You can drink it at breakfast, lunch and snack time—or enjoy frozen kefir for dessert.
     
    MODERN KEFIR

    Kefir drinkers have benefited from the the explosion of the yogurt category over the last few decades. What was once only plain, rustic kefir is now a vibrant category of yummy, lowfat, probiotic smoothies, so satisfying that you can substitute them for milkshakes when you want a sweet treat.

  • You can find all the standard fruit flavors (banana, berry, peach and pomegranate, for example) as well as seasonal ones. Lifeway Kefir alone offers Cranberry, Eggnog, Pumpkin Spice and Watermelon flavors.
  • There are veggie flavors, too. Lifeway makes vegetable kefirs in Beet, Cucumber and Tomato.
  • There are conventional lines and organic brands.
  • For frozen yogurt lovers, there’s Lifeway Frozen Kefir.
  •  
    KEFIR AS A HEALTH FOOD

    Kefir is not only delicious, it’s therapeutic. It contains millions of live and active probiotic cultures that clean and strengthen the intestines and help the body with healing and maintenance functions.

    People have been touting the numerous healing effects of kefir since the early 18th century. It has been used to treat allergies, atherosclerosis, cancer, candidiasis, digestive disorders, heart disease, hypertension, HIV, metabolic disorders, nervous system disorders, osteoporosis and tuberculosis.

    While kefir isn’t the panacea many believed it to be, it is a very healthy food, chock full of beneficial bacteria and yeast.

  • It contains numerous vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes, including healthy doses of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A, B2, B12, D and K.
  • Kefir contains a substantial amount of tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids that is known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Some people see it as a “calming” drink.
  •  
    But the reason most people seek out kefir is for digestive health: help from the millions of probiotic bacteria in each serving.

    Probiotic bacteria, which are live and active cultures, occur naturally in the digestive tract, where they help promote a healthy balance, good digestion and overall intestinal vitality. People with digestive problems need more of these cultures than their systems naturally contain.
     
    KEFIR FOR THE LACTOSE-INTOLERANT

    Raw kefir. Some mildly lactose-intolerant people can enjoy kefir, as long as it is is raw and not cooked (cooking destroys the lactase enzyme, which digests the milk sugar, lactose). Read the labels, and if you can’t find raw kefir in your regular market, check the nearest health food store.

    Lactose-free kefir. There’s lactose-free kefir for people with a higher degree of lactose intolerance. Green Valley Organics, a brand of lactose-free dairy products we can’t live without, makes not just kefir and yogurt, but cream cheese and sour cream.

    Goat’s milk kefir. For those who prefer goat’s milk, there’s Redwood Hill goat kefir. People who are mildly lactose intolerant can often tolerate goat’s milk products. Lovers of fresh goat cheese may like the affinity.
     

    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN KEFIR & DRINKABLE YOGURT

    There are several differences between yogurt and kefir, including how each is made, the types of bacteria present in each, and the flavor and consistency.

    Of greatest interest to those who seek probiotics for digestive health, is that kefir and yogurt contain different types of probiotic bacteria, which perform differently. And, as noted earlier, kefir has up to 36 times more beneficial bacteria. Net net, kefir is better for digestion.

  • Yogurt. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called transient bacteria.
  • Kefir. The bacteria in milk kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract and team up with the beneficial bacteria that live there. Kefir also contains contains some yeasts.
  •  
    If you’d like to drill down into the details of the differences, a great source is CulturesForHealth.com. The website can also guide you to making your own kefit, yogurt, and other cultured products at home.
     
    MORE TO DISCOVER

  • All about probiotics in our Probiotics Glossary.
  • All the different types of yogurt and kefir products in our Yogurt Glossary.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: More Uses For Granola…& A Better For You Granola Recipe

    Yogurt Parfait

    Granola Salad Topping

    Spicy Thai Cole Slaw

    Granola Coated Chicken

    Granola Baked Apples

    Top: The original granola add-on: a yogurt parfait from Fruits From Chile. Second: Granola as a salad topping at Nuts About Granola. Third: Spicy Thai coleslaw with granola from Nuts About Granola (here’s the recipe). Fourth: Granola-coated chicken or fish, from SayWhatYouNeedBlog.com (here’s the recipe). Bottom: Baked apples stuffed with granola from Reynolds Kitchen (here’s the recipe).

     

    Granola was originally devised by a doctor in 1863, as a spartan breakfast food. It was packed with fiber, intended to help people with digestive problems.

    Granola was reborn in the second half of the 20th century as a sweet breakfast creal, packed with dried fruit, refined sugars and fats. Most commercial brands of granola don’t qualify as a “healthy alternative” (just read the nutrition labels).

    Even when natural sugars are used—honey or maple syrup, for example—the calorie and carb count is just as high. Although natural sweeteners are theoretically “better” than refined sugars, the body metabolizes them exactly the same way*.

    Thus, today’s tip is to look for a granola that is low in sugars; or to make your own with agave or brown rice syrup, natural sweeteners with low glycemic indices.

    Then, try new uses for your granola: as a crouton substitute on salads, as a coating for chicken or fish fillets, etc. You’ll find ways to use it in every meal of the day, beyond the already-mainstay granola snack bars, cookies, muffins and yogurt parfaits.

    Be sure to try it with vegetables, from sweet potatoes to roasted carrots and other sweet veggies (beets, squash, sugar snap peas, rutabaga) but not corn: It’s overkill.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade, sugar-free granola, plus a way to use it to make crispy chicken breasts or fish fillets.

    RECIPE: SUGAR-FREE GRANOLA RECIPE

    Making your own granola lets you control the type and amount of sweetener and fat, while enabling you to add your favorite flavors: cinnamon, dark chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, vanilla, etc. You can make it organic, raw, whatever you like. Best of all, there is no “correct” recipe. Use whatever you like, in the proportions you like.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, bake time is 20 minutes.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole rolled (“old fashioned”) oats
  • ½ cup nuts, chopped or sliced
  • ¼ cup seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds, plus chia or flaxseed if you like them)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or brown rice syrup
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, other healthy cooking oil or butter‡
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
  • 1 large pinch salt
  • Optional: ½ cup unsweetened dried blueberries, cranberries or other fruit†
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well and toss to thoroughly coat the ingredients with the sweetener and fat.

    2. SPREAD the granola in a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. That’s it!

    3. COOL, then store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Use it within 2 weeks.
     
    RECIPE: CRISP CHICKEN CUTLETS OR FISH FILLETS WITH GRANOLA

    Instead of Corn Flakes, coat your chicken or fish fillets with granola. This recipe from Viki’s Granola uses crisp panko bread crumbs to cut the sweetness; but if you’ve made your own lightly-sweetened granola, you can lessen or eliminate the panko. You may also want to use a granola without added fruit†, although chopped nuts add some nice crunch.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup granola (Viki’s uses its Honey Granola)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-1/4 pounds chicken cutlets (substitute fish fillets)
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE the beaten eggs in a shallow dish. Pulse the panko and granola in a food processor and place in a separate shallow dish. Place the flour in a third dish.

    2. SEASON the cutlets with salt and pepper. Place 1/8 inch of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. While the oil heats…

    3. DIP the cutlets first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the panko, shaking off the excess with each addition. When the oil is hot, add the cutlets.

    4. COOK until the bottoms are golden brown, about 3 minutes; then flip and brown the other side. Transfer to a platter lined with a paper towel.
     
    _____________________________________
    *There are natural, low-glycemic sweeteners: agave, glycemic index (GI) is 32, half that of sugar; and brown rice syrup, GI of 20. Agave is 1.4 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and honey, so you don’t need to use as much. By comparison, the GI for honey is 58, pure maple syrup is 54 and refined sugar is 60-65.

    †You can keep your granola flexible by not adding dried fruit initially. It’s easy to mix it in when you want it.

    ‡Butter has recently been de-demonized as a bad fat. Margarine remains a demon.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Popcorn Bar For Healthy Snacking

    We’ve been getting daily pitches for Super Bowl snacks, none of which would pass muster with New Year’s healthy eating resolutions (crudités with yogurt dip instead of pizza and wings, for example).

    So we’ve decided to publish one of our favorite good-for-you snack (see below) that’s also lots of fun: the Popcorn Bar.

    Popcorn is a whole grain snack, and low in calories unless caloric toppings/mix-ins are added. But provide an assortment of healthy toppings along with the candy, and there will be something for everyone.

    WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR POPCORN BAR

    Better-For-You Toppings/Mix-Ins

  • Apple chips (our favorite is Bare Fruit)
  • Cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg (blend it yourself)
  • Chopped cilantro or other herb
  • Corn Nuts/Inka Corn
  • Diced jalapeño
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
  • Nuts (pine nuts, peanuts, pistachios, slivered almonds)
  • Pepper or chile flakes
  • Seasoned salt
  • Seeds: chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, etc.
  • Other spices
  • Trail mix
  •  
    Fun & Sweet Toppings/Mix-Ins

  • Candy: gummy bears, jelly beans, Junior Mints, mini
    marshmallows, mini peanut butter cups, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces
  • Chocolate-covered or candied nuts; candy-coated seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Chocolate chips and other baking chips (butterscotch, mint,
    peanut butter, vanilla)
  • Cinnamon sugar (blend it yourself: cinnamon, sugar and a bit
    of nutmeg)
  • Dried fruit (blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc.)
  •    

    Popcorn Toppings

    Popcorn Toppings

    Popcorn Bar

    Top: Popcorn bar; photo courtesy Brit.co. Middle: Candy-focused toppings for kids, courtesy Family Fresh Meals. Bottom: Popcorn bar from Popcorn.org.

  • Goldfish or other cheese crackers
  •  
    Plus

  • 3 cups of popped corn per person (it’s much better to pop the corn yourself and serve it fresh, than to buy it)
  • Bowls for ingredients and bowls for serving
  • Spoons for ingredients and for mixing them in individual bowls
  • Napkins
  •  
    RECIPE: EASY MICROWAVE POPCORN

    Plan on three cups per person. Instead of trying to make a mega-batch in the microwave, try no more than 1 cup of kernels at a time. Microwaves differ in power, so if you want to pop more than one cup at a time, do a test batch.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable* oil
  • Brown paper lunch bag
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the popcorn and oil in a bowl and mix to coat. Add to bag and sprinkle in the salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal in the ingredients.

    2. MICROWAVE on full power for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, listening until you hear pauses of 2-3 seconds between pops. Remove the bag from the microwave. Even though there may be some unpopped kernels, to continue cooking risks burning the popped kernels.

    3. OPEN the bag carefully, releasing the hot steam; then pour into a serving bowl.
     
    *For an interesting twist, experiment with other oils you may have on hand: nut oils, sesame oil, etc.

     

    Popcorn Kernels

    It’s easy to make all-natural popcorn in the
    microwave with a brown paper bag. The
    result: additive-free corn. Photo courtesy
    Squawkfox.

     

    STOVETOP POPPING INSTRUCTIONS

    1. COVER the bottom of a 3- to 4-quart pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil (don’t use butter, it will burn). Place 3 kernels of popcorn in the pan, cover with a loose lid that allows steam to escape, and heat. When the kernels pop…

    2. POUR in enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan, one kernel deep. Cover the pan and shake to evenly spread the oil. When the popping begins to slow to a few seconds apart, remove the pan from the stove top. The heated oil will still pop the remaining kernels.

    3. COOL for at least 5 minutes before serving.
     
    WHY POPCORN IS GOOD FOR YOU

    It’s a pleasant surprise: home-popped popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can enjoy.

    It’s full of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help to neutralize the free radicals that contribute to aging. In fact, popcorn has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of any plant food.

    It’s also a whole grain, packed with fiber. If you use just a little butter or cheese, you’re adding a bit of cholesterol; but it’s just as easy to skip the cheese, use olive oil, and pile on lots of herbs and spices.

    Note that prepackaged, store-bought microwave popcorn is less good for you, made with chemicals and synthetics for flavoring and coloring.

    So pop it yourself—it’s easy enough!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Overnight Oats

    Overnight oats are trending. According to Pinterest, there were 5 million overnight oats pins in 2015, a whopping 211% increase over 2014.

    If your goal is to eat a better breakfast and more whole grains, here’s how it can be ready for you to eat each morning.
     
    WHAT ARE OVERNIGHT OATS?

    Overnight oats are a way of preparing oatmeal by soaking the oats overnight, instead of cooking them. Raw oats are soaked overnight in your choice of liquid: drinkable yogurt or kefir, milk or nondairy milk (almond milk is splendid), water, yogurt/water mix, whatever.

    The soaking turns oatmeal into a cold breakfast cereal, although you can certainly heat it.

    You can use rolled oats, steel cut oats, even instant oatmeal; although given that the latter is ready in a minute in the microwave, we’d focus on the first two.

    The mixture sits in a lidded jar oats overnight (or for at least 6 hours) as the oats absorb the liquid. When it’s time for breakfast the next morning, the oats are plumped up, soft and ready to eat, cold or heated, plain or with the toppings of your choice.

     

    Overnight Oats

    One of our favorites: strawberry overnight oats. Here’s the recipe from A Pumpkin And A Princess.

     
    You can eat the oats at home or grab the jar on your way out the door. It’s that easy!

    Add Your Own Touches

    You can customize the flavors with your favorite ingredients, by adding anything from nut butter to fruit purée to the jar. For example:

  • Apple Cinnamon overnight oats, add 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce plus 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Banana French Toast overnight oats, add ½ mashed banana ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon vanilla extra and 1 tablespoon maple syrup.
  • Almond Joy overnight oats, with coconut, chocolate chips and almonds.
  • Just About Anything Sweet. We’ve seen recipes for Brownie, Carrot Cake, Cinnamon Roll, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mocha, Moose Tracks, Peanut Butter Cup, Peanut Butter & Jelly…and on and on. If it gets the kids to eat their oatmeal, go for it!
  •  
    Don’t like sweet? Experiment with savory recipes, from caraway seeds to red chili flakes.

     

    Plenti Oatmeal & Greek Yogurt

    Yoplait Plenti: Apple Cinnamon is one of six
    flavors with “overnight oats” in Greek yogurt.
    Photo courtesy General Mills.

     

    RECIPE: OVERNIGHT OATS

    There is no right or wrong ingredient or proportion: It’s how you like your oats. Here’s a guide for your first batch; you take it from here.

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup liquid, or 1/2 cup each water and yogurt
  • Optional: peanut butter or other “custom ingredient,” e.g.
    1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon flaxseed meal or protein powder
  • Optional flavoring: cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, vanilla extract
  • Sweetener: agave, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, noncaloric sweetener, etc.
  • Toppings of choice: dried or fresh fruit, nuts and/or seeds, granola or other crunchy dry cereal
  • Lidded jar or other container
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the oats and liquid in the jar with the optional peanut butter. Tamp down with a rubber spatula or a spoon so that all the oats get moistened.

    2. PLACE the jar in the refrigerator overnight. It’s ready to eat in the morning. If using peanut butter or other nut butter…

    3. BLEND the peanut butter briefly before refrigerating, just enough so that you’ll have swirls of it the next day. (We whisked it briefly.) When you’re ready to eat…

    4. ADD the sweetener, microwave if desired, and add your toppings of choice.
     
    TRY YOPLAIT PLENTI WITH OATS

    Yoplait Plenti has applied the concept of overnight oats to its yogurt cups, combining oats with Greek yogurt. There are 11 grams of protein and 16 grams of whole grain in every cup.

    The six flavors include Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Maple Brown Sugar, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla.

    It’s a brand-new product, so if your grocer doesn’t have it yet, ask or keep checking.

    Learn more at PlentiYogurt.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Garlic, A Healthy Garnish

    Baked Garlic

    Roast Garlic

    A bulb of roasted garlic is a delicious
    accompaniment to grilled meats. Photo
    courtesy Sushi Roku Katana | West
    Hollywood.

     

    Originating more than 6,000 years ago in central Asia, garlic took the culinary world by storm, spreading from culture to culture. It is used in cuisines on all the world’s continents and is one of America’s most popular herbs*.

    A member of the onion genus, Allium (the Latin word for garlic), garlic’s cousins include the chives, green onions/scallions, leeks, onions and shallots. Its botanical family, Amaryllidaceae, comprises flowering plants, most grown from bulbs (including, not surprisingly, the amaryllis).

    Garlic is not only a delicious flavor to many people; it is also one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, boost the immune system, and may even fight Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

    Here’s more on the health benefits of garlic.

    The most common use of garlic involves crushing or mincing a few cloves and adding the raw garlic to a recipe. But you can cook entire bulbs or whole cloves of garlic as a side or a garnish to please your favorite garlic lovers.

    There are two principal ways to do this, each delivering different flavors and textures. Roasting an entire head of garlic is the simpler of the methods.

    Both produce a rich, sweet, mellow flavor that appeals even to people who don’t like the flavor of garlic in recipes.
    _________________________________________
    *An herb is a plant that is used to flavor or scent other foods.

    RECIPE: ROASTED GARLIC

    A head of roasted garlic is served as a hearty side with roasted meats and poultry.

  • You can scoop it from the head with a utensil, or squeeze it from the cloves onto bread or toasts—a different approach to garlic bread!
  • You can give each garlic lover his/her own roasted garlic head/bulb, or share a number of bulbs at the table.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. CREATE a “hinge” on the top of the garlic bulb/head by slicing horizontally into it. Stop before you cut completely through. Then close the hinge and wrap the entire head in aluminum foil.

    3. PLACE the packet in the oven and bake for at least 45 minutes. It’s ready when you can squeeze the bottom of the bulb and the sweet, caramel-colored garlic oozes out the top.

     

    RECIPE: GARLIC CONFIT

    Confit is a method of preservation whereby a food (usually meat, as in duck confit) is cooked slowly in fat. It is then submerged and stored in the fat, where it will last for months.

    You can adapt the technique to garlic. Using peeled garlic cloves instead of the whole bulb, the confit method develops a flavor similar to roasting, but is more conducive to using as a garnish.

    Use the garlic confit as a topping or side garnish for meat, poultry and grilled fish; with eggs; to top burgers and sandwiches; as part of a condiment tray with pickles; or any way that inspires you.

    The garlic-flavored oil that remains in the dish after cooking is a quick flavor booster in almost any recipe that requires oil—including a vinaigrette for the meal’s salad course, or bread-dipping, or marinades. We like to use it in mashed potatoes and to cook eggs.

    You can freeze or refrigerate the confit for future use, so don’t hesitate to make a large batch at once. Bring some to garlic-loving friends.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 225°F.

    2. PEEL the garlic cloves: First soak the unpeeled cloves in cold water for five minutes to loosen the skin. Slice off the root and tip with a sharp paring knife, then use the tip to lift off the papery skin.

    3. PLACE the peeled garlic cloves in an oven-safe dish with high sides, then cover completely with olive oil. You can also add aromatics to the oil—chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme—lemon zest, or chiles.

     

    Roasted Garlic

    Russian Red Garlic

    Top: Garlic confit, glistening cloves roasted in olive oil. Photo courtesy Apronclad.com. Bottom: Beautiful Russian Red garlic. Photo courtesy Chef Seamus Mullen | FB.

     
    4. COVER and bake for at least an hour, or until the cloves become soft enough to squish between your fingers. Remove from the oven and drain the oil into an airtight jar or other container. Store in the fridge.

      

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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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