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TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Way To Eat Whole Grains

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Top: Doesn’t this look so much better
than white bread? Photo courtesy
Tried And Tasty via Dave’s Killer Bread.
Bottom: Photo courtesy Dave’s Killer Bread.

 

September is Whole Grains Month. Why whole grains? You need the fiber no matter your age, what shape you’re in (here’s why you need whole grains).

When you tell people they need to add more fiber to their diet via whole grains, you get push back. We understand: We, too prefer the taste of white-flour pancakes, pasta and pizza crust to whole grain versions.

But bread? Did you ever meet a piece of bread you didn’t like? That’s why you should make a small switch to whole grain bread.

Sandwiches and toast are just as delicious with whole wheat bread. And if you use Dave’s Killer Bread, they are resplendent!

So today’s tip is: Stop buying white bread for sandwiches and toast, and try all the whole grain versions available to you.

Our favorite is Dave’s Killer Bread, available in 14 different loaf varieties plus hamburger and hot dog buns. There’s also a better-for-you cinnamon roll. It’s one of our favorite Top Picks Of The Week.

 
WHAT’S IN DAVE’S BREAD?

It is, indeed, killer. In addition to marvelous flavor and texture, the breads are organic, all natural, whole grain and packed with protein, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids. Whole grain bread has never tasted better. We’ll support Dave’s claim that this is “the best bread in the universe.”

In addition, the breads are vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified and certified kosher (parve) by Oregon Kosher.

Our only lament is that our local store carries only one variety.

Once only available in greater Portland, Oregon, Dave’s Killer Bread has quietly become the country’s largest baker of organic bread—the #1 organic bread brand!

 
The first four Dave’s Killer Bread varieties (Blues, Good Seed, Nuts & Grains and Rockin’ Rye) launching at the Portland Farmers Market in 2005. Ten years later, it’s traversed the U.S. Waste no time in finding it, even if your local store has only one of the 14 loaves.

Here’s a store locator. Discover more at DavesKillerBread.com.
 
PICK YOUR SANDWICH

We had Dave’s Killer Bread for breakfast this morning, toasted. It’s so flavorful that it needs no spread. And since, as far as bread is concerned, Dave’s is as guilt-free as it gets, we’re deciding on what to put on our DKB sandwich for lunch:

  • BLT?
  • Chicken salad?
  • Egg?
  • Grilled cheese?
  • Grilled vegetables?
  • Ham and Emmental (the real Swiss cheese) or pimento cheese?
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Turkey and guacamole?
  •  
    All are in THE NIBBLE coffers; we just can’t decide. But we hope we’ve sold you.

     

    HOW TO BE SURE IT IS WHOLE GRAIN

    While you can rest assured that Dave’s Killer Bread is whole grain, there’s a lot on the store shelves that appear to be—but aren’t. Package labels are deceptive.

  • Multigrain is not whole grain.
  • Cracked grain and rye breads are not whole grain.
  • Pumpernickel, other dark breads are not whole grain.
  • Only “whole wheat” and “whole grain” are whole grain.
  • Corn bread can be whole grain if it’s made with whole-grain cornmeal and, if there’s wheat flour in the recipe, whole-wheat flour.
  • Here’s more on what is and isn’t whole grain bread.

    NOTE: If you eat gluten-free, millet is a GF whole grain bread.

     

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    Put your burgers and hot dogs on whole grain buns, too. Photo courtesy The Bojon Gourmet via Dave’s Killer Bread.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Rich, Creamy Almond Milk

    Some people never touch a glass of milk, but we love it. We can drink two eight-ounce glasses a day. That’s in addition to cereal milk, yogurt and other milk-based products.

    Our brother is the same. So we were surprised recently when he asked if we’d like a few quarts of almond milk; he had purchased too much.

    Why? A physician had suggested that he cut back on cholesterol. He found that he preferred the rich, creamy taste of almond milk to fat-free cow’s milk (plant-based foods are cholesterol free). He also likened the flavored varieties—Chocolate, Coconut, Vanilla—to milkshakes without the calories.

    Almond milk can be used in just about any recipe calling for cow’s milk: in baking, hot and cold beverages, sauces and soups. The only significant limitation is in recipes that require cow’s milk starches to thicken, such as custard, pudding and yogurt. You need to add other thickening agents.

    Another benefit: You need never run out of milk. Brands like Almond Breeze have shelf stable versions. Just store extra cartons in the pantry. Like Parmalat brand cow’s milk, no refrigeration is required until the container is opened.

    TRENDS: WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MILK IN AMERICA

       

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    Almond milk is our favorite of the nondairy milk alternatives. Photo courtesy Juice Queen.

     
    For decades, cow’s milk consumption per capita has been on the decline, as newer generations—even pre-teens—drink coffee and soft drinks instead of a glass of milk. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumption across all age groups dropped 25% in the 37 years between 1975 and 2012.

    Since 1999, according to market research firm Euromonitor, plant-based alternatives, called non-dairy milks, have grown in annual sales by an average of 10.9%. They are now a $1 billion-plus category in domestic retail sales.

    The trend is based on personal factors, largely allergies, kosher and vegan diets, lactose intolerance and sustainable lifestyles*.
     
    *Cow manure and flatulence produces huge amounts of methane, a major greenhouse gas. Here’s more information.
     
    NON-DAIRY MILKS

    Twenty years ago, the option for non-dairy milk at supermarkets was soy milk. Then rice milk arrived. Today, the list is threefold larger:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  •  
    Which one you choose should depend on two factors: taste preference and nutritional components. For example, if you want the milk to supplement your protein intake, look at the nutrition label. Some have more protein and other nutrients, some add nutrients equal to fortified cow’s milk (cow’s milk usually has added vitamin D; reduced fat varieties have added vitamin A). Some may contain additives you don’t want, from lecithin to sugar.

    As the disclaimer goes, speak with your healthcare professional before making any changes.

     

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    The problem with flavored almond milk: It tastes so much like a shake, you can drink buckets of it. The good news: These 10.5- ounce portions have only 30 calories and 6 grams of protein. Photo courtesy Califia Farms.

       
    HOW THE MILK ALTERNATIVES COMPARE

    Almond milk doesn’t have the protein of cow’s milk, but it is lower in calories and some brands add calcium and vitamins during processing. The key benefit for us is the mild taste. You probably wouldn’t even notice if someone replaced almond milk for cow’s milk in your coffee. A close second to soy in terms of sales, almond milk is the non-dairy milk with the largest annual sales increases.

    Coconut milk (the drinkable milk in a carton, not to be confused with the canned coconut milk for cooking and cocktails) has a noticeable amount of coconut flavor. If coconut is one of your favorite flavors and you want to taste it every time you use milk, then this is your milk alternative. While coconut milk is low in calcium and protein, on the good side it is also low in calories.

    Hemp milk is a product that people either love or hate. Personally, we don’t like the earthy flavor in a milk product. Like rice milk, it is an option for people who have nut and soy allergies.

    Rice milk can be gritty and watery. It is also higher in calories, carbs and sugar, lower in calcium and a poor source of protein. It is best for people who have nut and soy allergies.

     
    Soy milk is tasty when flavored, but in its plain form, we don’t like the beany aftertaste. Perhaps that’s why Starbucks eschews plain soy milk in flavor of sweetened vanilla soy milk as its only non-dairy alternative. Soy milk has the most protein of the non-dairy milks; but on the down side, processed soy isoflavones can affect hormones, raising the risk for breast cancer; they can also depress thyroid function. Unless it’s organic, soy milk is likely made with GMO soybeans. Soy is the highest milk alternative in sales, but that’s because it’s been around for so long and anyone who has drunk it for years has no incentive to change. But almond milk is closing in!

    Other non-dairy milks are on the shelves, and no doubt more will follow.

    Cashew milk is beloved by our vegan expert Hannah Kaminsky, who drinks and cooks only with non-dairy milks. We should have tried it by now, but are too enthralled by almond milk.

    We tried oat milk once, and didn’t care for it. Ditto with flax milk. Be your own judge.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Burger Salad & Salad Burger

    For years we have been enjoying the Burger Salad at Five Napkin Burger in New York City. It’s evolved over time, but initially consisted of a big bowl of beautifully arranged baby greens and colorful veggie complements, in a perfect vinaigrette. Atop was a plump burger: beef, salmon, turkey, veggie or a solid piece of grilled tuna.

    We love good bread and can [alas] eat loaves of it. But burger buns—even when heavily seeded or made of brioche—rarely fall into that group. And they get soggy.

    So when Five Napkin Burger presented a menu of burger salads in addition to conventional burgers, we tried a salad and were hooked. We were never a neat burger eater, so enjoyed the bonuses: no meat juices or ketchup dripping onto us when we raised the burger to our mouth.

    While it could be a calorie- and carb-cutting alternative for some, let us hasten to say that we enjoy our burger salad along with the establishment’s excellent onion rings, sweet potato fries, and a beer.

    Today’s tip is not just a burger salad, but for those who still want their bun, a salad burger (below).

       

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    Our favorite way to enjoy a burger this burger salad from Five Napkin Burger. Photo courtesy Five Napkin Burger | NYC.

     
    HOW TO CREATE A GREAT BURGER SALAD RECIPE

    To start, think of your favorite salad and assemble the ingredients. Is it spinach salad? Cobb salad? Chopped salad? Salade Niçoise? Spicy greens (arugula, radish, watercress)? Tortilla salad?

    Create your burger salad from those ingredients; and if the original salad contained chicken, turkey or other meat, consider adding small amounts of them—a mixed grill burger salad, as it were.

    You can make a bacon cheeseburger salad or a diet burger burger salad. You can add seeds for more nutrition. And there are ways to cut calories. But here’s a list of options for starters:

     
    BASIC SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • Lettuce: mixed greens (we love to add arugula and cress, but have peaked on kale)
  • Salad veggies: bell pepper, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley), radishes
  • Tomatoes: cherry, grape, sliced, sundried—or substitute pimento (roasted red pepper)
  • Onions: green (scallions), red, sweet
  •  
    SALAD ADD-ONS

  • Cheese: crumbled, cubed, julienned, shaved ribbons or shredded
  • Extra veggies: broccoli florets, cauliflower, chiles, fennel, green beans, mushrooms—raw, pickled, roasted or steamed
  • Fruits: berries, dried fruit, mandarin or orange segments, sliced stone fruit, apples or pears
  • Luxury veggies: artichoke hearts, avocado, endive, hearts of palm, radicchio, water chestnuts
  • Seasonal veggies: for example, asparagus and green peas in spring; corn, yellow squash and zucchini in summer
  • Proteins: bacon, beans or legumes (chickpeas, lentils), ham, hard-boiled eggs, tofu/seitan, seafood (we recently created a modern surf and turf burger salad with grilled shrimp), slices or cubes of poultry, salami, sausage, etc.
  • Starch: boiled potatoes, cooked grains, small pasta shapes
  • Garnishes: anchovies, croutons, nuts, olives, peppadews, pepperoncini, pickles, seeds (chia, flax, pepita/pumpkin, sunflower, toasted sesame), sprouts
  •  
    SALAD DRESSING

    A burger salad begs for a delicious vinaigrette. Here’s our template for making a vinaigrette recipe you’ll love.

  • Some people are calorie and fat counters. If that’s you, go for a dressing of plain balsamic vinegar (conventional or white balsamic). It makes a delicious dressing with just 14 calories per tablespoon.
  • Another direction is to use lemon, lime or yuzu juice. Yuzu is imported from Japan and pricey, but worth it.
  • Low-calorie salsa also works, plain or mixed with a bit of salad oil. For a creamy dressing, mix salsa with plain Greek yogurt.
  •  
    However, before you avoid salad oil, ask any nutritionist, the FDA or the American Heart Association: Two tablespoons daily of a heart-healthy oil are important for general health and specific conditions*. The recommended oils are monounsaturated, and include avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil.

    It’s time to stop looking old-school at “calories” and “fat”—an old school way of looking at diet—and focus your choices on health and nutrition.
     

     

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    Plan B: Top your burger with a salad.
    Photo courtesy Umami Burger | Hudson
    Eats.

     

    THE SALAD BURGER

    Instead of topping salad with a burger, you can top a burger with salad.

    Far more than a bunless burger or “diet burger”—the type served by our local diner and others, which plates a burger patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and a scoop of cottage cheese—a salad burger tops your burger with a flavorful salad.

    As you can see in the photo, it can be simple mixed greens, very lightly dressed. Since the burger is America’s favorite food, if you’ve been meaning to add more salad to your diet, here’s your chance.
     
    *A BIG FOOTNOTE ON HEALTHY FATS

    Monounsaturated fats deliver many health benefits, including:

  • Decreased risk for breast cancer.
  • Reduced cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of monounsaturated fats to improve one’s blood lipid profile.
  • Lower risk for heart disease and stroke. The FDA recommends that .8 ounce daily—about 2 tablespoons—may “possibly prevent coronary disease.”
  • Weight loss, when switching to monounsaturated fat from polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among others) and saturated fats (largely from animal products: meat, dairy, eggs).
  • Less severe pain and less stiffness for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. Diet plays a role in reducing the pain and stiffness of those who already have rheumatoid arthritis.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: “Kaleidoscope” Summer Fruit Salad

    Our mom, who could supreme a citrus fruit fast enough to qualify for the Cooking Olympics, made a huge bowl of fresh fruit salad for us to snack on over summer weekends. It was a healthier alternative, but still had eye- and palate appeal for kids.

    Winter fruit salad colors were a mix of pink grapefruit, oranges and pineapple, green and red grapes. There were splashes of white from diced apples and pears.

    When summer arrived, with vividly colored fruits galore, Mom switched from the winter lineup to what she called “Kaleidoscope Fruit Salad,” after the device we played with as kids (if you’ve never seen one, here’s an online kaleidoscope).

    So today’s tip is: Make a Kaleidoscope Fruit Salad. Or if you prefer:

  • Make rainbow fruit kabobs, following the color of the rainbow, as in the photo below.
  • Serve a plate of bright-colored, sliced fruits with a bright colored dip (see the recipe for Blueberry Dip below).
  •  
    Or, turn the fruit salad into:

  • Breakfast, with yogurt or cottage cheese.
  •    

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    You can get much more colorful than this: Add blueberries and/or blackberries, for starters. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • A luncheon salad or first course, placing the fruits on a bed of greens and topping them with crumbled cheese: blue, chèvre or feta.
  • Dessert, with a scoop of sorbet, flavored yogurt or cinnamon-accented sour cream. You can also marinate the fruit salad with a tablespoon or two of orange liqueur.
  •  
    You can do the same with a multicolored vegetable salad.

     

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    Make “rainbow” fruit kabobs. Photo courtesy Dishmaps.com.

     

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY DIP FOR FRESH FRUIT

    This recipe, from the Highbush Blueberry Council, produces the most beautiful heliotrope-colored dip (a medium purple).

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup light cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 2 cups of the blueberries, the cream cheese and the preserves in the container of a food processor or blender. Whirl until smooth.

    2. TRANSFER to a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving.

     
    THE COLOR WHEEL OF SUMMER* FRUITS

  • Blue fruits: blueberries, Concord grapes
  • Brown fruits: dates, figs
  • Green fruits: apples, avocado, figs, grapes, gooseberries, honeydew, kiwi, plums
  • Orange fruits: apricot, cantaloupe/crenshaw melons, gooseberries, kumquats, mango, oranges, mandarins, papaya
  • Purple fruits: blackberries, figs, grapes
  • Red and pink fruits: apples, blood orange, cherries, currants (also called “champagne grapes”), dragonfruit, gooseberries, grapes, guava, plums, pomegranate arils,raspberries, strawberries, watermelon
  • Yellow fruits: apples, carambola/starfruit, cherries (Queen Anne, Rainier), figs, golden kiwi, golden raspberries, goosberries, jackfruit, lemon, nectarines, peaches, plums
  • White and beige fruits: apple, Asian pear, banana, cherimoya, coconut, lychee, pear, rambutan, white peaches
  •  
    Go forth and make edible kaleidoscopes and rainbows.
     
    *The “summer fruits” list also includes fruits that are available year-round. If a peel of a different color is left on the fruit, we’ve double-counted it in both color groups (e.g., green apples with white flesh).
      

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    PRODUCT: Hummus Snack, No Refrigeration Required

    It’s not easy to find healthy snacks to eat on the go, much less those that are gluten free. Wild Garden Hummus, which sells shelf-stable (no refrigeration required ) hummus in jars, has a welcome new line called Snack Bo To Go!.

    It’s a tube of hummus packaged with a packet of gluten-free crackers. Neatly boxed, it’s a tasty alternative for anyone who wants to keep a better-for-you snack in a car, locker, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

    In fact, if you’ve bought a hummus snack pack on an airline, it was probably Wild Garden.

    A small cardboard box includes your hummus flavor of choice in a 1.76-ounce single-serve Tetra-Pak (67 calories; with the crackers the snack is around 200 calories). Squeezing out the hummus is easy and mess-free. Flavors include:

  • Back Olive Hummus
  • Fire Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Jalapeño Hummus
  • Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
  • Traditional Hummus
  •    

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    Small, easy-to-pack boxes with nutritious, delicious snacking inside. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.

     

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    It’s easy to squeeze hummus from these Tetra Paks. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.

     

    The different flavors of hummus are variously paired with a half-ounce of delicious, gluten-free crackers or chips:

  • CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers, an everyday favorite at THE NIBBLE (127 calories)
  • The Daily Crave Vegetable Chips (147 calories)
  • Wild Garden Quinoa Chips (122 calories)
  •  
    We tried all of the varieties, and pronounce them delicious.
     
    The MSRP is $2.29 per box (serving). MyBrands.com sells it for $2.50.

     
    If you want to buy the hummus packages only, you can get a box of 24 packets or 100 packets on Amazon.com.
     
    Visit WildGardenHummus.com for more information.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Organic Stoneground Flakes

    We first learned of Back To The Roots, an environmentally-focused start-up founded in Oakland, California by two Berkeley grads, when they sent us a Mushroom Farm two years ago. It’s a kit to grow mushrooms indoors that utilizes recycled coffee grounds.

    The company has since created Water Garden, a device that sits over a fish tank and grows herbs; and Garden In A Can, their own version of herbs-in-a-can.

    These are specialty products. But recently, the company launched another product that has a place in every kitchen.

    It’s a delicious, whole-grain breakfast cereal, with the curiously generic name of Organic Stoneground Flakes.

    They’re not exactly flakes, but shaped like tiny bowls. That adds to their charm; but whatever the shape, we love their flavor and the wholesome nutrition.

    Organic Stoneground Flakes are our new favorite cereal!

     

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    Our new favorite cereal. Photo courtesy Back To The Roots.

     
    WHAT’S IN THEM

    Just three ingredients: organic wheat, a bit of sugar and a dash of salt.

    The U.S.-grown, hard red spring wheat is 100% stoneground, the ancient milling process that preserves all the protein, fiber and flavor of the whole grain.

    The cereal is non-GMO and has a whopping 40g of whole grain per serving, almost your daily requirement of 48g; along with 6g protein and 5g fiber. There’s just a pinch of salt, and a small amount of sugar that balances the flavors without tasting sweet.
     
    MORE GOOD NEWS

    Packaged in an easily recyclable milk carton, the “flakes” are a crunchy snack from the box, a dry cereal to top with milk or yogurt, a crunchy topping for fruit salad, an ingredient for trail mix.

    An order of two 11-ounce boxes is $9.99 plus $2 shipping on the company website.

    The product’s mission is to “pour it forward”: Every photo posted to Facebook.com/backtotheroots generates a donated box of Stoneground Flakes to an elementary school cafeteria.

    WHY YOU NEED WHOLE GRAINS.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

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    Forget the pasta: This “mac and cheese”
    substitutes better-for-you cauliflower. Photo
    courtesy Castello.

     

    Chef Michael Symon has a solution for mac and cheese lovers who want to cut back on the pasta: Substitute cauliflower for the pasta.

    For some time now, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” have been a favorite substitute for mashed potatoes: lower in calories, higher in nutrition.

    In this recipe, Chef Symon does a vegetable-for-starch switch with macaroni.

    His recipe has the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese (Chef Symon uses used Castello Creamy Havarti), the crunchiness of the bread crumbs, extra cruciferous* vegetables in your diet and and delicious comfort food with reduced calories.

    Make it tonight!

    RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone (if you cannot find it, cream cheese will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup havarti
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the florets to the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler to high. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a 2-quart Dutch oven† over medium heat. Add the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the pot and bring it to simmer. (Chef Symon used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, but adjust the seasonings to your liking.) Reduce the cream by 1/3, about 3 minutes.

    3. WHISK in the mascarpone and havarti and stir to incorporate. When the cheese is melted and incorporated, keep the sauce at a simmer. The sauce will be slightly thickened at this point.

     

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    Turn it into “mac and cheese.” Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    4. ADD the cauliflower and chives, stirring well to coat the cauliflower. Pour into an ovenproof dish; then top with the bread crumbs, sprinkling them in an even layer. Place the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

     
    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the cruciferous family from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” Their flowers consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!

    †Also called a French oven, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron. In France it is called a cocotte, the French word for casserole.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Hummus Salad

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    Use hummus as the base of a salad. Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.

     

    Last month we featured 20 different ways to use hummus. But we left off at least one: this hummus salad.

    This appetizer concept, by Executive Chef Joe Isidori of Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City, piles crunchy veggies atop a base of hummus, served with a side of pita wedges.

    First, consider the hummus. Chef Isidori makes his own, but if you’re buying yours, check out the myriad of flavored hummus—everything from roasted garlic to spicy chipotle.

    Cut up your “salad”—beets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, olives, pickled vegetables (Chef Isidori used pickle onions, we used dilly beans), radishes, etc.—and toss it lightly in a vinaigrette. You can top the hummus with romaine or other crunchy lettuce before adding the other vegetables.

    For a final flourish, top with minced fresh herbs and some optional feta cheese, and serve with toasted pita chips.

    You can easily turn this into a light lunch or vegan dinner, and feel good that you’re eating healthfully, sustainably and tastily.

     
    We’ve also got 20+ ways to make a hummus sandwich.

    EASY VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    There’s no need to buy bottled vinaigrette. Just open a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of vineagar—two kitchen staples—measure them in a ratio of 3:1 and whisk vigorously.

    Start with 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of dry mustard. The latter helps the emulsion stay together and contributes a wee bit o flavor.

    The magic comes when you use different oils—flavored oils, nut oils—and vinegars; substitute lemon or lime juice for some or all of the vinegar; and add other flavor dimensions such as condiments (chopped olives, mustard, relish), heat, herbs and sweetness (honey, maple syrup).

    Here’s our master article on how to create great vinaigrette.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New “Dirty Dozen”

    The “dirty dozen” of produce refers to those fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residues. If you’re going to buy organic versus conventional produce, these are the foods to buy.

    Since agricultural practices change, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates an annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposure to chemical pesticides.

    It ranks 48 popular fruits and vegetables by their pesticide loads. The rankings are based on lab tests done [mostly] by the USDA, which tests more than 34,000 samples of common food crops for pesticide residue.

    Rinsing and peeling conventional produce does not remove all of the chemical residue. Some plants absorb pesticides through the peel.

    Nor does washing and peeling change a food’s ranking, because the USDA lab tests produce as it is typically eaten: washed and, when applicable, peeled.

    But the EWG underscores that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks from pesticide exposure. In other words, eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating enough fruits and vegetables at all.
     
    WHY SOME PRODUCE HAS TO BE “DIRTY”

    Crops differ in their hardiness—whether they’re more or less susceptible to intense heat, cold, rainfall, drought, fungus or other disease, etc.

       

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    An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it also has the highest amount of pesticide residue. The solution: Buy organic! Photo courtesy US Apples.

     
    In the case of bugs, some crops are more readily attacked and destroyed by the hungry little critters. So chemical pesticides are used to kill the bugs, fungus, etc. before they kill the crop.

    Organic farmers use natural pesticides and fertilizers—no chemicals. The expense of growing crops this way leads to the higher cost of organic produce.

    Some shocking statistics:

  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 diffent pesticides.
  • A whopping 99% of apple samples, 98% of peaches and 97% of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide.
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries each showed 13 different pesticides.
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    Eat all the asparagus you like: They’re one of the most pesticide-free veggies. Photo courtesy California Asparagus Commission.

     

    THE 2015 “DIRTY DOZEN” FRUITS & VEGETABLES

    Ranked from highest (dirtiest) to lowest (cleanest of the Dirty Dozen) are some of our favorite fruits and vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Imported Snap Peas
  • Potatoes
  •  
    Wow!

     
    We’ve been buying organic celery for years (it’s been on the Dirty Dozen list for a long time). But we’re going to go our of our way for organic apples and strawberries, two fruits we eat almost daily.

    We’ll also buy more of the Clean Fifteen, produce with the least amount of pesticide residue.
     
    THE “CLEAN FIFTEEN” FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes
  •  
    As an American consumer, the choice is yours!
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Go Nuts With Non-Chocolate Easter Treats

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    Fill an Easter basket with all six flavors.
    Photo courtesy Ricky’s Lucky Nuts.

     

    It’s hard to believe, but not everyone likes chocolate. Our friend Maria, for example would rather have something salty, or a combination of sweet and salty.

    So she, and other salt fans, are getting salted nut treats in their Easter baskets.

    RICKY’S LUCKY NUTS

    We don’t know why they’re lucky, but they sure taste good! One of the co-founders is a chef and restaurateur who knows how to please palates.

    Ricky’s, of Durango, Colorado, takes non-GMO jumbo runner peanuts from Texas and turns them into distinctively flavored, all-natural treats. Flavors include:

  • Black Pepper & Sea Salt
  • Real Coffee
  • Spicy Chile Chipotle
  • Sweet & Smoky BBQ
  • Sweet Chai
  • Thai Red Curry
  •  
    Even the sweet flavors have enough balance to please the yen for savory.

    The packages, in a rainbow of different colors, deliver 7 grams of protein per ounce and a host of vitamins and minerals from this nutrient-dense food. Take that, chocolate bunny!

    Fill an Easter basket with one or more packages of each flavor. Get them at RickysLuckyNuts.com.

    Beyond snacking from the pack from the pack, toss them into salads (green and grain), mix them into cooked rice, add them to stir-frys and create ice cream sundaes (or toss them on a plain scoop). Yum!

     

    PLANTERS NEW TART FLAVORS

    Planters is known for salty nuts, sweet nuts and spicy nuts. Add to that tart nuts!

    Two zesty new flavors deliver a pleasing pucker to persnickity palates.

  • Planters Sea Salt & Vinegar Peanuts look like regular peanuts; but oh, what a nice punch of vinegar!
  • Planters Chili Lime Peanuts have a red-orange tint from the chili powder, which adds moderate heat to natural lime flavor.
  •  
    In pastel colors (green for Chili Lime, blue for Sea Salt & Vinegar), they deserve a place in any Easter basket.

    As with Ricky’s, each serving contains seven grams of protein and the other peanut nutrients.

    The flavors are packaged in six-ounce cans with re-sealable tops. You can find them at retailers nationwide.

     

    chili-lime-can-230

    One of two delicious new flavors from Planters. Photo courtesy Planters Nuts..

     

      

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