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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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Buy Better Olive Oil

    Some 10 years ago, the Food and Drug Administration allowed a qualified health claim on food labels of olive oil. The claim states that daily consumption of 2 tablespoons, or 23 grams of olive oil, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The decision to allow the claim was made after the FDA found sufficient evidence to conclude that monounsaturated fatty acids, naturally present in olive oil, may prevent heart disease.

    This spurred the consumption of olive oil in the U.S. So if your healthier eating plans for the new year include those two tablespoons, here are tips for buying olive oil from an expert: David Neuman, CEO of Gaea US and a certified master panel taster trained at ONAOO, the Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio di Oliva (National Organization For The Tasters Of Olive Oil).

    While American olive oils tend to be well monitored, that’s not so with some imports. The industry has long been fraught with fake and doctored oils, fooling even good retailers.

    For your money and your heart-healthiness, here are some tips to help you find the real deal.
     
    TIPS TO BUYING QUALITY EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

    1. Look & Taste

    Color is not necessarily an indicator of quality. The color has a lot to do with the variety of olive being crushed, the stage of the harvest the olives were picked and the time and temperature of the malaxation† process. And if the oil is filtered or not. Not to mention, many olive oils are sold in dark glass bottles which help preserve the oil, but make it impossible to see the color before you buy.

    Neuman prefers robust oils of a premium nature that are early harvested and quickly malaxed using olives that are prone to being more green. However, he says, there are wonderful oils such as from Sicily that are yellow and have a very intense fruity taste accented by bitterness and pungency. They are of excellent quality, but not dark green in color.

    There are also different styles, which appeal to different plates. Some examples:

  • Fruity, a factor affected by variety, maturity, processing and growing conditions.
  • Bitter, a feature of good, young olive oil, the intensity of which depends on the olive variety and ripeness, as well as on the milling technique.
  • Pungent (chemesthesis), throat-catching and/or mouth-hot, a characteristic of Tuscan olive oils.
  •  
    2. Aroma

    Neuman thinks that a much more precise indicator of the quality of an olive oil is the aroma. A quality EVOO should taste fresh, green, peppery and grassy.

    While you first have to purchase the bottle, Neuman recommends the sniff test, which is also the way to judge how an opened bottle of olive oil is holding up.

  • When you open the bottle it should smell green and grassy, or even ripe and tropical (depending on variety, ripeness, milling, etc. etc. etc.). It should smell good.
  • Look out for fustiness or rancidity, two common defects in olive oil. If you are reminded of a gym locker, sweaty socks, stinky football pads, feet, cheese, crayons, old peanuts, or a compost heap that is too wet, that oil has not been made with fresh, healthy olives. Return it to the retailer!
  • Rancidity doesn’t show up in the aroma until it’s fairly advanced, but you will can smell it immediately and taste it as soon as the oil is in your mouth: It will have a greasy, fatty mouthfeel. If you get an impression of crayons, wax, window putty, old linseed oil or oil paint, rancid walnuts or peanuts, “cat piss” or a wet compost heap: That’s rancidity.
  •  
    Here’s more on the flavors and aromas of olive oil.
    _________________________________
    *Olive oil should be used to replace, and not add to, the other fats present in your diet. Here’s more on the recommendations.

    †Malaxation is the churning or mixing of milled olives for 20 to 40 minutes. This allows the smaller droplets of oil released by the milling process to aggregate and be more easily separated. Here’s more about malaxation.

     

    Harvested Olives

    Gaea Olive Oil

    Green-Hued Olive Oil

    Coratina Olive Oil

    The color of olive oil is based on various factors, and is not necessarily indicative of quality. Top: Just-harvested olives at O Olive Oil. Second: A green-hued olive oil from DeMedici. Third: A yellow-hued premium olive oil from Gaea. Bottom: If you butter your bread, switch to an olive oil dipper. You can add herbs, chili flakes, or enjoy it plain, like this Coratina olive oil from Murrays.com.

     
    3. Price

    Price typically is a solid indicator of quality. The more the oil costs, the better the quality. But there’s a catch: A high-priced oil can sit on the shelves for years and be completely rancid. Check for “best before” dates, or at least harvest dates. You can check online for the shelf life of the particular oil.

  • Bottle dating is voluntary, and this type of transparency is not yet universal on bottles from all producers in countries. But you can let it be a deciding factor in your purchase.
  • Watch out for bargains. If the price is so low and seems too good to be true, it probably is. Expect to spend more than $10 for a 17-ounce bottle of EVOO.
  • Look for extra virgin olive oils that are from a single source. This can range from a single estate to a single Protected Designation of Origin (PDO—these regional designations are policed well by the EU) to a particular region or country.
  • The worst sign is a label that says, “May contain olive oils from Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, Argentina and Australia” (i.e., more than one country) or “Mediterranean blend.” This means that the oil is from an industrial packer that sells bulk not quality, and not a conscientious olive oil producer.
  •  
    FINAL TIPS

  • Beware of “extra light” olive oil. Neuman warns that an “extra light” label does not indicate an olive oil that is light in calories. Rather, it is a refined olive oil blend, made with olive oil that has been heavily refined so that it has no color, aroma or flavor. It is blended with about 10% Extra Virgin or Virgin grade for flavor and color, and is the lowest-quality olive oil sold to consumers. Avoid it!
  • Study up before you buy. Check out our Olive Oil Glossary, what you need to know about extra virgin olive oil, and how to taste olive oil.
  • Olive oil sensory wheel: How to learn the flavors and aromas of olive oil.
  •   

    Comments

    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: 10+ Good For You, Quick Sauces

    We’re still in “New Year’s Resolutions Month,” and today the tip is good-for-you sauces.

    Perhaps you’ve already been cooking dinner regularly; or perhaps you’re trying to do more of it to avoid sugar-, salt- and fat-laden take-out food.

    One of the easiest ways to complete a simple home-cooked meal is to cover it with purchased sauces. That’s no better for you than take-out, as reading the nutrition labels will prove.

    Here are 10 couldn’t-be-easier sauces that are good for you, and good on chicken, fish, grains, pasta, and so forth. Before you make a sauce from a can of soup, read the ingredients label—and see how easy these alternatives are:
     
    JUST POUR

  • Flavored Olive Oil. Drizzle basil-, rosemary- or other infused olive oil under the main food (chicken breast, fish fillet, pasta—see top photo) or drizzle it it around the perimeter of the plate (see second photo). Use a pour-top or a squeeze bottle for a thinner drizzle. With flavors from blood orange to garlic and hot chile, you can deliver lots of flavor while enjoying your government-approved two tablespoons of olive oil daily. Here are other ways to use infused olive oil.
  • Unflavored Olive Oil & Herbs. No flavored olive oil at hand? Sprinkle in some dried herbs before drizzling. We add both to a Pyrex measuring cup, stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, and pour.
  • Balsamic vinegar. Balsamic adds great flavor to just about anything. You can layer it on top of the oil. We use a small squeeze bottle and squeeze dots of balsamic on top of the oil (very arty!). You can also use a clean medicine dropper.
  • Pesto.You can also make pesto and keep it in the fridge. Then, 10 seconds in the microwave gives you a delicious hot sauce.
  •  
    LESS THAN 5 MINUTES OF COOKING

  • Tomato sauce: There are many riffs on quick tomato sauce, but they all involve cooking, usually for a minimum of 25 minutes. Here’s our quickest technique, using a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes (or other quality tomatoes). Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan and cook a clove of sliced garlic. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a minute or two. Add salt and pepper (or red pepper flakes) to taste, plus any herbs (basil, oregano, thyme). Voilà!
  • Vegetable purée. If you have leftover cooked vegetables, purée them into a sauce. Pop them into the food processor, purée, taste and add seasonings as desired (salt, garlic salt, pepper or other heat). Thin the purée to the desired consistency with a bit of olive oil or broth.
  •  
    PAN SAUCES

    The easiest sauce for pan-cooked food is to deglaze the pan.

    Another French technique typically combines butter or cream with other ingredients to make an on-the-spot sauce for the just-cooked dish. The sauce is thickened by the butter or cream—two ingredients we want to cut back on.

    So here we’re substituting chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and olive oil. The ingredients below are basic, and you should already have them in the kitchen. Feel free to add whatever else you have: capers, garlic and other herbs, lemon zest, minced onion, etc.—or to substitute flavorful balsamic vinegar for the white wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  • Quick Mushroom Sauce. Microwave 1 cup chicken broth and 2 tablespoons finely chopped dried mushrooms until hot. Stir to combine, and pour into a hot skillet. Simmer until reduced by half, 2-3 minutes. Whisk in 4 teaspoons of milk (or cream, if you will) to form a lightly thickened sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Quick Dijon Mustard Sauce. Follow the same recipe as above, but substitute 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard for the mushrooms.
  • Quick Herbed Tomato Sauce. Heat the skillet over hot heat; combine 1/3 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, ¼ cup canned crushed tomatoes and a generous pinch of tarragon or other herb in a small bowl or mixing cup. Pour into the hot skillet, simmer for 2-3 minutes to reduce by half. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  •  
    NONFAT “CREAM SAUCE”

    You can turn any of these sauces into a creamy sauce with the addition of nonfat Greek yogurt. There’s a hitch, though: Yogurt curdles over heat and can’t be added to a hot pan. Instead, use this technique:

     

    Steak With Rosemary

    Grilled Salmon With Gremolata

    Steak and Gravy

    Spaghetti With Fresh Tomato Sauce

    Top: Pan-grilled steak atop a pool of garlic-infused olive oil. Photo courtesy Quinciple. Second: Grilled salmon on a plate rimmed with basil olive oil and a garnish of gremolata: finely chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Photo courtesy Eddie Merlot’s. Third: Have fun with it: Use a squeeze bottle to turn your sauce into polka dots or zig-zags. Photo courtesy Strip House. Fourth: A can of San Marzano tomatoes becomes a quick sauce. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

  • Spoon the yogurt into a bowl and let it warm to room temperature.
  • Temper the yogurt by stirring in a tablespoon of the hot sauce—not enough to curdle it but enough to get the yogurt used to it.
  • Blend in the rest of the sauce.
  •  
    Bon appétit!
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Trim Your Cocktail Calories

    Red Cocktail Mint Garnish

    Herradura Agave Nectar

    Top: Fruit purée and flavored spirits cut the need for sugar in cocktails. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful. Bottom: Agave nectar is a superior alternative to simple sugar. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Right after the new year, we were listening to the four principals on a top morning news show discuss what they would give up for a better new year. Not one could give up drinking!

    Yet, everyone wanted to eat more healthfully.

    An obvious choice is to avoid sweet, sugared cocktails in favor of savory ones: Bloody Mary, Martini, Scotch and Soda and the like. But some people insist on a sweet cocktail.

    Mixologist Sam Fuerstman at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C. has crafted a few lower-calorie cocktails, including a “no-guilt Gimlet” and a “cheat-free Margarita.”

    The recipes are below. Here are general tips for cutting cocktail calories:

  • Rethink simple syrup, the main cocktail sweetener, which is half sugar, half water (or worse, HFCS in a prepared mix product). Instead, use much-lower-calorie, low-glycemic agave nectar*. If you want a zero-calorie simple syrup, dissolve one part stevia or Splenda in four parts boiling water. It won’t be thick, but it will deliver sweetness.
  • Use flavor-infused spirits. They contribute flavor without extra calories, and are available in any flavor you could desire.
  • Avoid cocktails with high-calorie juices (e.g. alas, no Piña Colada).
  • Use fruit purée or freshly squeezed juice instead of store-bought juice, which may have added sugars. Take a look at Trop 50: nine different juices, including orange juice, with half the sugar and calories.
  • Use diet mixers instead of sugar-laden ones. Even if you don’t normally buy diet drinks, you can use diet tonic water, ginger ale, cola, cranberry juice, etc. in your drink.
  •  
    and…

  • Sip flavored spirits straight. They taste like a mixed drink; but remember that they’re 80 proof. To us, SKYY’s Pineapple Vodka is a low-calorie alternative to a Piña Colada. Make straight spirits more cocktail-like with crushed ice and a fruit garnish.
  •  
    *Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, has a natural sweetness that’s more elegant than table sugar. It’s never cloying or “sugary.” Its glycemic index is 32, half that of sugar (GI 60-65) and more than 40% less than honey (GI 58) and pure maple syrup (GI 54); it’s diabetes-friendly. A teaspoon of agave has 20 calories; sugar has 16 calories and honey has 22 calories. But since agave is 1.4 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, you don’t need to use as much (we use half as much).

     

    RECIPE: NO-GUILT RASPBERRY VODKA GIMLET

    This no-guilt gimlet has a double raspberry twist: raspberry purée plus raspberry-flavored vodka.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 tablespoon homemade raspberry purée
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces raspberry vodka
  • Garnish: cucumber wheel, fresh raspberries, lime wedge or lime wheel, lemon curl
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the raspberries in a food processor or blender. Taste; if you need more sweetness, add a bit of Splenda or agave.

    2. COMBINE with the other ingredients. You can serve the drink on the rocks, or shake it with ice and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass.

     

    RECIPE: NO-PANIC POMEGRANATE MARGARITA

    Here, fresh fruit juice substitutes for the standard sugary Margarita mixes. Here’s how to make pomegranate juice from fresh pomegranates. You can also purchase pomegranate juice with no added sugar.

     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • ½ ounce of fresh pomegranate juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • Coarse salt and optional lime zest for rim
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ZEST the lime before juicing it and blend with the salt in a shallow dish. Rub the rim of the glass with a slice of lime slice to make the salt mixture stick to it; then dip the glass rim into the salt and twist to coat.

    2. SHAKE the other ingredients with ice, and then carefully pour into the glass, taking care not to dislodge any salt. Serve over ice.
     

    RECIPE: SUGAR-FREE MINT GIN FIZZ

    Sprite Zero substitutes for the simple syrup in a Gin Fizz.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 fresh mint sprigs
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2½ ounces Sprite Zero
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprig(s)
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Pomegranate Margarita

    Mint Cocktail Garnish

    Top: Pomegranate Margarita with homemade pomegranate juice. Photo courtesy Tony Roma’s. Bottom: Fresh mint provides flavor and aroma that trumps the lack of sugar in this Gin Fizz. Photo courtesy Junoon | NYC.

     
    1. MUDDLE the mint sprigs in a glass with the lime juice. Add the gin and top with Sprite Zero.

    2. POUR over ice and garnished with a sprig of mint leaves.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grain Bowl For Breakfast & Brunch

    Poached Egg Grain Bowl

    A new approach to breakfast: egg with grain
    and veggie. Photo and recipe courtesy Good
    Eggs
    | San Francisco.

     

    A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON BREAKFAST TRADITIONS

    Traditional American breakfasts are echoes of the elaborate breakfasts of the English gentry, which fortified them for a day of sport. They’re much less elaborate today, but regular Brits can still enjoy a heaping plate of eggs, bacon, black and white sausage, beans, kidneys, kippers, mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes, with a side of fried bread.

    In the late 19th century, the morning fare for wealthy Americans was similar: eggs with cutlets, ham, fried fish, deviled kidneys, black pudding (sausage), cold grouse or pheasant, fruit and pie. The less affluent made do with eggs or porridge.

    No wonder thousands of the well-to-do headed to spa-like sanitariums for rejuvenation. At one sanitarium, a physician named Caleb Jackson changed the way his clients breakfasted.

    In 1863, he developed a healthful, spartan, fiber-filled breakfast—the first cold breakfast cereal. Granula, as he called it, was an early version of Grape-Nuts, whose inventor, C.W. Post, first had it when a patient at another sanitarium.

    To make granula, baked sheets of graham flour dough were dried, broken into nuggets, baked again, and broken into smaller pieces. The resulting dense, chewy grain clusters had to be soaked overnight in milk before serving.

     
    Other spas followed suit; and as prepared, packaged foods became more common, granula paved the way for Bran Flakes (1915), All Bran (1916), Rice Krispies (1927) and Raisin Bran* (1942), eaten with milk and sugar. In 1951 the onslaught of heavily sugared cereals targeted to kids began, producing Corn Pops, Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks and Cocoa Krispies. Here’s a detailed history of breakfast cereal.

    Around the world, there’s less of a distinction in foods served for breakfast versus other meals.

  • In China, there is a savory rice porridge called congee, but breakfast also can include dumplings, soup with rice and sweet items like fried sponge cake and steamed custard bun.
  • The traditional Japanese breakfast has rice, fish, miso soup, sticky soy beans and nori dried seaweed.
  • A common South Indian breakfast has vegetable stew served with steamed lentil and rice bread, and dosa, a thin crunchy crepe with spicy potato filling. [Source]
  •  
    A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO BREAKFAST

    Today’s tip is for a hybrid breakfast, combining breakfast eggs with dinner items: cooked grains and vegetables.

    This recipe was devised by Good Eggs in San Franciso, as a light dinner entrée: a poached egg with quinoa and broccoli rabe. They call it a grain bowl. But we make it for breakfast, to replace butter-fried or -scrambled eggs and hash browns (or bagels and cream cheese) with better-for-you chow.

    You can replace the poached egg with another style, the quinoa with other grains or legumes, and the broccoli rabe with your vegetable of choice.

    And you can serve it at breakfast, brunch, even for lunch.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, total time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: POACHED EGG WITH QUINOA AND BROCCOLI RABE

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems cut off (substitute spinach)
  • 2 pinches chile flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste†
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa or other whole grain
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), melted‡
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons dill or other fresh herbs (basil, chervil, mint, roughly chopped
  • Garnish: flake salt, a pinch of chile flakes
  • _______________________________________
    *We substituted chopped pistachio nuts, untoasted. You can substitute other nuts or seeds.

    †If you plan to garnish with flake salt, under-salt the rabe and quinoa.

    ‡We didn’t have time to clarify, so used melted butter.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOAST the pine nuts: Heat a pan over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Toast for 3-5 minutes, tossing them in the pan occasionally to ensure an even color. Remove when they’re golden brown and transfer to a bowl.

    2. RETURN the pan to the stove, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn the heat to high. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. As soon as the garlic starts to turn golden brown, turn the heat down to medium and add the broccoli rabe and a pinch or two of chile flakes.

    3. TOSS the rabe in the oil and garlic using tongs, and sauté together for 5-7 minutes. Add a pinch or two of salt and taste. You want the leaves to be tender and the flavor to be a bit bitter, but delicious. If the rabe still has too much kick for your taste, cook for a few minutes longer. When the rabe is done, remove from heat and set aside. While the broccoli cooks…

    4. SEASON the quinoa. Add the ghee and herbs to the quinoa and stir thoroughly. Finish with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper to taste.

    5. COOK the eggs. You may have your own way of poaching eggs (we use an egg poacher; the result is less pretty but it’s a lot easier). Otherwise, here’s a technique from Good Eggs.

  • Fill a wide and deep pan about ¾ of the way with water. Put it over high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer. Crack the first egg into a metal ladle and submerge it in the water while holding the handle of the ladle upright. Poach the egg in the ladle for about 5 minutes (more or less depending on your yolk consistency preference.
  • To check on progress, lift the ladle to just above the water level and tip it gently to pour out excess water. Gently touch the yolk with the tip of your finger to get a sense of how runny it will be. When the egg is poached, gently transfer it to a slotted spoon and slide the egg onto a paper towel. Repeat with the second egg.
  • 6. ASSEMBLE: Spoon the quinoa into the bottom of a bowl, then the broccoli rabe, then the egg. Finish with some flake salt, a pinch of chile, fresh herbs and nuts.

     
    BROCCOLI, BROCCOLINI & BROCCOLI RABE:
    THE DIFFERENCE

  • Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens and turnips, among other veggies. It has thick stalks and large, dense florets. It grows with large outer leaves, which are usually stripped away prior to hitting store shelves. However, they are edible and delicious.
  • Broccolini, which has long, slender stalks and small, less dense florettes, is hybrid developed in California by crossing conventional broccoli with Chinese kale. Unlike broccoli and broccoli rabe, it doesn not have leaves.
  •  

    Head Of Broccoli

    Raab

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/broccolini bodecology.com 230

    Top: Broccoli, with thick, shorter stalks and large florets. Photo courtesy Burpee. Middle: Broccoli rabe, which has long stems, small florets and elegant leaves, can look like a bouquet. Photo courtesy Conscious Life Force. Bottom: Broccolini has long stems but no leaves. Photo courtesy Bodecology.com.

     

  • Broccoli rabe or rapini (pronounced robb and sometimes spelled raab) is popular in Southern Italy, where it is often served with pasta or polenta. It looks like a very leafy broccolini but is actually a member of the turnip genus. It is more bitter than broccoli and broccolini.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red Grapefruit, The Best Winter Fruit

    Grapefruit is a winter fruit, and we’re glad to have it.

    America is the world’s largest consumer of grapefruit, with large commercial groves in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. But the grapefruit’s ancestor, the pummelo (also pomelo, pomello and other spellings), comes from far away. It’s native to Malaysia and Indonesia.

    THE HISTORY OF GRAPEFRUIT

    In 1693, pummelo seeds were brought from the East Indies to the West Indies—Barbados—by an English ship commander, one Captain Shaddock. The grapefruit may have been a horticultural accident or a deliberate hybridization between the larger pummelo and the smaller sweet orange. The original grapefruit was about the size of the orange.

    Its name evolved in English to a descriptive one: The fruit grows on trees in grape-like clusters. The fruit was pretty but very sour and the thick took time to peel. For a long time, it was grown only as an ornamental tree.

    The grapefruit arrived in the U.S. in 1823, but it was not immediately popular for eating. The tart fruits had numerous tiny seeds and required a generous sprinkling of sugar.

    Growers learned how to breed selective fruits that were sweeter, and in 1870, the first grapefruit nursery was established in Florida.

    In 1885, the first shipment of grapefruits arrived in New York and Philadelphia, generated interest and helped to create the commercial grapefruit industry.

    Here’s a longer history of grapefruit.

    Most grapefruit grown is white grapefruit. But hopefully that will change: Red grapefruit (not pink) is where it’s at.
     
    HOW RED GRAPEFRUIT DEVELOPED

    The first grapefruits were white. Pink grapefruit, a mutation, was first discovered in 1906 in the groves of the Atwood Grapefruit Company in Manatee County, Florida.

       

    Sweet Scarlett Red Grapefruit

    Star Ruby Grapefruit

    Top: Sweet Scarlett red grapefruits. Photo courtesy Wonderful Fruit. Bottom: The yellow rinds often have a pink blush. Photo of Star Ruby grapefruits courtesy Specialty Produce.

     
    One day, a grove foreman peeled a grapefruit with the intention of eating it, and discovered that the fruit inside was pink! A local nurseryman was able to propagate the pink fruit, and it met with big success: In addition to a more pleasing color, the flesh tended to be sweeter.

    Another mutation gave us red grapefruit, which was originally discovered growing on a pink grapefruit tree in Texas. It was patented as Ruby Red grapefruit in 1929. Red grapefruit is known in agriculture as a “limb sport,” a mutation of one limb (branch) that has different fruit characteristics than the rest of the tree.

    A hit from the start, sweeter with alluring rosy red flesh, Ruby Reds are marketed under different names: Flame, Rio Red, Rio Star, Ruby-Sweet, Star Ruby, Sweet Scarletts, TexaSweet and others.

    While consumers call these different red grapefruits “varieties,” botanically it’s more accurate to call them different “selections” because they are all derived from one another as descendants of the original Ruby Reds. Each has different small attributes, tailored to succeed in different climates and soils.

    Otherwise stated, all of the different deep red grapefruits grown around the world—Rio Red in Texas, Star Ruby in South Africa, Flame in Florida, etc.—are not botanically different, but have been adapted to the the climate and soil in each region.

    Different selections also have different shades of flesh. For example, Florida’s Ruby Reds are deep pink, while Flame grapefruits have deep red flesh.

     

    Red Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

    Simple yet elegant: Rio Star grapefruit
    sections in an avocado half. Here’s the easy
    recipe
    . Photo courtesy TexaSweet.

     

    WHAT MAKES THE FLESH RED?

    Red and pink grapefruits contain lycopene, a phytochemical (antioxidant) found in tomatoes and some other red fruits and vegetables such as papaya, red carrots and watermelon. Red grapefruits have a greater concentration than pink grapefruits.

    Why are red grapefruits sweeter?

    It’s all in the weather. Sweet Scarletts, for example, are grown in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where hot days, cool nights and the unique terroir† merge to create the ideal grapefruit.

    Most red grapefruits are grown in Texas, since the The Texas climate produces the sweetest red grapefruits.
     
    DON’T LET THE SEASON PASS YOU BY

    Different regions are ready to harvest at different times; but in general, red grapefruit is available from October through March.

    We have been enjoying a box of Sweet Scarletts, and couldn’t be happier. They’re so sweet and lush, who needs ice cream?

     
    If you aren’t already a grapefruit lover, head to the store and bring some home. They’re sweet, juicy, and low in calories* (42 calories per 3.5 ounces of flesh). It’s one of our favorite great-tasting and great-for-you foods.
     
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT WAYS CAN YOU SERVE RED GRAPEFRUIT?

    Here are nine pages of red grapefruit recipes, from cocktails and appetizers through main courses, sides and desserts.

  • One of our favorite preparations is red grapefruit sorbet. Here’s a recipe from Emeril via Martha Stewart.
  • Red grapefruit sorbet is also delicious in a dessert cocktail. Fill a Martini glass or coupe with sparkling wine and add a scoop of sorbet. Garnish with some grated grapefruit zest.
  • Another favorite preparation: broiled grapefruit. It takes just three minutes: Sprinkle a half grapefruit with brown sugar, place on a cookie sheet and broil for three minutes. It’s ready when the sugar melts and gets crispy—the grapefruit version of crème brûlée.
  •  
    Many thanks to to Etienne Rabe, Vice President, Agronomy at Wonderful Citrus in California, for explaining the fine points of this “wonderful” fruit.
     
    ______________________________________
    *For those who closely monitor their nutrition, they’re high in the cancer-fighting antioxidant vitamin A; the free-radical-fighting antioxidant vitamin C; the vision-friendly flavonoid antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, naringenin and xanthin; the dietary fiber pectin (which also lowers cholesterol); and potassium, which counters the negative effects of sodium; among other nutrients such as B vitamins. Red grapefruit also contains the powerful flavonoid antioxidant, lycopene, which protects skin from damage from UV rays and fights macular degeneration and several types of cancer.

    †Terroir, a French word pronounced tur-WAH, refers to the unique combination of geographic location, climate and microclimate, soil and temperature that creates the individual personality of an agricultural product. As in the growing of grapes for wine or beans for coffee, terroir dramatically affects the flavor profiles of the product.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Oils To Use, And Not To Use

    What cooking oils are in your pantry?

    Here’s what you should know from Chef Gerard Viverito, a culinary instructor and Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, an NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on issues of sustainability in the seas.

    THE 12 COOKING OILS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

    In your mother’s kitchen, the only cooking oil may have been all-purpose vegetable oil, a blend of inexpensive oils. Then came the Mediterranean Diet and the attention paid to its heart-healthy olive oil.

    Today, there are more than a dozen options for cooking oil. Don’t be stuck with mom’s ingredients. Use Chef Gerard’s handy guide to determine which cooking oils you need to add to your collection.

    EVERYDAY HEALTHY COOKING FATS

    Each of these healthy fats deserves a place in your pantry, says Chef Gerard.

  • Butter. There’s no need to avoid this tasty fat (it isn’t an oil, but we’re giving it a pass). The myth about saturated fat has been busted. Butter is fine to use in moderation for adding flavor to veggies or potatoes.
  •    

    Olive Oil & Olives

    Heart-healthy olive oil has become a staple in American kitchens. Photo courtesy Flavor-Your-Life.com, a great resource for olive oil lovers.

  • Coconut oil. A tropical oil that is gaining in popularity, coconut oil’s medium chain fatty acids (also found in grass-fed butter and palm oil) are easily utilized as body fuel, which may help with weight management. Coconut oil’s natural sweetness makes it a great choice for baking.
  • Malaysian palm oil. This up-and-coming healthy tropical oil is a popular replacement for harmful trans fat. This non-GMO, balanced and ultra-nutritious oil can already be found in many of your favorite packaged foods. It tolerates heat extremely well, so it’s an ideal all-purpose cooking oil. All palm oil isn’t the same. Look for Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil; if it isn’t in your supermarket, check the nearest health food store. The Malaysian palm industry adheres to the 3Ps sustainability model.
  • Olive oil. Rich in monounsaturated fat, this oil is great for a healthy heart and healthy skin. Use it for salad dressings and drizzling over breads, but don’t use for high-temperature applications. This healthy oil starts to degrade before you hit 400°F. (Tip: Have at least two tablespoons a day, whether in salad dressing or straight from the spoon.)
  •  
    SPECIAL OCCASION COOKING OILS

    These oils have more limited uses, and often come with a higher price.

  • Avocado oil. Avocado oil is rich in nutrients, because it is extracted from the fruit’s flesh. This process is similar to olive oil and palm oil production. Avocado oil tolerates heat up to 500°F, which makes it great for broiling. You can also find flavored olive oils, delicious on salads and other vegetables, potatoes, and grains.
  • Flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is a nutritious yet delicate oil. While many nutrition-focused people want to eat more of it, it begins breaking down at just 225°F so can’t be exposed to heat. The oil is extremely rich in heart-healthy omega-3, but unfortunately, many people find its flavor unappealing. Consider adding a teaspoon of flaxseed oil to your next smoothie to reap its health benefits.
  • Macadamia nut oil. Although more commonly used as a beauty aid, this sweet and buttery oil is good for your health, too. It contains a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Why is this important? Many health experts believe the Western diet contains too many inflammatory omega-6s. Try macadamia nut oil in salads.
  •  
    If you currently use sunflower oil, consider this:

  • Sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is rich in skin-, brain- and heart-healthy vitamin E tocotrienols. Unfortunately, it’s also high in inflammatory compounds, so instead of cooking with it, it’s better to rub some on your cuticles or use it to smooth your hair. Instead of sunflower oil, get your tocotrienols from Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil, nature’s richest source.
  •  

    Macadamia Nut Oil

    Macadamia and avocado oils are both made in Australia. For the best flavor, look for first cold pressed oils. Photo courtesy Brookfarm.

     

    GENETICALLY MODIFIED OILS

    If you’re trying to avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs), put these oils on your “do not buy” list. More than 90% of these crops are grown using genetically modified seeds.

  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Soybean oil
  •  
    Give all of your current oils the “sniff test.” If they smell musty, they’re ready the recycling bin.

    Replace them with “good oils.”
     
    ALL OF THE COOKING OILS

    There are more cooking oils, including the pricey-but-delicious hazelnut, pistachio and walnut oils; and powerful dark sesame oil, which is delicious when used in moderation. Take a look at the different cooking oils in our Culinary Oils Glossary.

     

    And check to see if your oil should be kept in the fridge. Some are very hardy and stay well on the shelf for two years; others, less so.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Granola Bars

    Granola Bars

    Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars

    Top: No-bake chocolate chip granola bars
    from Fearless Homemaker. Here’s the recipe.
    Bottom: Cherry, chocolate and cashew
    granola bars from Love And Zest. Here’s
    the recipe.

     

    It’s National Granola Bar Day. Even if you’re happy with the bars you buy, it’s the day to make your own custom recipe (ours is dark chocolate chunks, dried cherries and pistachio nuts, sometimes with a bit of coconut).

    HISTORY OF THE GRANOLA BAR

    Heree’s the history of granola breakfast cereal, which was invented in the 19th century by Dr. James Caleb Jackson for his sanitarium patients. It was the first dry breakfast cereal, and the first to be eaten cold.

    He actually invented “granula.” In 1881, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, proprietor of another sanitarium, copied his recipe; when Jackson brought a lawsuit, Kellog changed the name of his product to granola.

    Granola bars did not appear until much later, as a better-for-you snack. Most sources credit Stanley Mason (1921-2006) as the innovator. Mason was a tireless inventor. His more than 100 inventions also included the squeezable ketchup bottle, dental floss dispensers and disposable diapers.

    Granola bars are dense, chewy cereal bars made from granola ingredients—oats, honey and inclusions like dried fruits and nuts. These days, chocolate baking chips, peanut butter and other ingredients not imagined by either Jackson or Mason, are often added.

    There are no “wrong” ingredients, although M&Ms and marshmallows seem to defeat the purpose of a nutritious snack. Here’s a basic recipe:

     
    RECIPE: GRANOLA BARS

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (or a mix of other seeds)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts of choice (a mixture is fine)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ, oat bran or ground flaxseed*
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or canola oil), melted, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted nuts)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups dried fruit in any combination (a list follows)
  •  

    *If you don’t like these ingredients, use more oats. For gluten-free bars, use gluten-free rolled oats.
     
    Dried Fruit Options

  • Apricots, chopped
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Coconut, shredded or flaked
  • Currants
  • Cranberries
  • Dates, chopped
  • Figs, chopped
  • Raisins and/or sultanas
  • Tropical dried fruits: mango, papaya, pineapple
  •  
    More Ingredients

  • Candied ginger, diced
  • Chocolate chips
  • Nuts, in any combination
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter
  • Rice Krispies
  • Seeds, any kind or mixture
  • Spices: gingerbread spices, orange zest, pumpkin pie spices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 9-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper or foil, leaving “handles” on two sides for lifting. Set aside.

    2. COMBINE the oats, seeds and nuts and spread onto a rimmed sheet pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

    3. STIR in the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a saucepan; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the oat mixture, toss until the mixture is well coated, then add the dried fruit.

     

    Coconut Cranberry Granola Bar

    Apple Pie Granola Bars

    Top: Coconut cranberry raisin granola
    bars from Bella Baker. Here’s the recipe. Bottom: Apple pie granola bars from The Baker Chick. Here’s the recipe.

     
    4. POUR the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press down on it, tamping it as tightly as possible with a rubber spatula or other implement. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the granola is golden brown. (The longer it bakes, the harder the bars.)

    5. COOL for 2 hours before slicing into bars. Use a serrated knife. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a week, using parchment or wax paper to keep the bars from sticking. You can also freezer them for up to 6 months.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ingredients For Exciting Winter Salads

    Green Salad With Apples & Pecans

    Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

    Green Salad With Edamame

    thai-celery-salad-with-peanuts-bonappetit-230

    Top: Mixed greens with apples and pecans.
    Second: Shaved Brussels sprouts,
    watermelon radishes on greens, topped with
    feta from Good Eggs. Third: Edamame, diced
    red bell pepper and black beans top greens
    at Betty Crocker. Bottom: Thai celery salad
    with sliced hot chiles and peanuts. Photo
    courtesy Bon Appetit.

     

    Over the weekend we had the occasion to meet friends for two different restaurant meals. At both, the side salad we ordered was boring: monotonously green with no contrast, but for dull croutons on one and a crown of thin-sliced red onions on the other.

    These were not free salads; they were overpriced sides. When we mentioned our disappointment to the servers, both mentioned the “limited selection” in winter.

    Limited choices, NO. Lack of imagination or sheer laziness, YES.

    There’s just as much opportunity to pack green salads with color and texture as any other time of the year.

    It’s just as easy to balance the flavors and textures with something bright-colored, something crunchy, something tangy, something peppery and something sweet.

    It doesn’t take a lot of effort to sprinkle with colorful, crunchy pomegranate seeds or some mandarin segments.

    And it doesn’t have to cost more: Use pricier ingredients sparingly and they’ll still add interest.

    Here’s how to add interest to winter salads while Mother Nature is taking a nap.

  • Plan for something crunchy, something colorful and something sweet in each salad.
  • Incorporate two colors besides green—red cherry tomatoes and orange bell peppers, for example.
  • Any salad can be turned into a lunch or dinner main when topped with a protein.
  • Don’t overlook your leftovers, from beans to grains and pasta. Toss them in!
  •  
    START HERE TO BUILD YOUR WINTER SALAD

    Pick something from each group, and no one will find your salads boring.

    Salad Greens: Beyond Everyday Lettuce

  • Arugula
  • Baby spinach
  • Bell pepper
  • Cabbage (especially Savoy cabbage)
  • Endive
  • Frisée
  • Kale
  • Lettuce, beyond iceberg and romaine
  • Watercress
  •  
    Other Vegetables

  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts, shaved
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Celery root
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fennel
  • Hearts of palm
  • Onion
  • Pickled vegetbles
  • Pimento
  • Mushrooms, raw or marinated
  • Radicchio or red endive
  • Radishes
  • Red cabbage
  • Squash, roasted and diced
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Turnip, shaved
  • Water chestnuts
  •  
    As you go up and down the produce aisles, look for other ingredients you’d like to try, whether as a principal ingredient or an accent.

     

    A Touch Of Fruit

    You don’t have to add fruit to every green salad, although most people will enjoy the touch of sweetness.

    Diced, sliced or segmented, you’ve got great choices:

  • Apple
  • Citrus: kumquat, mandarin, orange, pink or red grapefruit
  • Dried fruits: apricots, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, figs, raisins, dates
  • Grapes
  • Pear, Asian pear
  • Persimmons
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Cheese: crumbled, shaved, shredded
  • Chiles
  • Corn kernels
  • Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Nuts, toasted or candied
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Seeds
  •  
    Plus A Touch Of…

  • Anchovies
  • Bacon
  • Beans
  • Baby potatoes or sunchokes
  • Capers
  • Croutons
  • Grains
  • Preserved lemons
  • Olives
  •  
    For The Dressing

    We’re fans of vinaigrettes rather than heavier dressings (although we do have a weakness for a great blue cheese dressing).

    Vinaigrettes are lighter, lower in calories (in that you use less), and most importantly, offer so much variety in terms of which oils and which vinegars you use.

     

    Arugula & Quinoa Salad

    Arugula & Burrata Salad

    Spinach Salad, Apples, Beets

    Top: Quinoa, arugula, red onion and sundried tomato at California Pizza Kitchen. Second: Mesclun and burrata atop beets, garnished with cherry tomatoes and a jumbo garlic crouton, at Duplex On Third. Third: Spinach salad with apples, beets and sliced almonds from Butterball.

    Anyone can mix three parts of oil with one part of acid. Take a look at:

  • Flavored oils
  • Nut oils
  • Flavored vinegars and balsamic vinegar
  • Herb-infused vinaigrette
  • Layered viniagrettes: add Dijon mustard, fresh lemon or lime juice, honey, horseradish or wasabi, orange juice, maple syrup
  •  
    These options should keep you busy…until the spring veggies arrive, and beyond.
     

      

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