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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: How To Decipher Food Product Labels

How confusing is the verbiage on the front of a box, bag, jar or can of food? Actually, it can be pretty misleading. It’s called marketing: Companies want you to choose their product over the competition, so they do what they can to hype on their packaging (most purchase decisions are made at the “point of sale,” or when looking at options on the shelf).

Hence, each word on the package can help make the sale—whether or not it’s providing accurate information to consumers.

You’d think that with all of the federal regulations and those helpful nutrition labels, it would be easy to know what you are buy. But while the the nutrition label on the back of the package is all facts, we typically respond to what’s on the front. And it can be misleading.

After we reported that products made by Newman’s Own Organics aren’t necessarily organic, we’re taking on these other confusions.

 
WHOLE GRAINS: MULTIGRAIN VS. WHOLE GRAIN

“Multigrain” may sound like it’s better for you, but it simply means that more than one type of grain is used. Bread flour can be a combination of wheat flour, cracked wheat and oat bran, for example; but none of these is a whole grain. It’s the same with “seven grain bread.” The blend may be flavorful, but that doesn’t mean any of the seven grains is whole grain.

   

arnolds-multigrain-bread-loaf-230

This loaf has some whole grain components—wheat bran, brown rice and oats (plus cane sugar, brown sugar and sucralose). But the main ingredient is still unbleached enriched wheat flour. Look for the seal of the Whole grains Association.

 

If you’re looking for whole grain fiber and nutrition with your bread, breakfast cereal, crackers or pasta, be sure the product is all whole grain, or at least that a whole grain leads the list of grains.

  • “Wheat bread” is not whole grain; it must say “whole wheat.” All of what we call white bread is wheat bread (except gluten-free bread).
  • Wheat bran, which appears on some ingredients lists, is part of the whole wheat kernel, along with the endosperm and the germ. Each of these components has different nutrition benefits. Refined wheat flour with added wheat bran added isn’t enough; go for the whole wheat.
  • It’s the same with seeds—normally good additions to bread and crackers, but in such small amounts that they’re no substitute for a whole grain product. We saw one label touting “flax and grains”: What the heck does “grains” mean? It could mean seeds, or it could be marketing.
  • A dark brown color means nothing: It can be created with molasses. Pumpernickel is made from rye, a whole grain, but most commercial pumpernickel is made from refined flour. Look for 100% rye on the label.
  • “Enriched,” which appears on bags of white bread, is also misleading. Why is it enriched? Because refining the whole wheat flour into white flour removes most of the vitamins and minerals. Because bread is a key component of our diet, the government ordered some nutrients added back in!
  • Words like “healthy” or “nutritious” are just marketing: They mean whatever the manufacturer wants them to mean and have no official standing.
  • You can find gluten free breads made with brown rice flour or a blend of ingredients. Again, look for the words “100% whole grain” on the label.
  • “Organic” is better for you and the environment, but it doesn’t impact nutrition. It’s better to have non-organic whole grain bread than organic white bread.
  •  
    Here’s more on what is a whole grain.

     

    reduced-fat-feta-athena-230

    Cheese is delicious, but high in fat. So
    reduced fat cheese still has a lot of it. Photo
    courtesy Athena.

     

    FIBER

    On a related note, whole grains are an excellent source of fiber. Look to switch out refined white flour products—breads, crackers, breakfast cereals, pasta—to more nutritious versions.

  • The USDA designation “excellent source of fiber” means that there is at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • A product labeled “good source of fiber” needs at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • “Added fiber” needs to have only 10% more than a comparable product; but it that product doesn’t have much fiber to getin with, then “added” doesn’t mean much.
  •  
    FAT: REDUCED FAT VS. LOW FAT

    The USDA has a strict definition of low fat (also spelled lowfat): The product must have 3 grams or fewer per serving.

    To be called “reduced fat” a product must have at least 25% less fat than a regular version of the product (from the same manufacturer or a competitor). But that original product—cheese, for example—could be loaded with fat, so 25% less is still a lot of fat.

    Thus, go for low fat over reduced fat, but remember that reduced fat is still not “good for you” food.

     
    NITRATES: CURED VS. UNCURED

    Nitrites and nitrates are used to preserve processed meats, and to make them look better (pink bacon, ham and franks) and taste better. But they produce a carcinogenic substance, amines, when digested (here’s more on nitrates and nitrites).

    Even organic, uncured products still contain nitrates and nitrates—just less of them. Nitrates and nitrates exist naturally in plants and animals and even a naturally cured product, cured with celery powder or celery juice, will contain them. So for long-term health, the best course is to eat fewer cured meats.

     
    SODIUM: REDUCED SODIUM VS. LOW SODIUM

    The USDA requires that a product labeled “low sodium” contains 140 mg salt or less per serving. A reduced sodium product needs to be just 25% less than the regular version, which could be loaded.

    For example, a can of chicken noodle soup can have 1,622 mg of sodium. Twenty-five percent less than that is still a heck of a lot of salt.

    Fresh-packed, canned or frozen, processed foods are loaded with salt. Check the nutrition label and select products that have fewer than 500 grams per serving. Your daily recommended amount of sodium is less than 2400 mg. Here’s more on sodium from the FDA.
     
    SUGAR: SUGAR FREE VS. NO SUGAR ADDED

    These are typically products that use only the natural sweetener in the product—sugar free grape jam relying only on the grape sugar, for example—or use noncaloric sweeteners.

    “Sugar” refers to any sweetener, including agave, corn syrup, honey, molasses and all other nutritive sweeteners. (Nutritive sweeteners have nutritional value—they produce energy when metabolized by the body. They may or may not be refined.) Check out the different types of sweeteners, both nutritive and non-nutritive (i.e., produced in the lab).

  • Sugar Free means that the product has less than a half gram of sugar/serving. These are typically the products that use artificial sweeteners.
  • No Sugar Added could have no sugar added, but could have lots of natural sugar from sweeteners such as fruit concentrate, fruit juice or unsweetened applesauce.
     
    Neither of these options is better or worse than the other.
     
    FINAL TASK

    You’ve still got to look at the back of the package. Here’s how to read nutrition labels.

      

  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Chad’s, The Best Raspberry Jam?

    Utah’s Bear Lake is a beauty: a natural freshwater lake on the Utah-Idaho called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its turquoise-blue color.

    Although the lake lies relatively near the Oregon Trail, which was traveled by many pioneers between 1836 and the 1850s, it seems that none of traveled south enough to find the lake. It wasn’t until 1863 that Mormons settled in the Bear Lake Valley, home to some Shoshone tribes.

    Fast forward 150 years or so: The area has become famous for its delicious red raspberries. A Raspberry Days festival is held in Garden City to celebrate the harvest of raspberries, generally during the first week of August. The raspberries are sweet and plentiful.

    So we almost kicked ourselves when we found a box of Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen products tucked away, forgotten in a storage area. Boy, are they delicious!

    First up was the Raspberry Jam, the company’s best seller. It’s one of the best raspberry jams we can remember: solid fruit that falls apart into jam during cooking. Chad’s cooks the whole berries with natural fruit pectin and sugar, “the way your grandmother would make it” (or at this point, Chad, our great-grandmother).

     

    chads-raspberry-jam-230

    Great rapsberry jam at a great price. Photo courtesy Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen.

     

    Sustainably farmed located in Laketown, Utah (population 248 at the 2010 census), all natural and preservative free, Chad’s other products include:

  • Raspberry Jalapeño Jam, the classic raspberry spiced up with jalapeño chiles.
  • Seedless Raspberry Jelly.
  • Raspberry Honey, made by bees from the nectar of the raspberry blossoms.
  • Raspberry Syrup, for pancakes, ice cream and other desserts and to make raspberry iced tea or lemonade.
  • Raspberry Salsa, raspberries mixed with a tomato based salsa to create a sweet salsa for dipping or garnishing grilled meats and seafood.
  • Gift box assortments.
  •  

    Everything is very well priced at $4.99 (the honey is $5.99), and they’re more delicious than products selling at twice the price. Chad’s is a great idea for holiday gifting.

    Get yours at ChadsRaspberryKitchen.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Lemon Ice Box Mini Tarts

    Aida-Mollenkamp-Meyer-Lemon-Icebox-Bites-Recipes-230r

    Meyer Lemon Icebox Mini Tarts. Photo
    courtesy Aida Mollenkamp.

     

    When you want just a bit of dessert, this recipe from Chef Aida Mollenkamp is fun finger food. Prep time is 20 minutes, plus 3 hours of baking and setting time.

    If you can’t find Meyer lemons, the juice of which is less acidic, you can use regular lemons (Eureka or Lisbon lemons—see the different types of lemons). Or, Chef Mollenkamp suggests, substitute equal parts of orange and lemon juice.

    These are not true “ice box tarts,” because the shells require baking in the oven. But the filling sets in the fridge, hence the reference from Chef Mollenkamp.

    RECIPE: MEYER LEMON ICE BOX MINI TARTS

    Ingredients For 48 Bite-Size Tarts

    For The Crust

  • 8 ounces vanilla wafers or graham crackers
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •  
    For The Custard

  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar*
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (14 ounce) container sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (8 ounce) mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, softened
  • Pinch salt
  •  
    *Chef Mollenkamp uses organic (unrefined) cane sugar.
     
    For The Garnish

  • Whipped cream, for garnish
  • Candied citrus or ginger
  • Thinly sliced mango or kiwi, or garnish of choice (pomegranate arils add a red highlight)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

    2. MAKE the crust. Place wafers or graham crackers in a food processor and process until broken up (you want 2 cups total). Add butter and pulse until moist. Divide mixture among two mini muffin pans (24-wells) and press mixture evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the muffin wells. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 5 minutes; then remove from oven.

    3. MAKE the custard: Whisk or blend remaining ingredients together until smooth then divide among prepared crusts. Place in the oven and bake until edges are set but center is still a bit loose, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

    4. COVER and freeze until chilled and set, at least 2 hours or overnight. When frozen, run a small butter knife dipped in hot water around the perimeter of each tart and remove. Cover and return to freezer until ready to serve. (This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance.)

    5. SERVE frozen or chilled, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and, as desired, a piece of candied ginger or citrus or a slice of fresh kiwi, and serve.
     
    Note: These tarts are best eaten when still frozen or chilled. The tarts should be eaten within 30 minutes of removing from freezer for best texture.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Guacamole Verrine, A Layered Appetizer

    We discovered this photo on the Frontier Foods blog, where it was called a torta, a word that refers to different foods in different Spanish-language countries. But we’d call it a verrine (vair-REEN).

    Verre is the French word for glass; verrine, which means “protective glass,” is an assortment of ingredients layered “artfully” in a small glass.

    Verrines can be sweet or savory: The idea is to layer foods that provide delicious tastes in small bites: a variety of flavors, textures and colors. The result is both sophisticated and fun.

    While specialty verrine glasses exist, you most likely have vessels at home that will do the job just fine: juice glasses, rocks glasses, shot glasses, even small wine goblets.

    To make this avocado verrine, layer:

  • Guacamole
  • Chopped chiles of desired heat (instead of the green chiles shown, use red chiles for more color)
  • Crumbled queso blanco, queso fresco or other Mexican fresh cheese (you can substitute fresh goat cheese)
  • Slab bacon or pork belly strips
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Optional garnish: fresh herbs
  •  

    torta_guacamole_fronterafoods-230s

    Layered appetizer: an avocado (or guacamole) verrine. Photo courtesy Frontera Foods.

     

    Here’s more on savory verrines, as well as dessert verrines—another treat.

    Have fun with it!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Gazpacho & Beer

    This gazpacho has a surprise ingredient:
    beer! Photo courtesy Frontera Foods.

     

    Here’s a fun idea that can be a soup course, a main course or pass-around party fare, served in small glasses.

    This idea was developed at Frontera Foods, a Chicago-based Mexican foods company headed by Chef Rick Bayless, in partnership with Bohemia Beer. You can serve “beer gazpacho” or turn it into a Martini.

    The tip isn’t just to add beer to gazpacho, but that you can season gazpacho with the addition of prepared salsa.

    The soup can be made ahead and even tastes better when allowed to sit overnight. The recipe makes about 3 quarts.

    To serve gazpacho as a light main course, consider adding:

  • A large salad
  • Crostini, perhaps with olive tapenade
  • Tapas
  • Platters of Spanish sausages, Serrano ham, tortilla Española (Spanish omelet, served at room temperature), Spanish cheeses (look for Cabrales, Idiazabal, Mahon, Manchego and Murcia al Vino), and rustic bread
  • Instead of wine, chilled dry sherry
  •  

    RECIPE: FRONTERA’S SALSA GAZPACHO

    Ingredients For 6-8 Main Course Servings

  • 5 pounds ripe red tomatoes (16 to 20 medium-sized plum or 12 medium-small round)
  • 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 bottle (16 ounces) Frontera Habanero Salsa or substitute
  • 1/2 cup Bohemia beer (or substitute)
  • 2 cups torn (½-inch inch pieces) white bread
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Salt to taste, about 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1½ cups home-style croutons
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CHOP enough of the tomatoes into a ¼-inch dice to a generous 1½ cups. Chop enough of the cucumber into ¼-inch dice to yield a generous 1 cup. Stir in the cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for garnish.

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the remaining tomatoes and cucumber. Mix with the salsa, beer, bread, olive oil and vinegar. In a blender, purée the mixture in 2 batches until smooth.

    3. TRANSFER to a large bowl. Stir in just enough water to give the soup the consistency of a light cream soup, about ½ to 1 cup. Taste and season with salt. Chill thoroughly.

    4. SERVE: Set out the tomato-cucumber garnish mixture and croutons. Ladle the soup into chilled soup bowls. Pass the garnishes.

     

    spanish-cheeses-artisanal-230

    Serve a green salad and plate of Spanish cheeses after the gazpacho. Photo courtesy Artisanal Cheese.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Beer

    lindemans-pomme-lambic-230

    Not hard cider, but apple (pomme) lambic, a
    style of Belgian beer. Photo courtesy
    Lindemans.

     

    For a country so keen on fruity cocktails, we don’t drink much fruit beer. But summer is the perfect time for it, so plan to have a few before Labor Day.

    Fruit beers have been popular for centuries, beginning in Belgium, the country best known for them. Creative brewers there ignored the German Rheinheitsgebot, the “purity law” which specified that beer could only be made with three ingredients: barley, hops and water. (The law dates back to 1516; at the time no one knew that the yeast in the air was involved in the process. Yeast is, of course, the fourth ingredient.)

    Belgian lambic styles are produced in popular flavors like cherry (kriek), peach and raspberry. Traditionally, the fruit was fermented with the grain. Modern breweries may use flavored extracts as a shortcut to the finished product (and, not surprisingly, they don’t taste nearly as good). Check the label or online to find those brewed with real fruit.

    Today you can also find fruit beers in apple, apricot, banana, black currant, blueberry, strawberry and tangerine. But look for craft brews, as opposed to Bud Light’s Ritas line, flavored beers in Lime, Mango, Strawberry and Raspberry. They’re a different product entirely.

    Head to your best beer store and pull together a tasting of fruit beers, both domestic and imported. You may be able to find such tasty brews as:

  • Éphémère Blackcurrant Fruit Beer from Unibroue of Chambly, Quebec, Canada
  • Lindemans Pomme [Apple] Lambic, from Brouwerij Lindemans in Vlezenbeek, Belgium
  • #9 Not Quite Pale Ale, an apricot fruit beer from Magic Hat Brewing Company of South Burlington, Vermont
  • Peach Porch Lounger, a saison-style (farmhouse ale) beer from New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Raspberry Redemption Belgian-Style Dubbel, from Joseph James Brewing Company in Henderson, Nevada
  • Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer, from Melbourn Brothers All Saints Brewery of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
  • Smashed Blueberry Fruit Beer, from Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, Maine
  • Tangerine Wheat Fruit Beer, from Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, California
  • Three Philosophers Quadruple, from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York
  • Wells Banana Bread English Bitter/Fruit Beer, from Wells & Young’s Brewing Company of Bedford, England
  •  
    HOW TO SERVE FRUIT BEER

    Fruit beers can quaffed as a refreshing cold drink, or paired with foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Consider:

  • Asian chicken salad
  • Brunch eggs, from a simple frittata to Eggs Benedict
  • Cheese courses
  • Chicken, duck or pork dishes made with fruits (apples, apricots, cherries, currants, prunes, etc.)
  • Dessert—fruit desserts, including pies and tarts; and of course, Belgian waffles
  • Shellfish—crab, lobster, plat de mer, scallops, shrimp and yesterday’s recipe for Moules Marinières, steamed mussels
  •  
    Let us know how you enjoy them.
     
      

    Comments

    NEWS: When “Organic” Isn’t Organic

    Paul Newman would not be happy. The guardians of the Newman’s Own Organics brand have been playing fast and loose.

    The Newman’s Own food brand was founded by actor Paul Newman and author A.E. Hotchner in 1982. Its purpose was to generate money for charity: The company gives 100% of the after-tax profits from the sale of its products to the Newman’s Own Foundation, which distributes it to various educational and charitable organizations.

    In 1993, Newman’s daughter Nell Newman founded Newman’s Own Organics as a division of the company. Created to produce only organic foods, it became a separate company in late 2001. Father and daughter posed for the photograph on the label.

    Now, the USDA has called out Newman’s Own Organics and some other companies for selling products that do not qualify for the use of the word “organic” on the front panel. Consumers are being misled by the word “organic” or “organics” in the brand names, while the products are not organic-compliant.

    Unless a food product is certified organic, according to the regulations of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), it cannot display, overtly, the word “organic” on the front panel of the product.

     

    Newmans-Own-Organics-Logo-230

    “Pa” would not be pleased. Photo courtesy Newman’s Own Organics.

     

    The investigation began in 2010 when a not-for-profit group, The Cornucopia Institute, filed a complaint against Newman’s ginger cookies, asserting that these and other products the company markets had labels such as “made with organic wheat and sugar,” but that many of the more expensive ingredients were not in fact organic.

    “When products qualify for the ‘Made With Organic Ingredients’ label, it means they have a minimum of 70% organic content,” stated Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of the Cornucopia Institute. “Newman’s Own Organics ginger cookies didn’t even contain organic ginger when we did our initial investigation in 2010. That’s what I call misleading!”

    You can read the Institute’s full press release here.

    A small percentage of products under the Newman’s Own Organics name actually are certified organic. Most are manufactured with the lowest permissable amount of organic ingredients, 70%, and qualify for the “Made With Organic” labeling category, the third of three tiers (the best is “100% Organic,” followed by “Organic,” which requires 95% organic ingredients).

    “Other brands of organic cookies that have to compete on store shelves with Newman’s, such as Country Choice, go to the effort and expense to procure organic ginger and all other available organic ingredients, and present a product of true integrity to the consuming public,” said Kastel.

    As a result of the Institute’s efforts, the USDA released new guidelines yesterday, called “Use of Brand or Company Names Containing the Word ‘Organic’.”

    The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. Efforts support economic justice for the family-scale farming community, backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Creamsicle Cocktail For National Creamsicle Day

    orange-cream-pop-dream-svedka-230

    A Creamsicle cocktail! Photo courtesy
    Svedka Vodka.

     

    August 14th is National Creamsicle Day, a classic ice cream novelty on a stick that combines orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream.

    You can buy a Creamsicle, have a scoop of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream in a dish, or enjoy this cocktail version from Svedka Vodka. It uses Svedka’s Orange cream Pop vodka, a “nostalgia flavor” and one of the company’s 11 flavored vodkas.

    RECIPE: CREAMSICLE COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 part Svedka Orange Cream Pop vodka
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a blender, adding 1/2 cup of crushed ice last. Blend until smooth and pour into a hurricane glass.

    2. GARNISH with an orange wedge and a scoop of ice cream.

     
    CREAMSICLE HISTORY

    In 1923, Frank Epperson, a 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry, made what he called Epsicles for a fireman’s ball.

    They were a sensation, and Frank obtained a patent for “a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop.” His kids called the treat a Popsicle, after their Pop. So Frank created Popsicle Corporation and collaborated with the Loew Movie Company for the nationwide marketing and sales of the product in movie theaters.

    By 1928, Epperson had earned royalties on more than 60 million Popsicles. But his happy days ended with the Great Depression. In 1929, flat broke, Frank had to liquidate his assets and sold the patent to, and his rights in, Popsicle Corporation.

    Over the years, the Popsicle Corporation created other frozen treats on a stick: the Fudgsicle (a chocolate-flavored pop with a texture somewhat similar to ice cream), the Creamsicle (vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet) and the Dreamsicle (a Creamsicle filled with ice milk instead of ice cream).

    Today, Creamsicle is the trademarked property of the Good Humor Company, owned by Unilever.

    Here’s more on the history of the Creamsicle, and a recipe for Creamsicle Cake.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Mussels (How About Mussels Marinière?)

    Today’s tip was inspired by a recent “Personal Health” column by Jane Brody in the New York Times called Relearning How To Eat Fish. Among other suggestions, the article urges that you expand your fish and seafood horizons, perhaps starting with a delicious bowl of good-for-you steamed mussels.

    Fish and shellfish are the most nutritious sources of animal protein, and while Americans have been learning to eat more fish and seafood, we should be eating much more of them.

    Yet, surprise of surprises, almost all of the delectable, nutritious fish caught in American waters is exported to other countries. Instead, a whopping 86% of the fish and seafood we consume is imported.

  • About one-third of all our wild catch is exported, while we choose to eat farmed fish and shrimp imported from countries like Chile, China and Thailand.
  • Almost all the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported, half of it farmed in Asia—mostly, says Brody, “under conditions that would ruin even the most voracious appetite.” (If you want to know more, search for any article on shrimp farming in Asia).
  • Shrimp is the favorite seafood in the U.S. But the shrimp we eat farms in Asia have been swept by bacterial and viral infections. When a site becomes unusable, shrimp farmers simply move on, destroying more miles of mangrove along the shore and wrecking habitats for all manner of wildlife, including spawning fish.
  •    

    jumbo-tiger-shrimp-caviarrusse-230

    No matter how much you love shrimp, unless you’re buying from a top restaurant or fishmonger, you may wish to switch to mussels. Photo of premium tiger shrimp courtesy Caviar Russe.

     

    The world’s population consumes some 170 billion pounds of wild-caught fish and seafood per year, caught in oceans, rivers and lakes. If everyone were to eat at least two servings of fish a week, as nutritional guidelines suggest, we’d need 60 billion more pounds per year to meet the demand.

    Hence, fish farming is here to stay, along with, more than a few cases, its negative environmental impact and less than sanitary conditions.

    EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS

    The most popular fish in the U.S. are salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna; shrimp, at the top of the seafood list, is by far the most popular shellfish.

    Other species have all but disappeared from restaurant menus and supermarkets. Remember that supermarkets and restaurateurs offer what is most likely to sell. So you may have to head to a fishmonger to transition to diversity of choice. Brody suggests:

  • For salmon, substitute other oily fish such as anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, and sardines.
  • For the overfished and declining cod, take a look at Alaskan pollock, the fish used to make fish sticks, fast-food fish sandwiches and the “crab leg” of California rolls.
  • Keep an eye out for different varieties—abalone or orange roughy, for example. It’s easy to look online for delicious ways to prepare them.
  • Enjoy mussels, as often as you like.
  •  
    INVITE MUSSELS TO THE DINNER TABLE

    In an ideal world, says Brody, mussels would replace shrimp as America’s favorite shellfish.

    Like other bivalves (clams, cockles, mussels, oysters and scallops), mussels are filter feeders that cleanse the water they live in. In the process, they gain valuable omega-3 fatty acids from the algae they consume. And, in drastic opposition to shrimp, they are nearly always sold from hygienically farmed stock.

    Mussels are also low in calories, and much lower in cholesterol than shrimp and squid. And they’re easy to cook, steamed in easy preparations like Mussels Marinière (recipe below), steamed in white wine, Mussels Provençal with tomatoes, garlic and herbs, or Mussels Marinara, similar to Provençal but with oregano. Add some chili flakes and you’ve got a spicy Mussels Fra Diavolo.

     

    mussels-fried-moules-frites-duplexonthird-230

    A bowl of steamed mussels. Photo courtesy
    Duplex On Third | L.A.

     

    To see how easy it is to enjoy a pot of mussels, here’s the classic recipe for Moules à la Marinière from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck.

    It is typically enjoyed with baguette croutons, and served with sides of green salad and frites. Pair it with your favorite white wine (we’re partial to a Sancerre or a Sauvignon Blanc with this dish).

    RECIPE: MOULES À LA MARINIÈRE, STEAMED MUSSELS

    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 3 quarts (3 pounds) mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (substitute scallions or leeks)
  • 4 parsley sprigs, plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley for garnish
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 baguette, in 1/2-inch slices, drizzled with olive oil and toasted
  •  

    Preparation

    1. DISCARD any raw mussels that are open or have cracked shells. Open shells indicate a dead mussel, cracks in shells foster bacteria. Similarly, discard any mussels that don’t open after steaming.

    2. WHISK together the flour and water in a large mixing bowl. Add the cleaned mussels, adding more water as needed to cover the mussels. Soak at least 30 minutes so the mussels can disgorge any sand or grit.

    3. BRING the wine, minced shallots, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, thyme, pepper, and butter to a simmer in a large stockpot ((6 quarts or more) over high heat. Meanwhile…

    4. DRAIN the mussels from the flour water liquid and rinse thoroughly. Add to the stockpot, cover with the lid and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the majority of the mussel shells have opened. Shake the pot vigorously from time to time, to ensure that the mussels cook evenly. While the mussels are cooking…

    5. DRIZZLE or brush the baguette slices with olive oil and toast them.

    5. SCOOOP the mussels in shallow soup or pasta bowls; ladle the broth on top. Garnish with minced parsley, and serve with the baguette croutons.

      

    Comments

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    cranberry-almond-230

    These snack bars look healthy, and they taste delicious. Photo courtesy Nothin’ But Foods.

     

     

    granola_cookies-230

    Granola cookies. Photo courtesy Nothin’ But
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    Comments

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