THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods

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TIP OF THE DAY: Yogurt Marinade

Yogurt is not just a healthy food, a tasty food, a diet food and a multitasking dip and partner for fruit and granola. It’s also a great marinade for meat. In addition to imparting flavor, it has excellent tenderizing properties. Add garlic, herbs, macerated onion and any other favorite seasonings to your yogurt marinade. Your “secret blend” may become as sought-after as your special barbecue sauce!

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VIEWPOINT: The “Mayonnaise Myth”


Photo by Jasper Golangco | SXC.

For years, mayonnaise-based foods like potato salad and macaroni salad have taken the rap for food poisoning at summer picnics. As the story went, unrefrigerated mayo-based dishes spoiled more easily in the heat than others…or the combination of mayo with other proteins plus heat caused Salmonella. Mayonnaise should never be used in picnic foods, mother cautioned; mayo-based foods left on the kitchen counter should be tossed.

But these common misconceptions simply are not true. According to The Association for Dressings & Sauces, an international association of salad dressing, mayonnaise, mustard and other condiment manufacturers and their suppliers, commercial mayonnaise is one of the safest products you can eat.

Carefully prepared under strict quality controls, mayonnaise is made with pasteurized eggs that are free of Salmonella and other dangerous bacteria. Additional ingredients such as vinegar and lemon juice create a high-acid environment that slows, and even stops, bacterial growth. The salt in the recipe also contributes to an unfavorable environment for bacteria. In fact, hazardous bacteria die off if placed in a commercially prepared mayo!

Once, there was truth in the story. Many years ago, when mayonnaise was prepared from scratch, home cooks used unpasteurized eggs, which we now know can sometimes be contaminated by Salmonella bacteria. Also, homemade mayonnaise, unlike commercial products, may not contain
enough salt and vinegar to counteract the growth of harmful bacteria.

While mayonnaise does contribute 100 calories a tablespoon and cholesterol from egg yolks (that’s the bad news), it is made with healthy oils such as soybean and canola. Both are natural sources of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid—no trans fat. Both are also a major source of vitamin E. Read the label of your favorite mayonnaise to see what healthy oils it contains (some have olive oil, for example).

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PRODUCT: Granola Girl Organic Granola

You can mix just about anything into a base of rolled oats and call it granola. Dried fruit and nuts are most popular. Sweeteners are the “wet ingredients”: agave, applesauce, brown rice syrup, honey or maple syrup. Spices run the gamut from “everyday” flavors like cinnamon and vanilla to cardamom and nutmeg. Some people get healthy with wheat germ and flaxseed. You can make Asian granola (sesame seeds, crystallized ginger), Florida granola (orange zest), Trail Mix granola (raisins, cashews, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds) or anything that inspires you.

Granola Girl keeps it simple: Currently there are just two flavors—Maple Pecan and Cranberry Almond—both with near-universal appeal (both have nuts). The flavor profiles are delicate—nothing overwhelming, yet everything in perfect balance. They are sweetened very lightly, as well. The granolas are baked with canola oil and are so moist that no milk or yogurt is needed. These are not “crunchy,” baked-until-crisp granolas, yet the texture of the oats is chewy and lovely. That’s why we find them so different and so much more appealing than many of the less distinctive granolas we try. While not certified organic, they’re made with organic oats and oat bran.


No need to add milk to this moist, yummy granola.

  • Read the full review and learn how granola went from a doctor-prescribed health food to a mainstream cereal and snack.
  • See more of our favorite cereals.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Better Ice Cubes

Some purists make ice cubes from the actual bottled water they consume, so as not to compromise their mineral water, Scotch or other fine beverage. Others make “better” ice cubes from gallon-size spring water. If you use generic tap water, you can improve the flavor just by letting the tray sit on the counter for five minutes prior to freezing. This way, the scent of the chlorine gas used by municipalities to purify the water supply can evaporate. Better yet, put a filter on your tap!

  • See our favorite ice cube trays—we won’t use any others.
  • What’s the scoop on bottled water versus your muncipal water from the tap? Check it out.

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PRODUCT: Thai Kitchen Jasmine Rice



Beautiful, fragrant grains with an exquisite
taste, Thai Hom Mali rice is worth seeking
out. Photo by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

In these fiscally cautious times, we’ve cut back on visits to our neighborhood Thai restaurant (sorry, guys—miss you!), where we easily ran up tabs of $60 for dinner for two. Instead, we’ve been cooking with Thai Kitchen’s easy-to-use products. One item in the line that has become a mainstay in our kitchen is the lovely jasmine rice, a variety known as Hom Mali.

The name Hom Mali has been trademarked for jasmine rice that is indigenous to Thailand. As with all organic products, each region gives its own special spin to the flavor based on terroir and microclimate, and rice is no different. As with other jasmine rice, Thailand’s rice crop had previously been labeled simply as jasmine rice or its synonyms: aromatic rice, scented rice or fragrant rice.

However, Thailand developed three proprietary varieties of its indigenous jasmine rice, which is grown in the lush tropical climate of northeast Thailand. In the process of producing strains that obtain higher yields with higher resistance to diseases and insect pests, Thailand has gained international recognition for its unique jasmine rice. And now you can impress the staff at Thai restaurants, by asking, “Is this Hom Mali?”

To those who think rice is bland: There are certainly bland varieties of white rice, including the ubiquitous short-grain variety served in Chinese restaurants. But try jasmine rice—and more specifically, a box of Jasmine Rice Select Harvest from Thai Kitchen (you’ll see a “Genuine Thai Hom Mali Rice” circle on the box). The pure white, long, plump grains are wonderfully fragrant (the name “jasmine” comes from the scent, which has overtones of jasmine). The rice is wonderfully soft and moist, and so delicious that we enjoy eating it plain. We cooked it on the stovetop for 30 minutes, but you can microwave it in half the time. Rice is gluten free.

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