The best tomatoes you can buy—so good you can eat them from the can.
The San Marzano is an heirloom variety of plum tomato, originally planted in the town of the same name at the base of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples. The volcanic soil and sunny climate grow tomatoes that are among the most sought-after on earth, with remarkable, sweet, intense tomato flavor. In a marketplace of mediocre tomato sauces, a can of San Marzano tomatoes with absolutely no embellishment is simply exquisite. Add some fresh herbs, and enter the gates of heaven. You can go further and add olive oil and garlic to make a legitimate sauce; but these tomatoes, served as is, are all the legitimacy one needs. They’re also low calorie—as little as 25 calories per half cup. Read the full review and see the three different kinds of tomatoes—crushed, diced and whole—and how to use them. For additional excitement, check out the Pasta & Sauce Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
Flavored mustards can transform a dish, adding almost no calories but intense notes of tarragon, basil, Roquefort or lemon to your sandwich, vinaigrette, potato salad or charcuterie. Or create a delicious crust on beef, chicken, fish, lamb or pork. Think of classic Dijon as vanilla, and start to expand your mustard horizons. We love the Laurent du Clos line of French mustards, and the Anton Kozlik line from Canada is a truly eye-opening experience as to the heights mustard can ascend. Read our review of Anton Kozlik mustards, and see more of our favorite condiments in the Condiments Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
Some crust! Add a rush of flavor to chicken, fish or other protein with a top coat of low-calorie flavored mustard.
Delicious Birds Eye Steamfresh veggies steam fast, with no pots to clean.
Most people we know want to eat healthier and lose weight. Everyone wants to fight childhood obesity. Yet, when you suggest eating lots of healthy, low-calorie, steamed vegetables, there are more excuses than Brussels sprouts. Major food companies have listened, and have provided convenient, flavorful solutions for better steamed vegetables, plus fish and other proteins. You now can have delicious, low-calorie veggies in as little as one and a half minutes, for meals or snacking, and entire steamed meals in five to eight minutes. So put that old-fashioned steamer away: Here are healthy foods a 10-year-old can prepare:
– Birds Eye Steamfresh, the first product in our lineup, are frozen vegetables that steam in the microwave (certified kosher).
– McCormick Veggie Steamers provide seasonings and microwaveable bag units that take the guesswork out of cooking: Just add the specified amount of vegetables or fish and your meal is ready pronto.
– Ziploc Zip ‘n Steam Bags provide just the bag: Add your own ingredients. The bags are preprinted with cooking times for standard foods. Glad makes a similar product.
Here’s some sage advice: Every January, toss out all of your old herbs and spices and start the year with fresh ones. After jars are opened, ground spices and dried herbs lose their potency—that’s why those jumbo jars are rarely a bargain. Buy only what you use regularly. If you rarely use mace, e.g., wait until you need it for a recipe. Even never-opened jars of spices and herbs will degrade on the shelf after a couple of years. If exposed to heat or light, they deteriorate even faster (store your spices away from the stove and oven, and avoid countertop spice carousels). Whenever you can, buy whole spices and grind them in a spice mill as needed. We use a peppermill, a nutmeg grinder and a multipurpose spice and herb grinder. Learn about checking the freshness of your spices. Read more about different spices in the Salts & Seasonings Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
From the day they’re dried and packaged, herbs and spices loose their flavor. Read the article to see how long you should keep them before you may as well use nothing. Photo of cardamom by Kristian Birchall | SXC.
Sorry, Charlie: You’re not “packed with healthy antioxidants.”
At last—a medical journal has come out with what THE NIBBLE has been claiming for the past two years: Dark chocolate is not “health food.” Contrary to all of the claims touting the “antioxidant benefits of chocolate,” The Lancet, published in the U.K. and one of the world’s most-respected medical journals, says that any health claims about plain chocolate may be misleading. Basic chocolate is naturally rich in flavanols, the antioxidants that are believed to protect the heart. But an editorial in the current issue of The Lancet points out that many manufacturers remove flavanols because of their bitter taste. Instead, most chocolate products deliver lots of fat and sugar, both of which negatively impact the heart and arteries.
The editorial advices that dark chocolate can be “deceptive.” When chocolate is manufactured, says the journal, the natural cocoa solids can be darkened and the flavanols, which are bitter, can be removed, so that a dark-looking chocolate can have no flavanols. Flavanol content is not part of the normal package labeling, so consumers have no way to judge; nor would they know what an effective level of flavanols is. And even if the chocolate were packed with flavanols, one would have to be mindful of the fat, sugar and calories.“To gain any health benefit,” the editorial concludes, “those who eat a moderate amount of flavanol-rich dark chocolate will have to balance the calories by reducing their intake of other foods.” Great—now you don’t have to take our word for it anymore. FYI, studies on the efficacy of cacao antioxidants tend to be conducted with flavanol-enhanced cocoa powder. But if you liked fine chocolate before it had any putative benefits, and you still want to enjoy the best, check out the Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.