THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TIP OF THE DAY: Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables!

Fewer than one in 10 Americans are eating the recommended amount of fruits vegetables daily, according to a report by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC)*: just 12% of us are eating enough fruits, just 9% are eating our vegetables.

Men, young adults and low-income people have even lower rates of fruit and vegetable consumption.

  • While 15.1% of women eat the recommended amount of fruit each day, just 9.2% of men do the same.
  • On the veggie scale, 11.4% of wealthy Americans eat enough vegetables, but only 7% of poor people do.
    It’s an issue for the health of all Americans: A poor diet is linked to cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. That’s why public health authorities have long endorsed a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.

    For those who remember Five A Day—an older USDA program that recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables daily—it’s old news. Current thinking is that 10-a-day is even better. (But it it’s all you can manage right now, five a day is better than fewer portions a day.)

    If you want to eat better, here’s a strategy:

    Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, as shown in the photos.

    The experts recommend 10 three-ounce (80g) servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which amounts to 1.8 pounds (800g) of produce.

    What does one serving look like? Again, look at the photos. It’s easy for adults to double up the portion size to reach our daily goal.

    Even eating half of the suggested amount is associated with a 16% reduced risk of heart disease, an 18% reduced risk of stroke, a 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 4% reduced risk of cancer and a 15% reduction in the risk of premature death (source).

    But don’t do it for statistics. Do it because it’s good for you, and because those fruits and vegetables actually taste good!

    While almost everyone can classify particular produce items as fruit†, there is some confusion to what is a vegetable.

  • Grains are not vegetables, they are starches. This includes barley, corn, oats, rye, wheat, quinoa and others. Whole grains are good for you and should be included on the plate. But alas, you can’t count an ear of corn or a side of quinoa as a vegetable. All of these (and the foods made from them—bread, cereal, cooked grains, pasta, etc.) belong to the grain group.
  • Potatoes and other tubers are not vegetables. Potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), jicama and yams are botanically classified as vegetables, but nutritionally they are classified as starches. This is because when eaten as part of a meal, they are generally served in place of other starchy carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta or rice.
  • Don’t confuse “starches” with “starchy vegetables.” Starchy vegetables have carbohydrates, but they are the unrefined carbs that the body needs. They fall into the vegetable category. Examples are peas, winter squash and root vegetables like beets, celeriac, parsnips and turnips. Read more here.
  • Beans and other legumes are protein foods. They fall into a unique category, because of their high nutrient content, they can substitute for meat and fish. The USDA Food Patterns classify beans as a subgroup of the Vegetable Group, but also indicate that they may be counted as part of the Protein Foods Group. Consuming beans and other legumes is recommended for everyone.


    Healthy Scrambled Egg With Vegetables
    [1] For breakfast, add sautéed vegetables to the plate. All photos courtesy Diabetic Living Online.

    Shrimp Salad Plate
    [2] For lunch, have a burger, tuna, or shrimp salad (shown) with half a plate of salad…or more. Mayonnaise or other dressing is fine.

    Pork Chop With Vegetables
    [3] For dinner, chicken, pork, steak or your protein of choice, with a half plate of vegetables.

    Salmon And Asparagus
    [4] Fish or seafood as your protein makes dinner even more “better-for-you.”

    Winter doesn’t provide the widest choice of fruits and vegetables, but there’s much more variety than you might think. A partial list:

  • Fruits: dates, grapefruits, kiwis, mandarins, oranges, papayas, passionfruits, pears, persimmons
  • Vegetables: beets, Brussels sprouts, collards, endives, kale, leeks, parsbips, turnips, winter squash
    Here’s a complete list; get ready to hit the stores.

    Soon, spring produce will provide a bigger bounty, including favorites such as apricots, asparagus, blackberries, chard, figs, green peas, honeydew, mango, morels and strawberries.

    For ideas and guidance year round, visit Fruit & Veggies: More Matters.

    The English word “vegetable” is first found in print in the early 1400s. It derived from an Old French word that applied to any plant. It was not until the 1760s that the word became established to mean a plant, edible herb, or root cultivated for food [source].

    For etymology geeks: “Vegetable” derives from the Latin vegetare, which evolved into the Old French and late Latin word, vegetabilis. Those latter words came to mean “animating,” in the sense of growing.

    By the mid-15th century, it meant “non-animal life,” i.e., any plant.

    Subsequent, pejorative, uses of “vegetable” refer to people:

  • A person who leads a monotonous life (i.e., “vegetates”), dating from 1921.
  • A person who is totally incapacitated mentally, dating from 1976 [source].
  • ________________

    *The information comes from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The most recent numbers are from the 2015 study, by telephone interview. The BRFSS looks at how Americans eat and behave. Researchers asked how often people eat beans, dark greens, orange vegetables, “other” vegetables, whole fruit and fruit juice.

    †We’re referring to conventional consumer perceptions of fruit. Botanical standards differ from popular views that “if it’s sweet, it’s a fruit.” In botany, a fruit is any produce that holds its seeds inside their bodies. This includes apples, cherries and melons, but also avocados, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes, among others. Vegetables, which do not hold their seeds inside, include celery, greens, lettuce and root vegetables, among others.


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    RECIPE: Bloody Beertail (Beer Cocktail)

    Bloody Mary Beer Cocktail

    The Bloody Beertail: Substitute beer for the vodka in a Bloody Mary (photo courtesy Pampered Chef).


    January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day. But if you prefer beer to vodka, have a Bloody Beertail instead.

    It’s a sister beverage to Mexico’s michelada.

    Here’s more about beertails.

    The cocktail is 1-3/4 cups, plus ice. We adapted the recipe from Pampered Chef.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

    For The Rim

  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, see cook’s tip)
  • 1 lime wedge
    For The Drink

  • Ice cubes or frozen tomato juice cubes*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juiced, from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup tomato juice or Bloody Mary Mix
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 12 ounces (1-/2 cups/375 ml) lager beer
  • Ice

    1. MIX the rim ingredients—red pepper flakes and salt—on a small plate. Rub the outer rim of a tall glass with the lime wedge; dip in the rim mixture and twist to coat.

    2. FILL the glass with ice.

    3. ADD the drink ingredients to the glass; stir and serve.


    *You can have fun with the ice cubes. Whether using plain ice cubes or tom ato juice cubes, you can fill the tray compartments with fresh dill or a stuffed olive.


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    As the year ends, we revisit some of our favorite products of the year.

    They’re all Top Picks Of The Week, but they’re the ones that we can’t stop eating. If you’re looking for something new and special, we strongly recommend them. In alphabetical order, we present:


    Better Beans

    Most of us should eat more beans, a good source of protein and nutrients. Ready-to-eat better beans can be used as a dip, spread or side.

    Here’s the review.
    Superseedz Flavored Pumpkin Seeds

    Seeds are better-for-you snack foods. Superseedz seasons them so deftly, that whether you want sweet or savory, you’ll fall hard. They also make great garnishes.

    Here’s the review.

    Casa Noble Tequila

    We taste a lot of fine vodkas, but the one that stands head and shoulder above the rest is Casa Noble Tequila. It’s a fitting name.

    Here’s the review.

    Farmer’s Pantry Cornbread Crisps

    If you love cornbread, these crisps satisfy the longing. They’re crispy instead of crumbly, room temperature instead of warm, but they hit the spot.

    Here’s the review.

    Cookies From Jane Bakes

    These cookies (photo #2), which are of a softer style, are so satisfying that they substitute for our first love, which is cake. There are two gluten-free flavors.

    Here’s our review.


    Better Bean Roasted Chipotle Red Beans
    [1] Better Beans, for dipping, spreading or sides, in several flavors. (photo courtesy Better Beans).

    Double Chocolate Cookies Jane Bakes
    [2] The minute you sink your teeth into one of these cookies, you’ll exclaim, “Eureka!” (photo courtesy Jane Bakes)

    Seed + Mill Halva
    [3] Chili chocolate chunk halva is just one of some two dozen irresistible flavors (photo courtesy Seed + Mill).

    Seed & Mill Halva

    Halva lovers, look no further. This halva (photo #3) is heavenly, in more flavors than you’ll have time to eat.

    Here’s our review.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters

    Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters
    [1] Stylish Bloody Mary oyster shooters (photo Pinterest | Chowhound ).

    Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters
    [2] The oyster is in the drink, which is garnished with the Bloody Mary’s classic celery stick (at Seviche | Louisville).

    Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters
    [3] Decorate a serving plate for passing the shooters, with coarse salt, black, green and pink peppercorns (photo courtesy James Beard Foundation).

    Murph's Bloody Mary Mix
    [4] The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary mix (photo courtesy


    January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day. Here’s a great way to start the year: Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters.

    It’s a charmer of a drink that also helps with that inevitable New Year’s resolution: lose a few pounds. The are fewer than 75 calories per shot, including the oyster.

    We adapted this recipe from one on Chowhound. Instead, you can use your own Bloody Mary recipe, or a good mix like The Murph’s Famous.

    Or, simply make a tall Bloody Mary and serve with an oyster or two.

    Ingredients Per Shooter

  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 dash cocktail sauce
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash horseradish
  • 1 fresh oyster on the half shell
  • Lemon wedge

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a shot glass. Stir lightly and top with the oyster.

    This technique works for 4 to 6 drinks. For a larger number, consider mixing in a pitcher.

    The Murph (Stephen Murphy) was a stockbroker living on Long Island when he started to think of businesses to start.

    He hit upon his “famous” Bloody Mary mix, developed years earlier. Putting on the mantle of entrepreneur, he got it into bottles (no easy task) and it’s now sold in 28 states in the eastern U.S.

    Discover more at

    We are very fussy about our Bloody Mary recipe. We enjoy several of Virgin Marys during the week and like our seasonings just so.

    While we typically mix our own, The Murph’s Famous has a pleasing combination that only needs for us to add some more Worcestershire sauce (we like a lot of it).

    In our grandmother’s time, a glass of tomato (pronounced toe-MAH-toe by fashionable people) juice started off almost every dinner.

    The glass, four to six ounces, was served on a small plate, on top of a paper doily.

    A silver salver was passed, containing Worcestershire sauce, prepared horseradish and lemon wedges. The big treat, for a child, was the bowl of oyster crackers.

    Nana was not wealthy, but in those days, even a middle class household could be elegant. If you chance to see menus from top restaurants of yore, you’ll notice tomato juice under the appetizers.

    It was popular for decades, on the menus of American and Continental restaurants through the 1960s and into the 1970s.

    Tomato Juice Turns Into Tomato Juice Cocktail

    Tomato juice was well known and available in cans in the 19th century, but it came into vogue—a fashionable drink—in the 1920s.

    A chef at the French Lick Resort Hotel in French Lick, Indiana is said to have been the first in the U.S. to include a tomato juice appetizer on a restaurant menu in 1917 (tomato juice does not seem to appear on American menus prior to World War I).

    As the idea spread, chefs created non-alcoholic tomato juice cocktails with the addition of Tabasco sauce, paprika, sauerkraut juice, clam juice, etc. (mix well, shake until foamy and pour over crushed ice). (The Bloody Mary was created not long after.)

    Restaurants tried all sorts of combinations, according to Restaurant-ing Throughout History:

  • The Wrigley Building Restaurant in Chicago came up with clabbered tomato juice which was tomato juice mixed with “a goodly amount” of cottage cheese.
  • Denver’s Blue Parrot Inn blended orange and tomato juices.
  • The Colony in New York mixed clam and tomato juices.
    Today, that early tomato juice cocktail made with Worcestershire, hot sauce and/or horseradish, lemon or lime juice, and perhaps other seasonings (celery salt, paprika, pepper) is known as…the Virgin Mary.

  • Bloody Mary Drink Bar Or Cart
  • Bloody Mary History
  • Bloody Mary Ice Pops
  • BLT Bloody Mary
  • Bloody Mary Recipes: Classic & International
  • Deconstructed Bloody Mary
  • Green Bloody Mary Recipe
  • Michelada (with beer)
  • Surf & Turf Bloody Mary Recipe

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    FOOD 101: Food Trends For 2018

    Food innovation is at an all-time high, says the Trendspotter Panel of the Specialty Food Association. Here’s what they predict will be hot trends in 2018.

    Sustainability and health/better-for-you choices are two major 2018 trend. Look for:

  • More algae and other plant-based proteins.
  • Products meant to reduce food waste, as well as growth in the use of functional ingredients like activated charcoal, which is a base for the so-called ‘“goth” (black-hued) foods.
  • Global cuisines: more Filipino and regional Middle Eastern foods.
    Here are the top 10 food trends.

    Plant-based options are proliferating in many categories beyond meat substitutes. Categories like cheese and frozen desserts are enjoying growth in plant-based subcategories (plant-based typically means dairy-free).

    As for meat alternatives, algae is winning fans. 2018 will bring more plant-based convenience foods, too.

    As consumers become more aware of how much food is wasted in the U.S., upcycled products—made from ingredients and scraps that would have otherwise be discarded—will have more appeal.

    We’re already seeing pressed juice made from imperfect fruit, chips made from fruit pulp, and snack bars made from spent grain from the beer-making process.

    Check out these “spent grain” foods: everything from baked goods to granola.

    Expect more products to hit the market in the coming year.

    Overshadowed by other Asian cuisines, the foods of the Philippines have not yet captured a broad U.S. audience.

    That’s shifting, as American palates have become more sophisticated and attuned to the complex flavors and bitter or sour notes of Filipino dishes.

    Chefs and tastemakers are taking to this cuisine, which has been called “the original fusion cuisine.” The dishes draw from Spanish, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and American ingredients and recipes.
    4. GOTH FOOD

    Possibly a reaction to the 2017’s deluge of rainbow and unicorn foods, black is the new black.

    Activated charcoal—produced by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are carbonized—is gaining superfood status for its reported detoxifying attributes.

    But it’s also fashion food: It’s being used to make black-hued food, in everything from pizza crust to lemonade to ice cream.

    We’ll see the trend spread in the coming year.
    5. ALT-SWEET

    With sugar topping the list of dietary watch-outs, consumers continue to look to alternative sweeteners for lower glycemic impact, fewer added-sugar calories, intriguing sweet flavors and sustainable footprints.

    Syrups made from dates, sorghum, and even yacon and sun root, will join monk fruit on the market as emerging options for sweet.


    Spent Grain Granola Upcycled
    [1] Spent grains that are left over from brewing beer are upcycled into granola and baked goods (photo courtesy Brooklyn Brew Shop).

    Plant Based Cheese Vegan
    [2] Watch for more dairy-free, plant-based cheese, a.k.a. vegan cheese (photo courtesy Blissful Basil |

    Goth Food - Black Pot Pie
    [3] Goth food—so-called because it’s black—is made with activated charcoal. Look for everything from croissants and waffles to ice cream (photo courtesy Twigg Studios).


    Carrot Top Pesto
    [4] Don’t toss the scraps! This pesto is made from carrot tops. Here’s the recipe from Eat Well Spend Smart.

    Cannabis Cookbook
    [5] If your state has legalized recreational marijuana, expect lots of products and cookbooks (photo courtesy Wake And Bake Cookbook).



    More is more when it comes to product labeling. Consumers will seek greater on-label visibility into the farms, ingredient sources, and supply chain of each item in their shopping basket.

    GMO transparency is among the most prioritized details. Shoppers want new depths of information across the spectrum, including Fair Trade certification, responsible production, and no animal testing.

    Between nose-to-tail butchery and reducing food waste, a few forces are combining to inspire root-to-stem cooking.

    That means utilizing the entire fruit or vegetable, including parts like the peel, stems or leaves, that are less commonly eaten in the U.S.

    The legalization of marijuana—first for medicinal purposes, then for recreational purposes—has created an industry in marijuana-enhanced foods and beverages.

    As more states legalize recreational marijuana*, the varieties of pot-enhanced foods will increase.

    Look for continued interest, availability and acceptance in a host of snacks, treats, and beverages with “a little something extra.”

    Foods like hummus, pita, and falafel have become mainstream; but consumers are ready to explore the deep traditions, regional differences, and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cuisines.

    Look for more Israeli, Lebanese, Moroccan, Persian and Syrian influences, in restaurants and on the shelf.

    Although recent attention has focused on gluten-free options, the traditional side of bakery has been elevated by the same sourcing and fine-tuned production processes we see with proteins and vegetables.

    Artisan bakers are using local grains, milling the day before baking, and incorporating long proofing times, re-inventing what good bread means.


    The Trendspotter Panel says we’ll see even more:

  • Cricket flour and non-grain sustainable proteins.
  • Fermented foods.
  • Bitters for home use.
  • Savory flavors where one would expect sweet.
  • Pasture-raised animals: for animal welfare, plus better health and taste for consumers.
  • Bananas transformed into milks, snacks, frozen desserts, and flours and baking mixes.
  • Eating for beauty, with products like collagen-infused foods; moringa as the new superfood; mushrooms (extracts, powdered, or whole) as a functional ingredient in everything from chocolate to lattes.
    It looks to be another exciting year in food!

    *It’s important to note that Federal law prohibits the possession, sale or distribution of marijuana; but its sale and use is declared legal under some state laws.


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