Friday, April 17, 2015

OIL DISCOVERY, PART 2

LAST MONTH I posted comments on some healthy new oils that I encountered -- tasty oils that are either super-nutritious or add great flavor -- or both. A few weeks later, I got an oil of an entirely different ilk; Ghee (aka. clarified butter.)
This particular ghee is produced by Gurunanda, a company that specializes in ayurvedic oils that are designed to promote health. The line includes a sesame oil, pulling oil, and this Pure Cow Ghee, made from non-homogenized milk. I was fully aware that ghee is an essential oil in Indian cuisine, but what I did not know is why.
Ghee, as it turns out, has a really high smoke-point, which makes it perfect for sauteeing, searing or frying. Because it has a really pleasant, nutty flavor that adds much more flavor to any dish than a standard cooking oil. The list of benefits of ghee is exhaustive, but the one that I love most is that you can use up to a third less fat in most dishes if you swap oil for ghee. That's a massive calorie-savings. A 12.8-ounce bottle is $14.99 on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

SUSTAINABLY CLEAN

IT'S SO FRUSTRATING to realize that nearly every time I reach for a cleaning product, it's toxic. It's bad not only for me, but for the environment. Alternative cleaners are out there, of course, but if they don't perform, it's a pretty tough trade-off. 
That said, this week I checked out a new line of entirely sustainable cleaning sponges and cloths that don't just work OK... They are nothing short of terrific.
Made from bamboo, the NatureZway line includes paper towels that are ultra durable -- strong enough to mop a floor, wash a car, scour a tub and even wipe dust from the woodwork without falling apart. So cool. 
The other thing I love about these wipes and sponges is that the are super-soft, which means they function even better than those Lysol and Chlorox wipes that are clogging up our sewers. 
The line also includes sponges, drying cloths and floor wipes, all made from bamboo, which means they're sustainable (bamboo grows like crazy all over the world) and completely biodegradable. These are a win-win-win.

Monday, April 13, 2015

LEGAL SNACKS

KUDOS TO THOSE who eat three square meals and resist the urge to snack. That's a great practice -- but honestly, you're missing out on a whole lot of great stuff! Admitted, some snack foods are bad for you -- nothing more than delicious but empty calories. But lately, choices of healthy snack foods have been crowding my inbox -- and some of them are just stellar. Here are details on some of the best.
NAVITAS NATURALS
This company specializes in the kind of snacks that taste ridiculously delicious -- and add tons of vitamins and minerals to your diet. It's hard to pick favorites out of their lineup, so I'll stick to the newest. The Cacao Hemp Superfood Plus Almonds are a barely sweet, slightly salty treat that's perfect when you have a craving for chocolate. The Coconut Hemp Pepitas are sweeter -- more dessert-like. Both addictive. If you prefer salty snacks, check out the Turmeric Tamari Almonds. Ridiculously good -- don't be afraid of the turmeric, it's understated, adding just the right kick. (So good that I might try replicating it in my next batch of home-roasted nuts.) The snacks sell for $4.99-$7.99 for a 4-ounce bag.
NONNI'S MANGO COCONUT THINADDICTIVES
These crunchy little biscotti thins are barely sweet, super-tasty and packed with almonds, real mango and coconut. What I love about these is that they're cookies without the fat. A box of six 100-calorie packs is about $3.29.
PERKY JERKY
When hunger hits but you're hours away from a meal, this is a perfect and portable solution. The jerky -- which is spiked with a dose of caffeine -- comes in a handful of flavors to please, from super spicy to sweet. The jerky is nice and tender and contains no preservatives or MSG. I love that it comes in both beef and turkey. Find it at  Whole Foods, Target and Walgreens. A 2.2-ounce pack is about $3.25. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

BREAK THE FAST

BREAKFAST ON THE run does not have to be dry, tasteless and packed with all the wrong nutrients -- so long as you stock the right products in your fridge and freezer. A few of the many great choices is this brand new flavor of kefir from Lifeway -- watermelon. Kefir is a drinkable organic yogurt that's barely sweet and full of probiotics.
To go along with the tall glass of lactose-free dairy are these great-tasting morning rounds made by Ozery Bakery. The rounds come in a range of flavors that include bits of nuts, seeds, fruit and alternative grains. The flavor combinations are inspired and they are exactly right straight out of the toaster. Those who can afford a spread of jam, honey, or butter in their diet can add that as well. When the rounds first came out, they were large, about xxx calories each. Now the company makes them in two sizes, including these 70-calorie rounds that are perfectwhen you want just a hint of carbs. They're about $3.99 for a bag of 6 large or 14 small rounds. Find them at Raley’s, Safeway, Sprouts, Whole Foods and Costco Stores.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

LITTLE SOUP

SOUP FOR ADULTS just is not the same as soup for a 1-year-old. Adult soup has way too many herbs, spices, heat, and everything else to be baby-friendly. Enter Plum Organics, a company that makes a whole lot of kid-food, including a new line of soups that are perfect for toddlers.
The soups, which come in three flavors, are packed with nutrition and all things good, and they're made to appeal to young palates. The company dropped three soups on my desk; chicken noodle, tomato-turkey meatball and chicken fiesta. I could have tried all three and given my personal opinion, but that would have been only semi-valid since I have an adult palate.
Instead, I fed them to my favorite 1-year-old... she LOVED them. She's a big fan of table-food, but when dinner is a bit too spicy or too late, the soups are a big hit with our "little miss," (so much so that her Mama is now stocking them in her kid-food pantry.)
From an adult perspective, the soups are a bit sweet and lack seasoning (low in salt,) but they do offer organic grains and veggies and complex, tasty flavors that are tailored for young eaters. The 8-ounce pouches have about 7 grams of protein and plenty of nutrients. Find them at Safeway and select Target for about $2.99 per pouch. www.PlumOrganics.com.
 

Friday, April 3, 2015

MAGICAL MIXOLOGY


COCKTAILS ARE HOT all year-round, but stirring up an icy adult treat just seems right for a Spring celebration. Mixologists can work all kinds of magic in a glass -- but only if they have the right ingredients. "Right" ingredients include fresh herbs and fruits ... high quality spirits that deliver big flavor. Here are details on two great options, one new and one old.
Brand new to the California market is New Amsterdam Mango Vodka, a bright, luscious spirit that delivers surprisingly bold mango flavor. Mix it up with bubbly water and a splash of fresh OJ and it's the perfect brunch libation -- I'm bringing mine to our family Easter celebration. What sets this flavored vodka apart from so may is the bright flavor of mango without the cloying sugar backdrop found in many liqueurs. A bottle is about $13.
NOT SO NEW, but just so exotic and refined is St-Germain liqueur, a sophisticated, aromatic libation made with elderflowers from the French countryside. The sweet bouquet of this incredible liqueur is exactly right stirred into a glass of pink champagne or Prosecco and club soda. Add a twist of lemon and it's summer in a glass. St-Germain can also be splashed into a gin and tonic, slipped into a glass of sake, or added to honey, apple brandy and water for a hot drink. St-Germaine can be found at most liquor stores. It's about $36.