Categories
Food

2019’s Hot Breakfast Trend: Grain-Free Granola (with chickpeas!)

Sometimes, the food world surprises me. I mean, you’d think chickpeas in grain-free granola would be weird, right? Wrong.

The newest hot breakfast trend of granola with chickpeas is actually both delicious and satisfying. Try a batch.

walnut halves in a pan

Walnuts, pecans, almonds, oh my!

But… will it work for my gut?

There are some considerations if you’re worried about some of the common gut irritants that might be found in grain-free granola.

  • Sugar: many commercial granolas sell because they are sweet like dessert
  • High FODMAPs: care must be taken to select mostly low FODMAPs nuts and seeds
  • Chickpeas: some granola use whole chickpeas and others use flour. This uses flour, in a moderate amount.
  • Fat: grain-free granolas are commonly made with coconut oil, which may or may not work well for you. I’ve chosen to create a recipe focused on monounsaturated fats by using olive oil.
  • Dried fruit: mine is made with fresh fruit but it does dry during the baking process.

What to do? Take control. DIY allows you to increase or decrease as your body suggests.

My version is barely sweetened, with just a tiny hint of maple, and clear notes of cranberry highlighting the richness of the nuts and seeds. The mixture of egg and chickpea flour make it thick enough to shape bars.

Zinger Chicky Nut-ola Recipe (Grain-free Granola)

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups low FODMAPs nuts (walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, etc)
  • 1 cup seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
  • 2/3 cup high FODMAPs nuts, chopped or sliced
  • 2/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons mild olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup (you may increase for a sweeter granola)
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Chop the cranberries and low FODMAP nuts in a food processor until they form a coarse meal.

In a large bowl, mix the cranberry blend with the remaining ingredients. Spread over the parchment paper or shape into bars.

Bake for 10 minutes; flip, and decrease the temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for another 20 minutes. Cool, and package in an airtight container.

Low FODMAPs? Keep your portion small. Consider swapping the almonds out for a low FODMAP nut or seed.

Avoiding egg? Use 2 T of ground flaxseed with 3 T of water.

Categories
Food Product review

Review: Jaret’s Stuffed Cupcakes

Gluten-free sweets can be tricky and even close to inedible.  However, more places are beginning to offer options for customers who have dietary restrictions.  Jaret’s Stuffed Cupcakes in Endicott, New York, offers gluten-free options as well as a few allergy-friendly options (shared facility) by advance order.

How Good Were the Stuffed Cupcakes?

Both chocolate and vanilla cake are an option for gluten-free orders.  Wheat-based cake flavors also include flavors like carrot cake, red velvet, and so on. 

However, most of the variations in their offerings are based on the fillings and toppings.  That means much of the menu is available for gluten-free orders.

I ordered two flavors with chocolate cupcakes: the salty dog and the peanut butter delight. 

Both used chocolate cake– which was pleasant. It was tender, moist, light, and no hint of gumminess.  Non gluten-free eaters approved of the cake texture as well.

Of the two flavors, the peanut butter delight won a definite first place.  The peanut butter filling helped balance out the sweetness of the chocolate frosting.  While the flavor sounded much simpler than other options, it was delicious.

Really delicious.

In contrast, the salty dog had a vanilla frosting with caramel and salted peanuts. Because there were only a few salted peanuts on quite a lot of frosting, the salty dog experience was more heavily weighted toward sugar overload than balanced flavors.

How Did the Baked Goods Look?

Beautiful.  The artistic swirls elevated the cupcakes beyond your average home baker’s skills.  The cake order (an 8″ birthday cake) was nicely decorated with a few flowers.

With a little discussion in terms of decorations and flavor selections, I would happily take these to special occasions.  Kathleen is happy to chat about options and work with you in terms of allergens as well (but do be aware this is a shared facility).

Stuff those Cupcakes Again?

Yes. Absolutely.

But for the stuffed cupcakes: skip the frosting filling for more flavorful options and a bit less sugar.

#lessguilt #morejoy #dessertforall

Categories
Food

Quick Food Processor Cinnamon Banana Muffins

“You can’t make muffins in a food processor.”

Wrong. You can make these food processor cinnamon banana muffins in mere minutes.

The key is not using wheat flour, which adds gluten. Gluten, when beaten too much, makes tough muffins. These happen to use coconut flour but other nut flours could be explored (the amounts change, though).

Recipe: Cinnamon Banana Muffins

4 very ripe bananas (turning black in places)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup (120 grams) natural peanut butter

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 Tablespoon baking powder

Pinch salt

Optional: Dark chocolate chips or chopped walnuts, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins (one dozen) with cupcake liners.

Peel the bananas. Place the bananas, eggs, peanut butter, and olive oil in the bowl of a large food processor. Puree until well mixed.

Lightly sprinkle the coconut flour over the top the of banana blend. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the coconut flour. Sprinkle the baking power and salt on top of the coconut flour. Pulse, for one second at a time, until just mixed. Stir in the optional add-ins, if using.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Don’t be surprised if you find the batter somewhat liquid initially. It will thicken as it sits.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Test with a toothpick. Cool before eating.

Eat promptly or freeze. Best gently warmed.

Muffins in the oven
Muffins rising in the oven due to baking powder, eggs, and heat.

Unfamiliar with coconut flour? It’s readily available in larger grocery stores (with health food sections), health food stores, and online. Look for places where there is regular turnover of products. Expect a hint of coconut flavor from it in most baked goods, but the banana is the major flavor here.

Key trick: coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid, so most recipes with coconut flour have extra egg or pureed fruits or vegetables.

Enjoy your muffins! Share photos or comments on the Balance: Food and Nutrition Facebook page here.

Categories
Food

Seven Delicious Ways to Use Garlic-Infused Olive Oil

Are you feeling guilty about a bottle of garlic-infused olive oil getting dusty in your pantry?  Keep reading to learn how to make your meals delicious with this easy-to-use flavor enhancer.

Dehydrated garlic chips

Garlic-infused oil is an easy way to add flavor.

What Is Garlic-infused Olive Oil?

Olive oils, and other liquids, like vinegar or alcohol, can be infused with different flavors.  Sometimes fruits are used but other times ingredients like herbs, spices, or garlic are selected. 

Garlic infused olive oil has a garlic flavor to the oil.  Essentially, chopped garlic is left to soak in olive oil for a day, or even a week.  The pieces of garlic are then strained out. 

Certain flavorful compounds transfer into the oil.  When the solids are removed, the high FODMAP carbohydrates are removed.

How to Use Garlic-infused Olive Oil

  1. Drizzle garlic-infused olive oil over poached or fried eggs.
  2. Serve slices of crusty bread with little bowls of flavored olive oil instead of butter.
  3. Drizzle garlic-infused olive oil over steamed broccoli rabe or broccolini.
  4. Create a vinaigrette with a punch.
  5. Add some kick to a black bean soup.  Citrus juice with garlic-infused olive oil build depth with contrasting flavors.
  6. Roasted potatoes.  Perhaps new potatoes?  Or fingerlings?  Add a little smoked paprika and lime for additional flavor.
  7. Marinate mushrooms in garlic-infused olive oil and red wine vinegar (along with the herbs or spices of your choice).


Monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts, and fish can have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help stave off heart disease and many other conditions.” -Heidi Godman, Harvard Health Letter

Flavored oils make throwing together a delicious salad, or dressing up plain vegetables, easy.

And what’s faster than a drizzle of heart and brain-healthy olive oil? Not much.

Make Your Own Infused Olive Oil– Without Botulism! 

Commercial infused olive oils are safe to store for long times– even at room temperature. 

Homemade garlic-based olive oils should be consumed promptly and stored in the refrigerator to avoid botulism.  Use them within four days.

This handout has a recipe on page four that can be stored for longer than four days in the refrigerator.

Where Can I Buy Garlic-infused Olive Oil?

Garlic-infused olive oil is becoming more common.  Specialty stores, focused on olive oil and vinegar (like our own Crystal City Olive Oil), often have it.

Larger supermarkets and gourmet markets may carry it.  Many producers sell it via the internet, including a low FODMAP version: FODY Foods.

Start Creating Delicious Food: Add Garlic-Infused Olive Oil Your Pantry

Get started by printing out these ideas and putting them on your fridge. Then, make or buy garlic-infused olive oil to keep on hand for busy nights, when you need to make delicious food fast.

The next step: try a different flavor!

Drop me a note and let me know how you make out, or share a photo on Facebook.

Categories
Food Reader Q & A

Reader Q & A: Affordable Nuts

A couple of days ago, I gave a presentation to group about the MIND diet to a local group.  One of the questions from the audience was about how to afford to eat nuts when you have a limited food budget.  To be honest, I didn’t have a great answer at that very moment.  Read on for a more detailed answer.

Questions to Ask Yourself About Nuts

First, I think it’s worth looking at your portion size.  Remember, the goal is about one pound of nuts per month.  How much are you currently eating?

One pound of shelled nuts is around $4.00-$8.00, depending on where and when you buy them.  That’s comparable to many types of meat.  Beans are more affordable but nuts offer different health benefits, including important fats.

Second, ask yourself how picky you are.  Are you willing to eat a different variety of nut? Perhaps eating a raw nut or roasting it yourself will make a difference.

Top Ten Strategies for Finding Affordable Nuts

  1. Compare different sections of the store.  Check the per pound prices in the bulk section, the baking section, and the snack section. For example, the salted roasted walnuts may be $9.49 per pound in the snack section while the raw chopped walnut pieces in the baking section are $5.49 per pound.
  2. Compare different nuts.  For example, macadamia nuts tend to be expensive.  There are regional differences—so you may find that pecans are more affordable in areas where pecans are grown.
  3. Consider seeds as an option.  Ground flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and so on are all options.  Traditionally, seeds have lower prices than tree nuts.
  4. Shop the sales.  Seasonal sales come around!  I expect baking supplies, including nuts, to go on sale after Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.  Store them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
  5. Go local during harvest season.  If you live in a nut-producing area, you may be able to buy a bushel of nuts and shell them yourself from a farm stand or market.  Again, store them in the freezer.
  6. Find a tree that isn’t being harvested.  Many people have a nut tree in their yard that drops nuts but they don’t harvest all the nuts.  Ask around and you might score a free bushel of walnuts or pecans for the effort of gathering them.  Check out this website about free food from backyard and urban trees.
  7. Check discount retailers.  For example, the Aldi’s in my area often has reasonable prices on nuts for baking, and even nuts packaged for snacks. Other stores, like Big Lots, may occasionally have nuts at a good price.
  8. Look for a local buying club.  Buying clubs place wholesale order and then split the order. They often focus on organic products but you get the wholesale price.  For example, I have three pounds of sliced almonds in my freezer from a local buying club order.
  9. Plant a nut tree.  Caveat: Nut trees are a long-term investment—some can take 20 years to produce nuts.  I’ve generally had fabulous experiences with trees from this company.
  10. Look at the prices for club stores that require membership, especially around the holiday baking season. Because these packages tend to be large, plan to split with a friend or store extra in the freezer.

Happy nut eating! Please share your ideas on the Balance: Food and Nutrition Facebook page for other readers.

Categories
Food

The Seven Spice Combinations You Need for Exciting Vegetables

If you’re bored of steamed vegetables, or yet another green salad, it’s time to go abroad for some inspiration.  Each of these seven spice combinations for vegetables draws from a classic cuisine, from Aleppo to Mexico City.

For the best results, use the freshest spices you can buy and store blends in airtight containers in a dark, cool cabinet.

Feel like it’s time for a flavor kick? Make these spice blends.

1. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, pepper, and salt.

Combine 1 T ground cumin, 1 T ground coriander, 2 tsp ground turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix well. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per quart of vegetables. Just before serving, squeeze a little lime juice over it for an extra layer of flavor.  Try with:

  • oven roasted vegetables, like carrots, winter squash, and/or cauliflower.
  • stir-fried French-cut green beans or cabbage.
  • braised winter squash or pumpkin.

2. Smoked paprika, sumac, coriander, and pepper.

Combine 1 T ground smoked paprika, 3 T sumac, 2 tsp coriander, and ground black pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Use about 1 tsp per quart of vegetables, or to taste.  Try with:

  • oven roasted cauliflower.
  • roughly mashed boiled potatoes and carrots.
  • grilled yellow squash.

3. Cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, and oregano.

Combine 2 T cumin, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cayenne, and 1 T oregano flakes.  Mix well.  Use about 1/4 tsp per cup of vegetables, or to taste, adding fresh garlic to taste.  Try with:

  • stir-fried peppers, onions, broccoli, and summer squash.
  • roasted winter squash.
  • tomato-based vegetable soup.

4. Black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Combine 2 T black pepper, 2 T allspice, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.  Mix well.  Use this instead of black pepper for a more complex flavor.  Try on:

  • vegetable-based stews, especially those with eggplant or tomato.
  • grilled summer squash or bell peppers.
  • flavor an olive oil-based marinade with it.

5. Chili powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, and ground chipotle pepper.

The ratios here will depend on your tastes.  Like it with a kick?  Be more generous with the red pepper flakes and chipotle pepper.  Prefer mild?  Go light and leave it mostly chili pepper.  Try it on:

  • sweet potato and black bean stew.
  • stir-fried cabbage.
  • roasted root vegetables.

Have fun!  And feel free to share your favorite spice combinations over on the Balance: Food and Nutrition Facebook page.

About Culinary Uses of Anti-inflammatory Herbs and Spices

I encourage many clients to incorporate some herbs and spices into the way they eat– partly, because some of these plants have powerful compounds that are sometimes beneficial; partly, some of these plants taste delicious!

The amounts I recommend are culinary.  They are intended to enhance food and make it fun to eat.  Spice combinations like these will make eating your frozen vegetables or taking on a plant-based Meatless Monday stew more engaging.

The main reason I recommend culinary use is because I don’t have enough data to confidently say using more is worth the time, money, and effort for my clients.  Long-term health studies are lacking, although we can confidently say that some herbs and spices do have certain compounds that have protective benefits.  That’s another topic for another day, so keep coming back for that topic.

Did you find this helpful?  If so, please share!

Categories
Food

The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Vegetable Bliss with Frozen Vegetables

How many times have you vowed to eat more vegetables?  How many times have you actually eaten more vegetables?

If there’s a difference between those two numbers, read this guide to finding your vegetables bliss with frozen vegetables.

Finding my Vegetable Bliss?!

Hyperbole, perhaps.  But a truly delicious vegetable can be an enjoyable sensory experience.  Blissful, even.

A beautifully ripe heirloom tomato (for tomato lovers).  A delicious curried pumpkin dish.  A tender asparagus dish with butter and garlic.  These seasonal dishes–even food porn experiences– can be mainstays of your daily life when you find the foods that are you bliss points in the freezer section.

Exploring the Freezer Section

Frozen vegetables have moved beyond the frozen peas and corn of my childhood.  You can now find fire-roasted red peppers, garlic sautéed mushrooms, and butternut squash spirals.  If you haven’t wandered slowly through your freezer section recently, take a few minutes and just browse.

Even the quality of the basic vegetables have improved– try some broccoli florets, for example. While they don’t have the crunch of fresh broccoli, the flavorful tops are tender, sweet, and simple to prepare.  Basic frozen French-cut green beans can be dressed up with frozen artichoke hearts, as in the curry above.

Try one new item every time you make a large shopping trip.  If you’re uncertain about cooking specific items, check out the websites of the companies (like this one) or grocery stores.  When in doubt, a nice vinaigrette works over almost any vegetable!

Cooking with Frozen Vegetables

I recommend two basic approaches.  First, defrost and use.  Second, cook as you would fresh but decrease the cooking time.

The defrost and use approach is handy for dishes using a blanched vegetable.  One example is a sliced fennel and apple salad that includes chopped blanched broccoli.  To substitute frozen broccoli florets, defrost in a bowl of florets in the refrigerator and then chop.  An example where you subsequently cook the item is an egg casserole– frozen roasted vegetables are defrosted in the microwave, layered in the casserole dish, and then covered with beaten egg.

The second approach– cook as you would fresh– requires a little practice but not too much.  A rule of thumb is to decrease the cooking time by the time listed for blanching the item in a cookbook.  However, watching and tasting can help ensure you get the results you like to eat.  One example is using frozen green beans in stir-fry (I like the extra fine green beans, which are a little smaller).


Ready for the next step?  Click to read: 13 Ways to Use Frozen Vegetables When You’re Trying to Eat More Vegetables.


What’s the Best Way to Store Frozen Vegetables?

After opening, the simplest storage options are airtight containers or freezer bags.  Labeling and dating can be helpful.  Eating frozen vegetables within three months of purchase helps avoid freezer burn.

Tip: Someone once suggested pre-mixing your own frozen vegetable mixes if you have a particular blend you like for certain purposes.

What About the Nutritional Quality of Frozen Vegetables?

Frozen vegetables have the benefit of being picked and promptly frozen.  Unlike the fresh cauliflower that has been sitting in my refrigerator for two weeks, they do not lose vitamins while being transported or stored if kept at the proper temperatures.  Some nutrients, like minerals and fiber, do not change.

Because of this, frozen vegetables are usually nutritionally equal or superior to fresh vegetables in the off-season.  When they are competing with fresh in season vegetables, frozen vegetables are still typically within 5-10% of the freshest vegetables you buy in a store.

Caveat: Recently, marketers and food companies began marketing more frozen vegetables in sauces.  Many are higher in sodium and fat.  While they are a reasonable choice if you have no dietary limits (like sodium), they are probably not a good option for adding to other dishes. 

I’ve tried a couple frozen vegetables in pre-made sauces and have generally not been impressed with the sauces containing guar gums.  Some of the roasted, grilled, or stir-fried with garlic options I tasted had fairly good flavors but do have some added sodium.

Interested in learning more about how to fit vegetables into the way you eat?  Consider a consultation with a Registered Dietitian or attend a Cooperative Extension program in your community.  You can ask me a question for a future blog post here.

 

Categories
Food

13 Ways to Use Frozen Vegetables When You’re Trying to Eat More Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are a fabulous back-up plan, but do you have a plan for when and how to use them?  Making a plan helps you mentally prepare for actually doing the work when it’s time to use frozen vegetables.  Read on for 13 ways to use frozen vegetables.

Add Frozen Vegetables to Meals

  1. Add frozen vegetables to pasta.  Try frozen diced carrots, loose leaf spinach, and broccoli florets in macaroni and cheese.  Try artichoke hearts, fine green beans, and roasted red peppers in pasta primavera.
  2. Add frozen vegetables to rice pilaf, biryani, or simply steamed rice.  Try riced cauliflower, diced carrots, petite peas, or baby lima beans.
  3. Try bulking up your regular soup recipes with extra frozen vegetables.  Frozen spinach is an easy option, but carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, kale, and collards can also work. Diced frozen mirepoix is a handy starting point if the fridge is empty.
  4. Turn that burrito into a bowl.  Years ago, I had a strong preference for Boloco over Chipotle because Boloco has broccoli and black olives. Add in corn, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, or broccoli into your burrito bowl.

Make Frozen Vegetables into a Side

  1. Stir-fry it!  Add a little garlic or lemon juice, and you have a five minute vegetable side.  Try any type of green, broccoli florets, peas, green beans, artichoke hearts, lima beans, mushrooms, or mukimame.  Just add a (small) splash of water at the beginning to help them defrost.
  2. Microwave them, with a lid on. Just a little olive oil and butter.  Anything you like.
  3. With tomato and garlic.  Bacon, rumor has it, also helps the less enthusiastic.  Saute the garlic in a bit of oil, add the tomato sauce, and then toss in the vegetable when the sauce is warm.  Top with crumbled bacon if you actually like bacon.
  4. [Any vegetable] cheese.  This is for your inner four-year old.  Start with 1 T butter.  Melt, add 1 T flour (wheat or corn), and stir until very lightly toasted.  Add 1 cup cold milk, whisking.  Stir gently until it thickens.  Add the vegetable.  Stir in 1 cup grated sharp cheddar.  The fancy option is to then place the mixture in a little casserole dish and broil or bake until lightly browned on top.
  5. Eat them frozen.  Or just defrosted.  Mukimame works well as a snack– pour into a container while frozen, by snack time they will be defrosted.

Vegetable-Centered Meals

  1. Vegetable curry.  Try butternut squash, French cut green beans, peppers and onions, and/or summer squash in your favorite curry recipe.
  2. Chili.  You don’t have to go vegetarian to add vegetables: try butternut squash, mushrooms, extra peppers, corn, or summer squash.
  3. Soup.  It’s so comforting.  Warm frozen vegetables in a pot and add a liquid of your choice– tomato sauce, broth, a white sauce, cream, or soy milk.  Use an immersion blender to puree.  Herbs, spices, and other flavors can snazz them up– like basil with broccoli soup!
  4. Quiche.  Crustless quiches, or egg stratas, are easy ways to eat more vegetables. Grease a casserole and then add layers.  Make a layer or two of vegetables: cauliflower rice, grilled vegetables, spinach, kale, or mushrooms.

Want to learn more tips and tricks? Click to read the next post about using frozen vegetables!

Categories
Food

Winter Wonderland Tea Recipe

Do you want to warm up this holiday season? Try this easy seasonal cranberry ginger tisane*.

Winter Wonderland Tea Recipe (AKA Cranberry Ginger Tisane)

1/4 cup fresh cranberries

1 inch of fresh ginger root

4 cups boiling water

Optional: 1/2 cinnamon stick and/or honey to taste

First, wash and peel the ginger root.  Next, slice into matchsticks.  Place into a quart canning jar or tea pot.  Add the cranberries and cinnamon, if using.  Pour the boiling water over the ingredients.  Finally, cover and allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.  The cranberries will likely make a little popping sound– don’t be startled!

I don’t usually sweeten with honey, but can understand why some people may prefer to add a little.

Health Benefits of Cranberry and Ginger

It’s a lovely, enjoyable drink simply from a gourmet perspective. However, ginger and cranberry also are both known for potent phytochemicals.  To get the most from the drink, eat a few of the tart cranberries with the tea.

Ginger is most well-known for being a safe anti-nausea option.  It’s often used for various forms of GI upset, and approved as a safe anti-emetic during pregnancy.  There are a few studies that suggest it may be useful as an anti-inflammatory, for arthritis-related pain.

Cranberries are most well-known for preventing urinary tract infections.  However, UTIs need a strong dose– capsules are more likely to help than a beverage like this. 

Most people don’t know that cranberries are also a great source of antioxidants.  They contain many useful compounds– from well known vitamins like vitamin C to lesser known proanthocyanidins.

The greatest value of drinking these tisanes can be the displacement factor.  Sometimes, people discover they like drinks like this and start drinking them instead of drinks like soda. 

Finally, when it comes to feeling satisfied with eating, experiencing different flavors can help.  If you tend to pick sweet flavors, trying flavors like this cranberry ginger tisane can help you explore a wider range of sensory experiences.  Tart and spicy, together!

Learn more about experiencing different flavors at the next Appreciating Taste Workshop.  Check out the workshop schedule!

*What’s a tisane?  Read more about teas (including a brief infographic about processing).

Liked this idea?  Please like or share!

Categories
Food

15 Culinary Stocking Stuffers for 2018

Make (the adults) happy with these stocking stuffers this year! Your creativity will be noted, and even the pickiest family member will adore a Wire-cutter approved pepper grinder.

Stocking stuffers for the foodie

  • Mini-bottles of flavored olive oil.  One of my recent favorites was this company’s Persian lime but interesting combinations abound; a cilantro onion flavor once made cooking anything Mexican-flavored a cinch.
  • Blooming tea flowers.  Each blossom provides a moment of meditation, a warm flavorful cup of tea, and a beautiful design on the bottom of your cup.
  • Penzy’s spices.  (Swap in the local favorite, if needed.)  Try an ounce of dried lemon zest or a more complex mix, like pico fruita.
  • Uncommon nut or seed butters.  Try pumpkin seed butter or black tahini.
  • Fancy tinned fish.  My favorite brands are Cole’s and Wild PlanetCole’s Smoked Trout is particularly good. *For potent fish lovers only.

Stocking stuffers for the difficult to please

  • Very nice chocolate.  Truffles from Lake Champlain, Burdick’s, or Recchiuti are likely to please chocolate-lovers.
  • Seasoned nuts.  Simple classics may be your friend– like the honey roasted peanut.
  • A new pepper mill— not just for peppercorns!  Include a packet of coriander as one option other than black pepper.
  • A fish spatula.  Used for more than fish, this thin and flexible spatula is good for flipped roasted vegetables, oversized omelets, and, of course, fish.
  • Spare batteries for that one item that always takes the odd battery.  Perhaps it’s a CR2025, CR2032, or just the weird battery for the smoke alarm.


Stocking stuffers for the adventurous

  • Crickets.  Perhaps made into Chirps Cricket Chips.
  • Chardonnay Wine Flour.  Made from the grape must, it’s a lovely way to reduce food waste while also inserting a little extra flavor and some nutrients.
  • Aleppo Pepper.  These lovely peppers haven’t become trendy, but they have a nice citrus kick as well as your classic hot pepper flavor (on the milder side).
  • New types of pasta.  Lentil pasta may be passe (if delicious), but how about edamame spaghetti?
  • Uncommon chocolate flavors.  Vosges offers a nice little variety of pack of beautiful bars with the usual (salted almond, anyone?) and less common (coconut ash?).

Happy stocking stuffing!

Sign up to get more posts in your inbox!  Coming soon: favorite cookbook suggestions for your friends and family.

Disclosure: Amazon links are Amazon affiliate links.  I have tried most of the products on this list– but not all.  The pepper mill, for example, is on my shopping list. Don’t tell the recipient!

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