Review: Numi


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Disclosure Agreement: Review was due to compensation from the company’s whose products were reviewed. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are our own. 

By: Nikki Nies
Whether you like it warm,  iced or chilled, tea can meet any drinker’s needs. While the brother and sister duo Ahmed and Reem Rahim agree that tea is fitting for any occasion, they recognized the need and market for more quality teas. In 1999, in a 750 square foot apartment in Oakland, California, the tea brand Numi was created with super premium, organic 100% real ingredients.
Curious as to what’s behind the Numi name?  As children, the founders of Numi, Ahmed and Reem would drink an Iraqi dried lime teasan, called Numi. In Arabic, it means citrus and is known as an oasis of health.  In other regions of the world, the resonant syllables mean:
• In Shaman lore, Num is the chief celestial spirit; Num has also been referred to as an ecstatic state.
• In Latin, Numi refers to a collector of coins.
• In Hindi, Numi means taste or fragrance.
• In Chinese, Numi means sticky rice
With various meanings that encompass Numi, it’s fitting that Ahmed and Reem would choose Numi to represent their brand.
Ahmed and Reem’s partnership has elevated the line of teas, with Ahmed’s artistic skills and sustainability efforts a central aspect of the production and creation of Numi’s teas. Now as the largest premium, organic, Fair Trade Certified tea company in North America, Numi’s Alchemist, Ahmed Rahim travels the ends of the earths to find unique flavors and pairings while forming partnerships with farmers and to learn about respective cultures and communities.
The great aspect of Numi is that there are flavors for every palate.  Again, Numi uses 100% fresh, real fruits, flowers and flavors, with variations of green, white, black, herbal teasans, pu•erh, indulgent teas and savory teas. Check out their catalog for an extensive overview of all the flavors offered!Personally, I can’t get enough of the new line of indulgent teas, specifically the chocolate mint tea! Beyond the fact that it tastes exactly like the Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, pairing the chocolate mint tea with milk to make my own iced latte has been an awesome flavor opening adventure!
Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 9.58.04 PMBy using organic herbs and teas, this not only protects the health of farmers, but is more consumer and environmentally friendly.  The use of natural, biodegradable, filter paper bags and use of 85% post consumer waste for the tea boxes, allows Numi to lower and offset carbon emissions.  Since 2007, Numi has used soy based inks for the printing of its cartons and materials and has decreased landfill usage by more than 82,000 pounds yearly.By celebrating people, planet and pure tea, Numi encompasses all that’s good in the world! As of 2013, Numi introduced its Fair Labor Practices program, which provides adequate labor and workplace conditions throughout foreign supply chain.  In addition, all of its pu•erh tea blends are Verified Fair Labor™.  On the bottom of each tea box, Numi’s Eco Responsibility Audit shares the environmental footprint.
Since 2009, Numi Foundation has focused on acknowledging and addressing the challenges of health, nutrition and education  within inner city Oakland, California. The initiative A Creative Transformation In Our Community (ACTION), helps leverage the work of thousands through volunteer project days and encouraging movements.
In the future, it’d be great if all of Numi’s boxes of tea came with perforated openings. Only some of the boxes provide perforated openings and it’d be great if all of their products were consistently easy to open.  Not sure, but I’m curious if Numi’s teas are in the works to be K cup compatible.
I’m impressed by Numi’s dedication to people, profits, planet and product. With its short life span, it’s already a multi award-winning and has left a footprint, don’t worry, it’s small, in the world of tea! I can’t wait to see what new variations of flavors Numi comes up with next!
Check out Numi’s Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter | Eco Awards | Foodservice Items pages!

Photo Credit:Numi

Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad


By: Nikki Nies

I’ve always considered my initiation into the spicy palette world as starting during the fall of 2012, when I was living with an Italian family that only cooked with extra heat. However, now that I think about it, I’ve appreciated the kick that chili garlic sauce brings to dishes for quite some time. What was introduction to chili garlic sauce? My mother made me Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad in 2008 and I’ve been obsessed with these flavors ever since!

If you tend to opt for the non-spicy, buckle your seat and join the ride of flavors that include ginger, chili garlic sauce and snow peas! You won’t be able to resist these flavors!

Sauce:IMG_9213

  • 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 5 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons oriental sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced green onions
  • 2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • optional, adds crunch if you like: diagonally thinly sliced raw pea pods and/or thin julienned water chestnuts
  • 1 pound box vermicelli

Prepare sauce from the first 6 ingredients in a jar. Shake well and let sit for at least a couple of hours at room temperature. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. While pasta is cooking, whisk the sauce in a very large bowl. Add hot pasta, green onions and chicken and toss well to coat. Add cilantro and optional pea pods and water chestnuts. Toss to blend. Will serve 4 dinner entrees or 6 lunch servings. IMG_9217

I recently made this recipe for another family that I’ve been graciously been staying with as I wrap up the chapter in my life in Illinois. They were surprised how healthy it was and had the right amount of vegetables and protein for them! While most of these ingredients can now be found in the local grocery store, it may be worth the investment to stop by your local Asian market and/or invest in the larger size bottles of oil or vinegar if you plan to experiment more with Asian flavors!

Review: Justin’s


Justins-Web-MediaRelations-FamilyShot-6

Disclosure Agreement: Review of Justin’s was due to compensation from the company’s whose products were reviewed. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are own. 

By: Nikki Nies

Do you describe your taste preferences as more sweet or savory? While many are loyal followers of either end of the taste spectrum, if you’re a middle of the road kind of guy or gal, you reap the benefits and flavors of both sides. Scary thought though.  With double the flavors of savory and sweet, I’m sure it can be hard to comb through the products that call your name.

I’m here today to share the story of Justin’s, a line of nut butters that originated in Boulder farmer’s markets and now is sold nationwide, which easily meets the need of sweet and savory in the same bite. Since inception in 2004, the founder, Justin Gold, has overcome the hurdles that come with developing a business plan.

I’m grateful for Justin’s creativity and drive to produce quality products. I’m sure you’ve seen Justin’s product in Whole Foods, Target, Jewel-Osco, Publix, Safeway, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Kroger, Giant, Giant Eagle, Bashas’, Harris Teeter, HEB and/or the Fresh Market. If you haven’t, ask a sales associate next time you’re in the store and join a following that are thoroughly enjoying all-natural, high-quality ingredients.

His products include 16 ounce jars, 1.15 ounce squeeze packs that are great portable, portion controlled protein packed foods. Not only are the nut butters packed with vitamin E and fiber, but they are offered in Maple Almond Butter, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Classic Almond Butter, Classic Peanut Butter, Honey Peanut Butter, Vanilla Almond Butter, Honey Almond Butter and Chocolate Almond Butter.  In addition, for those that enjoy the sweeter side of life, Justin’s offers USDA certified organic all peanut butter cups made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa.

IMG_8945I recently used Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter, which contains ONLY dry peanuts and oil as ingredients, to make his recipe of Peanut Butter Cookies.  This recipe is so simple and tasty! I couldn’t believe it took only three ingredients! Being an avid experimental baker, I couldn’t bring myself to use the entire full cup of brown sugar listed in the recipe. Instead, with a little over 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the cookies were as delicious as can be! Interested to learn other ways to use Justin’s products in your kitchen, check out his recipes and make yourself a grocery list!

The reason I love Justin’s peanut butter is because his products’ quality and nutrition content has not wavered.  At a serving size of 2 tablespoons, at 190 calories, 7 g of carbohydrates, 8 g of protein, o mg of cholesterol, 16 g of fat and 4 g of dietary fiber, I can’t complain!

Interested in created your own product? Justin’s two cents is

The most important thing is just to start. You will never end up anywhere if you don’t start somewhere. If I hadn’t started making jars, it wouldn’t have given me the opportunity to get to where I am today.

Justin’s has also involved themselves in sustainability efforts, sourcing the highest-quality, local ingredients, simplifying the supply chain, and initiating environmentally friendly office practices.  In collaboration with Conscious Alliance and Whole Planet Foundation, Justin’s does it part in hunger relief and global poverty relief efforts. With initiatives like these, how can you not support Justin’s?! I know I’m ready to try out his Maple Almond Butter and Banana Ice Cream next, are you?

Check out Justin’s Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | PinterestSite | Blog

Photo Credit: Justin’s 

Cottage Cheese Filled Dates


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Image by David R. Blume goo.gl/vxxn1w

By: Nikki Nies

Whenever you’re pairing foods, you want to make sure they have the right balance of sweet and savory. The overpowering of one ingredient can lead to the

For as little in size that dates are, they’re nutrition powerhouses, containing fiber, the antioxidant tannins, beta carotene, vitamin A, potassium and iron. While the peanut butter stuffed dates trend has been going around, I’ve been trying to incorporate more cottage cheese into my meals as it is great to pair with savory or sweet foods. Pairing dates and cottage cheese is a great way to maintain protein content, but the added benefit of cottage cheese’s healthy fats. While low in calories, cottage cheese and dates are great spin on the traditional peanut butter stuffed dates.

IngredientsIMG_9084

  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 5 dates
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Sprinkle of  cinnamon

Instructions

Slice dates lengthwise, stuff with cottage             cheese. Drizzle honey and sprinkle cinnamon on top of each date. Eat up!

What additional toppings would you add to this easy, delectable snack?

Sources: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-dates.html

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dates.html

Health Benefits of Dates – Promoting Heart, Brain, and Digestive Health

Review: Food Should Taste Good


 

logoDisclosure Agreement: Review of FSTG was due to compensation. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are own. 

By: Nikki Nies

I was first introduced to Food Should Taste Good (FTSG) product last fall.  Anyone who know me well, knows that chips are not a temptation food for me.  Offer me chips and I have no problem saying no, however, I am always willing to try new foods and I’m glad I was introduced to FSTG products.

The founder, Pete Lescoe’s career in restaurants and grocery stores confirmed that when real ingredients are good, the food and quality of the product will reflect it. The first flavors of chips created were multigrain and jalepeno, polar opposites in flavor, but part of the foundation of FSTG’s success. Since 2006, all FSTG products have been gluten free, cholesterol free, with no preservatives or additives, zero grams trans fats or MSG, certified Kosher and many are certified vegan.

FSTG story hasn’t been without its bumps, but I’m happy to hear how the company has responded to less than stellar responses to their line of Buffalo and Potato & Chive chips. The line of Buffalo chips were discontinued when it was clear its cousin, Jalepeno was holding down the spicy needs of consumers just fine!  Additionally, using the mulitgrain recipe as a starter for other creations, the recipe was adapted to form the popular Blue Corn chip.

In less than a decade, FSTG has expanded its line of chips, including kettle cooked chips, brown rice crackers and pita puffs.

IMG_8937

I recently tried the kimchi and blue corn chips for the first time. If you can get past the blue hue in the chip, which I love, the blue corn chips have the right balance of nutty flaxseed and corn.  I’m grateful FSTG assists its consumers on what to pair the chips with because I would be lost without that assistance! I wouldn’t know that blue corn chips would be great with roasted sweet potato hummus or baked cauliflower and white cheddar dip. So thank you FSTG!

While I love the pack of flavors in each chip, I would love the chips even more if they were made from 100% whole grains. I know FSTG has come a long way since 2006 and I’m sure there’s talk in the works to incorporate more whole grains, if not, 100% whole grains in FSTG products.  I understand that FSTG’s multigrain was part of the initial groundwork of FSTG, but revamping the line of products without multigrain could be beneficial.

Next time you’re in the store, check out the nutrition fact label of FSTG! Their line of products remind us that food that tastes good doesn’t necessarily have to be bad for you. For example,

Nutrient profile for Kimchi tortilla chips: Serving size: 12 chips; 140 calories; 7 g total fat; 17 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber and 2 g protein.

I was impressed to see that the serving sizes are reasonable and one can walk away content with one [maybe two] servings of FSTG chips.

nongmo-samplefbpostFSTG has made a lot of initiatives to provide only the best quality of products, we can all go to bed happy to know FSTG products have been verified by the non-GMO project.  In the spirit of transparency, the third party certification provides consumers more confidence in the quality of ingredients in FTSG.  With verification process underway, new product labeling is in the works. Check out the upcoming changes coming to your FTSG products!

What FSTG flavors are your favorite? What flavors do you wish FSTG would add to their line?

Check out FSTG’s Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | eNewsletter | Contact | Site 

Photo Credit: FSTG

Health Tips When Traveling To China


China_table_settingBy: Nikki Nies

To truly immerse yourself in a culture, especially one that is far removed from your own is the true definition of traveling. Whether you travel to the exhilarating Machu Pichu or soak up the rays in Turks & Caicos, there’s one factor in vacation destinations that can be not be ignored, the food. Depending on one’s taste buds and food preferences, that can dictate travel excursions. No matter how much you   factor in food, China should be at the top of your list of travel destinations!

You should head to China with at few ideas of where you want to go and how to best enjoy the food. I have provided first hand tips of how to best eat in China.

With many carbohydrate sources, such as rice, noodles, steamed buns as entrées themselves or accompanying the entrees, it can be easy to carb overload. However,

  • Eat with chopsticks. Not only will it slow down intake, but locals will be more likely to give you menu and meal suggestions when they see you immersing in the culture
  • Try a bit of everything, but don’t eat everything. Having a couple bites can help limit overindulging while getting the exposure to different flavors
  • Cold beverages are deemed harmful to digestion of hot foods, so hot tea or hot water are served with meals. Tea is believed to help with the digestion of greasy foods
  • Food is often prepared and served on small plate, “family style”, be ready for direct pick up and communal eating

    Image by rayand goo.gl/5mSWbf
    Image by rayand goo.gl/5mSWbf
  • While China can be divided into 57 cuisine regions, below are some of the more popular regions:
    • Szechuan (Sichuan): known for spicy, hot flavor; uses a great mixture of poultry, pork, beef, fish, vegetables, tofu in combination with pepper and chili; fast frying is most commonly used method
    • Cantonese: characterized by tender, slightly sweet taste; sauces are often light and mellow, including hoisin, oyster, plum and sweet and sour sauce; often see spring onions, sugar, salt, rice wine, corn starch, vinegar and sesame oil used; garlic can be heavily used; prefer stewing, sautéing or braising food, which helps to preserve the flavor
    • Hunan: “land of fish and rice”; fresh vegetables cooked “al dente”; favors steaming, stir frying, smoking and sautéing; special seasonings include soy sauce, tea seed oil, Chinese red pepper, fennel and cassia bark and spicy oil
    • Jiangsu: moderate saltiness and sweetness; places emphasis on the making of soups; abundant in freshwater fish and seafood from the Yangtze River and Yellow Sea
  • Desserts less common, with sweet foods introduced during meal. For example, basifruit, sizzling sugar syrup coated fruits are eaten with other savory foods
    • Beware, there are fried desserts that incorporate red bean paste
    • If dessert is served at the end of the meal, often times it is fresh fruit
  • Soup is often served at the end of the meal to satiate appetite

For any of you that have traveled to China, what other tips can you share? It’s hard to give specific “restaurant recommendations” as a lot of the great food is on the street kiosks and depending on what flavors you’re looking to try! Remember, when traveling, go in with an open mind and have fun! What regional cuisines are must eats for you

Sources: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/healthy-living/use-your-noodle-the-real-chinese-diet-is-so-healthy-it-could-solve-the-wests-obesity-crisis-873651.html

The Forgotten Health Benefits of Chinese Food

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-tips-healthy-chinese-cooking

http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2013/2/7/chefs-reveal-how-to-find-authentic-chinese-food

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder


By: Nikki Nies baking-powder-soda

In baking, there are 2 categories that ingredients fall into- tougheners/strengtheners and tenderizers/weakeners. Tenderizers include fat, egg yolk, sugar, leaveners and acids. Leaveners are chemical agents that cause batters to rise when baked.  Leaveners create enlarge the already present bubbles through the creaming of ingredients.

Specifically, this includes baking soda, baking powder, air and steam. These extend shelf life of finished product. Flour, milk, water, whole eggs and egg whites are tougheners. Milk, juice, water and egg add moisture to butter, flour, starch and milk solids are dry ingredients.

As stated before, baking powder and soda are leavening agents.  When both ingredients are used in the same recipe, the baking powder does most of the leavening while the baking soda neutralizes the acid in the recipe, adding tenderness and some leavening.  Baking powder is composed of baking soda, one or more acid salts (i.e. cream of tartar or sodium aluminum sulfate) and cornstarch to absorb any moisture. Nowadays, most baking powder is double acting, which means it reacts to liquid and heat in two stages.

The initial reaction takes place when adding baking powder to batter and it is moistened. Either cream of tartar or sodium aluminum sulfate, the acid salts, reacts with the baking soda to produce carbon dioxide gas. The second reaction takes place once the batter is in the oven. The gas cells expand causing the batter to rise.

If there’s too much baking soda added to a cake, the mixture will be alkaline, contain a yellowish hue and a soapy flavor.  It is often used in recipes with an acidic ingredient (i.e citrus juice, sour cream, yogurt, vinegar, buttermilk, cocoa, honey, molasses, fruit, maple syrup and/or chocolate).  Once added to batter, baking soda reacts and releases carbon dioxide gas. Therefore, it’s important to bake batter immediately.

Use of too much baking powder can cause the end product to be bitter in taste, for the batter to rise rapidly and then collapse and/or the crumb will have a fragile, coarse texture.  On the other end of the spectrum, when not enough baking powder is used, a cake can be poor in volume or have a compact crumb.

Photo Credit:Happy Herbivore

Sources:http://www.simplyrecipes.com/the_difference_between_baking_soda_and_baking_powder/

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/foodchemistry/f/blbaking.htm

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder

Baking 101: The Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/blogs/editor/2014/03/from-the-test-kitchen-baking-soda-vs-baking-powder.html

http://www.joyofbaking.com/bakingsoda.html

http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/06/what-is-the-difference-between-baking-powder-and-baking-soda-in-pancakes.html

Pregnancy Weight and Intakes


pregweightdiagramBy: Nikki Nies

As we all know, pregnancy is an  exciting time for all those involved.  With impending baby showers and last minute gatherings for mothers to be, food related activities are inevitable.  Yet, a healthy weight gain is the aim for the mother and infant for optimal growth, development and overall health.

Weight gain recommendations: Underweight (BMI <19.1) 40-50#; normal BMI (19.25) 35-45#; overweight (26-29.9) 25-35#

Normal weight women should gain 25-35# during pregnancy. UW: 28-40#; overweight: 15-25#; obese: should still gain some weight, ~15#; excessive weight gain is discouraged with any bodyweight classification of the mother.

In the first trimester of pregnancy, normal weight pregnant women do not need to consume additional calories per day according to the National Research Council.  In the second trimester, an additional 340 calories per day is recommended and then in the third trimester, intake should increase to about 450 calories per day.  Those that are underweight may expect to increase intake by an additional 100-300 calories per day.

During pregnancy, intake of folic acid is recommended to increase  prevention of birth defects.  Fortified grains can be a good source of dietary folate, with the best sources including lentils and beans. 1/2 cup cooked black eye peas, 1 cup of raw spinach and/or 1 cup fortified corn flakes can provide more than 100 mcg of folate each.

Of course, talking to your primary care physician about your weight and health is vital during pregnancy. The above weight parameters are suggested weight gain guidelines.

Photo Credit: Baby Your Baby 

Sources: http://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy-weight-gain-estimator

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-weight-gain/art-20044360?pg=2

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-weight-gain/

http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/healthy-weight-gain