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Wheatgrass BOOST by AgroLabs: Shots that Taste Good

I’d heard so many times about how nutritious wheatgrass juice was, but I’d never tried it.  So when AgroLabs contacted me about sending a couple of Wheatgrass BOOST shots my way, I didn’t hesitate.  “Hit me up,” I said.

When it was time to try one, though, my confidence waned.  What if it tasted horrible?  Like… grass… or wheaty grass?

I was shocked when my first sip tasted … good!  As in, really good!  I checked the ingredients, and noticed apple and grape juices and pear and banana purees included.  Aha!

Still- at 20 calories per 3oz bottle, with 100% Daily Value of Vitamin B12, 500% Daily Value of Vitamin B6, and only 5mg (less than 1% Daily Value) of sodium, I’m fine with the added juices as they make my consumption of wheatgrass so pleasurable.  Not to mention the best tasting shot I’ve ever downed.

Our Small but Pretty Kitchen

We moved apartments one year ago Tuesday.  Because we were the first renters of a just-renovated unit, it felt brand new.  (Never mind that the building was built in 1930.)

This is a snapshot of our kitchen from before we even moved in (you can see that there were still a few remnants of the renovation).  What you see is the entire kitchen (or, to be more precise, the kitchen portion of the one room that is our entryway, kitchen, dining room and living room altogether).

So, if you’re ever puzzled by my tendency to seriously simplify recipes or invent multiple uses for one kitchen gadget, the reasoning is: four cubic feet of counter space, junior-sized appliances and cabinets that collectively would comprise just the breakfast cereal portion of most people’s pantries.

But we do think our kitchen is pretty (even if currently no longer as polished as in this photo).  Plus, I view its small size as a fun challenge- and something that bonds non-takeout-food New Yorkers together.  Not to say I don’t look forward to something bigger someday.

Summer Breakfasts

Nothing like a four and a half month break to renew one’s blogging spirits.  Hope that goes for the readership side as well!

Summer has been going fast, as always, and has consisted of a lot of travel and great eats everywhere.  Above, a snapshot of a June breakfast with friends in Southampton: roasted vegetable omelets with cheese, fruit salad of blackberries, oranges, and bananas, and toasted La Miche bread with assorted jams.

Looking forward to catching up with many new recipes and food products in the months to come!

Popchips! Exclamation deserved!

Longtime fans of Smorgasbite may recall a post I wrote about Tostitos Baked! SCOOPS! “Exclamation theirs, not mine” I clarified in the subtitle.

In the case of popchips!, graciously sent to me by Emma, a different subtitle is in order: “Exclamation deserved!”

Within a week of receiving them in the mail, my dear friend Alison happened to be at my apartment several times.  Each time, popchips! were offered as snackage; she accepted.  Each time, additional popchips! were offered for her to take with her; she accepted.  My popchips! were gone. (!) (Exclamation deserved!)

Alison emailed me yesterday to let me know she was eating her final popchips! bag as an afternoon snack and to thank me (again.  Alison is a very generous thank-er.)

I replied, “Maybe you should write my smorgasbite post about them since you ate most of them 😉 What do you have to say about pop chips?”

She replied, “Hahaha—right. (no regrets about cleaning you out of your chips . . . ): ”

Then she got on to her review: “Crisp, savory flying saucers of delight in my mouth! Immensely satisfying in the morning, the afternoon, or at night (yes—I’m living alone without a “meal routine.”) And such cool branding/typography. The next great POP in an impressive family that already includes Pop Art, Popeye, Popples, and that term midwestern people use for soda.”

Brilliant, Alison, you are now an official Smorgasbite author! Exclamation for you! And for popchips!

Central Park Picnic: Retrospective

My nostalgia for warm weather continues.  Thankfully I’m currently in the Bay Area which is at least thirty degrees warmer than New York (though still thirty degrees shy of my ideal).

Last July, with temperatures delightfully high, I had a date one evening with my friends Adam and Jenny for a New York Philharmonic concert.  We agreed on a picnic before the music started.  Jenny brought a cold bottle of white wine and some fresh apples and plums.  I had thrown together some packages pretzels, dried fruit, etc before leaving home.

My random assortment was immediately overlooked upon seeing Adam’s contributions.  Homemade eggplant carbonata.  Heirloom tomatoes with garlic to top homemade olive oiled herbed crostini.  A cheese plate assembled by the fromage section of Whole Foods.  Something salmon, I think.  Several other things I am forgetting.

It was wonderful.  I highly recommend being friends with Adam.  (And Jenny, the wine was classic.)

Next time I will up my game!

central park nyc

Zukay Life Foods Vegetable and Herb Salad Dressings

Zukay Live Foods has a really exciting line of salad dressings that I have been looking forward to posting about since before I even tried them.  I first heard about them from the product blog of the Park Slope Food Coop where, like much of the NYC metropolitan area’s population, I was at one time a member.

As the brad name implies, Zukay Live Foods’ salad dressings are made from, well, live ingredients.  100% raw and vegan, they’re a mixture of fermented vegetables and herbs without added fats or sugars.  They are only about 5 calories per serving.  So, they’re wonderful alone or for mixing with your desired amount of olive oil (or other variety of oil).

Another use I discovered was mixing them with hummus to make a dip.  Delicious!

Let’s get on to the flavors. There are six:

Carrot Ginger

Tomato Provencal (with kalamata olives and herbs de Provence)

Sweet Onion Basil

Cucumber Mint

Tomato Pepper Pesto

Red Pepper Cilantro

I have sampled the first four (thanks, Scott!) and can vouch for the freshness, vibrancy and wonderfulness of each.  I have no doubt the last two are delicious as well.  The bottles “hiss” a bit when you open them- proof of their “life”!- and they have very herby, lively aromas.

Learn more at Zukay Live Foods, where you can also place an order.

Lifeway Kefir: For those of us who drank Yo-J and then grew up

There is a generation of us who grew up in the 1980s who happened to be the right age when Yo-J came out and was extremely popular for a brief time.  It was like milk and juice mixed together, yet somehow all of the flavors turned out extremely vibrantly hued… hot pink, blueish purple… and we loved it.

Fast forward a couple decades, and we now have an option to enjoy dairy and fruit fusion in a beverage- conveniently available at Whole Foods and Target, but with roots 2,000 years old from the Caucasus Mountains.

Kefir!  Lifeway has a delicious line of lowfat kefir which it describes as “cultured fruit smoothies.”  They have 10 strains of live probiotic cultures, known to enhance the immune system and aid in nutrient absorption.  I sampled the plain, vanilla and strawberry flavors.  They have pretty colors, but in comfortingly subdued hues.   I enjoyed them particularly mixed with granola and other cereals.  They have a sweet but tangy zip (but taste nothing like Miracle Whip, promise).

Thanks to Erin for sending me some to try, and be sure to check out Lifeway Kefir.

Alaskan Salmon: Flash-Frozen and Flown-In

I love salmon.  Some people think it’s too “fishy” compared to whiter fish, but to me that’s a selling point.

I was thrilled to be contacted by Christine on behalf of Alaska Seafood, who coordinated a shipment so that I would be able to try some Alaskan Salmon and also provided the following information.

Frozen Alaska seafood is one of the highest-quality seafood choices available. It’s flash-frozen within hours of the catch—in fact, it’s often frozen at sea.

The website www.alaskaseafood.org is loaded with information about the Alaska seafood industry, including species, health and nutrition, sustainability, and cooking techniques and recipes.

When the salmon was unpacked from the box to my refrigerator, some rearranging was necessary so that the fish would fit!  I put the pear in the photo to provide a relative measure.  It was so beautifully pink, just barely thawed, with firm flesh, and skin still intact on the underside.

I baked it very simply, with a sprinkle of Fox Point dried spice mix (Penzey’s) on top.  Amazingly delicious.

Thanks to Christine and to Alaska Seafood!

Lindsay Naturals Olives

This probably isn’t the most popular of sentiments among food bloggers, but here goes:

I love canned olives.

(Sidenote: I also love fancy olive bar olives.  But, they almost seem like a different food entirely.)

Canned olives were a staple of my childhood.  One distinct memory comes to mind.  When my cousin Mason and I were about six years old (me the elder by five days), we sat on the floor of my kitchen and ate a can of black olives.  We then poured the black juice between two glasses and drank it.  Well, I think I only managed a few sips of mine- salt attack!- but I’m pretty sure Mason finished off his glass of olive juice.

Suffice it to say, Mason and I were canned olive champs.

So naturally I was pretty excited to revisit the canned olives of my youth, though this time with a more natural version: Lindsay Naturals Olives.

They’re ripe and firm- not mushy at all.  Both the green and black varieties are delicious.  All of them come pitted and some of them are sliced, too, which is a time-saver for recipes.  Speaking of recipes, here’s one (though I’ll admit all of my olives were eaten straight up):

Fresh-from-the-Garden Olive Toss

Prep time: 30 minutes

Servings: 10

1/2 cup Lindsay Black Ripe Pitted Olives, drained, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Lindsay Naturals Green Ripe California Pitted Olives, drained, coarsely chopped
1 small celery stalk, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1/4 Maui or other sweet onion, diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 small green zucchini, unpeeled, and diced
1 small yellow squash, unpeeled, and diced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chives, thinly sliced or 2 tablespoons dried chives
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine olives, celery, carrot, Maui onion, cucumber, zucchini, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, parsley and chives. Add lemon peel, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil to bowl; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Do Ahead: Fresh-from-the-Garden Toss can be made in advance and will keep for 7 days in the refrigerator.

Makes approximately 5 cups

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Nutrients per serving:Calories: 89 Calories from fat: 72 Total fat: 8g Monounsaturated fat: 6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 136mg Total carbohydrates: 4g Dietary fiber: 2g Protein: 1g

Thanks to Trisha for sending me these delicious olives!

Sparkling Essence Flavored Bubbly Water by R.W. Knudsen

There’s a new beverage from R.W. Knudsen Family, a brand whose juices I’ve sampled over the years.

It’s called Sparkling Essence and it has no calories, no artificial flavors and no sugars or sweeteners. It’s just sparkling spring water infused with organic ingredients.

There are four flavors and I’ve tried them all: Organic Lemon, Organic Cucumber, Organic Blueberry and Organic Mint.

Blueberry and Cucumber are by far my favorite.  Mint and Lemon were slightly “off” tasting to me but still entirely drinkable (as indicated by the the recycling bin full of empty cans).

I’ve been describing it to friends as mineral water with a LOT more flavor than regular mineral water.

Essences are packaged in attractive 10.5-ounce slim cans, sold individually and in handy 4-pack carriers.

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