new products

Fancy Foods Show predicts hot food trends

The Summer Fancy Food Show starts Sunday. We are hungry already!

For three days, over 600 companies display natural and organic items, including the sofi nominees (and winners) for specialty outstanding food inovation for 2009.

The Fancy Food Show shapes the hottest trends in specialty foods and beverages from the U.S. and around the globe and the popular “What’s New, What’s Hot!” showcase will feature 1,000 offerings.

Filling 316,000 square feet of the Javits Center with 2,300 exhibitors representing more than 70 countries, the show features the world’s finest cheeses, olive oil, spices, teas, chocolate and ethnic specialties.

NC's Polka Dot Bake Shop introduces CrispiThins

CrispiThins It's no secret that Southerners know how to whip up some tasty grub.

From my home state comes a new and savory cracker, CrispiThins, made from sweet potatoes.

Polka Dot Bake Shop, an award-winning North Carolina bakery, introduces its new line of gourmet crackers, at the Fancy Food Show  next week.

CrispiThins are the first cracker made with real sweet potatoes and are available in four flavors including Original, Cracked Black Pepper, Rosemary and Smoked Chipotle.

I can't wait to try them.

Numi Organic Teas to offer complete line of specialty teas to US

Premium-quality tea purveyor Numi Organic Tea will display its complete line of organic puerh teas – a first-to-market offering in the U.S. – at the world’s leading culinary and specialty food trade show, NASFT Fancy Food Show in New York City, June 28-30.

Numi’s Organic Puerh offerings include six varieties of bottled Puerh iced teas, including five varieties of Puerh tea blends and one Rooibos Herbal blend; four varieties of bagged Puerh tea; and a traditional Puerh brick.

 Puerh (pū-ĕr) is an ancient healing tea known for its medicinal properties and rich taste. Numi’s Organic Puerh comes from 500-year-old wild tea trees grown in China’s pristine Yunnan Mountains.

The maturity of these trees yields a superior tasting tea compared to younger pruned bushes. Unlike traditional teas that are oxidized, Puerh undergoes a unique fermentation process resulting in a bold, earthy flavor with hints of malt and elevated levels of antioxidants.

Puerh can be compressed into bricks and aged, like fine wine, for months, years or even decades. This increases its value, health benefits and premium taste.

“We wanted to bring the wonderful flavor and health benefits of Puerh to the U.S. marke,” said Ahmed Rahim, CEO and Alchemist of Numi Organic Tea.

“We therefore decided to offer our Ready-to-Drink lineup as blended teas, combining some of Numi’s most popular flavors – Moroccan Mint and Earl Grey, for example – with Puerh to make it instantly accessible and innovative,” Rahim added.

Independent Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) tests have shown that Numi’s Organic Puerh tea averages 32 percent more antioxidants than green tea, the Numi CEO said. Numi’s bottled Organic Puerh teas yield an average of 50 percent higher antioxidants than leading competitive bottled tea brands, he added.

 Numi Organic flavors include: Mango Passion Puerh Black Tea, Earl Grey Puerh Black Tea, Magnolia Jasmine Puerh Green Tea, Peach Nectar Puerh Green Tea and Moroccan Mint Puerh Green Tea.

In addition, Honey Lemon Rooibos Teasan is available as an herbal, caffeine-free option.

Barely sweetened with honey, agave nectar and/or organic cane sugar, the blended teas have a suggested retail price of $2.49 per recyclable glass bottle.

Numi Organic Puerh tea bags are available in Chocolate Puerh, Emperor’s Puerh, Magnolia Puerh and Mint Puerh in boxes of 16 full leaf tea bags for suggested retail price of $8.99.

Numi’s Organic Aged Puerh Brick breaks off into twelve portions for easy steeping.  Suggested retail price is $12.99 for up to 48 servings.

Norman Love Confections Unveils New Flavors

Simply delicious Norman Love Confections Seven new handcrafted white, milk and dark chocolate flavors have been introduced into award-winning Norman Love Confections' (NLC) 2009 product line complete with 36 flavors and its new ultra-premium dark chocolate line titled BLACK.

New 2009 flavors include: Banana Nut Bread; Chocolate Pretzel; Creole Truffle; Honey Toffee Truffle; Key Lime Shell; Passion Panna Cotta; and Toasted Almond.

Chocolatier and founder of NLC Norman Love explains that through a collaborative process, his team works to put together identifiable single flavors stemming from American foods and beverages.

"Regardless of the new flavors we focus on making each piece of premium chocolate perfect with the freshest ingredients," Love says. "We also try our best to transfer the flavor profile with an aesthetic. Americans eat with their eyes, so delivering a visual wow factor in addition to the taste wow is critical

The 2009 new flavors focus on comfort foods and popular American dishes. "Many of us have memories of our mom or grandmother as a child from the kitchen," Love states. "Who cannot recall the fresh baked smell of banana nut bread?"

Following is a description of the newly unveiled 2009 flavors:

Banana Nut Bread: A rich banana ganache with roasted walnuts and a touch of vanilla.

Chocolate Pretzel: A fun and flavorful pairing crunchy baked pretzels and rich dark chocolate.

Creole Truffle: A 49% dark Venezuelan Chocolate made from Criolo beans and blended with cream and butter.

Honey Toffee Truffle
: A buttery vanilla toffee ganache made with Tasmanian Honey and blended with Swiss milk chocolate.

Key Lime Shell: Classic and simple, made with fresh key lime juice and the feeling of a little Florida sunshine with each bite.

Passion Panna Cotta: A light buttermilk ganache layered with passion fruit and vanilla jam covered in white chocolate.

Toasted Almond: Roasted almonds blended into a Swiss white chocolate ganache and accented with a touch of amaretto and Kahlua.

All of NLC's regular assorted boxes are available in 10-, 15-, 18-, 25- and 36-piece boxes starting at $22 for the 10-piece box (prices do not including shipping and applicable taxes).

For those visiting NLC's chocolate salon in Ft. Myers, Florida, they can indulge in a piece of luxury for as little as $1.50.

Awaken Savor's all natural spice blends

Read more from Maura here

Maura Alia Badji

Contributing Writer

Grocery store brands, dollar store finds,  more local fruits and veggies, less red meat, and home-cooked meals over take out---these are some of the cost-cutting measures I've adopted during this long recession. 

I like the challenge of saving the most money while getting the best food for my small family.

However, there are two things I won't stint on: good dark chocolate and fine spices. The right spices and marinades can dress up economical meals, enriching flavor and enhancing texture.  I consider it a double win if I can find reasonably priced fine spices and herbs. 

Awaken Savor's fine spice and herb blends offer exotic and enticing tastes from around the world at prices that don't break your budget. 

One of my favorite Awaken Savor blends is Ras el Hanout , a rosy-hued rub which includes saffron Subtle yet instense salt-free flavor stigma, mild paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander seed, cassia, turmeric, fennel seed, allspice, green cardamom seed, whole dill seed, galangal, nutmeg, rosebud powder, bay leaves, caraway seed, cayenne pepper, clove, mace, cubeb pepper, brown cardamom, lavender flowers, orris root.

Its subtle yet intense aroma, which reminded me of the Chicken Tikka Masala I had enjoyed for years at my favorite restaurant in Seattle, Cedars on Brooklyn, compelled me to prepare a home-cooked version. 

I also prepared chicken breasts, marinated in olive oil and pomegranate-infused wine vinegar with a pinch of salt (a habit I haven't totally dropped), and then grilled  for a quick lunch with steamed jasmine rice and greens.

Za'atar is a peppery, smoky traditional Middle Eastern blend of thyme, oregano, basil, savory, whole dry marjoram, ground sumac berries, sesame seeds, orange peel, and hyssop.  

Za'atar is something of an aquired taste.  However, I enjoyed Awaken Savor's version much more than  Penzey's Fine Spices blend, which I used a few years ago and found to be a little bitter. 

I whipped up a simple olive oil and lemon juice based marinade with a pinch of salt and chopped chives.  There was enough to divide for use on grilled tilapia filets one day and baked chicken breasts the next.  The blend has a multi-layered flavor which enhanced both the poultry and fish.

I approached Texas Tear Dropper meat rub with some trepidation. A fiery blend of chipotle, cayenne, aleppo, chiles, black peppercorns, wasabi, and mustard, I had been warned it was HOT. However, after marinading a London Broil in the rub with red wine vinegar and a little olive oil and grilling it to medium rare, I found the spice-infused meat extremely flavorful with just the right amount of heat.  It also has a strong and delicious aroma.

All Awaken Savor blends are salt free; I added a small amount of salt to two of the marinades I prepared, but you can easily do without.  They are all natural and each product comes with a recipe card that includes the origin of the blend.

Awaken Savor products are available at, and at many fine food stores. 

Nintendo Walk With Me is fitness fun

I am anti-organized sports. Not that you can't love team sports.  Please do.

I'm super happy when my significant other du jour loves sports. While he's playing and watching, he's occupied by something he adores other than me.  And that means quality time together is just that - quality - since everyone is happy.

But that still leaves me faced with how to keep the zaftig from going deep South. Curvaceous is good. Roly-poly is not.

Since I am always, always, always cooking and eating and going out to dinner, I need to stay busy to keep from turning into a little dumpling.

I enjoy my food and I want to keep enjoying it.  I am a walker.  I walk to work. I walk to school. I take stairs whenever possible.  But I noticed lately I need to step up the game.

Enter Nintendo Walk With Me

It tracks your activity or life rhythms, recording and charting it in detail and describes it in terms of animals. The more active you are the quicker you unlock the mini-games too.

Yes, there are days when I am a Daytime Koala, but more often I am a Daytime Lion - on the go. I'd long believed I walked between 45 minutes and an hour each day (and Nintendo Walk With Me confirms it).

The Nintendo Walk With Me comes with the game and two activity meters. Nintendo Walk With Me works with both DS and DSi. Suggested retail is $44.99

It's fun and its funny and it incorporates Miis - for the first time on the DS and DSi. My Mii looks remarkably like me too (although the fantasy version is a bit slimmer). 

Hey, it's a game!

Hawaii Kai Kilauea Black Sea Salt

Buy Soul of the Sea black salt

The tiny island of Molokai is producing something big – all natural, sustainable gourmet sea salts in four varietals distinctive for their flavor as well as their health and nutritive properties.

The craft of salt-making has been practiced on the island for centuries and pa'akai or salt is considered sacred.

Harvested only on the island of Molokai and in partnership with local farmers, the salts are available in four varieties: Papohaku White, Haleakala Red, Hanalei Green, and Kilauea Black.

Papohaku White: Named for Molokai's most famous white-sand beach, it is distinguished by its silken texture and rich flavor. It serves as the base for all Hawaii Kai's salts.

Haleakala Red: With a shimmering, earthy sheen, this salt is created with red Alaea clay, revered by Hawaiians for its health benefits.

Hanalei Green: This salt contains certified organic bamboo leaf extract – prized in southern China as a health aid. Abundant in amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins, its perfect for enhancing Asian cuisine.

Kilauea Black: Glistening and dramatic in color, this smoky flavored salt uses the highest premium activated charcoal, which acts as an anti-toxin and digestive aid.

These pure sea salts are made from Molokai ocean water, regarded as among the cleanest waters on the planet. They contain 81% sodium chloride – less than other gourmet salts – and 19% essential and naturally occurring ocean electrolytes and trace minerals.

Hawaii Kai, producers of Soul of the Sea, is invested in the economic vitality of the tiny island as well. By training local farmers in their proprietary process and creating a SaltMasters Guild, the company is putting resources into the tiny island community and creating economic opportunity.

Retails for $35.

Have you had your recommended daily allowance of almonds today?

Almonds promote a healthier heart 

An almond a day keeps the doctor away.

And that's exactly what Kenneth M. Lankin, MD, wants.  The physician behind Awesome Almonds, the healthy and natural specialty snack, was raised by a health conscious Mom who was a head of her time. 

"My brother and I used to get sandwiches on brown wheat bread and some fruit," Lankin writes. "At the time we felt persecuted.  We thought our mother was strange."  After he began learning about the nutritive value of almonds in 2001, the physician-entrepreneur discovered his Mom was way ahead of the curve.

With no added fats, artificial colors or preservatives, Awesome Almonds are made with all natural ingredients: almonds, pure beet sugar, real vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee and orange juice.  As a source of nutrition they are high in protein, unsaturated fat, dietary fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium.

Almonds are perfect for a heart healthy diet and have been recognized for their cholesterol-lowering properties in scientific studies.

According to the Foundation for the World's Healthiest Foods, nuts have been linked to lower risk for heart disease by five independent studie, including the Nurses Health Study, the Iowa Health Study, the Adventist Health Study and the Physicians Health Study.

Awesome Almonds come in three flavors: Cinnamon Vanilla, Cocoa Java and Orange Vanilla.

Have you had your RDA (recommended daily almonds) today?

Om Extrait de Caviar for beautiful eyes

Om extrait de caviar

 Women of a certain age

Until I joined the club, I always wondered about that phrase.

What I've discovered since is that it means more than simply the technical definition: no longer young.

Horrors? Me, no longer young? What do I tell my inner nymph?

Nothing.  Being a woman of a certain age frees me to not give a damn.  I am no longer shackled (not that I was much any way) by the conventions of others.

How marvelous to be a woman of certain age.

However, even those with an inner twelve-year-old to appease face the reality that skin gets tired and eyes get puffy and recovery time doubles as you grow older.

Enter Om Extrait de Caviar, a little discovery I made while pampering my older bones and body at Reflections Spa at Grand Cascades Lodge.

Made from all natural, organic essential oils, fruit, flower, herb and vegetable extracts - and yes, caviar extracts, this little jar of eye cream is soothing and regenerative, repairing and refining the delicate tissue around the eyes.  You can also firm those pouty, sexy lips of yours too.

A .5 ounce jar retails for $72, and it's worth every penny.