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Tuesday
Aug032010

A Totally Different Tortilla

Cheers to a local company Food Should Taste Good headquartered in Needham that has come out with an innovative line of tortilla chips. Innovative because they offer 10 unusual flavors packed with really unusual ingredients, at least for a tortilla chip. They sent me a sampling of their chips to taste-test, which is great because I don't think I'd willingly buy a chocolate tortilla chip. How about a chip baked with quinoa? The packaging says "it's a cracker, too!" giving it more flexibility with how it's eaten than just straight out of the bag or with salsa. These are the kind of high quality (and higher priced) chips that you'd serve to very special guests, maybe even on dinnerware. Each variety stays remarkably true to its advertised flavor. My favorite, the sweet potato chip, tastes exactly like, well, a sweet potato...and much better than the soggy sweet potato fries you get in restaurants. With just six ingredients (stone ground corn, sunflower oil, sweet potato, corn bran, cane juice, sea salt), these chips contain 3 grams of fiber and 20% of the RDA for vitamin A. They also qualify as "low sodium" with less than 80 mg per serving though they certainly don't taste it. The olive chip is made with no less than three kinds of olives including black, green, and kalamata, contributing to its distinctive salty-sour tang. The chocolate variety made with dark cocoa somehow works with the sea salt. Some of them are even more complex like the blue corn chip with three types of seeds (flax, sunflower, sesame), oat flour, and quinoa, but the flavors always blend together perfectly. Because of the all-natural ingredients like whole grains, bran, polyunsaturated oils, and sea salt, I'd quality them as a wholesome snack. Unfortunately they have almost the same amount of calories and fat as a regular potato chip, and it's far too easy to chomp through the relatively small 6 oz. bag. Costing about $3.29 a package, these could become an expensive addiction!

My best advice is to crush them and sprinkle on foods as a condiment. Try the delish flavor/texture combinations below of chocolate tortillas sprinkled on frozen yogurt or the olive or multigrain varieties sprinkled on salads. You'll enjoy all the flavor while controlling calories and making them last longer!

Tuesday
Jul272010

Highs and Lows in Low Country

Last week we headed to low country for summer sun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As if we weren't getting enough with Boston's recent heat wave! Must be my New England stubbornness in bearing weather extremes that would make me want to trek into deeper Southern heat. I’ve always loved beaches but after experiencing more of them over the years, I’ve realized that what I actually love is the beach landscape, the feel of ocean waves and sinking sand, artists’ communities and lazy local cafes. What I don’t love is overwhelming commercialism such as when you see the same fast food joints and shops on every single block; watching people on the boardwalk fill up on cheap quality ice cream and deep fried messes like those monstrous blooming onions before heading to $10.99 all-you-can-eat buffets; or trying to find something special to buy for loved ones among endless rows of dreadfully gaudy trinket souvenirs. And that’s about 20 square miles of the same stuff, over and over and over. Guess I’m just not a boardwalk babe because I didn’t care much for Myrtle Beach’s business district that almost completely obscured its unique landscape. However, there were some local treasures that highlighted our trip:

The Franklin G. Burroughs/Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum. This small but newly renovated museum was located next to our hotel. We were lucky enough to catch a special exhibit of Gee’s Bend Quilts along with striking portrait photography of the Alabama quilters by Linda Day Clark. I loved the museum’s enclosed porch tearoom with homemade iced tea and chocolate chunk cookies laid out for visitors.

Brookgreen Gardens. Located in Murrells Inlet about 10 minutes away, this is an oasis from commercial Myrtle Beach with grounds landscaped to perfection and luxurious gardens (with plenty of huge oaks graced with Spanish moss for shade!). Their vast sculpture collection housed in three different small museums and scattered throughout the gardens gave me a new appreciation for bronze sculpture.

Drunken Jack’s Restaurant. Murrells Inlet is the place to be for seafood and we were glad to find this popular eatery with a friend’s recommendation. We were seated at a window that overlooked wild goats, white peacocks and ducks roaming around the inlet. My salad with boiled shrimp came with a generous serving of eight large meaty shrimp adorned with sunflower seeds. We also tried their special hushpuppies (cornbread balls), which tasted like deep fried munchkins. Dipped in a yummy sweet honey butter, just a couple made the perfect dessert!  

Surfside Flea Market. There were endless outlets and obnoxious shopping "experiences" like Broadway on the Beach, but this was a humble and traditional open air flea market where you could meet gracious locals and find truly great deals on everyday items. I picked up some hard to find spices, a few baking pans at a third of the usual cost, and a great leather belt. The nearby indoor Myrtle Beach Flea Market was larger and air-conditioned but filled with cheap quality items, not all of which were inexpensive. 

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the dragonflies! We saw them in Brookgreen Gardens hovering and darting in every direction. I'd never seen so many and in so many different colors: blue, red, purple...amazing! Yellow 


Tuesday
Jul202010

Got My Healthy Pizza

I recently posted about a summer Bertucci's pizza that wasn't as healthful as it appeared. Although I still wish for the convenience of a healthy restaurant pizza, I came up with a recipe that'll do until I find one! I used Bertucci's dough and their roasted tomato sauce to preserve a similar flavor but also added a few unusual ingredients: 1) Fiber One cereal ground fine and kneaded into the dough, which I promise you won't notice! (you could use whole wheat dough for fiber but I don't love its texture/taste as a pizza base) and 2) pumpkin puree added to the tomato sauce for a boost in nutrients and a thickened heartier sauce (thanks EatingWell for the great idea!). Brushing on olive oil instead of drizzling it on, and using reduced-fat cheese and sausage round out a really delicious restaurant-quality pizza. Without all the extra oil, you can taste the simple but wonderful flavors of each ingredient. This is by far my favorite homemade pizza recipe.

Ingredients

1 Bertucci's large pizza dough ($3.50 from their take-out)

1/3 cup Fiber One cereal ground in food processor until fine

1 T olive oil (optional)

*1 cup Bertucci's roasted tomato sauce (or your favorite pizza sauce)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree, canned or fresh

2 cups regular or baby spinach

4 basil leaves, chiffonade

4 oz chicken smoked sausage or turkey polska kielbasa, sliced thin

1/2 cup reduced-fat grated mozzarella or pizza cheese blend

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Knead Fiber One cereal into pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough as thin as possible into a circular or rectanglar shape (it will rise and get puffy when baked). Line a pan with parchment paper and place dough on pan to bake for 8-10 minutes. (You can also use a pan sprayed with cooking spray but I like the easier cleanup with parchment.)
  3. Remove dough from oven and let rest a minute, and then brush top of dough with olive oil.
  4. Mix pumpkin puree into tomato sauce until well blended and spread evenly over dough.
  5. Layer baby spinach and basil evenly over dough. Then add turkey kielbasa and cheese.
  6. Bake pizza in oven for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted.

*The Bertucci's tomato sauce had at least an inch of oil sitting on top so I drained off some and didn't add extra olive oil to the dough. Not only was this sauce extremely oily but it's pricey at $4.99 for 1 1/2 cups; I'll use my own sauce next time.