1. Sunbelt Bakery Granola: Fresh tasting, with no preservatives or HFCS, this is really good granola made by the company that first offered granola in a package nearly 50 years ago. Made with whole grains, fruits and nuts, this is the real deal, just lightly sweetened, crunchy and with a good balance of grain and fruits and nuts. My family particularly loves the Banana Nut flavor, with visible slices of crunchy dried bananas, and the chewy Fruit & Nut (with raisins, dates and almonds) coming in a close second. Other flavors are Simple Granola and Low Fat Granola (with cinnamon, raisins and almonds), which I have taken to layering with Greek yogurt for a breakfast parfait. They’re widely available, or go here for their store locator.
2. Ode to Hummus: From Jeanne over at The Jolly Tomato comes this gorgeous painter’s palate of hummus varieties. We heart hummus in all colors and flavors!
Mix 2 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard with 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar. Then, whisking constantly with a fork, slowly add 6 tablespoons olive oil, until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy; this makes a very strong vinaigrette that’s perfect for salad greens like arugula and watercress and endive.
4. Hidden Flag Cake for July 4: This thing is fantastic! I want a piece, right now! I can’t wait until Wednesday, when flags abound.
5. Chef Jamie Gwen’s radio show at KFWB 980: It’s every Sunday from 8-10 a.m. It’s light, breezy and jam-packed with food chatter that will have you drooling and hungry, even if you’ve already had breakfast! Chef Jamie, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and Sommelier, chats with chefs, food bloggers, authors, food industry experts and food enthusiasts to get their best ideas and bring them to you on a radio platter. And if you miss a show, you can download her podcast for free. Tune in!
6. Nuvia Cafe: You know how most instant coffee needs milk or sugar added to make it even palatable and mask the bitterness? Not so Nuvia, a new instant coffee that is robust, full-bodied, not bitter, really smooth, and just plain delicious! It is Sumatran Arabica coffee infused with the extracts of organic Ganoderma (touted to enhance the immune system), African Mango Seed (said to be a natural appetite suppressant) and Pomegranate (super antioxidant). Even so, it has no discernible other flavors, just a bit of froth, and a soft quality to it. As my husband says, with enthusiasm, “It tastes like a shockingly delicious cup of coffee…and you know what? It’s better than Starbucks Via!” He immediately squirreled a few packets away for his next backpacking trip. A box with 30 packets is $30 — well worth it for coffee aficionados, and far less expensive than your daily coffee fix from the shop.
7. Organic Plum Bites: When plum season rolls around, the produce experts from Melissa’s Produce measure the fresh fruit to see what is registering sweetest, and put it in clamshell packages and label them Plum Bites. The varieties enclosed might change every two weeks as plum season rolls along (Santa Rosa plums early, purple plums later, so whatever variety is measuring highest brix (the level of sugar as measured on a refractometer) is the one that goes into the package. Sweeeet!
8. Lady bug appetizers: This ingenious dish from Spice of Life would charm the socks off any party, whether it is for children, adults or both. Cherry tomatoes and black olives make really cute lady bugs. The base is sliced baguettes, spread with cream cheese, topped with smoked salmon and Italian flat leaf parsley. Cherry tomatoes and black olives are the body/head, and the dots on the body can be ground black pepper or cut pieces of olives. The eyes are dots of cream cheese.
9. Peanut butter solution: Using peanut butter to remove the gooey adhesive from jars. Genius!
10. This 4-Minute Brownie Pie: This super simple recipe is from my pal Nancy at A Communal Table. Use the best cocoa you can afford, organic butter, and ooh la la, Kahlua! (Note: although it takes 4 minutes to stir together, baking time is 30 minutes.)
11. MOAB Superfruit Blends juices: These are different from other superfood juices on the market because they taste fresh, light, clean and non-bitter. They are complex juice blends with no added sugar, preservatives or cheap “filler juices” (such as apple or banana), and are gluten-free diary-free, soy-free, vegetarian, vegan and non-GMO. The first ingredient in each flavor is the displayed fruit, underscored by the addition of dried powders (each fruit is condensed into a powder to preserve the antioxidant levels and added back to the juice to replace antioxidants lost during pasteurization of the juice). MOAB juices are shelf stable, but taste best cold, and come in Açai, Pomegranate and Wild Blueberry flavors. My son liked Pomegranate best, my daughter liked Wild Blueberry, and I kept coming back to the Açai. Any of them will quench your thirst this summer, healthfully. Frieda’s Specialty Produce is the exclusive marketer and distributor of MOAB Superfruit Blends, which are available at all Gonzalez Northgate stores (store locator). Retail price is $2.99, but you might find them on sale at two for $5.
12. Redbor Kale: I used to be in love with Lacinato kale (aka Dinosaur or Tuscan or black), and now I’m growing Redbor, which has ruffly leaves and a brilliant magenta stem, so I’m also in love with that. Gorgeous looking AND tasting! Plant some…it’s not too late, especially if you live in Southern California.
Disclosure: Products for review were sent by Sunbelt Bakery, Nuvia Cafe, Melissa’s Produce and Frieda’s Specialty Produce.