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Cooking for your Vegan Valentine? Let's get Heart(y)!
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Valentine's

Valentine's Day is filled with chocolates, flowers, and hearts and of course, love. So should a lover of savory and healthy get left behind? No absolutely not! Our Vegan and Savory Tofu Hearts will not only charm your Valentine, but its is also heart healthy, hence the title! In fact, this simple meal can be enjoyed by most: its healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and savory! Not to mention, that cooking is the best way to show your Valentine that you can be creative, fun and thoughtful. You can save the chocolates for dessert this Valentine's Day. These Baked Crispy Tofu Hearts can be enjoyed as an appetizer if you just want to enjoy a drink before heading out to dinner or if you are making dinner for 2, this Zucchini Pesto Pasta with Tofu Heart Nuggets would be perfect! The Heart shaped Nuggets were inspired by this Whole Foods Blog but we made a crispy version using corn meal to add some crunch! For all those local to US Mid-Atlantic region, HerbNZest is sold at Whole Foods and other stores in the region. You can also order online: orders over $49 receive free shipping!

5 Time-saving Healthy Food Hacks for On-the-Go Kids
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Edited By Deb Dutta

First it’s soccer practice, then it’s girl scouts, play dates, tutoring, music lessons… sometimes you’re only in the house for a few minutes before the next big thing! Take some time at the beginning of each week to prepare healthy snacks and meals for your busy children. These are some of the best ways to have food ready to go when you’re in a time crunch:

 1. Use Muffin Tins

Muffin tins are not just for muffins anymore! There are so many recipes out there that use these tins to create portion controlled, easy to transport meals. Over at Parenting.com, they have come up with 5 Mini-Meals That Kids Will Love like mini chicken potpies and “crazy cool calzones”. Many of these you can make easily and freeze for future use.

2. Create a Snack Station

Section off a place in your pantry where you place pre-bagged snacks for kids to grab and for you to easily use when prepping lunch. Real Simple has the scoop on how to create grab-and-go snack stashes. You can do the same thing in your fridge by sectioning off a box where you place pre-cut fruits, cheese sticks, yogurt tubes, celery and carrot sticks in zip-lock bags for on the go crunchy snacks.

3. Turn it into a Snack-Bar

Does your child run out the door before they’ve had their breakfast? Because sitting down for 5 minutes is so very hard for many children, the best thing to do is to take their cereal or oatmeal and turn it into a portable bar. This way they don’t miss the most important meal of the day! Frozen breakfast burritos also work as a HANDY morning meal :)

4. Crudité to Go

Put 2 tablespoons of your child’s favorite hummus, dip or spread in the bottom of a mason jar, stick a handful of vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, and snow peas are a great mix) vertically into the dip, screw on the top and go! Keep extra in the fridge for extra busy days.

5. Your Freezer Is Your Friend

Any experienced mom knows that sometimes a freshly cooked meal is totally out of the question. When kids are coming home from sports or leaving for study groups, they need to be fed, and they need to be fed quickly. When you’re making dinner, make extra and freeze in small zip-lock freezer bags to create individually portioned meals that your son or daughter can heat up in minutes.

Holidays with a Twist (of spice that is)!
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Imagine a world without spice… everything would be so… blah! So it’s safe to assume that the holidays without classic spices like cinnamon, and nutmeg, wouldn’t be very merry at all. But have you tried to incorporate unusual spices or use the same spices to add a twist to your Holiday Meals? Try adding one new spice to each meal this holiday season. Your guests will be pleasantly surprised!
Holiday Table
Salad Course: Ginger

When you think of ginger, you may think of sweet dishes like gingerbread cookies (the classic holiday cookie) but ginger is a very versatile spice. Present in our Chipotle Cranberry Orange Relish, ginger’s warm, slightly woody flavor makes it great in savory dishes as well. Try it rubbed on turkey(like the 15 pounder you may be getting for Thanksgiving) or in this beautiful garden salad recipe.

Soup Course: Saffron Some people find it difficult to explain the actual flavor of saffron, the most expensive spice in the world. The only real way to find out what saffron tastes like is to try it yourself! Some say it has an aromatic and slightly bitter quality. For this reason it does a wonderful job of balancing out the flavors in our Fennel Saffron Pumpkin Butter; and you’ll have no problem tasting it in our recipe for Fennel Pumpkin Soup.

Holiday Spice

Appetizer Round: Cardamom:When you taste cardamom you may be reminded of an orangey flavor, making it a great spice for savory and sweet dishes – especially breads and coffee cakes. If you’re looking for savory uses this holiday season, spice up your lamb chops with cardamom, cinnamon and cumin for a real kick.

Entrée: Star Anise You’ve probably seen this pretty star-shaped spice before but have you tasted it? Most commonly present in Asian dishes, star anise might remind you of fennel’s flavor. It adds much depth to recipes, such as this one for braised brisket with plums, star anise and port. Dessert: Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg You know and love these flavors well, no doubt. They are present in every pumpkin pie and every oatmeal raisin cookie worth its salt. If you really are looking for a treat, try this recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Dutch Babies.

DIY Holiday Food Gift Baskets: How to Make Personalized Gifts for Foodies in your Life
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Putting together your own gift basket is more thoughtful than just buying one. When you put it together yourself you can choose foods you know the person will enjoy, foods that are associated with certain memories that you share, and little personal touches that make it a considerate gift! And you don’t need to be an expert DIY-er to put together something nice.

Here’s how you can put together your own food basket just in time for the gift-giving season:

1. Make smart selections and pick pairings with personality

It’s typical for gift baskets to have a theme, but you don’t have to be stringent with it. Gift baskets can have as little as 2-3 items and as many as 15-20! Just remember, the more items you choose the more complicated it will be to store them safely. A good starting place is 5-6 items; that way you can incorporate a theme without going overboard. You can include a mix of perishable and non-perishable items, but don’t load it up with things that will go bad in a few days. You want the gift to last!

Examples:

Sweets Basket: artisanal chocolate and candies, jelly, hot cocoa mix, chocolate covered fruit

Wine & Cheese basket: wine, monogrammed wine glasses, wine charms, cheese, and items that pair well with cheese like nuts, chutneys, crackers, salami

Cooking Basket: unique herbs and salts, flavored oils and balsamic and cool/unusual cooking tools

Tea/Coffee Basket: a variety of teas and coffees, a fun coffee cup, biscottis, biscuits, flavored syrups, milk frother

2. Baskets versus bags

Baskets are sturdier and a good way to display all the pretty gifts. If your items aren’t heavy, a bag is a good option because you can layer items without worrying about anything being squished. Something like wine would go better in a bag, where as crackers would be better in a basket. And if you think outside the basket, you can use home cooking gear like colanders, mixing bowls, or zinc wine bins to hold the items. This adds value to the gift and makes it look great!

Gift basket/container examples:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/64809682109324472/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/549087379542903319/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/95208979596178322/

Gift bag examples:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/469500329873075555/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/556757572655137986/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/465911523925055336/

3. Fill your gift

Shopping for products to fill your basket with, now that’s the fun part! Here is a list of online markets that sell a variety of artisanal foods that you won’t typically find at your local grocery store:

http://www.abesmarket.com

http://www.worldmarket.com

http://www.mouth.com

http://foodoro.com

http://markethallfoods.com

http://Williams-Sonoma.com

http://Deanandeluca.com

And if you’re looking to save money on shipping (which can add up!) try picking local producers to create a unique basket (the only caveat being they may not have a high shelf life.)

4. Make it pretty

Pick a basket/bag that the gift receiver can re-use somewhere in their home and stylize it with festive ribbons/bows, confetti, tissue paper, dried flowers, sequins, what have you! The look of the basket should reflect what’s inside. Take inspiration from Pinterest and Google to put together something really attractive.

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/254171972694534260/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/429460514440528525/

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/287597126180822043/

Good luck putting your basket together, and remember to include your favorite HerbNZest spread!

Flavorful Gift Ideas for Cooks and Food Lovers in your life!
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Holiday_gift

Edited by Deb Dutta

Looking for super-easy foodie gift ideas this holiday season? 

Look no more, we have some easy gift ideas that will satisfy your cook and entertainer friends this season!

For the time-strapped cook: Anyone that has tried to get a flavorful weeknight dinner on the table in under 30 minutes knows it’s not always easy. As a mom and avid food lover myself, I am on the lookout for healthy meal enhancers but they were hard to find. Make it easy on your busy friend and give them the gift of time this holiday season! Yes, time, because our pre-made Curry Pumpkin Pesto  and Fennel Saffron Pumpkin Butter take hours out of developing a tasty dish. 

Gift Idea: Pair a jar of our Pumpkin Pesto or Pumpkin Butter with a casserole set for a perfect foodie gift idea.

For the easy-going entertainer: Every good party-house has probably mastered the art of putting together a good cheese plate. Cheese from local farms, fresh fruit and nuts, and of course, something to top it all off with! We recommend our Basil Peach Raisin Chutney – hosts and hostesses will love the brightness it brings to the table. 

Gift Idea: Pair a jar of our Basil Peach Raisin Chutney with a beautifully crafted cheese board for the perfect gift. 

For the brazen baker: Know someone who likes to experiment with boldly flavored baked goods? This gift will open their eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities. Our Apple Champagne Mustard or Chipotle Cranberry Orange Relish can go either way - sweet or savory! Add to your pastries and crosttinis, meats and cheeses.

Gift Idea: Pair a jar of our Mustard and Cranberry Relish with a holiday pattern apron or baking trays for the perfect gift. 

Enjoy our Fall Recipe Book below and shop our Fall Entertainment Collection here

 

Top 5 Toppings for your Veggie Burgers
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Edited by Deb Dutta

Most of us have our favorite vegetarian burger alternative, whether it’s a Boca burger or something a little less traditional, like falafel. As long as there’s something delicious going on between two burger buns or a pita-pocket, we’re happy! So what’s a non-meat-eater to do when it comes to toppings? Look for inspiration in regular burger recipes. Grilled vegetables, delicious condiments, melting (real or vegan) cheese are the ways you dress up a burger. Here are 5 tried and tested toppings for alternatives to meat-based burgers that we love – let us know what you think and how you get creative!

1. Grilled Portobello mushroom burger+ Swiss cheese (or vegan melting cheese) + Basil Peach Raisin Chutney

Not all burgers require cheese, but the way Skinnytaste does it here makes me think that the Portobello mushroom burger should be served no other way. There are a lot of vegan options for cheese like Daiya, Dr. Cow and Teese. And the peach chutney is the perfect way to brighten up this earthy meal.

2. Boca burger + Grilled red onion + Caramelized Apple Champagne Mustard

You can get really creative with your veggie burgers. Get out the grill and put some char marks on that burger! Then top it with some grilled red onion  and our zesty mustard for some bite.

3. Falafel + cucumber slices + Tahini sauce + Chive Tomato Relish

Falafel burgers are our favorite for high protein filling veggie burger options that can be further improvised through using substitutes such as quinoa like this Quinoa falafel recipe by Domesticate Me. Our sweet and savory Chive Tomato Relish has the perfect amount of heat to compliment the spices in this burger while the tahini adds creaminess and the cukes add crunch.

4. Tofu nuggets + alfalfa sprouts + Curry Pumpkin Pesto

Spiced cornmeal breaded tofu is something everyone should try, not just vegetarians. Take this recipe and instead of slicing tofu into nuggets, cut it into patties and prepare the same way.

5. Black Bean Burger + butter lettuce + Spoonable Curry Ketchup

When you have a dense burger, it’s important to balance it with light and crunchy toppings. Butter lettuce is a great place to start, but also consider thinly sliced fennel, cabbage or radicchio. For some nice ideas on how to grill meat-substitutes such as tofu, tempeh, and veggie dogs check out this article by Whole Foods Markets. Here’s our version of Grilled Tofu Sandwich with Champagne Mustard. What are your favorite toppings for meat-substitutes and veggies? Tell us right here on the comments section.