The recent Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo in Houston, Texas, showcased an array of good-for-you foods that are new to the market. Here are six worth checking out.
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Tracking physical activity can help keep you motivated, but most calorie-counting knickknacks are famously inaccurate. Can Nike’s newest gadget get it right? I couldn’t wait to test out the FuelBand.
A gadget fans dream — and you don’t have to be a computer wizard to figure it out. The FuelBand allows you to track your activity (excercise and dozens of everyday actions), calories and progress. After a simple online set up to link the FuelBand with your computer and iPhone, you’re on your way.
I’m a juicer from way back. My first juicer was a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer that I bought at the mall for about $60 because I saw an infomercial featuring the 80-something-year-old gent clad in a velour fitness suit who had managed to age in reverse by juicing fresh fruits and vegetables daily. The Power Juicer worked fine and lasted a couple of years, but I’ve tried many others since that one fizzled out. I’m not looking to age back to my teens or convert to a raw diet; I make fresh juice several times per week to get an extra dose of vegetables, and because I like fresh juice. If I start my morning with spinach-apple-kale-lemon-beet juice, I feel like a champ. And if I get home after a busy day and realize that I didn’t eat any greens, in ten minutes I can clean out the veggie drawer and set myself straight.
Omega juicers are definitely the gold standard of juicers, what KitchenAid is to mixers. I was pretty excited for the opportunity to try the new Omega Vert 350 juicer. The other juicers I’ve used were centrifugal juicers which grind up vegetables and send them through a chute at high speed, separating the juice from the pulp. The Omega Vert is a masticating juicer, which “chews” up the vegetables slowly, releasing the juice; this works especially well for greens which are usually shot right through a centrifugal juicer.
There are tactics for food preservation beyond canning and pickling. With garden season approaching, I was excited to try out this nifty appliance.
At first I was surprised when a very large, heavy box appeared on my doorstep, but I was immediately impressed by the looks of this machine. Measuring about 14 inches high and 17 inches wide, it has digital timer and temperature gauges and easy-to-read controls. It also comes equipped with various well-made (BPA free) trays to accommodate any type of food. My favorite was an ingenious flat tray for making crackers and fruit leather.
The concept is fairly simple: The machine circulates warm air throughout the chamber to evaporate the liquid out of foods. The drying process concentrates the flavor, changes the texture and of course helps increase shelf life. The best part is, there’s none of the preservatives or sweeteners that you might find in commercial varieties of dehydrated food.
Potato chips from the microwave?! Sounds dubious, but I was pleasantly surprised when I gave the TopChip Chip Maker a test drive.
While you won’t fool anyone into believing these chips came from a bag, they are pleasantly crunchy. To make them, thinly slice a potato using the adequately sharp handheld mandoline that comes with the chip maker. Pat pieces dry and spread in a single layer on the dishwasher-safe device. Then zap in the microwave for 3 minutes. Allow to cool for a minute or two and dig in.
You can’t beat the calorie count. Since the only ingredient is potatoes, a 10-ounce spud will yield about 60 chips, each with 4 calories. Since there’s no oil to be found, these chips are also fat-free.
The downsides: First, eat right away or they’ll lose their crunch. They also can’t be seasoned until after they’re cooked (seasoning before hand would make them soggy)– and they definitely need some seasoning. You might have to play with the cooking time or you’ll risk burning the chips (that happened to me a few times).
Both russet and Yukon gold potatoes worked well. Sweet potatoes and apples also made fun and kid-friendly snacks. As for seasoning, sprinkles of curry powder, cinnamon (on the apples) and rosemary salt made these chips extra tasty.
Have you tried the TopChips Maker? Let us know what you think!