Ripe Bites: January Food News and Products

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

Mini-Popcorn Boasts Major Flavor

Start your new year with a new version of a classic snack. The Little Kernel is billed as “mini-popcorn” and provides a better-for-you treat by using gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, and certified whole grain ingredients, as well as 100% pure olive oil to pop the kernels. The Little Kernel comes in six flavors: Truffle Sea Salt, Sweet & Salty, Pink Himalayan Salt, White Cheddar, Butter, and Naked (No Salt Added). To find a store near you that sells The Little Kernel, which retails for $3.49, head to

More than one-third of the calories Americans eat and drink come from food and beverages consumed away from home, so families need nutrition information when they eat out.

Calorie counts will now appear on menus and menu boards of establishments covered by the federal menu labeling rule. This includes chain restaurants, take-out and delivery food places, salad and hot-food bars, and even some movie theaters that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations. You may have noticed some places posting calorie counts already, but all restaurants covered by the rule must post calorie counts in accordance with the rule by May 5, 2017.

Among the info you’ll see:

• Calories from alcohol are often overlooked, so the counts for certain alcoholic beverages in food establishments covered by the rule will also be listed on the menu.

• To help consumers put calorie information in the context of their total daily diet, the rule calls for the following reminder to be included on menus and menu boards: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.” This will be in sync with a similar footnote on the new Nutrition Facts label.

• Certain vending machines will post calorie counts for the foods they sell.

Susan Mayne, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says, “Consumers are used to seeing calorie counts on the Nutrition Facts label for foods on supermarket shelves. Now with menu labeling, they will have calorie information and access to other nutrient information when they eat away from home, as well. When you know that lunch at a fast food chain can add up to a day’s worth of calories, it really puts it all in perspective.”

Other nutrition information, though not posted, will be available on request. Examples include information on sodium, saturated fat, fiber, and protein.

Make Your Cast Iron Last a Lifetime

The kitchen staple cast-iron pan is hot again, as a new generation of foodies discover its many benefits, especially the seasoning that builds up on the pan after months, years, or decades of use. Yet cleaning cast iron has been a challenge for many. You can’t put it in the dishwasher, and aficionados say hand washing with soap will damage that precious seasoning. So, how do you clean out your cast iron? Enter The Ringer, an 8x6-inch, stainless-steel chainmail scrubber that, with just warm water, removes any pan residue while leaving the seasoning intact. The Ringer won’t rust, snap, or break, and is a fantastic way to keep your cast iron clean — and cooking — for years to come. $14.99.

Cook Up Some Sci-Fi in Your Kitchen

January is National Hot Tea Month and there’s a new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, in theaters, making this the perfect time to kick back with this cute BB-8 teapot set from Underground Toys. The nested teapot and cup set features a 12-ounce pot and a 6-ounce cup, all designed to resemble the astromech droid that stole 2015’s The Force Awakens. The company also offers two other fun kitchen accessories for the Star Wars fan, the I Am Darth Vader apron and the BB-8 Kitchen Timer. $29.99 (teapot set), $19.99 (apron or kitchen timer).

Wonder Water: 6 Unexpected Infused Water Ideas for Gorgeous Skin

While most dermatologists and doctors preach the benefits of drinking more water, it gets boring. Here are six fresh infused water recipes that’ll pack a punch of flavor and add health and beauty benefits to your H2O! If you’re new to infused water, it’s easy. Chop up the ingredients, let them sit overnight in your water pitcher, and sip your way to healthy hydration inside and out. 

1. Mango Ginger

This combo might seem weird, but adding the health benefits of ginger and the antioxidant power of mangoes is a surprisingly tasty mix.

“Mangoes contain so many vitamins that help boost your immune system. It has antioxidants that maintain youthful, glowing skin and aid in the production of blood cells,” says Dr. Christopher Calapai, an anti-aging expert. “Ginger is also helpful in fighting infection, has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, may reduce muscle aches, and helps digestion.”

2. Grapefruit Rosemary

Recently rosemary was found to be the main ingredient eaten by residents of an Italian village with one of the highest populations of people who live past 100. “Rosemary improves circulation and sends more blood to the brain, which is linked to greater concentration and potentially reduces risk of Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Calapai says. Grapefruit is not only delicious, but it’s also a natural fat burner, boosts metabolism, and cleanses your liver. 

3. Melon Mix

Cut up watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe chunks and throw into your water overnight. “This melon variety tastes great and is amazing for your skin,” says Dr. Kally Papantoniou, board certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. “Melons are immensely hydrating, meaning more hydration per cup of water. They are also chock-full of antioxidants that keep skin clear, plus they contain vitamins that promote collagen production, which helps skin cell turnover.”

4. Citrus Mint

Pick your favorite citrus fruits, cut up into slices, and add some crushed mint. “Adding mint to your water is not only extra refreshing but it also improves digestive health and can speed up your metabolism,” Dr. Calapai says. “Mint actually contains salicylic acid, a potent acne fighter,” Dr. Papantoniou adds. “It’s also well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, which work to calm irritation both on your skin or internally.”

5. Cucumber Lavender

“The reason so many spas use cucumber-based treatments is because it contains many skin-friendly minerals like magnesium, potassium and silicon,” Dr. Papantoniou says. “This mix is especially healthy,” Dr. Calapai notes. “Cucumbers are powerful detoxifiers, flushing out any waste in your system. Adding crushed lavender to the mix not only adds a beautiful aroma, but can also help digestion as lavender contains polyphenols that reduce bad bacteria in your gut, making your system run smoother.”

6. Pineapple Coconut Water

This one is almost cheating…almost. Get your favorite store-bought raw coconut water and refrigerate overnight with large chunks of pineapple. The coconut-pineapple flavor combo is delicious and reminiscent of a piña colada — without all the sugar and calories. Although this is not pure H2O, coconut water contains electrolytes that plain water does not, which rehydrate you in record time. “Pineapple is yet another fruit that aids in collagen production,” Dr. Papantoniou says. “This is not just great for beautiful skin, collagen also has a major role in bone health and tissue repair.”