Yes, ’tis the time of year for the best of lists for 2014. There are lists of the best foodie stories from 2014, best and worst food trends of 2014 lists and even favorites from Oprah’s favorites list. At Diva Foodies we decided to mix this up a little differently and pull together a list of the most useful and amazing foodie things we learned in 2014. They are in no particular order or ranking. Just foodies things we learned or discovered that we found useful, even amazing and wanted to share in hopes that you too would benefit. So without further ado, here comes the first annual Diva Foodies 2014 Useful and Amazing Foodies Things that we learned this year…..
2014 Useful and Amazing Foodie Things
- You can have Trader Joe’s Wintry Blend coffee all year round! As you might know, Trader Joe’s typically offers a number of unique yummy seasonal “when they are gone, they are gone” items each year. One of our favorites is the Wintry Blend coffee. This year, its annual arrival was announced in December’s Fearless Flyer but it either sold out quickly at my TJ’s or never arrived. Fortunately, the Fearless Flyer mentioned that it was made from grinding coffee beans with whole green and red peppercorns, fresh whole cloves and chunks of sweet cinnamon. So, I poured my coffee beans into the coffee grinder and added about a 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of black peppercorns and ground as usual. Not as seasonal looking as TJ’s green and red peppercorns but every bit as tasty—actually tastier because the coffee was freshly ground! Now, it’s available whenever you want it. Enjoy! ~Marianne
- You don’t have to buy Microwave popcorn in those expensive and chemical ridden, unhealthy packages! If you are like me, you might think that microwave popcorn was invented in the 1980s by General Mills and could only be made in those patented little packs. Well, if so, like me you would be mostly wrong. General Mills does hold a patent on their little packs but you can actually make your own unadulterated microwave popcorn with nothing more than a microwave, 3-4 tablespoons of popcorn and a brown paper bag (yes you can still buy them in the grocery aisle by the zip-lock bags). Put the popcorn in the paper bag, fold it similarly to the General Mills version and set your microwave for 2-2 1/2 minutes. You can add your own seasoning and/or butter after it pops. My favorite is olive oil, salt and pepper. Popcorn is not on the Paleo diet but it goes so well with a movie! ~Marianne
- Frozen strawberries make super thick smoothies! Homemade fruit smoothies are so delicious that they make it easy to eat healthy and stick to your preferred diet. Smoothies are typically made with a yogurt or fruit juice base but if you follow a Paleo diet you can make them with almond or coconut milk instead. I love my smoothies with fresh strawberries but the out of season strawberries that are available now are tasteless and expensive. I took a leap of faith recently and purchased an enormous bag of frozen strawberries at Sam’s Club and discovered something amazing. The frozen strawberries were deliciously sweet (no added sugar or anything else), much less expensive, last for weeks, plus most importantly make smoothies that are super thick and even more satisfying. Highly recommended! ~ Marianne
- Data Foodie Facts! Alison Sherwood at the Journal Sentinel took a fascinating look back at food trends from 2014 that included these useful and amazing foodie gems: ~ Marianne
- The top Google recipe search globally was for pancakes; in the U.S. it was chicken recipes followed by meatloaf, banana bread and then pancakes.
- Pizza was a more popular search term than World Cup
- People searched for “recipes” significantly less and “restaurants” significantly more in 2014
- Paleo was the most Googled diet
- “How many calories in a banana” was the top U.S. calorie query (answer: 105 in medium banana).
- Speaking of Paleo and bananas. If you happened to see our post from September, No more excuses Paleo bread recipe, we shared a recipe for Paleo bread that had a bagel-like version for those (like me) who need something bread-like in the morning. I have continued to tweak it and recently found that if you put the eggs and egg whites in a blender (instead of whisking) along with the cider vinegar and a ripe banana the result is lighter, sweeter and delicious enough that I guarantee you will not miss grains at all. ~ Marianne
- Simple often works better. What makes coffee barista special? The lovely milk foam of course. If you can’t get to your favorite coffee shop a DYI frother may just save the day. Frothers come in all shapes, sizes and prices. From a $200 electric frother from William Sonoma, to Ikea’s $2.49 hand held battery operated frother. My favorite is a hand plunger type that retails for about $30. The faster you plunge the more you froth! Now the next challenge is creating latte art. These foam designs from Japanese latte artist Kazuki Yamamoto are too amazing to drink. ~ Toby
本日の暇カプチーノ、『にゃんこ先生（XmasVer.）』。 http://t.co/mZyHeOmRBa pic.twitter.com/V7NBGf4Kci
— じょーじ (@george_10g) December 25, 2014
7. Baking mishaps can turn into yummy treats! The clock was ticking too quickly before I was to leave for a Christmas Eve dinner. The dessert I made, pecan cheesecake squares, (thank you Polli!) was chilling in the fridge. All that was needed was to cut them into bars. Ooops. Seems I didn’t butter the bottom of the baking dish enough and instead of pretty pieces of pastry all I was getting was messy and gooey. The good news was they tasted amazing. Then I spied the holiday cupcake baking cups. Bars turned into bite-size Pecan Surprises! ~Toby
And from Marianne & Toby of Diva Foodies, we wish you a very happy 2015!