All posts by Roland

FDA: “Love” is not an Ingredient

Well, the official word is out, we’re no longer allowed to put love into our products.

Just kidding…really we’re just not allowed to list “love” as in ingredient on our product packaging.

We’ve had “love” listed as an ingredient from the beginning, and although we chose to remove it several months ago (in order to be compliant with Whole Foods’ requirements) we still love making delicious, healthful treats in our kitchens here in Kapaa. We work with conscious intention for health, healing, love and gratitude in making all our products.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help commenting on this news item because it’s so typical of the humorlessness of these bureaucracies that can’t recognize that people have the common sense to know when something is meant as an intention as opposed to a physical thing. I mean who thinks that we have a big bag of “love” back here and are adding it by the spoonful? Metaphorically, yes, that’s exactly what we are doing…but I think everyone gets that.

FDA Allows Macadamia Nut Health Claims

The US Food and Drug Administration approved a request made by the Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Corp. to use a health claim on their product labeling. We’ve long known that Macadamia Nuts are a healthy source of fat (due to it’s beneficial omega-3/omega-6 ratio) but retailers have not been able to make specific health claims on their labeling due to FDA restrictions.

This recent ruling by the FDA gives us the OK to make labeling claims like “heart healthy” or “reduces the risk of coronary disease.” Their official statement is:

“Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat [and calorie] content.”

Now, this doesn’t make a big difference to us, we know the nuts are healthy, and our customers know it too. It’s not a part of our marketing to cite such specific health benefits because we take a much more holistic view of health and nutrition than the FDA or the AHA (American Heart Association) generally does. Nevertheless, it’s good to have some science that supports what we’ve long known getting recognized.

We’re Proud to be Using 100% Hawaiian Sea Salt

In most Tiny Isle products, salt plays a subtle, yet critical role in enhancing the flavor of the foods we produce. For us, it is essential that the salt we use be 100% sourced from Hawaiian waters and made by a local business. We found an excellent source of such salt from Kona Sea Salt on the Big Island.

Anyone who has done a taste test with salt knows that all salt does not taste the same. Even though all plain salt is nearly 100% sodium chloride, the trace minerals, moisture content, and actual crystalline form of the salt play an important role in the flavor. Describing the flavor of salt is difficult, but Kona Sea Salt is one of the best-tasting salts I’ve tried. As a person who is very passionate about delicious food, I pay a lot of attention to the salt I use, and this is one of the best.

Kona Sea Salt is collected from over 2,000 feet below the surface. The waters at these depths are old and pure. The resulting salt is a bright white color, and it comes in the form of fluffy crystal flakes that have a nice crunch. You can directly experience this with our Sea Salt Truffle.

For our recipes, the salt is ground into a fine powder so it will blend and marry with the other ingredients. We use the smallest effective quantity of salt so you’re not really tasting it in most cases. On the other hand, we have sea salt truffles and our salted caramel truffle where the salt flavor is more present.

We’re proud to be using this 100% Hawaiian sea salt made on the Big Island.

South Africa Reports Rising Macadamia Nut Prices due to Short Supply

It looks like we can add Macadamia nuts to the list of niche foods (like vanilla and chocolate) that are experiencing increased demand beyond what can be produced.

South Africa is the largest producer of Macadamia nuts, so price news there will affect the entire market. It looks like in anticipation of a short supply Chinese buyers began buying larger quantities of the in-shell nuts, according to an article in South Africa’s Fresh Plaza news site. The will have consequential effects on the shelled nut market and then on to all other products using the nuts, including Macadamia nut butter.

This is in contrast to lower prices that were experienced about 10 years ago in Hawaii because 10 years before that, lots of new Macadamia nut production was planted. The total amount of Macadamia nuts produced in Hawaii (47,000 lbs. last year) isn’t enough to directly affect global prices, however.

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Jansen, Carolize (2017, June 26). South Africa: Record prices for macadamias as demand exceeds supply. Fresh Plaza. Retrieved from http://www.freshplaza.com

Tiny Isle Avocado Salad

Firm, yet butttery soft and flavorful!
Firm, yet buttery soft…

Here’s a recipe for a simple avocado salad that is really, mostly just avocado! Naturally, the success of this dish depends on having really good flavor and texture in your avocado. Use avocados that are ripening, but still firm enough to stay as chunks in the salad. If it’s too soft, you get a paste and it’s hard to call it a salad anymore.

I used this large, dark purple avocado from a tree that is just coming in. You’ll need about 1 1/2 lbs. of avocado fruit. I like to peel it instead of scooping it out for a cleaner look, but whatever lets you keep it in chunks will work. Cut it into pieces, smaller is better so there’s more surface area, but not so small it mushes. Sprinkle with the Hawaiian sea salt (ours comes from Salt Pond on the west side of the island) and gently fold it in.

peppers-lokelani
Peppers from the garden: the yellow one is aji cristal

Give the salt a while (like 15 minutes or more) to melt, then add the lime juice, fresh chilies and 3/4 of the green onion. Mix it in (minimally) and let that sit for a while. It’s really convenient to let it sit while you prepare other food.

Now fold in the macadamia nut butter and tomatoes and spoon the salad into a serving bowl. It’s pretty dense…maybe it would be best to serve it over a bed of massaged kale, water cress, or sliced radicchio. Top with the remaining green onion.

Ingredients

  • 1 large (1.5 lbs) avocado: firm, yet ripe
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse Hawaiian sea salt, the alaea (pink) kind if you can
  • juice of 1/2 lime (about 2 tbs.)
  • fresh chile to taste, chopped: I’d suggest using a medium spicy chile like jalapeño or aji cristal
  • 1 small green onion, thin thin slice or chopped
  • 3 tbs. macadamia nut butter raw or toasted (yes, of course it should be Tiny Isle!)
  • 1/4 c. diced fresh tomato: quartered cherries or grape tomatoes work well

avo-salad

Island-Style Guacamole

Most of what you need to make guacamole can be found outside your back door here in Hawaii. We probably have 10 avocado trees around here, make that 10 different kinds of avo trees! Several are ready now, so we are required to eat lots of avocado every day.

Each of us here makes the guac in their own way. My way is to season the avocado with enough lime, chili and salt to make it exciting. Those four ingredients make kind of the perfect ensemble, but even so, additions like cilantro and green onion are welcomed also. The light, assertive flavor of those greens adds distinct and harmonious notes. We enjoy the guacamole frequently during avocado season, which for us lasts from September to March.

I wanted to take this picture because it shows these essential ingredients in their purest, freshest state. The mac nut butter was because I thought it might go well. Do we put macadamia nut butter into our guacamole? No, not really! It might well be good, but nobody I suggested it to thought it sounded good. So instead, I made an avocado salad.

 

About Agave Nectar

We sometimes get questions or comments about our use of agave nectar in our chocolate truffles and fudge. I’d like to share our perspective on this subject since the integrity of the ingredients in our products is a big concern for us and I believe for our customers as well.

agave harvest, Jalisco, Mexico
First, I’d like to stress that we are committed to using the highest quality ingredients we can source for all our products. This is for several reasons: health of the environment, health of the farmers that produce our ingredients, and our health as consumers of the products we produce. Finally, of course, it always has to be delicious. The ingredients we use are chosen (and it’s not easy!) because they fulfill all these things as much as is possible.

The agave nectar we use is raw certified organic blue agave nectar that is sustainably harvested and produced in Mexico. This is the best, highest quality agave nectar we can practically source. The process by which the nectar is made is quite simple: juice is mechanically extracted (crushed and expressed) from the mature agave plants, then it is heated to only 118° for a time to improve the flavor and concentrate the nectar. From there it is filtered and bottled for use.

We believe it is a wholesome sweetener, but we are also aware of the criticisms and have read much of the information that is out there about agave.

Fructose

For decades we have known that the Western diet is too high in refined sugars. There have been many ways in which this has been addressed, mostly in terms of reducing the amount of sweet foods in our diet and finding other ways to sweeten foods. Agave nectar is one of the sweeteners that was introduced as an alternative.

Currently, the sugar in the Western diet is still there in too great a quantity, but for the most part it has changed it’s form. For reasons purely to do with profitability, the sugar of choice in mainstream Western food has gone from cane or beet sugar to corn syrup. Corn syrup is high in fructose, and so we are beginning to see health problems specifically related to excessive fructose consumption.

Agave nectar is also primarily fructose, and so it is in recent years getting identified by some nutritionists as not healthful. We don’t argue with this: sugar in any form shouldn’t be marketed or thought of as a health food! Seriously, however, this is something to be aware of, and for some of us, the most healthful choice may be avoiding fructose in general.

Our Perspective

For us, a healthful diet means eating a wide variety of whole foods, with an emphasis on locally produced and organic foods. Sweeteners such as honey, agave or coconut sugar can harmoniously play a part as essential flavors for many dishes and treats, but they are used sparingly. Keeping things varied, balanced, and of high quality is key to making a diet like this work, so any added sugar takes the form of complex, natural sugars that aren’t out of proportion to the rest of what we are eating. This approach to nutrition and health is the foundation of everything we produce at Tiny Isle, and we consider raw, organic agave nectar an appropriate part of that approach.

It is our intention that Tiny Isle truffles and fudge be consumed as occasional treats within the context of a healthful general diet.