September 10, 2013

Navitas Naturals — dragon fruit, cacao nibs and nori powder


Navitas Naturals, a company that packages organic superfoods, offered to send me samples to try way back in May. I was expecting to try their new product, nori powder, but I received three packages — dragon fruit, cacao nibs and nori powder — and all I can say is it's a good thing they sent all three. First the good news.


I was familiar with cacao nibs and nori, but dragon fruit was new to me. According to the Navitas Naturals Web site, dragon fruit has "unusual nutrition benefits including omega 3’s, protein, iron, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support hydration. The Dragonfruit has an unusually strong nutrition profile to match its bizarre appearance. This tropical superfruit is a source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, vitamin C, protein, fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, phosphorus and iron. Dragonfruit also contains many antioxidants including complex phytoalbumins and lycopene. It is a bonus that the fruit is low in calories, and it’s comprised of complex carbohydrates that can easily be broken down by the body."

It was chewy and delicious, sweet but not too sweet, and slightly crunchy from seeds — in a good way. I loved it, and didn't bother to use it for anything other than a straight-out snack. Great tasting in an interesting and unusual way, it was quite unlike anything else I've eaten, and hard to describe.


The first time I ever had cacao nibs was in the rain forest in Ecuador, and much to my dismay, my opinion popped out of my mouth uncensored. "Tastes like dirt," I said. Not that I'd ever tasted dirt, but the unsweetened nibs had an earthy, raw vaguely-chocolate-like flavor that took me by surprise. Earthy. I grew to enjoy it, but my initial reaction was a bit harsh.

The Navitas Naturals Web site says, "Cacao nibs are made from pure cacao beans that come straight out of the tropical cacao fruit. Cacao was a culinary treasure to Mesoamericans for thousands of years and touted as the "Food of the Gods" for its superior nutritional profile and exceptional flavor. Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs are crunchy chocolate just as nature intended, in an easy to use and versatile form."


I prefered to make things with the nibs rather than eat them straight, though I did eat some. I made two kinds of chia pudding with almond milk, dates, chia and cacao nibs — maybe banana, too. In the first one I added the whole seeds for a traditional chia pudding — one with a little crunch. And, in the second I ground the seeds first to get a smoother, more chocolate-pudding-like texture — my preference. Delicious.


According to the Navitas Naturals Web site, "Cacao Nibs are loaded with antioxidants. In fact, cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet! Cacao also contains fiber and a number of vital minerals - especially magnesium and iron. An incredibly complex food, cacao also contains unique and potent chemical alkaloids including anandamine, theobromine and phenylethylamine."

All the more reason to add them to my morning smoothie — my favorite use of the nibs. The cacao nibs add a layer of rich, satisfying chocolate flavor to fruit smoothies. I only added a teaspoon or two so the package lasted a long time. I'll probably have to buy more because I'm extremely fond of the smoothies.


This brings us to the nori powder, and I have to be honest here, I am not yet a fan. Nope. Not a fan at all. Not even close. The weird thing is I love nori. I use the whole sheets for shushi, wraps or just plain. I also have toasted nori snacks that I eat like candy.

The Navitas Naturals press release says "Navitas Naturals Raw Nori Powder is made from premium Nori seaweed grown in the Sea of Japan. Offered in a 3-ounce re-sealable bag for $19.99, this new product is certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher, vegan and raw.

To make this organic superfood powder, nori fronds are sustainably harvested in the Sea of Japan and then pressed, dried and milled to a fine powder. All of the processing is done at low temperatures to maintain nutritional integrity, flavor and its status as a raw food. Navitas Naturals nori is hand-selected for top-grade quality and flavor, and it’s carefully inspected and rinsed.

Like most seaweed, nori is a low-calorie food with an abundance of bioavailable nutrients. By weight, nori contains more than 40 percent protein – the highest of any seaweed. Nori is also a rich source of important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and lignans. In particular, it provides A and B vitamins, iodine, carotene, calcium, iron and zinc. The bioavailability and digestibility of nori’s many nutrients are enhanced by its naturally high fiber content.

Nori Powder’s salty-sweet and complex flavor is a fine example of Umami, which is known in Japan as the “5th taste,” and is defined as savory and mouth-watering. This delicious, easy-to-use powder adds a seaweed flavor and nutrition boost to soups, salads, green smoothies and many other recipes."


Sounds great, right? And I'm sure it is, but something about the concentrated fishy flavor just isn't working for me at the moment. I sprinkled nori powder onto a bowl of pasta and veggies, and I ate it, but it didn't make me happy. I'm disappointed in my attitude, and I'm hoping I'll eventually come around, but for now, I'll leave the consumption of nori powder to you.

The Navitas Naturals nori powder press release came with a recipe for popcorn, which I haven't tried. If you do, let me know how it tastes. In the meantime, I'll be munching dragon fruit and cacao nibs.

photo credit: Navitas Naturals Web site
Nori Popcorn
  • 2 tsp Navitas Naturals Nori Powder
  • 1 tsp Navitas Naturals Coconut Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup organic Popcorn Kernels
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
Makes 4 servings. In a small bowl, mix together the nori powder and coconut sugar; set aside. In a deep-dish pan or stockpot, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat until melted. Add the popcorn kernels and sea salt and cover. Cook for a couple minutes to allow the popcorn to pop. Remove from heat after the kernels are only popping 10 seconds apart. Uncover, sprinkle with the nori mixture, and mix well with a large spoon directly in the hot pan to distribute over the popcorn well. Transfer to a bowl to serve.

Note: I've been popping corn with coconut oil for a long time now, and it works great. We have a Whirley Pop stove top popcorn maker that we found in new condition at Goodwill. I've seen others there on occasion so I think they show up regularly. Ours is decrepit now and could never be donated, but it still works great. We use 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to 1/4 cup of raw popcorn and it pops perfectly. The coconut oil gives the popcorn a wonderful flavor. I tried to convince my husband to make the nori popcorn for this post, but he refused. Unlike me, he hates nori.

The Navitas Naturals products were sent to me free of charge. All opinions are my own, obviously.

22 comments:

  1. I've seen dried dragon fruit somewhere at the shops in Asia or it could have been Australia, I'm not sure. I had it for a flight and it wasn't super sweet or juicy, but seedy. It's so cool that you've tried cacao nibs in the rain forest in Ecuador (I want to go there!), and the chia pudding sounds better with the product. The Nori Popcorn sounds like a wonderful snack to have around, especially with the savory seaweed flavors. Thanks for the thorough review, Andrea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The dragon fruit is less sweet than most dried fruit — maybe that's why I liked it so much. As for the nori popcorn, I think I'd like it if I could get past the intense fishiness of the powder!

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  2. Well, two out of three isn't bad! I've never had dragon fruit but would love to try it. Cacao nibs I have had as well as their cacao powder, which I really liked a lot. The smoothies sound terrific!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cacao nibs and powder, even though they are a little earthy in their unadorned state, really do add a wonderful chocolate flavor to foods — better than cocoa powder in my opinion.

      Delete
  3. I can (and do) vegan sushi, but otherwise I'm just not a fan of the sea vegetables; that fishy taste isn't my thing. Heck, I've convinced myself that Indian papadum has a fishy taste (am I making that up? Please tell me someone else has noticed this)!

    I'm extremely intrigued by the dragonfruit and will keep a look out. As for the cacao nibs, I will add some to a strawberry smoothie tomorrow, in homage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you about the papadam. Sometimes it does seem a little fishy. Why is that? Is it because they are fried and the oil has gone a bit rancid?

      Yes, add the nibs to your smoothie — I think you'll like it, though you might need a little sweetener to counteract the bitterness. A date usually works for me.

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  4. That dragon fruit looks so interesting! I would be keen to try that. I totally agree with you about nori; although, I hate it in any form. Just the smell of it in the cupboard makes my stomach do a flip. There aren't many vegan foods that I simply can't choke down, but nori is absolutely on the list.

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    Replies
    1. From what you've said, the nori powder would have sent you running. It practically sent me running and I love nori. It was just so intense. The dragon fruit on the other hand, is very gentle.

      Delete
  5. I love cocoa nibs bu t never buy them because they are super expensive! I guess those products probably aren't cheap either? I was pretty disappointed when I ate a raw dragonfruit - I guess I should have known better because they aren't really something that grows anywhere in Germany. I would love to try the dried chips, they must concentrate the flavour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The dried dragonfruit was really different from other dried fruit, but I liked it. It was a little crunchy and not too sweet. The Navitas Naturals version was chewey but not dry or tough — a great snack, but pricy. The nibs were the most reasonably priced of the three, with the nori being most expensive.

      Delete
  6. I love how you say how you're disappointed in your attitude. So harsh! :-) Well, two out of three ain't bad. So, I've never had any of the three things, ever. Eep!

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    1. My attitude, yes. I don't like when I'm so negative about a food. But, eewww. Maybe I'll change my mind.

      I'd recommend the cacao nibs since they're so versatile. I mean, they're chocolate, right?

      Delete
  7. I haven't tried dragon fruit before, it looks very interesting. I like how it's not too sweet. I'll have to try the cacao nibs in a smoothie, I would love an extra layer of chocolate flavor. :-) I wonder if the nori powder would be better in something meant to be fishy like a mock tuna fish salad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dried dragon fruit is weird, but I like it. As for the nori, you may be right. I considered that, but nothing I thought of was appealing. It was just so intense and powerful a flavor — obviously high quality but a little daunting.

      Delete
  8. That's a real shame about the nori - I love nori! Weird how it can go wrong like this. Still, dragon fruit though - I keep buying them just to look at for ages before I get around to eating them sadly. It's like eating an ornament or something, albeit a very tasty one.

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    Replies
    1. I love nori, too. It was just so intense. I'll try again sometime. I haven't had a fresh dragon fruit, but the dried one was sure good.

      Delete
  9. Yum--I love cacao nibs! So good. And now I really really really want to try the dragon fruit. I have had it fresh before, but never dried. What fun to review those products! 2 out of 3 isn't bad ;-)

    Courtney

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    Replies
    1. I really liked the dried fruit and the nibs. I think I'll eventually come around to the nori. I'm thinking miso soup would be a perfect use.

      Delete
  10. Oh darn, I was hoping to see you post a recipe that included all three ingredients at once... ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm. Maybe that was where I went wrong with the nori. Perhaps a dragon fruit and cacao nib ice cream with nori sprinkles. :)

      Delete
  11. I've made the Nori Popcorn several times - it is sooo delicious!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for letting me know. I'll have to try it.

      Delete

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