Tag Archives: trends

Paleo-Friendly Easy Mashed Cauliflower

By Chef Kyle Boesen

Mashed cauliflower is a great addition or substitute to your classic mashed potato side dish.

Mashed cauliflower is a great addition or substitute to your classic mashed potato side dish.

As the Paleo diet - a diet that encourages one to eat like our ancestors and limit processed foods, dairy, many grains and sugar – becomes more popular, we’re seeing a lot more people searching for recipes that meet the diet’s criteria.  (In fact, even Whole Foods is opening a new store in San Francisco with a Paleo Bar! Read about it here.)

In leu of this food trend, we thought it would be helpful to provide you with a great-tasting recipe that could easily be swapped for mashed potatoes at your Thanksgiving meal.

NOTE: If your party isn’t on the Paleo diet and you’d still like to try this, I’d encourage using 50% cauliflower and 50% mashed potatoes (non-Paleo ingredients and directions are below the Paleo version).  For some people, the taste of cauliflower can be quite strong so this softens the cauliflower flavor a bit and makes the dish all the more nutritious…and an excellent way to get children to eat cauliflower!

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower is essentially like making mashed potatoes - just swap the cauliflower for potatoes.

Mashed Cauliflower is essentially like making mashed potatoes – just swap the cauliflower for potatoes.

Ingredients – Paleo Diet Version
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of any of the following: ground sage, rosemary or thyme
1 tablespoon chopped chives, reserving half for garnish on top)
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Wash and chop cauliflower. Place in a microwavable bowl with 1-2 tablespoons water, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 5-8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender (you can easily put a fork through the spears).
Step 2: Drain the cauliflower
Step 3: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. 
Ingredients – Non-Paleo Version
4 cups chopped cauliflower
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (keep the skins on for added fiber and nutrition)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup 2% milk
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives, reserving half for garnish
Step 1: Wash and chop cauliflower and potatoes.  Add the cauliflower to a microwave safe bowl, add 1-2 tablespoons water and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high for 5-8 minutes or until they are tender and you can easily stick a fork through them.  Then, do the same with the potatoes. (Don’t combine them as the potatoes have more starch and will take longer to cook.) NOTE: You can also steam these on the stove.  Just put a cup of water at the bottom of a very large pot, place a heat-proof colander over and place the vegetables in the colander. Cover bring the water to a boil. Stir the vegetables on occasion to ensure they’re cooked evenly. 
Step 2: Combine butter and milk in a microwavable bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds or until butter is melted.
Step 3: Drain the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Mash by hand or use a hand mixer while slowly adding the melted milk and butter mixture and sour cream, little amounts at a time until the consistency you desire is reached. 
Step 4: Season with chives, salt and pepper and serve.

 Do you have a healthy spin on mashed potatoes? If so, we’d love to hear it. Or, if you have a “secret ingredient” for yours, please share.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

By: Angela Keyser, HQO Marketing Director

2013_11_Pumpkin CupcakesThis time of year, I can’t consume enough pumpkin! Pumpkin has indeed become more popular over the years. While apple used to be the flavor of fall, pumpkin has taken over with a vengeance.  In fact, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, a report that tracts new menu introductions in major restaurants across the country, there were 105 pumpkin-themed, limited-time food offerings introduced in 2012 and only 45 apple-themed.* So, if you’re on the pumpkin bandwagon like I am, these cupcakes may be just the trick for your weekly fix. The cream cheese frosting looks extra decadent after it’s piped onto the cupcakes with a large piping tip specifically meant for cupcake decorating. Despite there being a lot of ingredients, the recipe is really easy to make. A simple addition to any Thanksgiving Day celebration.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake IngredientsCupcake Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Frosting Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. (Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and walnuts, if using.) Set aside.

Step 3: Cream butter and sugar.

Step 4: Slowly eggs, one at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture.

Step 5: Add pumpkin puree to the butter mixture.

Step 6: Add the flour mixture and whole milk, a little bit of each at a time, alternating between the two, as you gently mix the batter.

Step 7: Line a mini cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

Step 8: Fill each cupcake mold about 2/3-3/4 of the way full.

Step 9: Bake for 8 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.

Step 10: To make the frosting, simply blend the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Then, add the confectioners’ (powdered) sugar. Frost and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from About.com.

*Source: Wong, Vanessa. “Pumpkin Officially Trumps Apple as Fall’s Signature Flavor.” Bloomberg Businessweek. September 17, 2013. Web. November 7, 2013. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-17/pumpkin-officially-trumps-apple-as-falls-signature-flavor

2013_4_12 AngieCincoMonterreyAngela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics, puts her 11 years of food and agriculture marketing and public relations experience to work leading HQO’s marketing efforts. Raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and obtaining at degree in animal science and international agribusiness from Cornell University, Angela is thrilled to be able to put her passions and expertise to work in her career.  When she’s not working, you can find her on the ski slopes, hiking trails, running, biking, cooking or traveling with her three-year-old son and husband.

Trick With a Treat: Chili Chocolate Pretzel Sticks

By: Angela Keyser, HQO Marketing Director

Chili Chocolate Pretzel SticksHalloween is here! Let the parading of the costumes begin, right? If you’re anything like me, you kinda wish you were still young enough to run around the neighborhood and get free candy once a year.  Well, surprise the adults that show up to your door with these fun homemade treats. They’re a fun spin on the traditional chocolate covered pretzels most people love.  But, there’s a little trick to these treats, the chocolate is infused with just a touch of chili! (Herb, spice and tea-infused chocolate is a trend we’re starting to see more of online and in specialty food lines. If you don’t like chilies, experiment with things like cardamom, lavender or chia tea.) Enjoy!

5 Simple Ingredients + 1 Optional Ingredient

5 Simple Ingredients + 1 Optional Ingredient


1 bag of salted pretzel sticks
12 oz of dark chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
Holiday Sprinkles (optional)
Step 1: Combine chocolate chips and spices in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50% power for one to one-and-a-half minutes.  Stir and repeat until chocolate is melted.
Step 2: Pour melted chocolate into a cup and dip each pretzel in the chocolate.
A simple little tip: put the melted chocolate in a glass. It makes dipping the pretzels so much easier.

A simple little tip: put the melted chocolate in a glass. It makes dipping the pretzels so much easier.

Step 3: Lay the chocolate-covered pretzels on wax or parchment paper and sprinkle with holiday-appropriate sprinkles.

Step 4: Allow the chocolate to set for 30 minutes to one hour or place in the refrigerator for faster setting time.
Recipe Source: Adapted from Aztec Chocolate Bark recipe found here. 

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn

By: Angela Keyser, HQO Marketing Manager

2013_Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn Cover PicPopcorn is one of the hottest snacks these days. It’s full of fiber, gluten-free, is quick to make and a convenient on-the-go snack.  If you’re looking for a delicious twist on your favorite popcorn recipe, try adding one of your favorite herbs or spices.  It’s really easy and adds a huge amount of flavor. Here’s one of my favorite new recipes, Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn. I dare say, it’s some of the best popcorn I’ve ever tried!

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn

1/2 cup popping corn
1-2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
Finely chopped garlic glove
Salt & Pepper to taste
2013_9_17_Rosemary Popcorn_Ingredients
Step 1: Place butter & rosemary in microwave safe bowl. Melt in microwave (approx 30 seconds).
2013_9_17_Rosemary Popcorn_Step1
Step 2: Add popcorn kernels and stir to evenly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap & punch a few SMALL holes in the top to allow steam to escape. (Caution: I made the holes too big and the popcorn started to escape as it popped!)Note: I had a last-minute idea to add a clove of finely chopped garlic to the bowl. I highly recommend doing it if you have some on hand.

2013_9_17_Rosemary Popcorn_Step2
Step 3: Microwave on high for anywhere from 3 minutes and 30 seconds to 5 minutes – depending on your microwave. Watch carefully and stop the microwave once the corn is all popped (more than 2-3 seconds between pops).
2013_9_17_Rosemary Popcorn_Step 3
Step 4: Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (The stuff in the can apparently works the best for this application but I only had the real thing. It was just as good!) Oh, and I added a dash of salt & freshly cracked pepper after tasting and it was just what the popcorn needed for absolute perfection! I love this recipe!!!!
2013_9_17_Rosemary Popcorn_Step4
Step 5: Enjoy!

Top 10 Trends from the World Tea Expo 2013

By Allison Wall 

The World Tea Expo is the only trade event completely dedicated to the tea category. Hosted each June in Last Vegas, the World Tea Expo brings together over 200 exhibitors, dozens of experts and thousands of attendees. I joined two of our HQO Sales Managers on the show floor to track the trends, meet with customers and share the latest from our organic tea suppliers. Below are the top trends I saw during the three-day show:

New HQO Sales Manager Eric Granata enjoys an iced tea pop at the Word Tea Expo. They were delicious!

New HQO Sales Manager Eric Granata enjoys an iced tea pop at the Word Tea Expo. They were delicious!

1. DeeBee’s Organic Tea Pops – Hands down the most popular booth at the show. The concept is so simple yet absolutely brilliant. Given the success we’ve seen of other frozen treats, we expect these to be in almost every grocery store very soon. Flavors included mint, coconut, mango and iced tea.

2. New Varieties – Honeybush has been used in teas before but this year we saw it marketed on its own. We also saw some increased chatter around Yerba Mate.

3. Fruit – In response to consumer demand, tea companies are finding alternative ways to sweeten tea without the use of sugar or artificial ingredients.  We saw blackberries, grapes and fruit blends being used this year.

4. Ready-to-Drink with a Twist – This category of tea has been going gang busters for several years and continues to be a dominant trend in 2013. This year the ready-to-drink products included new teas like rooibos, being marketed simply as ‘red tea,’ and lightly carbonated teas.

5. More Organic Options on the Horizon – While there are a lot of organic teas on the market, they certainly don’t command the majority of market share. We’re sensing the tide is beginning to shift as there was definitely more discussion and interest in sourcing organic tea.

6. Herbal Teas & Blends – Herbal teas have been on grocery store shelves for decades but we’re seeing some exciting innovations given increased consumer demand for healthier beverages. Blends addressing a health or wellness concern continue to grow in popularity.

Tiesta Tea Tins

Tiesta Tea Tins won best new product at the 2013 Word Tea Expo.

7. Reusable Tea Tins – Packaging innovations continue across all food categories and tea companies continue to push the envelope in many areas of package design.  The most notable trend at World Tea Expo was the number of beautiful reusable tea tins. There were tons of shapes, sizes and designs – many worthy of prominent display in your kitchen. A savvy marketing approach for any brand.

8. Social Responsibility – While sustainability is still an important part of a tea brand’s story, social responsibility messaging was definitely more prominent at this year’s show.  Most notably, Wild Mountain Tea. They did a beautiful job sharing how their tea is grown and harvested ethically in Africa.

9. Green Tea – Green tea is on the fast track for growth given its well-known health benefits.  In fact, its market share is growing the fastest (when compared to black, oolong or white). We saw tons of new blends using green tea: mango green tea, mint green tea and more.

10. Tea is Growing – It was clear from our time at the show that the tea industry is thriving. With the rapid growth of the ready-to-drink beverage segment and specialty tea expected to grow 50% by 2016, it certainly is an exciting time to be in tea! Read more about the opportunities in tea from our newest white paper, HQO Market Insights: Time for Tea.

Allison Trail Running copyAbout the Author – Allison joined the HQO sales team in September 2010 and has become an integral part of our tea team. Born and raised in California, Allison has been involved with the food industry her entire life. In fact, her running debut occurred at the very first Gilroy Garlic Festival 10K! She continues to love running and working in the food industry while she raises her three children in Reno, NV.  When she’s not cheering on her children at one of numerous sporting events, she’s running on the trails and enjoying the beautiful scenery of Reno-Tahoe.

HQO Market Insight: Time for Tea

2013_6_13_HQO Tea Trends_D3 copy


The U.S. tea industry is on the fast track for growth.  Learn the latest on this centuries old beverage in our latest white paper. Not only will you get a glimpse of the different types of tea and tea history, you’ll also learn the latest market data and top trends in tea today.

Click here or on the image to read the full document.

Top 5 Trends from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show


The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show is the largest foodservice show in America.  Held every year in May at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, the NRA Show brings together over 1,800 exhibitors and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world.

This year, HQO’s Vice President of New Business, Willam Madden, who is based in Chicago, took a quick tour of the show and noticed these top trends:

Aloe Vera Water by Novamex

Aloe Vera Water by Novamex

1. Gluten Free

2. Aloe Water

3. Hummus

4. Snacks – Especially Popcorn

5. Lollipops & Other Individual Dessert Offerings

For more insight on the trends seen at the NRA Show, check out these great articles and videos:

Top 10 culinary trends at 2013 NRA Show by Bret Thorn of Nation’s Restaurant News.

Top 3 trends from the show floor at NRA Show 2013 by Tricia Smith of SmartBlog on Food & Beverage.

Trends in beverages and foodservice from the National Restaurant Association Show 2013 by Jonas Feliciano, Beverages Industry Analyst and Elizabeth Friend, Foodservice Industry Analyst of EuroMonitor International.

HQO Market Insight: Hispanics

Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. Learn more about this important market opportunity in our latest white paper below. Click here to download the pdf.

2013_5_29_HQO Hispanic_D1 copyIf you’re not sure how to create Hispanic-friendly flavors or products, we’d be happy to be your resource.  High Quality Organics not only provides thousands of certified organic ingredients — many of which meet the flavor preferences of Hispanics — but our in-house R&D team (including 15-year herb and spice veteran Chef Dawn Wykoff) can help you create a custom blend or product that meats the needs of the rapidly growing Hispanic market. Contact us today at http://www.hqorganics.com or 775-971-8550.

The Organic Opportunity

Despite tough economic times, the organic industry has continued to grow over the past few years.  Below are some compelling statistics from the Organic Trade Association’s 2011 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs Tracking Study:

Organic Consumer Behavior

  • The organic food sector continues to grow at a faster pace than conventional food (see the stats here)
  • Mass markets like Wal-Mart, Safeway and Kroger are where the majority of organic products are sold
  • While produce is the fastest growing organic segment — followed by dairy — many of us at HQO believe organic meat will be a fast growing segment over the next few years
  • According to the OTA’s 2012 Industry Survey, the organic industry is now $31.4 billion

To learn more about the health of the organic industry please visit the Organic Trade Association’s website, www.ota.com.