THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for June, 2012

PRODUCT: Chocolate Pudding, Lactose Free & Cholesterol Free

People who are diagnosed with a food allergy have to give up some favorite foods or turn to less-than-tasty substitutes. But enough Americans are diagnosed with allergies that businesses are rising to the occasion to make good-tasting alternatives.

Often, allergen-free products are made because a family member develops the condition. In one of the more ironic situations, the Coffins, a Montana farm family that has been dairying for generations, had to remove all dairy products from the diets of mom and the kids.

After trying the less-than-satisfactory alternatives the family began to create their own substitutes, tasty enough that everyone—including the non-allergic—could enjoy. The WayFare line of puddings, cheese spreads (regular, Mexican and smoked, our favorite) and sour cream was the happy result. Ice cream is currently under development.

The “secret” ingredient in the line is certified gluten-free, whole grain oatmeal. In the course of using oatmeal to replace the body of milk, the products also became cholesterol free and vegan.

The line is 100% dairy-free, soy free, cholesterol free, trans-fats free and non-GMO. The products are certified kosher by Star-K.


WayFare lactose-free puddings. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


So how do they taste?

The butterscotch and chocolate fare well; the vanilla, to us, doesn’t have significant vanilla flavor and works better as a hard sauce or creamy topping.

There’s a store locator on, and information for retailers who want to amp up their lactose free foods.


There’s an economic opportunity in products that address food allergies. Anheuser-Busch makes a gluten-free beer, the Girl Scouts sell three varieties of milk-free (lactose-free) cookies and General Mills reformulated Rice Chex earlier this year to be gluten-free. Kellogg’s makes its Pop-Tarts in nut-free factories. If vodka is your drink of choice, look for products distilled from non-grains, such as grapes and potatoes.

An estimated 12 million people in the U.S. have food allergies; 2 million more have celiac disease, a potentially deadly form of gluten allergy.

Medical experts don’t know why the number of people with food allergies is increasing. Theories include reduced contact with germs, exposure to certain environmental pollutants and, in the case of peanut allergies, the way peanuts are processed and at what point they are introduced into a person’s diet. Much research is needed; there is very little of it, even though allergic reaction to food causes about 30,000 emergency room visits and 150 to 200 fatalities each year.

Statistics from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) reveal that in the U.S.:

  • Some 8% of children have a food allergy: an estimated 5.9 million children, of whom 38.7% have a history of severe reactions. Peanut is the most prevalent allergen, followed by milk and then shellfish.
  • The prevalence of food allergy among children under the age of 18 increased 18% percent from 1997 to 2007 (peanut allergy doubled from 1997-2002).
  • Some 3% to 4% of adults have one or more food allergies. Six and a half million Americans (2.3% of the general population) are allergic to seafood; more than 3 million people are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both.
  • Food allergies account for 35% to 50% of all cases of anaphylaxis. Mayo Clinic studies estimate that the number of cases more than doubled, from 21,000 in 1999 to 51,000 in 2008. Fatal food anaphylaxis is most often caused by peanuts (50%-62%) and tree nuts (15%-30%).
    So read the labels, and look for more good food coming from allergen-free manufacturers.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Alternative Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Donut sandwiches are the new ice cream sandwich. Photo courtesy Schwan’s.


    We love ice cream sandwiches. We typically make ours with chocolate chip cookies or sliced pound cake.

    But these ideas from Schwan’s have us thinking in new directions. You can whip them up and serve them immediately, or store them in the freezer.

  • Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches. Cake-style ring doughnuts, regular or mini, make excellent uppers and lowers with an ice cream filling. More dense than the airy, yeast-leavened doughnuts (like Krispy Kreme), cake doughnuts are leavened with baking powder or baking soda. Look for a plain doughnut without frosting or glaze, like a cinnamon sugar doughnut. Cut it in half with a serrated knife and fill with ice cream.
  • Rice Krispie Treats Ice Cream Sandwiches. Slice a rice krispie treat in half, fill with ice cream and cut away the excess ice cream. (Don’t throw away the trimmings; snack on it.)
  • Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches. Toast two toaster waffles and let cool before filling (or the heat will begin to melt the ice cream).



    You can add another layer of flavor before sealing with the top sandwich layer:

  • Caramel, chocolate or fruit sauce
  • Sliced bananas, strawberries or other fruit (mango is delicious with vanilla ice cream, orange segments or marmalade creates a “Creamsicle” effect)
  • Chopped nuts
  • Morsels (butterscotch, chocolate, mint, peanut)
    You can roll the ice cream edges in sprinkles, mini chips or confetti (as shown in the photo).

    Whatever you do, you’ll have fun.

    If you’d like to have these treats delivered to you, visit the Schwan’s website.


    Photo courtesy Schwan’s.

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    PRODUCT: La Pan’s Gourmet BBQ Sauce

    The number one product we receive over the transom (unsolicited) is barbecue sauce. We get so much, that we joke that aliens from another planet who happen into THE NIBBLE offices would think that earthlings live on barbecue sauce.

    On a less jocular note, most of the barbecue sauces sent to us are simplistic recipes of what we pejoratively call “meat sugar”: ketchup (there’s already plenty of it in the ketchup), more sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and some onion and garlic powder that aren’t strong enough to cut through the sweetness.

    Every now and then, we receive a barbecue sauce that we enjoy. It has complex flavors and a smaller dose of sweeteners.

    So it was a good day when a box of samples from Le Pan’s arrived.

    All natural La Pan barbecue sauces have more layering of flavors than we’ve seen just about anywhere.


    Spicy and regular barbecue sauces hit the spot. Photo courtesy La Pan’s.


    Prior to developing his own line, Jon La Pan of Ladera Ranch, California was a foodie who liked to tinker with recipes to turn them into his vision of perfection. When he started to make barbecue sauce, his goal was “…to help anyone…turn a $5 piece of meat into a $50 steak.”

    As tasty as the sauces may be, they won’t tenderize a $5 flank steak into anything resembling a $50 strip steak; but the sauces will taste good on just about anything.

    Enjoy them with meat, poultry, hearty fish or tofu. Jon Le Pan uses them as a bread dipper, too. We prefer them with fries, instead of ketchup.

    Foundation Gourmet BBQ Sauce

    The first four ingredients in this barbecue sauce, are common to many recipes: water, tomato paste, sugar and brown sugar, along with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper and vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce and yellow mustard. More complex sauces add ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, molasses and natural smoke flavor. Spicy versions add cayenne pepper, chipotle and other chiles and hot pepper sauce,

    But La Pan’s further layers on celery salt, cinnamon, coffee, cumin, honey, lemon juice concentrate, maple syrup, oregano, turmeric, and and raspberry juice concentrate.

    That’s a lot of measuring, but the result is worth it.

    Fiery Fusion BBQ Sauce

    An excellent balance of fruit and medium heat, this sauce makes things interesting with the addition of apricot, mango, pineapple and habanero. Many spicy sauces just ratchet up the spice level on the basic sauce.

    Don’t choose: try both. A 16-ounce bottle is $8.00 at

    The company also makes seasoning and Bloody Mary mix.

    Find more of our favorite barbecue sauces.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bloody Mary Ice Pops

    Bloody Mary ice pops. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Yesterday we proposed diet ice pops, made from diet fruit soda.

    This time, it’s serious: Bloody Mary ice pops.

    You can turn any juice-based cocktail into an ice pop. We especially like Bloody Mary ice pops because they have no sugar (guilt free!) and because the kick of spices in the ice is very refreshing indeed.

  • Make your from-scratch Bloody Mary base or use a mix. We make our own, from Knudsen’s Tomato Juice, horseradish, hot sauce and fresh lime juice. Play with the proportions to decide how spicy and citrusy you like it (we also add a half teaspoon of lime zest). We use two teaspoons of horseradish, a tablespoon of lime juice and four shakes of hot sauce per six ounces of tomato juice. (We prefer to get the heat from the horseradish than from hot sauce.)
  • Start with a tablespoon of vodka per pop. The amount you use will depend on the volume of your pop molds. Water freezes at 32°F, but the freezing point of ethanol alcohol is -173.2°F. Thus, too much alcohol impedes freezing—you’ll end up with a slushie (not a bad idea!).

  • You can conduct a test with your first batch. Add different amounts of vodka to each of the pop molds and see which works for you.
  • Or, substitute shochu for vodka. Shochu, called “Japanese vodka.” has half the proof of vodka—40 proof compared to 80 proof. Thus, it freezes more easily: The lower the proof, the higher the freezing point. More about shochu.
    Of course, you can also make Virgin Mary ice pops. They’re equally delicious.

    Whether pop or slushie, enjoy!


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    TREND: The “Official Cocktail”

    “Official cocktails” are not news, but they could become a trend.

  • The Sazerac, a combination of cognac or rye whiskey, absinthe and bitters, is the official cocktail of New Orleans.
  • The Fire & Ice Boom from Buffalo combines vodka, triple sec, hot sauce, lemon juice and Sprite.
  • The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. The Black Eyed Susan is the official cocktail of the Preakness—a combination of vodka, Kentucky whiskey, orange juice and sour mix. And the triple crown of cocktails concludes with the Belmont Jewel: Bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice.
  • The Bacardi Mojito is the official cocktail of Miami.
    And on the west coast of Florida, Naples has selected the Coquito Mojito.

    The Coquito Mojito was chosen among six cocktails created by a mixologist who was retained by a group Naples restaurateurs, called the Naples Orignals, seeking an official cocktail. It has been renamed the Naples Original.


    The Coquito Mojito won a contest to become the official cocktail of Naples, Florida. Photo courtesy Naples Originals.


    Coquito is an eggnog-like beverage, a traditional holiday drink in Puerto Rico. It is made with coconut cream, coconut milk, egg yolks, rum, sweet condensed milk and holiday spices: cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

    The Coquito Mojito combines the two concepts, taking the basic Mojito recipe (rum, mint, lime juice, sugar and club soda) enhanced with coconut-flavored rum and cream of coconut, omitting the sugar.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • .75 ounces rum
  • .75 ounces coconut flavored rum
  • .75 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
  • .75 ounces Coco Lopez Coconut Cream
  • Splash of club soda
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint, plus one for garnish
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional garnish: lime wheel

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Muddler
  • Cocktail strainer

    1. In the cocktail shaker, lightly muddle the mint in the coconut cream. Add lime juice, rum and coconut flavored rum.

    2. Fill with ice to the top, cap the shaker and give it a long, hard shake. Pour through a strainer into a glass over ice.

    3. Add a splash of club soda. Garnish with mint sprig, lime wheel and coconut flakes.

    If you’d like an official cocktail for your town, approach the Chamber Of Commerce and volunteer to be on the committee. You could find yourself with some new, civic-minded drinking buddies.

    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes.


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