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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Diet Nibbles

PRODUCT UPDATE: Gluten Free Comfort Food

Blake's Chicken Pot Pie


This gluten-free chicken pot pie will please many. Photos courtesy Blake’s All Natural.



With the fall season, the gluten-freer’s thoughts turn to comfort foods—which usually mean soups, hearty stews, pot pies, mac and cheese and heaping dishes of pasta.

This is also, as it turns out, one of the most challenging categories in the gluten-free realm. Most of the hot comfort foods contain noodles or crusts of some kind, and substitutions are not easily made.

Enter Blake’s All Natural, an 80-year old family firm that was acquired by ConAgra in May 2015. Most of the line is conventional, but there’s a GF version of their most popular item, Chicken Pot Pie; as well as Shepherds Pie, which is naturally GF (the crust is made from mashed potatoes instead of grain).
Blake’s Chicken Pot Pie

I tasted their Chicken Pot Pie in a bit of a fever, recalling happy afternoons spent at my Gram’s where my favorite treat was classic pot pie. Grandmas know what makes a child’s heart go pitter patter. Hence my bar for Chicken Pot Pie is quite high, attached as it is to golden memories.

Blake’s did not let me down. You can taste the quality and the care.

The filling is delicious! You can taste the distinct flavors, yet also appreciate the blended sauce and the good crust, which is the hallmark of a top pot pie. There was a little too much sauce for my liking (not atypical in store-bought pot pies), but I relished the classic pot pie flavor.

There are no chemicals, no antibiotics, no wheat. Bonus: The pot pie is also microwavable

The brand makes both all-natural and organic products. With the gluten-free pot pie, the vegetables and crust are organic. The chicken is not, although it is natural (antibiotic free), and quite tasty!

I was surprised that I actually preferred the cornmeal crust variety of the two options. The brown rice crust was a bit sweet and shortbread-y (I prefer buttermilk-y/salty flavor notes), whereas the cornmeal crust was hearty, had better body and just enough salt.
Blake’s Shepherds Pie

Next I tried the Shepherds Pie, made with organic corn and organic mashed potatoes.

As with the pot pie, the veggies are organic but the beef is not. (Although organic meat is important to many, it would raise the price beyond where enough consumers are flexible. Hence the balance between organic and natural ingredients.) The beef was perfectly spiced and tasted of a high quality, so I added points back for flavor. I liked it even better than the pot pie.

My recommendation: Absolutely give Blake’s a try! Their products are great cool- and cold-weather comfort food options, a great convenience when you don’t have time to make your own. That goes for the “regular” line, too.

You can also send a GF gift box, containing four gluten-free pot pies and four shepherds pies.

Discover more at

—A review from Georgi Page, Gluten Free Specialist



It was 2010 when we first selected Lucy’s Gluten Free as a Top Pick Of The Week, followed by a product update in 2011. The brand continues to treat consumers new gluten-free baked treats.

This year, the new GF treat is Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp, the first flavor of Lucy’s new brownie line to hit shelves. It’s made with chocolate chips, 72% dark chocolate chunks and cocoa powder (comprising the “triple chocolate”), plus Madagascar vanilla.

A cross between a chewy brownie and a crunchy cookie, Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp is a symphony of deep, rich chocolate flavor. A serving size of three crisps contains just 100 calories.

As with all Lucy’s products, Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp is allergy friendly: no gluten or wheat, dairy milk, butter, eggs, casein, peanuts or tree nuts.



There are three types of chocolate in Lucy’s Triple Brownie Crisp. Photo courtesy Dr. Lucy.

The line is also Non-GMO Project Verified, certified vegan, and certified kosher (pareve) by Star K.

Brownie Crisp is currently available in a 4.5-ounce pouch size and a 1.25-ounce grab ‘n go individual bag.

Continued thanks to Lucy’s founder and chairman, Dr. Lucy Gibney, for showing that allergen-free can also be delicious. Discover more at



TIP OF THE DAY: Chermoula Sauce

Last night at a nine-course feast at the home of our wine editor, we were served a dish of scallops, sautéed greens and a hearty topping of freshly-made pesto.

A conversation ensued among the nut-averse and lactose-intolerant in attendance, that they didn’t use pesto because of the cheese or the nuts.

There’s an easy alternative: chermoula, a Middle Eastern marinade and sauce popular in the cuisines of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

As with pesto recipes, there are countless regional variations both in ingredients and proportions. But chermoula usually starts with a mixture of fresh herbs (especially cilantro), olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and salt.

Flavorful chermoula is typically used with fish and seafood, and its green color adds brightness to what we personally refer to as “beige and brown foods.” It is also used to flavor meat, poultry and vegetable dishes.


/home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/chermoula offthemeathook 230

At Off The (Meat) Hook, it’s used to coat broiled halibut. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy


Variations include black pepper, fresh coriander, ground chiles, onion, pickled lemons and saffron, among other ingredients.

  • The preferred recipe in Sfax, a port city in Tunisia, incorporates a purée of dried dark grapes, with onions sautéed in olive oil, black pepper, cumin and chiles, but also cinnamon and cloves.
  • Two countries to the west, in Morocco, one popular recipe uses dried parsley, cumin, salt and pepper with paprika as the variable seasoning. It’s often served with grilled meat and fish.

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/chermoula lamb pumpkin broadbeans .au 2301

    Chermoula on lamb chops, rice and vegetables. Photo courtesy



    In the Middle East, chermoula is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. In our tests making pesto, the mortar and pestle produced a more flavorful pesto than the food processor. So we pulled it out to make this recipe. Feel free to switch on the food processor instead.

    This recipe is a Moroccan variation, with paprika. As with pesto, it is easy to make. Prep time is just 10 minutes. You can make extra and freeze it.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves*
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika (or a combination)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes or 1/2 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil†
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
    You can put your own stamp on the recipe, of course. We had some leftover fresh mint, so added it to the second batch.

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a mortar or food processor. Grind or pulse into a thick paste. It’s that easy!

    2. STORE the chermoula in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It will last for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, needing only to be stirred.

    3. FREEZE extra in the compartments of an ice cube tray that has been sprayed with nonstick olive oil spray. When the cubes have frozen, remove them to a freezer bag.

    This weekend we perused a book that had been sent to us on The Food of Oman, a sultanate on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

    When we pulled it out of its packaging, our first reaction was, “We have no time to figure out the cooking of Oman.” But as we thumbed our way through the book, we wanted to eat everything!

    If you enjoy learning new cuisines, or know someone who does, pick up a copy. The author, an American food writer who lived in the Middle East, takes readers on a journey that is delightful.

    *You can include the small stems that attach the leaves to the main stalks.

    †A fruity style (as opposed to peppery) is preferable.



    RECIPE: Carrot Pasta

    While we’re enjoying the warmth of Indian Summer, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog suggests these raw, vegetable-based noodles made from carrots.

    Inspired by classic cold sesame noodles, delicate strands of carrots and cucumbers mingle together in crisp tangles of “pasta,” as vibrant as they are flavorful.

    Instead of peanut sauce based on peanut butter, Hannah substitutes cashew butter for a different take on the nutty, lightly spiced sauce.

    “Deceptively simple in composition,” says Hannah, “it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special on paper, but one taste and you’ll be hooked on the creamy cashew elixir. Lavish it over everything from salads to grilled tofu and beyond. Although you may end up with more than you need for this particular dish, trust me: It won’t be a struggle to polish off the excess in short order.”

    Note that this recipe comes together very quickly but needs to be eaten as soon as it’s made. The recipe makes 2-3 main dish servings or 4-5 side servings.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/carrot pasta kaminsky 230

    Cut the carbs and add the protein: carrot “pasta” in cashew sauce. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.



    Ingredients For The Cashew Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons smooth cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
    For The Carrot Pasta

  • 5 Large carrots, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped

    spiral grater

    A spiral grater, also called a spiralizer. Photo
    courtesy Microplane.



    1. PREPARE the sauce. This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Place the cashew butter in a medium bowl and slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly to loosen and smooth out the thick paste. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk thoroughly until homogeneous and set aside.

    2. MAKE the carrot and cucumber “noodles.” Toss them together with half of the sauce; for easier mixing, use your hands. Add more sauce as needed, toss in the scallions and move to a serving plate.

    3. TOP with chopped cashews and serve.




    PRODUCT: Halo Top Low Calorie, High Protein Ice Cream


    Good stuff, fewer calories. Above, Chocolate
    and Lemon Cake. Photo courtesy Halo Top


    When we were first offered samples of Halo Top, we accepted but wondered: How good could an ice cream be at 70 or 80 calories per serving? The calories are so low, the carton promotes them in big numerals on the front of the package: 240 or 280, depending on the flavor.

    Many of the ice creams we eat contain that many calories in 1/4 cup! Otherwise stated, this ice cream has one-quarter the calories of premium brands.

    Yes, this is great ice cream for people who like to consume it by the pint.

    Halo Top was developed by an attorney who felt guilty about his ice cream habit. The lower-calorie ice ceams on the market had artificial ingredients he wanted to avoid. So he took a year and a half to develop a brand that met his criteria: all-natural, non-GMO, hormone-free milk and cream, greatly reduced calories and greatly increased protein (a major “guilt-free” factor).

    Each pint has 24 g protein. By comparison, Breyers has 10.4 g protein per pint.

    Equally noteworthy is the taste: Made with top-shelf ingredients like Belgian chocolate, organic fruits, organic cane sugar, cage-free eggs and hormone-free milk and cream, these are lovely pints!

    The line currently includes:

  • Birthday Cake*, with rainbow sprinkles
  • Chocolate, made with Belgian cocoa powder
  • Lemon Cake, textured with lemon zest
  • Mint Chip, with Belgian chocolate chips
  • Mocha Chocolate Chip*, made with Belgian chocolate chips and cocoa powder
  • Strawberry*, made with organic strawberries
  • Vanilla Bean, made with organic Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla
    *This flavor has 280 calories per pint. Flavors without an asterisk have 240 calories.



    The calories are reduced by substituting part of the sugar for non-caloric stevia and erythritol, both natural ingredients. The extra protein comes from milk protein concentrate and prebiotic fiber.

    It’s an inspired approach, a boon to ice cream fans who eat too much of it and would like to cut back somehow.

    This is how. We affirm that the ice cream deserves its halo—represented by a gold circle on the rim of the pint.

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K and certified gluten free.

    Discover more at, including a store locator.



    Each pint has a golden halo. Photo courtesy Halo Top Creamery.




    PRODUCT: Challenge Lactose Free Butter


    A delicious butter spread that’s lactose free! Photo courtesy Challenge Dairy.


    An estimated 30 to 50 million Americans have lactose intolerance, a condition wherein individuals naturally lose the ability to digest lactose—the natural sugar component of milk—as they grow into adulthood.

    In some of the world’s populations, the condition begins in childhood, after weaning. In others, it happens on an individual basis in late middle age or beyond. Still other people never lose their ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose.

    And since the inability to digest lactose continues to grow as many people age, our population has millions of contenders discovering their lactose intolerance every year.

    We are one of those people. Having grown up on butter, milk, cheese (cottage cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella and other fresh cheeses and lots of aged cheeses), sour cream, yogurt and ice cream, we suddenly became unable to digest them (or more accurately, they get digested with some unpleasant side effects).


    We quickly found lactose-free staples in:

  • Lactaid cottage cheese and ice cream
  • Green Valley cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt
  • Cheddar, the only cheese that is naturally 100% lactose free
    But what to do for butter?

    While no one has yet marketed a lactose-free bar of butter, Challenge Dairy now has a delicious lactose-free butter spread.

    The California-based maker of butter and cream cheese, representing some 600 dairy farm families, has made life easier for the lactose-intolerant.

    Their lactose-free spreadable butter clarifies the butter, a process that removes the milk solids that contain the lactose (this is the same process used to make clarified butter and ghee). The butter is then blended with canola oil to create a smooth, spreadable butter.

    The result: a buttery spread that has half the calories of regular butter. One tablespoon has 50 calories, 2 grams saturated fat (of 5.5 grams total fat) and 110 milligrams sodium.

    The lactose-free butter is available at retailers nationwide, including Albertsons, BI-LO, Harris Teeter, HEB, Jewel, Lucky’s, Meijer, Safeway, Savemart, Vons and Winn Dixie. A 15-ounce container is $4.49

    Learn more at

    See the foods that have hidden lactose, below.



    Why do different brands of butter vary in flavor?

    Several factors are responsible, according to Challenge Dairy.

  • The cows’ diet has an effect on the flavor of the milk. Grass-fed cows, which graze in the pasture, have different diets depending on the season. The grass mix will be different in the spring, summer and fall, when clover, wildflowers and herbs are part of the blend. In the winter, the animals eat silage, grass that is compacted and stored in airtight conditions (as opposed to hay, which is dried first). Penned cows eat feed, a combination of hay, grain, silage and proteins (such as soybean meal), vitamins and minerals.
  • The cream that is used, churned from the butter, can have slightly different acid levels.
  • All butters are pasteurized and churned, but these processes are different among manufacturers, resulting in different flavors and textures.


    Now, enjoy butter mashed potatoes to your heart’s content. Photo courtesy U.S. Potato Commission.

  • Butterfat level can differ slightly by different manufacturers (and by different products in the line, e.g. European butter).
  • The butter could be cultured or made from sour cream instead of sweet cream butter.
  • There can be a difference in the natural flavor that is usually added to unsalted butter (but not all brands—check the ingredients label). This flavoring is a natural milk derivative starter distillate (a distilled flavor made from fermented, cultured milk, similar to that used in the production of sour cream and buttermilk) that is added to the cream prior to churning. It produces flavor compounds that give unsalted butter a more pleasing taste, compensating for the absence of the flavor boost from salt.
    Check out the different types of butter in our Butter Glossary.

    Some people are just mildly lactose intolerant, others are extremely so (more information). Every person handles it differently. If you think you might be lactose intolerant, a gastroenterologist can give you the test.

    As with sugar and salt, there is “hidden lactose” everywhere.

  • Creamy & Low-Fat Salad Dressings: Lactose gives texture and flavor to many creamy salad dressings. Kraft and Newman’s Own have some lactose-free varieties. Low-fat dressings also can use lactose as a filler.
  • Instant Foods: Coffee, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, soup, other instant foods and powdered drinks can contain lactose, which helps the granules dissolve quickly. Quaker instant oatmeal is milk-free, but check the labels on everything powdered before you buy.
  • Medications: There’s lactose in everything from birth control pills to digestion remedies (that’s ironic, since lactose causes digestive problems in the lactose-intolerant) and quick-dissolve tablets. Lactose is used as a filler or base, improves bioavailability and taste.
  • Processed Grains: Breakfast cereals, breads, cookies, crackers, granola bars, pancake and waffle mixes, and even potato chips can include lactose as a cheap sweetener. Read the label carefully, or look for vegan-labeled products.
  • Processed Meats: Bacon, cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages can contain lactose. Kosher products (including beef, turkey or seitan-based bacon) will be lactose free.
  • Sweetener Tablets: Lactose is used as a bulking agent in sweetening tablets (e.g. Equal Classic Tablets).


    PRODUCT: Goodie Girl Cookies, Gluten Free

    Thanks to a New York City media relations consultant and mom who began baking gluten-free cookies in her home kitchen, Goodie Girl is pleasing palates from coast to coast.

    Simply put, these gluten-free cookies are addictive. Samples arrived at my door in a box irresistibly marked “Cookies.” The box was packed with Goodie Girl’s brightly colored bags in a popular array of flavors.

  • Crunchy Chaos is laden with buttery toffee, crisped rice and mini chocolate chips. Here, chaos is a good thing.
  • Mint Slims, a chocolate-draped chocolate-mint wafer, will comfort those feeling left out of Girl Scout cookie season
  • Midnight Brownie is a dark chocolate cookie packed with chunks of semisweet Belgian chocolate.
  • Oatmeal Raisin is an old-fashioned style, with just the right amount of cinnamon.
  • Quinoa Choco-Chunk deliciously unmasked my deeply buried Chips Ahoy fetish, put aside when I began a gluten-free lifestyle.


    Your favorite cookie flavors, gluten-free. Above, Oatmeal Raisin. Photo courtesy Goodie Girl.


    In fact, all of the cookies sampled were unabashedly crunchy. There was no trying to play both sides of the cookie viscosity divide: They crunch, they munch and then dissolve cheerily away with a buttery aftertaste. The cookies packs a wallop of flavor and doesn’t skimp on density.

    And the cookies are just the right size, although no sooner are you finished with one that the thought occurs that it would be good to have another, and another…



    Midnight Brownie, a dark cocoa cookie with Belgian chocolate chunks. Photo courtesy Goodie Girl.


    The bag, with its resealable top, is very conducive to sitting down with the intention of eating just a few. Watch that you don’t slip into “potato chip-mode,” continuously reaching into the bag until your chest is sprinkled with crumbs.

    But I’m not embarrassed to be covered in crumbs, that’s how good these cookies are. They are an experience every gluten-free person should have, and one that we can feel free to share with our wheat-centric friends.

    Goodie Girl cookies come in 6-ounce bags as well as in lunchbox-size one-ounce Go-Paks.

  • At $4.99 per 6-ounce pouch, they’re affordable for home and for gifting to anyone in gluten-free mode.
  • The one-ounce Go Paks-are available in Quinoa Choco-Chunk and Midnight Brownie, $9.99 for a box of 12 one-ounce bags.

    Check the store locator for a retailer near you, or purchase them online from

    —Georgi Page



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Artisan Bistro Beyond Breakfast

    Artisan Bistro wants to make it easy for everyone to eat delicious, nutrition-rich meals. The company makes lunch/dinner entrees, burritos and breakfasts—single-serving frozen meals made with the best lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables and healthy fats.

    We received samples of their Beyond Breakfast line, and it was eye-opening: delicious and only 170 to 200 calories per satisfying serving. And, the entrees are microwave-cooked in just four minutes. It will cook while you’re making a cup of coffee with a single-serve machine.

    The vegetarian breakfasts use egg whites only, but you’ll never notice the absence of the yolk because each preparation is so well seasoned and the egg whites are patties shaped like a poached egg.

    In five varieties, the Beyond Breakfast options include:

  • Country-Style Potatoes & Egg, a modern twist on a classic favorite made with an egg white patty, all-natural turkey, organic kale and red potatoes finished with spicy white pepper.


    Breakfast in a box: satisfying, nutritious, calorie-friendly. Photo courtesy Artisan Bistro.

  • Huevos Rancheros Verde, a south-of-the-border-inspired mix of an egg white patty, organic black beans, bell peppers and creamy jack cheese.
  • Italian-Style Hash & Egg, a savory blend of an egg white patty, all-natural turkey, organic asparagus, white beans and bell peppers.
  • Mediterranean Breakfast Stack, a zesty offering with an egg white patty, organic polenta, eggplant and sharp romano cheese.
  • Veggie Chorizo Huevos Rancheros, all the flavor of traditional meat chorizo in a vegetarian version, with an egg whites patty, bell peppers and jack cheese.
    All varieties are contain 70% or more organic ingredients, no GMOs and are gluten free.

    After a week of Artisan Bistro breakfasts, We’re hooked on the flavor, ease, better nutrition and lower calories than what we usually make.

    Learn more at, including a store locator.



    RECIPE: Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass, Mint, Cilantro…& Tea!

    Today is National Iced Tea Day. Approximately 85% of the tea consumed in the U.S. is iced, and iced tea is now the most consumed beverage at lunch time (source: Tea Association of America).

    Tea is also used as a recipe ingredient, in dishes from Smoked Tea Duck to baked goods, soba noodles, smoothies and sorbet.

    Culinary expert Gail Simmons created the Thai-inspired recipe below with unsweetened Pure Leaf tea. She used Pure Leaf Unsweetened Iced Tea to cook and flavor both the rice noodles and the marinade.

    With added protein—sliced beef or chicken, scallops or shrimp, or tofu—it makes a delicious lunch or dinner entrée. And for the gluten-sensitive, rice noodles (and the entire recipe) are gluten-free.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 8 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
  • 4-1/4 cups, room temperature, divided
  • 4 cups water


    Thai-inspired rice noodle salad. Photo courtesy Pure Leaf.

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and trimmed into two 2–3 inch pieces, one half of pieces bruised using the back of a knife, one half finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves plus 10 stems reserved
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, half sliced, half finely chopped
  • 2 small Thai* chiles (bird’s-eye chiles), stemmed, seeded and chopped or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
  • 6 radishes, cut into matchsticks or shredded on a mandoline
  • 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, shredded rotisserie chicken or other protein
    *Substitute 1 jalapeño chile for two Thai chiles.



    Pure Leaf unsweetened ice tea was used in this recipe. You can brew your own tea. Photo courtesy Pure Leaf.



    1. HEAT the canola oil in a medium sauté pan until just before smoking. In a shallow bowl, toss shallots with flour, shaking off any excess. Fry the shallots in the oil, stirring gently until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season immediately with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

    2. COMBINE in a large saucepan 4 cups of iced tea, water, bruised lemongrass, sliced ginger, 10 cilantro stems and the remaining teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water until chilled. Shake out any excess water and spread noodles on a paper towel-lined tray.

    3. MAKE the dressing: Combine the reserved lemongrass, reserved ginger, chiles, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup Iced Tea in a blender or food processor; pulse until smooth.

    4. PLACE the noodles, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, mint, cilantro leaves and chicken/shrimp in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss well. Garnish with fried shallots and crushed peanuts before serving.


    NOTE: Any remaining dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and used on meat, fish and salads.



    PRODUCT: Hummus Snack, No Refrigeration Required

    It’s not easy to find healthy snacks to eat on the go, much less those that are gluten free. Wild Garden Hummus, which sells shelf-stable (no refrigeration required ) hummus in jars, has a welcome new line called Snack Bo To Go!.

    It’s a tube of hummus packaged with a packet of gluten-free crackers. Neatly boxed, it’s a tasty alternative for anyone who wants to keep a better-for-you snack in a car, locker, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

    In fact, if you’ve bought a hummus snack pack on an airline, it was probably Wild Garden.

    A small cardboard box includes your hummus flavor of choice in a 1.76-ounce single-serve Tetra-Pak (67 calories; with the crackers the snack is around 200 calories). Squeezing out the hummus is easy and mess-free. Flavors include:

  • Back Olive Hummus
  • Fire Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Jalapeño Hummus
  • Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
  • Traditional Hummus


    Small, easy-to-pack boxes with nutritious, delicious snacking inside. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.



    It’s easy to squeeze hummus from these Tetra Paks. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.


    The different flavors of hummus are variously paired with a half-ounce of delicious, gluten-free crackers or chips:

  • CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers, an everyday favorite at THE NIBBLE (127 calories)
  • The Daily Crave Vegetable Chips (147 calories)
  • Wild Garden Quinoa Chips (122 calories)
    We tried all of the varieties, and pronounce them delicious.
    The MSRP is $2.29 per box (serving). sells it for $2.50.

    If you want to buy the hummus packages only, you can get a box of 24 packets or 100 packets on
    Visit for more information.



    GIFT: Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Cheesecake


    Delicious cheesecake, sugar-free and gluten-free. Photo courtesy Cinderella Cheesecake.


    For a cheesecake-loving mother who has given up sugar, here’s a find: sugarless cheesecake from Cinderella Cheesecake Company.

    It’s sweetened with maltitol, the finest-quality sugar substitute, and has a gluten-free cinnamon cracker crust.

    The classic-style cheesecake recipe also includes cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, natural vanilla flavoring. It tastes just as it should: rich, creamy, wonderful. Sugar-free observers, rejoice!

    Cinderella Cheesecake Company is a family-owned business founded in Riverside, New Jersey in 1965 with a broader product line. But by the early 1980s, the cheesecake business was so rocking that founder Alfred Rezende decided to drop the other baked goods to focus on expanding the cheesecake operation.

    The company sells cheesecakes to distributors, restaurants and non-profit groups for fundraisers, as well as direct to consumers online.

    In addition to the No Sugar Added cheesecake, the company makes conventional cheesecakes in Almond Amaretto, Egg Nog, Mango, Pineapple, Plain, Pumpkin, Sampler (two slices of each flavor), Southern Pecan, Washington Cherry and White Chocolate Peanut Butter.

    All cheesecakes are eleven inches in diameter and precut into 16 slices. A four-pound cheesecake is $38.00. It freezes nicely.

    Get yours at



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