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Archive for Nut-Free

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.

 

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

 

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.
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    Chermoula on lamb chops, rice and vegetables. Photo courtesy Taste.com.au.

     

    RECIPE: CHERMOULA SAUCE

    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)
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    You can put your own stamp on the recipe, of course. We had some leftover fresh mint, so added it to the second batch.
     
    Preparation

    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.
     
    MORE GOOD FOOD FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

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

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

      

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    PRODUCT: Ian’s Sausage Pancrepes

    Really tasty: Ian’s Sausage Pancrepes. Photo
    courtesy Elevation Brands.

     

    More than 10 years ago, a concerned dad learned that his son, Ian, had multiple food allergies. He set off on a journey to develop a line of kids’ favorites, so Ian and other children with allergies wouldn’t have to miss out.

    “Can you imagine going through life unable to eat pizza or onion rings or a chocolate chip cookie?” says Chuck Marble, CEO of Elevation Brands? “Imagine sitting down at the dinner table and everyone else gets to eat chicken tenders or fish sticks except you.”

    If the rest of the line is as delicious as the Sausage Pancrepes we just demolished, everyone will be scrambling to enjoy the products. Nothing in the very tasty pancakes gave any hint of a dietary restriction. The box front told a different story: NO wheat or gluten, NO milk or casein, NO nuts, NO soy.

     

    But NO here means YES, it’s delicious. The box of four small sausages wrapped in pancakes (9 ounces net weight) was an instant hit, without the need for maple syrup or any other seasoning. They went quickly, and we could only wish for a few dozen more boxes.

    Ian’s manufactures approximately 40 allergy-friendly foods for every time of the day: breakfast, entrées, desserts, snacks and sides. There are gluten-, dairy- and soy-free Mac & No Cheese; gluten-free chicken patties and tenders; onion rings and more.

    There’s a store locator on the website, and if there’s no store near you, you can email your local retailer’s information to their sales team.

    For more information, visit IansNaturalFoods.com.

      

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    PRODUCT: Garden Lites Veggie Muffins

    The producers of our favorite Garden Lites Veggie Soufflés have introduced new Veggie Muffins: a fluffy carrot muffin and a deep chocolate zucchini muffin.

    The all natural Veggie Muffins line is made of 1/3 fresh vegetables. Each muffin is shrink-wrapped for easy portability. Just let the frozen muffins defrost naturally or heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds; you’ll have an extremely moist treat that’s right-sized (not super-sized) at 120 calories per muffin (3 Weight Watchers points).

    The recipe contains eggs, but is dairy free, gluten free, nut free and soy free. The line is certified kosher by Star-K.

  • Carrot Berry Veggie Muffins are made with fresh vegetables plus blueberries, cherries and cranberries.
  • Zucchini Chocolate Veggie Muffins are very chocolaty, from cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate chips—so chocolaty that no one will detect the zucchini. They’re great for chocolate cravings or to sneak extra servings of vegetables into resistant loved ones.
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    This moist carrot muffin is a great 120- calorie treat. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Pair Veggie Muffins with coffee or tea for quick breakfast, tuck in with your lunch or for a healthful snack. You can keep them in the office freezer—although you’ll have to disguise them so co-workers don’t polish them off.

    While the muffins don’t have as much veggie content as the larger-portion souffles, each muffin is made from 1/3 fresh vegetables and comprises not quite one daily serving of vegetables. But hey, they’re muffins!

    The yummy muffins are available at select Costco locations and other retailers. Check the store locator for the store nearest you.

    The four-pack will retail for around $4.99, and the Costco 14-pack is a bargain at $9.99.

    Garden Lites calls itself “the delicious vegetable company.” We agree.

    For more information, visit GardenLites.com.

      

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    STOCKING STUFFER & YEAR-ROUND TREAT: Sun Cups

    If you love peanut butter, you may have the same reaction we do when we hear of someone with a peanut allergy: “I’m so sorry.”

    Those who know the joys of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or peanut butter cups empathize with those who can’t have them.

    But everyone can have sunflower butter!

    Sunflower butter is a smooth spread that looks and tastes almost identical to peanut butter. It’s made from sunflower seeds and is completely peanut- and tree nut-free.

    It’s healthier than PB, with one-third less saturated fat and 27% of a day’s recommended allowance of vitamin E, along with a much higher iron and fiber content (but 25% less protein).

    In jars, it’s available in the same variations as peanut butter: creamy, crunchy, natural, organic, unsweetened, even individual snack-size packs. Sunflower butter is also an ingredient in snack foods that previously relied on peanut butter, including energy bars, granola bars and peanut butter cups.

     

    All the lusciousness of peanut butter cups with no nuts whatsoever! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Sun Cups are chocolate cups filled with sunflower butter instead of PB. They’re made by Seth Ellis Chocolatier in Boulder, Colorado.

    They resemble Reese’s peanut butter cups, with a similar flavor (there’s just a hint of sunflower seed tanginess).

    How Sun Cups Differ From Peanut Butter Cups

  • Sun Cups are filled with sunflower butter instead of peanut butter (and sunflower butter is perfectly creamy-smooth).
  • They’re made with a better-quality chocolate.
  • They’re available in flavors: not just dark chocolate and milk chocolate but caramel and mint (we’re partial to the dark chocolate).
  • Unlike Reese’s, they’re organic, nut-free and gluten-free. The chocolate is Rainforest Alliance Certified. The wrapper is compostable.
  • Like Reese’s, they’re vegetarian and kosher (dairy) [OU-certified for Reese’s, EarthKosher—an organic kosher certifier—for Sun Cups].
     
    The manufacturing plant and the entire supply chain (the ingredients suppliers) is nut-free, so even folks with the strongest of peanut allergies can nibble safely. The Sun Cups team must wear “inside shoes” so nothing gets tracked in from outside. The sunflower seeds are even grown in a region too cold to grow peanuts, so the fields can’t be contaminated with migrating peanut plants.

    And the cost: about $1.00 per cup. A 20-pack of duos is less than $40 on Amazon.com.

    Or if you just want to test them out, Sun Cups offers a $1.99 sampler of the four flavors.

    Sun Cups are a safe bet for stocking stuffers, school lunch boxes and Halloween. They‘re a sweet treat for anyone—with nut allergies or without.

    And they’re a favorite at THE NIBBLE. Try them!

      

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    TRENDS: Eat Hemp & Support Hemp Farming

    The second Annual Hemp History Week ended yesterday.

    The national grassroots education campaign aims to renew support for hemp farming in the U.S. Although illegal today, hemp was traditionally grown in the U.S. by many farmers—including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper!

    In addition to edible hemp seed, hemp has long been used to make fiber for rope and textiles.

    The growing of hemp as a food and textile crop was banned in 1957, due to federal confusion over industrial hemp and marijuana.

    While there is pending legislation to change the situation, currently no live hemp plant (specifically, leaves and stems) can enter the U.S. But the seeds and end products containing them can be imported.

     

    Shelled hemp seeds are a delicious addition
    to salads. Photo by Elinor D. | Wikimedia.

     

    Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods around. Hemp, along with quinoa, is one of the few plant foods that are a complete protein (containing all the essential amino acids). Hemp seed is packed with protein, omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (the highest levels of any plant source) and magnesium. The flavor is mild, similar to sunflower seeds.

    If only hemp were legal, it would add inexpensive protein to our diet. Instead of appearing only in niche health foods, large manufacturers would use it to add protein to cereal, milk and other foods.

    Currently, Americans can purchase hemp seed powder to add to smoothies and other foods; shelled hemp seeds to sprinkle on salads, soups, veggies, yogurt and hot and cold breakfast cereals (very tasty!); and hemp seed oil for salads.

    Beyond nutrition, an excellent reason to legalize hemp growing is that it can be a salvation to many of America’s farmers.

    It is difficult for many American farm families to earn a living from farming. Farmers earn $25/acre for growing corn. Hemp would yield $200/acre, giving them the income they need to keep their family farms.

    Now that you know, support hemp farming. Write to your state and federal representatives. Not only does the federal government need to legalize hemp farming, but each state must also legalize it in order to allow its farmers to grow hemp.

    Learn more at VoteHemp.com and follow the link to send a pre-written email, fax or letter to your legislators to let them know how you feel about the status of hemp in the U.S.

    And don’t forget to enjoy the benefits of hemp as a high protein nutritional supplement. Start with sprinkling the tiny seeds onto your salads. If you typically eat a low-protein vegetable salad for lunch, it’s just what the doctor (or nutritionist) ordered. Two tablespoons of hemp seed provides 11 grams of protein, as much as a chicken drumstick.

    Our favorite hemp food: the hemp bagels from French Meadow Bakery.

      

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