THE NIBBLE (TM) - Great Finds for Foodies (tm)
Send An e-Postcard
Enter The Gourmet Giveaway
Print This Page
Bookmark This Page
Contact Us
Sign Up For The Top Pick Of The Week
THE NIBBLE (TM) - Great Finds for Foodies (tm) The Nibble on Twitter The Nibble on The Nibble on share this The Nibble  RSS Feed
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 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.


/home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/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/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/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.



    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



    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.

    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




    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

    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!


  • Comments

    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 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.



    PRODUCT: Egg-Free Cookies & Brownies

    The Centers for Disease Control estimates that some 12 million Americans have one or more food allergies.

    Ninety percent of food allergies are caused by the “big eight”: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soya and wheat (gluten).

    There are some great allergen-free mixes for those who want to bake for allergic loved ones. See our reviews of Cherrybrook Kitchen and Pamela’s Gluten Free.

    If you don’t have time to bake, consider ordering from Egg-Free Epicurean.

    The bakery banishes three of the big eight from its handmade, tasty, ready-to-eat cookies and blondies: no eggs, peanuts or tree nuts.

    Cookie loving kids and grownups now have access to something sweet and satisfying that’s as good as what everybody else gets. No one would suspect that the eggs are missing. We not only ate every crumb, we’d gladly eat more (and we have no allergies).


    Celebrate with egg- and nut-free treats
    from Egg-Free Epicurean. Photo by River
    Soma | THE NIBBLE.

    The products can be ordered separately (in packages of 12 cookies, 8 blondies) or in a sampler box. There’s a large “I Want It All” sampler box for especially good girls and boys.

    Order yours at

    The more the word gets out, the more Egg-Free Epicurean will be tempted to make even more varieties.

  • For more allergen-free baked delights, try Mariposa Baking Company.
  • Allergic to wheat and other gluten-laden grains? See all of our gluten-free product reviews.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Low Calorie Party


    This barbecue pork loin saves many calories
    with a sugar-free blackberry sauce. Here’s
    the recipe. Photo courtesy The J.M.
    Smucker Company.


    Want to throw a get-together but fear for your strict diet? Have a pot luck diet lunch or dinner.

    Everyone brings his or her best low-calorie dish, along with copies of the recipe to share and, if it’s a buffet, an index card to set in front of the dish, with the name of the dish and the cook, the ingredients and, if possible, calories per saving.

    For more party fun, everyone can rank their top three dishes, and winners can be named.

    The prizes?

    Something low-calorie, of course! Or something no-calorie, like fancy brands of mineral water.

    It’s a great party idea: Less cooking for you and the opportunity to try lots of new low-calorie recipes with your friends—who will be very thankful for all the new recipes they’ll be taking home.

    This party concept works with any dietary restriction—fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, low carb, vegan, etc.


    CONTEST: Seeking Allergy-Free Cookie Recipes

    Do you bake delicious allergy-free cookies—no nuts, milk or eggs?

    The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and Divvies invite you to enter your recipe(s) in the annual FAANtastic Divvies Cookie Contest, which “celebrates those who work to make the lives of those with food allergies more delicious.”

  • You can enter as many cookie recipes as you like. The deadline for submission is February 15, 2010.
  • Recipes cannot contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk or eggs, nor can any ingredients have been exposed to peanuts, tree nuts, milk or eggs.
  • The Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for two a Great Wolf Lodge Resort in the U.S., and have their cookie join the Divvies line.

  • Learn more about the cookie contest.
  • Read our review of Divvies allergy-free cookies and cupcakes—a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
  • Looking for gluten-free foods? See our reviews.


    Will your cookie join the Divvies line?
    Photo by Michael Steele | THE NIBBLE.


    PRODUCT: Fancypants Decorated Shortbread Cookies (100% Nut Free)


    Have some watermelon…cookie. Photo by
    Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.


    Today is National Sugar Cookie Day. That’s O.K. for a start, but sugar cookies aren’t the most flavorable cookie around. Most of the large, fancifully decorated cookies are sugar cookies. They’re pretty, but they could be tastier. Sugar cookies tend not to have vanilla or other flavorings. They’re just sugary—and baked with a higher proportion of flour to be a sturdy platform that’s good for decorating, but not necessarily the tastiest for eating.

    That’s where Fancypants steps in. Their decorated cookies are as beautiful and varied as any bakery’s, but they’ve improved upon the bland sugar cookie by baking rich, buttery shortbread. We hoarded the entire box!

    Because the Fancypants co-founders are former educators (a middle school teacher and an education researcher, both with masters’ degrees), they know about kids and nut allergies. So their bakery is 100% nut-free. But these are welcome gifts for nut-eating grownups too. There are cookie themes for everyone, from sports to animals to baby, wedding, holiday and custom-decorated cookies for corporate logos.

  • Read the full review of Fancypants shortbread cookies.
  • Find more of our favorite cookies.
  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free & Kosher!

    Cornbread with corn jelly.
    A NIBBLE reader has recommended the baking mixes of 1-2-3 Gluten Free, premium gluten- and allergen-free baking mixes that she says taste great and are versatile (there are more than 80 recipes for the 14 mixes). All products are produced in a dedicated gluten- and allergen-free facility and are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group, as well as certified kosher pareve. They have just launched two new products, Deliriously Delicious Devil’s Food Cake Mix and Micah’s Mouthwatering Cornbread Mix. Like many of 1-2-3 Gluten Free’s products, these two mixes are also free of dairy, soy, egg, peanuts and tree nuts.

    Here’s more versatility: You, the baker, add the sweetener of your choice—sugar, evaporated cane juice or agave—which makes these products an ideal choice not only for celiacs, but for diabetics and other consumers with dietary concerns.

    The cornbread can be made with sweetener or without. Eggs can be added by those who wish to enrich the recipe. The Devil’s Food Cake Mix can be made into a birthday cake, chocolate gingerbread cake or other recipes listed on the box and website. The Cornbread Mix includes a recipe for cranberry pecan cornmeal cake, jalapeño cheddar cornbread, pecan cornbread and cornbread stuffing. Learn more at

    See gluten-free foods reviewed by THE NIBBLE.



    « Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

    About Us
    Contact Us
    Privacy Policy
    Media Center
    Manufacturers & Retailers
    Facebook Auto Publish Powered By :