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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 TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Sugar-Free

GIFT: 5 Sparrows Hot Chocolate With Stevia

5-sparrows-white-hot-chocolate-230

White hot chocolate with stevia sweetener. Photo courtesy 5 Sparrows.

 

Five Sparrows is a line developed by coffee shop owners, who wanted commercial products created specifically for handcrafted beverages. They are now available to consumers as well.

The company makes hot chocolate, chai and frappe mixes, which are available in versions sweetened with sugar or a combination of stevia and xylitol.

Today’s recommendation is for the stevia products. It isn’t difficult to find a quality hot chocolate mix made with sugar, but good sugar-free versions are hard to come by. These taste very natural—no “artificial sweetener” aftertaste. They dissolve easily into milk.

(And note that neither stevia nor xylitol are artificial ingredients. Here are the different types of zero-calorie, a.k.a. non-caloric, sweeteners.)

For friends and family who prefer a beverage with zero-calorie sweeteners, here are:

  • Zero Sugar House Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar House White Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar Monumental Spiced Chai
  •  

    A 10-ounce package is $11.00. Buy them online at 5SparrowsBrand.com.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Marich Sugar Free Candy

    What’s Halloween like for people who can’t have sugar?

    While there’s no sugar-free candy corn (because candy corn is essentially sugar, corn syrup, color and flavoring), there are other sugar-free treats, from Gummies, hard candies including Cinnamon Buttons, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Jolly Ranchers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and much more (for a great selection head to BlairCandy.com).

    Or, you could go gourmet at Marich.

    Marich Confectionery makes a lot of the all-American candies sold in bulk in better candy stories: bridge mix; caramels and toffees; chocolate-covered coffee beans, fruits and nuts; Holland mints, licorice; and our favorite malted milk balls.

    Some of the most popular items are available in sugar-free versions: Sugar Free Chocolate Bridge Mix, Sugar Free Chocolate Espresso Beans, Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Almonds and No Sugar Added Chocolate Cherries (the cherries themselves have natural sugar).

    Whether for Halloween gifts or for the holidays, in eight-ounce, ribbon-tied bags ($10.50, $11 for the cherries), we love these for gifting.

       

    caramels-cherries-SF-230

    Sugar-free treats Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    bags-230s

    Easy sugar-free gifting. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    LOOKING FOR SOME SUGAR?

    From the regular line, two items great for stocking stuffers or party favors are two-ounce boxes of:

    • Christmas Holland Mints (red, white and green, $2.50)
    • Cinnamon Spice Apple Caramels ($3.00)
    • Pumpkin Spice Caramels ($3.00)

    The line is certified kosher by by KOF-K.

    Dig in at Marich.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP: Flavored Water Enhancers For World Water Day

    peach-green-tea-water-bottle-kalviste-230

    Don’t buy flavored water: Make your own
    with this pocket-size squeeze bottle. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    It’s World Water Day, an observance begun in 1993 by a declaration of the United Nations General Assembly, to focus on the challenges of the world’s water supply.

    On previous World Water Days, we advocated buying a permanent water bottle to spare the earth the landfill of billions of plastic bottles a year.

  • More than 80% of empty water bottles end up in the nation’s landfills.
  • Fifty billion water bottles are used every year, about 30 billion of them in the U.S. This equates to 1,500 water bottles consumed per second! Amazingly, we utilize about 60% of the world’s water bottles, even though we represent just 4.5% of the world population and have safe municipal water everywhere.
  • Seventeen million barrels of oil are used each year to produce all of the water bottles—enough to keep one million cars fueled for an entire year.
  • Beyond oil, it takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one empty plastic water bottle. Because of the chemicals used in production, most of that water cannot be reused.*
  •  

    ENHANCE TAP WATER WITH WATER ENHANCERS

    This year, for folks who don’t like plain water from the tap, we’ve advocating portable water enhancers instead of iced tea, Vitamin Water and other options. These small squeeze bottles fit in your pocket and turn your [reusable] bottle of water—or a glass of water—into a zero-calorie flavored beverage.

    The process is simple: Take your water bottle or a glass of water, squeeze in a few drops of water enhancer and shake or stir. No refrigeration is required; the enhancers are caffeine-free and gluten-free.

    As an at-home or on-the-go product, water enhancers are environmentally friendly, leaving one small plastic bottle to recycle instead of up to 32 full size beverage bottles.

    We tried two brands: AriZona, which makes flavored iced tea, and Stur, which creates flavored water.

    ARIZONA WATER ENHANCERS

    From the folks who make AriZona bottled teas, these water enhancers let you recreate your own diet AriZona in seven of the company’s most popular flavors: Arnold Palmer Half & Half, Arnold Palmer Strawberry Fruit Punch, Golden Bear Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Tea, Mucho Mango and Peach Green Tea.

    Made with real tea and flavored with real juice and honey without artificial† colors or flavors, there is added sweetness from sucralose (marketed to consumers as Splenda).

    How can the enhancer have zero calories when juice and honey are ingredients? They have just a pinch to add flavor while keeping the calorie count less than 1%. If it’s less than 1%, the FDA allows the claim of calorie-free. (And by the way, it’s the same with any ingredient, including trans fats.)

    As of now, AriZona Water Enhancers are being sold at Walmart and online. They are expected to roll out to other distributors nationwide.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. For more information, visit DrinkArizona.com.

     

    STUR WATER ENHANCERS

    Stur is a water enhancer that adds flavor and vitamins. Instead of making iced tea like AriZona, it turns plain water into vitamin water.

    Flavors include Freshly Fruit Punch, Lemon Tea, Only Orange Mango,Purely Pomegranate Cranberry and Simply Strawberry Watermelon.

    The line is made with kosher ingredients but has not yet been certified kosher.

    Stur is an all-natural† product that supplies 100% DV of Vitamin C per serving, along with a blend of essential vitamins, including A, D, E, B3, B5, B6, B12.

    The company’s goal is to encourage Americans drink more water, by giving those who don’t like to drink a lot of water a “delicious way to hit those 8 glasses of water a day.”

    You can do more than enhance water:

  • Add to seltzer water for a carbonated beverage.
  • Make flavored milk or smoothies.
  • Top yogurt or sugar-free ice cream.
  •  

    strawberry-glass-230

    Just squeeze a drop into a water bottle or glass of water. Photo courtesy Stur.

     

    You can buy a variety pack on Amazon, and individual flavors on SturDrinks.com, where you can buy any five flavors for $19.95 (which make 90 eight-ounce servings).

    Get some for yourself, and put them on your stocking stuffer list.

     
    *Source: Huffington Post.

    †Stevia, the sweetening agent, is a natural product made from the leaf of the stevia plant. While stevia can be a highly processed product like sucralose, sucralose detractors point out that it is created by the addition of chlorine atoms to sucrose molecules. Here’s more information from the anti-sucralose resource.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Amoretti Sugar-Free Caramel & Chocolate Syrups

    We tried the chocolate and caramel syrups,
    in drinks desserts. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    Amaretto, Butterscotch, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Fior di Sicilia, French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Lemon, Mojito Mint, Orange and Raspberry…hungry yet?

    You can have all of these flavored syrups for just 15 calories a “pump,” in Amoretti’s line of all natural syrups made without any sweetener. You can use your sweetener of choice, or none at all (other sugar-free brands tend to use Splenda).

    The company also makes conventional syrups with sugar.

    If you’re looking to cut calories or carbs in the new year but don’t want to give up that daily caramel macchiato, or if you need Valentine gifts for calorie counters, consider a bottle or two.

    Use the syrups in:

  • Cocktails
  • Coffee drinks
  • Hot chocolate
  • Cold milk, diet milkshakes, steamed milk
  • Smoothies
  • Soda, seltzer and flavored seltzer
  • Tea/iced tea
  •  

    Use them to top:

  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt (use sugar-free, fat-free ice cream for a diet sundae)
  • Pancakes or waffles
  • Shaved ice
  •  
    There are about 62 servings per bottle, $14.65. You can buy them at fine retailers and online. Amoretti is pricier than other brands, but has superior flavor. And over the course of 62 beverages, the extra cents per serving don’t amount to much.

    We mix the Fiori di Sicilia flavor with nonfat ricotta, Splenda and a few mini chocolate chips for “diet ricotta cream” (cannoli is one of our passions). Fiori di Sicilia (“Flower of Siciliy”), which may not be familiar to many Americans, is an extract used in Italian desserts that combines vanilla, orange and flower essences.

    We also add flavors to nonfat Greek yogurt, and have become very fond of raspberry iced tea. Once you have a bottle, you’re free to experiment. Be sure to let us know what your “winners” are.

    The line is certified kosher by Kehilla Kashrut.

    For more information about the Amoretti product line, visit the company website.

      

    Comments

    STOCKING STUFFERS: Conventional & Sugar Free Sweet Treat Favorites

    Sugar free bridge mix, licorice and Gummi
    Bears (inside package) from Nuts.com. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Nuts.com is a third-generation purveyor of nuts, dried fruits, chocolates and other sweets. They offer some 3,000 items sold by the pound, but will also package the wares into snack packs, 3.2 ounce bags sold in packs of 12. The 12-packs range from approximately $18 to $24, creating an inexpensive stocking stuffer that has a higher-value appearance.

    We love the snack packs as stocking stuffers or party favors, the cheery green bags hinting at the goodies inside. There are hundreds of sweet options, that you can search by category (or however you like):

  • Chocolate: bark, gourmet PB cups, chocolate-dipped fruit
  • Classic treats: just about everything you can name, from malt balls to chocolate-covered ginger, grahams and marzipan
  • Gluten-free, organic and raw options
  • Nutritious treats: dried fruits and edamame, energy squares, nuts, trail mix and fun items like freeze-dried chickpeas, broccoli and spinach
  • Nuts: chocolate covered and bridge mix, yogurt covered, candied, sugar roasted
  •  

  • Sugar-Free: chocolate covered nuts, espresso beans, bridge mix, and pretzels; hard and soft candies (jellies, gummies); mini peanut butter cups; licorice; yogurt raisins and more—an impressive sugar-free selection
  •  
    There are also Gummy Sugar Plums for gifting or as a garnish for cakes, cupcakes or other desserts.

    Check out all the options (well, maybe not all 3,000) at Nuts.com.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Silverland Sugar Free Brownies & Lemon Bars

    What can you give someone who adores cake but can’t have sugar?

    Sugar-free brownies and lemon bars from Silverland Bakery.

    The bakery’s sugar-free line was years in development, trying alternative noncaloric sweeteners and settling on the world’s finest, maltitol (see the different sugar substitutes).

    Current choices include:

  • Sugar Free Lemon Bar: Same great look and flavor as our original Lemon Bar without the sugar. Great for those with dietary restrictions who cannot consume sugar.
  • Sugar Free Double Chocolate Brownie: Flavorful, chocolaty and moist, our sugar free brownie with mini sugar free chocolate morsels.
  • You can order individual flavors or a sampler tray that includes both.

    A 12-piece gift tray is $32.95 at SilverlandBakery.com. The bars are two-inch squares.

     

    Delicious and sugar-free. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Nutritional Information

    For the Sugar Free Double Chocolate Brownie/Sugar Free Lemon Bar

  • Calories: 160/120
  • Calories From Fat: 100/40
  • Total fat (g): 11/4.5
  • Sugars (g): 0/0
  • Protein (g): 2g/4g
  •  
    Complete nutritional information is on the website (scroll down to the bottom of the page; the link is at the end of the first column of information).

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sparkling ICE Calorie-Free Soda

    Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE, calorie-free, is a delicious substitute for sparkling cider. Photo courtesy Talking Rain Beverage Company.

     

    Sparkling ICE is a line of zero-calorie soft drinks—the company calls them flavored sparkling waters (*see the footnote below for the difference between soda and flavored sparkling waters—produced by Talking Rain Beverage Company of Preston, Washington. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the source water is from a pristine artesian spring that originates in the Cascades.

    The sweetener is sucralose, the generic form of Splenda. The line is enhanced with vitamins and antioxidants. Perhaps it’s the mountain spring water, along with natural flavors, that has created such charming tastes.

    Spakling ICE is made in Black Raspberry, Coconut Pineapple, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Lemon Lime, Orange Mango, Peach Nectarine, and Pink Grapefruit.

    But for us, the star is Crisp Apple, which has the flavor of sparkling cider. We had to check the label to be sure it really was zero calories. What a great way to enjoy the taste of a crisp apple!

    Whether you want an apple or an Appletini, spare the calories and start with a bottle of Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE.

     

    You can check the store locator on the Sparkling ICE website, or head to Amazon.com, where all the flavors are sold.

    We’d prefer a case of Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE to most of the gifts we tend to receive. Friends and relatives, please take note!

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SODA AND FLAVORED, SWEETENED SPARKLING WATER

    Sparkling water is water that is carbonated, a process discovered in 1767 by an English chemist, Joseph Priestley. Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius added flavors (spices, juices and wine) to carbonated water in the late 18th century. This led to the evolution of soda fountains in pharmacies.

    In the early 19th century, American pharmacists added birch bark, dandelion, fruit extracts, sarsaparilla and other flavorings to the sparkling water, which was called “soda water” because it is made by infusing with carbon dioxide gas and bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda) a stabilizing element.

    Soda fountains became ingrained in the popular culture—like today’s coffee bars—with many Americans frequenting the soda fountain on a daily basis (source: Wikipedia). In the 1970s, unsweetened, flavored sparkling water appeared: club soda, mineral water and seltzer. These bottled drinks are differentiated from sodas by their lack of added sweetener.

    There are different types of bubbly—fizzy-sparkling water:

  • Carbonated water is a broad term that encompasses all fizzy waters. The term is used interchangeably with sparkling water and soda water.
  • Club soda has a pinch of salt added to it. It can be sodium chloride (table salt), sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate.
  • Seltzer is totally salt-free, the sodium bicarbonate is left out. Seltzer is what you get when you carbonate water at home with a Sodastream or other device.
  • Mineral water is something completely different: It’s plain water with a sufficient level of dissolved minerals to differentiate it from spring water. See our Water Glossary for the different types of water.
  •  
    So what’s the difference between soda and flavored sparkling water? Soda (not club soda) is sweetened, flavored carbonated water; “flavored sparkling water” is sweetened flavored carbonated water; it can also be flavored and unsweetened, in which case it is also called flavored club soda.

    In sum, soda and flavored sparkling water are the the same thing.

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE SOFT DRINKS.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fish Ceviche (Consider Trout!)

    Trout ceviche. Photo courtesy
    ILoveBlueSea.com

     

    Ceviche, raw fish or shellfish cured by acidic citrus juice, has been popular in Latin America for many centuries. In the early 1500s, the Spanish conquistadors wrote of an Inca dish of raw fish marinated in chicha, a fermented maize beer that dates back some 2,000 years.

    The concept evolved into ceviche (pronounced say-VEE-chay) (here’s the history of ceviche). There is something about fresh, homemade ceviche that is refreshing and satisfying, as well as low in calories and healthful (here’s why ceviche is so good for you).

    We love the tangy twist of lime, the briny hit of fish or seafood, the sprightly cilantro and creamy avocado.

    Throughout South America, the mix of fish or seafood changes depending on the local catch and regional preferences.

     

    This recipe can be used with any fish or seafood. It is courtesy of chef Giovanna Garcia and I Love Blue Sea, an e-tailer of premier seafood, where the team enjoys their ceviche with raw tuna or trout.

    The recipe is so easy to make, you’ve just got to try it. Warning: You may become a ceviche addict.

     

    TROUT CEVICHE/FISH CEVICHE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh rainbow trout
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  •  

    MacFarland Springs Trout. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

     

    Preparation

    1. CUT trout into pieces and place in a glass dish or bowl. Cover trout with lime juice and let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. DRAIN the lime juice from the fish and add to the bowl. Toss to combine.

    3. TASTE and season with sea salt and pepper.

    4. SERVE with crackers or tortilla chips, in a lettuce cup or with mixed greens.

    Here’s THE NIBBLE’s ceviche recipe for mixing and matching your favorite ingredients into your dream ceviche.

    Find more of our favorite fish recipes.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker

    A frozen banana (or your favorite fruit) goes into the machine, banana soft serves comes out in a minute. Photo © Corinna Gissemann | Fotolia.

     

    Are you an ice cream addict but want to give up those refined sugar calories and carbs? Do you want to add more fruit to your diet?

    Now, you can make your own 100% fruit soft serve “sorbet” without added sugar, thanks to the Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker.

    Yonanas almost instantly transforms your favorite fruits—banana, berries, mango, pineapple, the whole fruit department—into a silky-smooth frozen confection.

    The frozen fruit—pre-frozen or frozen by you—goes into the chute (see the photo in the full review). It emerges as thick, creamy soft serve-like “sorbet.”

    The compact Yonanas machine is well worth the cost (list $49.99) and the space. It’s not only easy to make, it’s easy to clean the machine. Everything but the motor portion goes right into the dishwasher.

     

     

    Get yourself a Yonanas machine: You deserve it!

    And, you may become more popular as people begin to invite themselves over for some Yonanas. Tell them to BYOFF: bring your own frozen fruit.

    Read the full review.

    Find more of our favorite frozen desserts and recipes.

     

    Get a Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker. You deserve it! Photo courtesy Yonanas.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sweet Leaf Diet Tea

    We prefer iced tea with no sweetener, or a just a touch, such as the bottled teas crafted by Honest Tea and Inko’s White Tea.

    So we are not a prospect for Sweet Leaf Tea, a brand we’ve tasted on numerous occasions. In organic and all-natural, original and flavored variations (lemon-lime, mint & honey, peach, raspberry, etc.), it is Southern-style sweet tea. Made with excellent tea, it’s a hit with many, but too sweet for us.

    So we were excited when the brand introduced two flavors of Diet Sweet Leaf Tea, The Original and Citrus.

    They’re absolutely delicious, and some kind of magic incantation must have been cast over the sucralose to make the drinks taste so natural.

    Diet “The Original” Sweet Leaf Black Tea

    If you doubt our word that a zero-calorie sweet tea can taste as good as this, company owners Clayton Christopher and David Smith recount the true story of how they ran out of Original Sweet Tea at an Austin City Limits Music Festival. They served Diet The Original for a few hours and no one noticed.

     

    Sweet Leaf’s two diet tea flavors. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Diet “Citrus” Sweet Leaf Green Tea

    As with The Original, Diet Citrus is made with filtered water, plus organic green tea, natural flavors, citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

    While Diet The Original has very fine tea flavor, Diet Citrus has layers and layers of flavor: not just citrus but peach and pineapple, as well.

    We’ll be ordering them in bulk. Fortunately, both flavors are made in 64-ounce plastic jugs along with 16 ounce glass single-serves. Buy them by the jugful.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Here’s a store locator. You can also buy Sweet Leaf on Amazon.com.

    Find more of our favorite iced tea brands, plus recipes.

      

    Comments

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