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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

PRODUCT: Diet Snapple Half ‘n Half

Photo courtesy Snapple.

 

Snapple didn’t invent the “Half ‘n Half,” a refreshing beverage made of half iced tea, half lemonade.

The drink was popularized by golfing great Arnold Palmer.

As the story goes, in the 1960s, after a long day spent designing a golf course in Palm Springs, Palmer asked a bartender for a mixture of lemonade and iced tea.

A woman sitting next to him told the bartender, “I’ll have that Palmer drink”—which quickly became known as an “Arnold Palmer.”

Whether Palmer created it himself or got the idea elsewhere is currently lost to history. And the term “Half ‘n Half” has long been used in the U.K. to describe various combinations of beverages.

 

So don’t be confused when you see Diet Snapple’s new Half ‘n Half. It’s a diet Arnold Palmer—and it’s delicious.

The entire 16-ounce bottle has just 10 calories,* and it’s worth many times that in terms of refreshment. The sweeteners are sucralose and acesulfame potassium. There’s no “diet” taste: just total deliciousness.

Mix your alcohol of choice into an Arnold Palmer and you get a John Daly—named for a golfer who is not happy that his name is being used. But if you want to put some vodka (or citrus vodka) in your Half ‘n Half, Diet Snapple provides the base for a low-calorie cocktail.

*Per 8-ounce serving: 5 calories, 0 g total fat, 5 mg sodium, 1 total carb, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein.

  

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VALENTINE GIFT: Sugar-Free Chocolate Hearts

If your Valentine loves chocolate but is on a sugar-restricted diet, the Choclatique artisans have the solution: Their Sweet Deceit 100% Sugar-Free Chocolate in heart shapes are certain to make someone happy.

The assortment includes solids and truffles (chocolate ganache centers). The chocolates are also gluten- and nut-free and al-natural (no preservatives or artificial flavors).

The chocolate and fillings, which are made with maltitol, taste as close as can be to the “real thing.”

Eight pieces are $20.00, 15 pieces are $35.00 and 30 pieces are $65.00

Buy them at Choclatique.com.

Find more of our favorite sugar-free candy.

 

You won’t find better sugar-free chocolate than this. Photo courtesy Choclatique.

 

  

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GIFT OF THE DAY: Sugar Free Biscotti

Bella’s sugar-free biscotti: delicious in four
flavors. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
NIBBLE.

 

Thanks to Deanna Bellacicco, owner of Bella’s Home Baked Goods, for affording everyone on a sugar-restricted diet the opportunity to have her delicious sugar-free biscotti.

Her regular biscotti line is just lovely, with classic flavors and the cutting edge (try the Peanut Butter Pretzel Chip Biscotti).

But the good news here is that sugar-free biscotti are available in four flavors: Sugar Free Almond, Sugar Free Cappuccino Chip, Sugar Free Chocolate and Sugar Free Lemon Pistachio.

The all-natural sugar-free biscotti are sweetened with isomalt and acesulfame-K (see the different types of sugar substitutes). There’s a subtle bitterness from the sugar substitutes, but the enjoyment of crunchy biscotti far outweighs it.

The boxes are conventional plastic, but anyone who receives a gift of Bella’s sugar free biscotti will be so excited, they won’t notice that it isn’t a deluxe gift box.

Don’t worry about buying too many boxes: Biscotti have a shelf life of many months (more about this below).

 

All four flavors are available at Amazon.com; $7.50 per eight-ounce box:

  • Sugar-Free Almond Biscotti
  • Sugar-Free Cappuccino Chip Biscotti
  • Sugar-Free Chocolate Biscotti
  • Sugar-Free Lemon Pistachio
  •  
    The History Of Biscotti

    Biscotti date back to ancient Roman times. Because they’re twice-baked (a loaf is baked and sliced, and the slices are baked again), most of the moisture is evaporated and the biscuits (cookies) don’t deteriorate for a long time. The Roman biscotti were more about a durable convenience food for travelers, including sailors who were away from reliable food sources for months on end.

    Here’s the full history of biscotti and Mario Batali’s recipe.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A New York Egg Cream

    The glass is contemporary, but the egg
    cream ingredients are classic. Photo ©
    Linda Schirmbeck | Fotolia.

     

    There is tuna in a tuna noodle casserole. There are strawberries in a strawberry shortcake. There’s ice cream in an ice cream soda.

    But there’s no egg in an egg cream—and there’s no cream, either. The ingredients are milk, seltzer and chocolate syrup. In other words, it’s a carbonated chocolate soda made creamy with milk, or carbonated chocolate milk.

    Since today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, we’ve been thinking about great Jewish-American food inventions. The egg cream, invented in a Jewish neighborhood in New York, is at the top of the list.

    So our tip of the day is: Experience the legend and enjoy an egg cream. We’ve included the regular recipe and our own diet version below.

    EGG CREAM HISTORY

    Many references say that the egg cream was likely invented in 1890 by a Brooklyn soda fountain and candy store owner, Louis Auster. However, Auster’s store was in actually in the East Village of Manhattan, at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street. In October 2008, the grandson of the founder of Ratner’s, the famous deli restaurant next door, set the record straight with his recollections of Louis Auster’s candy store and the egg creams made with Auster’s own secret chocolate syrup formula.

     

    More exciting than a “two cents plain” (a glass of seltzer, or carbonated water*) and less expensive than a malted milk—not to mention great-tasting—the egg cream was a hit. Carbonated soft drinks were in their infancy. Coca-Cola, a fountain syrup available in Atlanta starting in 1886 and first bottled in 1894, was not a northern soda fountain feature at the time (Coca-Cola history).†

    Kids and adults alike loved the egg cream. It was enjoyed at soda fountains, with patrons sitting on stools or in booths, sipping egg creams through a straw. Other soda fountain owners got in on the act, spreading the egg cream throughout New York City. The chocolate syrup of choice became Fox’s U-Bet.‡ And the egg cream was often enjoyed with a pretzel, making the combo a sweet-and-salty snack. Some soda fountains served the egg cream in glasses with silvery metal holders. Others just used a tall glass.

    How did they make the famous drink? First, soda jerks pumped the syrup into the glass: two or three pumps, each pump the equivalent of a tablespoon and a half of syrup. The milk followed, and then the seltzer, which produced a foamy white head.

    There are different theories on the name of this “eggless” egg cream. Perhaps the best is that the foam on the top looks like beaten egg whites.

    We’re old enough to have had egg creams mixed at a soda fountain. After most of the remaining soda fountains and luncheonettes of New York disappeared in the 1970s—replaced by fast food restaurants and delis that did not make drinks—the egg cream faded from view.

    Years later, in 1990, Jeff Goltzer, who fondly remembered them, started to produce Jeff’s Egg Cream. You can buy them online in chocolate, diet chocolate, vanilla, diet vanilla and even orange, which is like a Creamsicle soda.

    EGG CREAM RECIPE

    For immediate gratification, make your own egg cream. In a tall fountain glass, combine:

  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (you can buy Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup online, including a sugar-free version)
  • 6 ounces whole milk (you can substitute lowfat, nonfat or nondairy milk)
  •  
    Mix, then add:

  • 6 ounces seltzer or club soda (soda water)
  •  
    Serve with a straw. For a modern variation, use cherry- or raspberry-flavored club soda.

    Note: If you don’t have large fountain glasses, use less milk and seltzer to fit into the glass. Adjust the sweetness to your preference.

    For a diet egg cream:

  • Use sugar-free chocolate syrup and nonfat or lowfat milk, plus seltzer.
  • Or, try our recipe mixing Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda with milk. We fill the glass 1/3 with milk, then add the soda. To make the drink sweeter, we add a packet of noncaloric sweetener to the milk, and stir before adding the soda.
  •  
    Canfield’s also sells a Diet Cherry Chocolate Fudge soda.

     
    *Seltzer and club soda are both soda water. The difference: seltzer is salt-free and club soda has salt.

    †It was the rise of the well-advertised Coca-Cola and other soft drinks that led to the wane of the egg cream, and the rise of fast food restaurants that led to the demise of the soda fountain itself.

    ‡In 1894, H. Fox & Company in Brooklyn began to produce chocolate syrup. The name U-bet wasn’t created until the 1930s.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sugar Free Sorbet

    There’s a lot of good no-sugar-added ice cream out there, but it’s tough to find a no-sugar-added sorbet.

    Even our sugar-free and lactose-free Top Pick Of The Week, Clemmy’s ice cream, offers only an Orange Creme flavor, a combination of vanilla ice cream and orange sorbet.

    But if you’re on a sugar-free diet and miss sorbet, you can make it yourself with unsweetened fruit juice or pureed watermelon and other fruits. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make granita, a “crunchy sorbet” (see recipes below).

    To make no-sugar-added sorbet or granita:

  • Freeze 2 liters of unsweetened juice in your ice cream maker, along with artificial sweetener equivalent to one cup of sugar (you can adjust the sweetener to taste—the less you use, the better).
  • Use maltitol as the sweetener. It can be purchased online in crystal or syrup form (syrup blends better into the juice). Splenda is a good second choice.
  •  

    Sorbet made with pomegranate juice. Photo
    courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

  • Find sorbet and granita recipes in our Gourmet Ice Cream Section. Substitute maltitol for the sugar.
  •  
    What’s The Difference Between “Sugar-Free” And “No-Sugar-Added?”
    No-sugar-added products still contain some sugar that is is naturally contained in the ingredients used. Milk, for example, contains lactose, or milk sugar. Plant and animal tissues contain dextrose; fruit contains sucrose.

    A product labeled sugar-free has absolutely no sugar. Whatever sugar occurs naturally in the ingredients has been removed. This is a much more expensive process, which is why most foods are no-sugar-added.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Pillsbury Sugar Free Brownies, Cake & Frosting

    Cake lovers can be despondent if the doctor advises them to lay off the refined sugar.

    But thanks to Pillsbury, there’s no reason to go without delicious cakes and brownies.

    Delivering all of the flavor without the sugar, Pillsbury Sugar Free brownies, cakes and frostings can delight anyone. The treats include:

  • Brownies in Chocolate Fudge and Milk Chocolate
  • Cakes in Classic Yellow and Devil’s Food
  • Frosting in Chocolate Fudge and Vanilla
  •  
    We tried everything. Actually, we did more than “try”: We consumed every last crumb.

    The products taste like they’re made with sugar—but, surprise—they’re sweetened with Splenda (sucralose) and sugar alcohols (isomalt, maltitol and sorbitol).

     

    Even if you can’t have sugar, you can have
    a delicious brownie or piece of cake. Photo
    courtesy Pillsbury.

     

    These are not low-calorie or low-carb foods. Cake still has flour and fat; a serving of frosting, which is 100 calories, comprises 60 calories of fat. A brownie has 150 calories, 70 from fat. But everything is cholesterol-free.

    As a surprise, bake a batch for a friend on a sugar-free diet. Just resist the temptation to devour it yourself.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Limited Edition Papaya Mango Snapple

    Papaya Mango is the new limited edition
    Snapple tea. Photo courtesy Snapple.

     

    Last year, Snapple sponsored an episode of Celebrity Apprentice that allowed Bret Michaels to create one of our favorite Diet Snapple flavors ever, Trop-A-Rocka. The layering of mango, pear and cinnamon was the most complex Snapple flavor we’d come across. And it’s not just our opinion: the limited edition was so popular that it was made into a permanent member of the line.

    A couple of weeks ago, Snapple debuted its newest limited edition tea, Snapple Papaya Mango Tea, in Episode 6 of The Amazing Race.

    Inspired by the exotic flavors of India (where the contestants spent the second hour of the show), the flavor combines green tea, black tea and the lush fruit flavors of papaya and mango. It’s available in both regular and diet versions at participating retailers nationwide.

    If you like Peach Snapple (and we know people who buy it by the case), you’ll want to try Snapple’s Papaya Mango Tea. Like Tropa-Rocka, it deserves to be a permanent member of the family.

     

    What will be the next co-branded Snapple limited edition? Please, Snapple, not the Real Housewives. We’d have to draw the line.

    Find a Snapple retailer near you and print a $1.00 coupon at Snapple.com.

      

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    NEWS: The First Coca-Cola Recipe

    Asa Candler, who purchased the Coca-Cola recipe from John Pemberton in 1887 for $2,300, worked on the original recipe to turn it from a medicinal tonic to a soft drink.

    Candler was maniacal about protecting his secret recipe. He demanded that no one ever write it down. All labels were removed from ingredient containers. Staff had to identified the ingredients by sight and smell only. All invoices from the ingredients suppliers were shredded, so that employees could not discover what they were and sell the information to rivals.

    Over the years, the company has made much of its “secret recipe,” which is so cloak-and-dagger that a major “secret ingredient” is known only as Merchandise 7X. The formula is kept in a bank vault. The company claims that any given time only two people know how to mix the 7X flavoring, and they can never travel on the same plane in case it crashes. It makes for good press.

    While it’s easy to determine the general ingredients in a lab analysis, the Merchandise 7X unique flavoring has been elusive.

    Now, producers of the Public Radio show “This American Life” claim to have uncovered the identity of Merchandise 7X. It’s a mix of seven ingredients.

    A February 18, 1979 article on the history of Coca-Cola, published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, included a photograph that claimed to be a handwritten copy of the Pemberton Coca-Cola recipe, written in a friend’s leather-bound recipe book of remedies and ointments.

  • Here’s the recipe.
  • The history of Coca-Cola.
  •  

    A portion of an image from an early Coca-
    Cola company check. The original can be
    purchased at Scripophily.net.

     

    Instead of trying to recreate the original, we recommend that you purchase some Boylan’s Cane Cola. It has a wonderful old-fashioned taste that might be quite similar to Candler’s final product. Their sugar-free cola is just as delicious—you won’t know it’s sugar free.

    Like Coca-Cola, Boylan’s is certified kosher. Read our review of Boylan Bottleworks, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

  • Find more of our favorite soft drinks and diet soft drinks.
  • See these old-fashioned medicine ads. The products included not just cocaine but heroin!
  •   

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chef Gerard & Chuck’s Salsa Verde

    Salsa verde is made from the green tomatillo
    berry, which is not a tomato. Photo by
    Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We’re a nation of salsa lovers; but much of that is salsa roja, red salsa.

    In Mexico, the land from which we obtained our love of salsa, it’s the opposite. Only the northern states of Mexico, closest to the U.S. border, have red salsa as their tradition.

    Green salsa is based on the tomatillo, which is a distant relative of the tomato (the difference between tomatoes and tomatillos).

    We’ve had salsa verde from jars, but only recently experienced the joys of fresh salsa verde, from Chef Gerard & Chuck’s. It made us ask, why isn’t there more fresh salsa verde on the market?

    Of course, that’s the very question that got Chef Gerard into the business!

  • Read the full review.
  • Watch the video and learn how to make salsa verde.
  • Check out all the different types of salsa in Latin America, including 20 types you’ve probably never heard of.
  • The history of salsa, all the way back to the Aztecs.
  • How did salsa, the food, become salsa, the dance? The origin of salsa dancing.
  •   

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    PRODUCTS: Fiordifrutta Sugar-Free Jam

    That spoonful of jelly, jam or preserves can be up to 70% sugar and so sweet that the first thing you taste is table sugar, not fruit.

    If you’re trying to cut back on sugar, switching jam and preserves is one place to start.

    The producers of the Fiordifrutta (“flower of the fruit”) line of no-sugar-added jams (actually fruit spreads*), imported from Italy, say that they “work with nature” to produce their products.

    *Per U.S. Food & Drug Administration definitions, a jam or preserve sweetened with something other than sugar is called a fruit spread.

    The taste is right from nature. It’s as if you picked and cooked the fruit in your own kitchen, modestly sweetened with apple juice.

    The only ingredients in the jar are organic fruit, organic apple juice and apple pectin, resulting in about 30% fewer calories than conventional products.

    The 100% organic line works with nature in a second way: Organic agriculture is sustainable agriculture. By choosing an organic product, you help maintain the environment for your family and for future generations.

     

    Spread more for less: There are less sugar
    and fewer calories in this line of apple-
    sweetened organic fruit spreads. Photo
    courtesy Fiordifrutta.

    You can enjoy Fiordifrutta in apricot, blackberry, cherry, cranberry, lemon, orange, peach, plum, raspberry, strawberry, wild blueberry and wild berries.

    Spread away: on bread, with cheese, as a dessert or pancake topping, in sauces, in smoothies, in plain yogurt.

    The suggested retail price is $5.99 per 9.52-ounce jar. All of the flavors are available online at SelinaNaturally.com. Or, phone the importer at 1.305.470.7583 for a retailer near you.

    One note: Since the fruit spreads are organic and made without sugar, there is no preservative—natural or otherwise. Thus, the shelf life is shorter than other jams in the fridge. Enjoy your Fiordifrutta within 6 to 8 weeks of opening. Most people won’t have to worry about this: The jar will be empty within a week or two.

    Organic Hazelnut Spread
    Apart from the fruit spreads, Nocciolata chocolate and hazelnut spread, an elegant version of Nutella, is a must-try. According to the company, Nocciolata contains 15% more hazelnuts than Nutella.

    Learn more at FiordifruttaUSA.com.

  • See more of our favorite jams, jellies and preserves in our Gourmet Jam Section.
  • What’s the difference between jam, preserves, marmalade and the rest? Check it out.
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