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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 Kosher Nibbles

TIP OF THE DAY: Unconventional Valentine Treats

You don’t have to give chocolate or cupcakes on Valentine’s Day. In fact, some people may prefer a less conventional gift. Think outside the [chocolate] box.

As a smaller gift to bring to pals at the office, we particularly like red berry jam. You can go for a pricey artisan brand, or look for an organic brand like Santa Cruz Organic Seedless Red Raspberry Fruit Spread.

We love raspberry jam, but not the seeds. So we were very happy to discover Santa Cruz Organic’s Seedless Red Raspberry Fruit Spread. Not only is it seedless, it’s thick and lush with raspberry flavor. As a fruit spread, it’s also lower in sugar than most raspberry jams (and 40 calories per tablespoon). You taste the fruit, not the cloying sugar. (Here’s the difference between fruit spreads, jam, preserves, etc.)

The fruit spreads are also made in Apricot, Blackberry Pomegranate, Concord Grape, Mango and Strawberry. In addition to being certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO, the line is certified kosher by OU. Look for it at natural food markets or online.

 
KETCHUP FOR YOUR VALENTINE?

 

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A quality jar of strawberry or raspberry jam says “Be My Valentine.” Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

On the savory side, look for something red and spicy. It could be a jar of artisan arrabiata pasta sauce, or something as much fun as sriracha ketchup.

Lee Kum Kee, maker of terrific soy sauce, has added Sriracha Chili Ketchup to its line. It gives the ketchup lover another dimension of flavor and heat on burgers and fries, and in spreads and dips. We think it’s a great “guy gift.”

Look for it in the Asian products aisle at your supermarket, at Asian markets or online.
 
For a more generous gift, a bottle of red wine is always welcome, or a pink rosé.

Personally, we’d like a jar of red caviar.

  

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VALENTINE GIFT: Mini Cupcakes From Baked By Melissa

These itty bitty cupcakes (about half the size of the photo) will delight kids and adults equally.

The Valentine Collection from Baked By Melissa—a pioneer in tiny cupcakes—includes three varieties. Packaged in a gift box with a pink ribbon, the Valentine Collection includes:

  • White Chocolate Pretzel Cupcakes: white vanilla cake, Bavarian cream stuffing, vanilla icing, white chocolate covered pretzel and chocolate drizzle topping.
  • Red Velvet Pretzel Cupcakes: Red velvet cake, cream cheese icing, milk chocolate covered pretzel and chocolate drizzle topping.
  • Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes: chocolate cake, peanut butter stuffing, chocolate icing, dark chocolate pretzel and chocolate drizzle topping.
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    The round ball at the top is a chocolate-covered pretzel, adding crunch and a hint of salt to the sweet cupcakes. The cupcakes are bite-size: slightly larger than the diameter of a quarter, one or two bites.

    In the words of Melissa, a little cupcake equals a lot of love.

    The cupcakes, which are kosher-certified by OK, can be shipped nationwide and can be pre-ordered starting today. A 25-piece gift box is $25, plus shipping.

       

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    Shown here about twice the actual size, the cupcakes have the diameter of a quarter. Photo courtesy Baked By Melissa.

     
    To place an order, head to BakeByMelissa.com. For Valentine’s Day delivery, shipping orders must be placed by 3 p.m. on Friday, February 13th.

     

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    The Valentine gift box, tied with a pink ribbon. Photo courtesy Baked By Melissa.

     

    CUPCAKE HISTORY

    Before the advent of muffin tins, cupcakes were baked in individual tea cups or ramekins. The first reference to the miniature cakes dates to 1796, when a recipe for “cake to be baked in small cups” appeared in the cookbook, “American Cookery.” The earliest documentation of the term “cupcake” was in “Eliza Leslie’s Receipts cookbook” in 1828. [Source]

    Cupcakes were convenient because they cooked much faster than larger cakes. It took a long time to bake a cake in a hearth oven; cupcakes baked in a fraction of the time.

    Muffin tins became widely available around the turn of the 20th century, and offered new convenience to bakers. Paper and foil liners were created for easier removal of the cupcakes from the pan.

     

    They evolved into children’s party fare, but in the last decade have taken a more sophisticated turn. First, some younger couples began to choose “cupcake trees” instead of conventional wedding cakes. This prompted a flurry of cupcake articles and recipes, and ultimately the opening of boutique cupcake bakeries nationwide, offering everyday treats.

    Each Baked By Melissa cupcake has 70-90 calories, but that’s a workable daily treat. An average-size cupcake from Crumbs, Magnolia, Sprinkles and the like will run you 450 calories or so (here’s a calorie comparison).

      

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    PRODUCT: belVita Breakfast Bites

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    Belvita Breakfast Bites: crunchy nuggets that are good for you. Photo courtesy Mondelez Global.

     

    In 2013 year, belVita Breakfast Biscuits were a favorite at THE NIBBLE.

    What makes something a favorite? We not only love it at first bite, but we continue to buy it and enjoy it on a regular basis.

    belVita has expanded the concept with a new grab-and-go option, belVita Breakfast Bites. The nutritious, pre-portioned packages are portable and poppable. They’re available in two flavors, Chocolate and Mixed Berry. Each 50g package contains 230 calories, 20g of whole grain and 4g fiber.

    Pair belVita Breakfast Bites with a yogurt or piece of fruit for a more complete breakfast. Or at the very least, try it instead of the not-so-good-for-you breakfast pastry, donut, bagel, etc.

    Personally, we’ll stick with the larger belVita biscuits, a.k.a. cookies. But if you like to nibble, try belVita Breakfast Bites.

     

    belVita Breakfast Bites are baked with high quality, wholesome and were developed to provide four 4 hours of nutritious steady energy when eaten as part of a complete breakfast. Each 50g serving (one pouch) includes:

  • 4g of fiber*
  • 20g of whole grain
  •  
    The line is certified kosher by OU. Discover more at belVitaBreakfast.com.

     
    *Contains 7-8g fat per serving, depending on flavor.

     
      

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    PRODUCT: Honey Maid Go Bites

    Honey Maid, the brand that supplies America with graham crackers, Gramfuls sandwich cookies and Teddy Grahams, has added a new graham-inspired snack to its repertoire: Honey Maid Go Bites.

    They’re very crunchy little pillows, about 5/8-inch square, with a choice of chocolate or vanilla filling.

    On the back of the box, soccer player Alex Morgan states that “Go Bites is a great snack to give kids a kick of energy to help them stay in the game.” It is an official snack of U.S. Soccer.

    But you don’t have to be on your school soccer team. Adult snackers who want lots of crunch and a fun filling can enjoy Go Bites, too.

    Personally, we wish Go Bites had more graham flavor, but that didn’t stop us from snacking on them with a cup of hot chocolate (coffee, tea and milk work, too). We also tossed the pillows atop whipped cream garnishes and stuffed them between scoops of ice cream, parfait-style.

     

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    New Honey Maid Go Bites. Photo courtesy Mondelez International.

     

    The nutritional profile is pretty good for a processed snack. Each serving delivers 5g protein and 7g whole grains, while tasting like junk food (in a good way), which will appeal to kids.

    You get 26 pillows per serving—that’s a lot—which deliver 5 grams of protein and 7 grams of whole grains. The serving is 140 calories (40 from fat), 1.5g saturated fat (8% DV), 75mg sodium (3% DV) and 10g sugars.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. Discover more at HoneyMaid.com.

      

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    PRODUCT: WTRMLN WTR

    Back in 2006, we reviewed a wonderful product called Sundia Watermelon Juice. It was celestial, tasting like fresh-squeezed watermelon.

    Alas, the company discontinued the product, and it took until 2014 for another commercial brand to come our way.

    World Waters debuted its WTRMLN WTR (someone’s idea—not ours—of a clever way to spell “Watermelon Water”). The product was named “Best Juice” at the recent BevNET Best of 2014 Awards.

    WTRMLN WTR is an all natural cold-pressed watermelon water that is more than refreshing: It’s packed with electrolytes (the same amount as coconut water and six times the electrolytes of sports drinks) and L-citrulline, a powerful amino acid that aids in workout performance and muscle recovery. Vitamin C and lycopene contribute antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits.

    There’s no added sugar. The product is certified kosher by OU.

    WTRMLN WTR is a pleasant departure from the never-ending stream of coconut waters we are pitched.

    The line debuted New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Los Angeles, expanding to San Francisco and other areas this year.

     

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    Drink your watermelon. Photo courtesy World Waters.

     
    A 12-ounce bottle is $4.99 at Whole Foods Markets and other fine retailers. You can buy it online at WtrmlnWtr.com, 12 bottles for $72.

    So is it as heavenly as Sundia’s version? Not to us: It tastes more “green,” which may or may not be due to the varying sweetness levels of watermelon, or the fact that watermelon rind is pressed along with the flesh.

    But it’s still grab-and-go watermelon juice. If your only other option is to juice your own, WTRMLN WTR is a great choice.

    Discover more at WTRMLNWTR.com.

      

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    PRODUCT: Plum Vida Fruit & Veggie Pouches

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    A delicious and better-for-you snack alternative for adults. Photo courtesy Plum Organics.

     

    Squeeze tubes of fruits and veggies are not just for kids. While they started out targeted to the junior set, moms and other adults started to enjoy the benefits of the easily portable, wholesome fruit and vegetable snacks.

    So Plum Organics, which had been making products for kids, developed the Plum Vida line for grown-ups. The flavors are more complex and sophisticated, and the portions are larger. The five-ounce pouches can be kept in pockets, purses, lockers, glove compartments, desk drawers—pretty much anywhere.

    Each pouch delivers a light, flavorful, refreshing and healthful snack, made entirely from organic fruits and vegetables with a hint of herbs and spices.

    You can sip it from the pouch or mix it with hot tea or club soda. You can even use it as a sweet salad dressing (we added a splash of good vinegar). We eat it at room temperature, but on a hot summer day, you can chill it in the fridge.

     
    Plum Vida pouches are available in three delicious flavors:

  • Pear, Kale, Spinach & Celery, a base of leafy greens softened by the natural sweetness of juicy pear.
  • Cherry, Berry, Beet & Ginger, a mix of natural sweetness and tartness with a subtle ginger zing.
  • Pineapple, Carrot & Mint, a burst of tropical flavor with a refreshing minty kick.
  •  
    Each pouch delivers:

  • 1/2 cup fruits and veggies in every pouch
  • 3g fiber
  • A snack for 70-90 calories
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    The line is certified kosher by OU, certified USDA Organic and Non GMO verified. It is currently sold exclusively at target stores (in the beverage aisle), for $1.99 a pouch.

    And there’s a $1.00 coupon on the Plum Vida website to make your first pouch even sweeter.

     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spread

    Following on the heels of the burgeoning Greek yogurt market, ready-to-eat yogurt dips and spreads are finally raising their hands.

    While some people like to putter over dips and spreads, making their favorite recipe or seeing what new flavors they can add to cream cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, others like to grab and something already made. We belong to both groups, depending on how hungry we are at the moment.

    For the latter group, Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads will be welcome. The product’s stated goal is “to raise the bar in the retail cream cheese category with superior flavors, functionality and nutrition.”

    The brand differentiates itself by promoting its healthy probiotics (or “good bacteria”) and their calcium-rich yogurt spreads as “the new cream cheese.”

    It is spreadable, like cream cheese. It’s also dippable.

    Compared to the leading cream cheese (that’s you, Philadelphia), Blue Isle has nearly 40% fewer calories and fat, with only 60 calories and 6g of fat per two-tablespoon serving. Like Philadelphia, it is certified kosher by OU. The company says that Blue Isle contains 180% less sodium per serving than the leading cream cheese. Who knew cream cheese was salty?

    Blue Isle is available in savory and sweet flavors:

  • Blueberry
  • French Onion
  • Honey
  • Original
  • Spicy Vegetable
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    The new spread in town, made from probiotic Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy Karoun Dairies.

     

    In its debut year, Blue Isle Original won the 1st Place award from the American Cheese Society in the Labneh, Greek Style Yogurt, and Other Strained Yogurt Products category. It is made by family-owned Karoun Dairies.

     

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    While developed as a spread, Blue Isle is easily dippable. Photo courtesy Karoun Dairies.

     

    We enjoyed all of the flavors, alternately spreading them on bagels and using them to dip crudités. The sweet and savory flavors—a opposed to the plain Original—were equally beguiling. We look forward to experimenting with canapés and dessert canapes (using our Stackable Appetizer Maker device, loaf cakes with Honey Blue Isle and raspberry jam were a good start).

    Made from rBST-free California milk, you can:

  • Spread it on bagels, flatbread and toast
  • Blend it into deviled eggs and mashed potatoes
  • Thicken or garnish soup
  • Use it as a sandwich condiment
  •  

    The line is available at better supermarkets and natural food stores nationwide (partial list: Central Market, Fiesta Mart, Fred Meyer, The Fresh Market, Harmon’s, H-E-B, Jon’s Marketplace, Lucky’s, Mollie Stones, New Seasons, QFC, Strack and Van Til).

    The suggested retail price is $3.29 for an 8-ounce tub.

    Discover more at BlueIsleSpread.com.

     

      

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    GIFT: Treat House Gluten Free Crispy Rice Treats

    Gluten free*, artisanal and an appropriate portion size—two square inches as opposed to those supersized Rice Krispies Treats—the gourmet Crispy Rice Treats from Treat House have been a NIBBLE favorite since they debuted. (Here’s our original review, a Top Pick Of The Week.)

    These gourmet crispy rice treats (that’s Rice Krispie treats without the trademark infringement) continue to dazzle with an ongoing stream of seasonal flavors and designs.

    For Holiday 2014, there’s a gift box of crispy rice treats topped with holiday and winter theme garnishes, including a dreidel and chocolate foil coins for Hanukkah.

    All treats are gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. The marshmallows are made using raw cane sugar, not corn syrup.

    And, the line is kosher (dairy), supervised by United Kosher Supervision.

    There’s a feel-good component, too: Ten cents of every treat (more for larger items) is donated to The Food Bank For New York City, a relief organization working to end hunger.

       

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    Nostalgic and gluten free! Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

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    Perennial favorite S’mores joins holiday candy cane and peppermint treats. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The flavors at Treat House range from kid stuff (Birthday Cake, Bubble Gum, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pretzel, M&M, etc.) to sophisticated (Chocolate Raspberry, Salted Caramel, etc.).

    But for the holidays, head for the seasonal specialty gift box.

    The 12 pack of holiday crispy rice treats in a the silver and snowflake gift box is $31.

    Get yours at TreatHouse.com.
     
    THE HISTORY OF RICE KRISPIES TREATS

    This childhood favorite, no-bake cookie was invented in 1928 by Mildred Day and colleagues in the home economics department at The Kellogg Company. It was created as a fund raiser-for the Camp Fire Girls, a nationwide American youth organization.

    The recipe consists of butter, marshmallows and Rice Rice Krispies cereal. The butter and marshmallows are melted together, blended with the Rice Krispies and pressed into a pan. When cool, they are cut into bars. Many subsequent variations mix in other ingredients, from chocolate chips to licorice and gummi bears.

     

    Check out the different types of cookies in our tasty Cookie Glossary.

     
    *Some flavors have garnishes that are not gluten free.

      

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    STOCKING STUFFERS & MORE: Mrs. Prindable’s Caramels

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    A gourmet stocking stuffer. Photo courtesy Mrs. Prindable’s.

     

    We taste many caramels each year, looking for those that are very buttery, easy to chew and bursting with natural flavor.

    Mrs. Prindable’s, the queen of gourmet caramel apples, has applied the company’s knowledge of making fine caramel to bite-size candies, available in sizes from stocking stuffer to principal gift.

    The company’s new confections include:

  • Aleppo Chili Caramels, with a touch of heat from Aleppo chilies.
  • Hawaiian Red Sea Salt Caramels, enhanced by Alaea sea salt, a red/pink salt harvested off the Hawaiian island of Molokai that provides a light crunch along with the salty-sweet counterpoint.
  • Vietnamese Cinnamon Apple Caramel, delivering tart apple flavor paired with sweet cinnamon.
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    Each cube-shaped gift box contains 12 individually wrapped pieces for $9.95. There’s also a box of mixed flavors ($19.99), chocolate-covered caramels ($19.99), and a stocking stuffer of four chocolate-covered caramels ($5.99).

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by CRC. Get yours at MrsPrindables.com.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Nonni’s Biscotti In Holiday Flavors

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    A holiday treat from Nonni’s. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We are fans of Nonni’s Biscotti, and even more so with the new holiday flavors.

    Nonni’s limited-edition holiday biscotti are available in Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice, both with cinnamon icing. The biscotti are individually wrapped for easy grab-and-go.

    Delicious for snacking or for gifting, they also pair well with the season’s pumpkin and gingerbread lattes.

    Be sure to get enough for stocking stuffers!

    If you can’t find the biscotti locally, you can get them online:

  • Nonni’s Gingerbread Biscotti
  • Nonni’s Pumpkin Biscotti
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    Don’t want spiced biscotti? Try the addictive Salted Caramel Biscotti, embedded with chunks of salted caramel.

     

    The biscotti are certified kosher by U.S Kosher Supervision. Learn more at Nonnis.com.

     
      

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