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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 Snacks

PRODUCT: Hummus Snack, No Refrigeration Required

It’s not easy to find healthy snacks to eat on the go, much less those that are gluten free. Wild Garden Hummus, which sells shelf-stable (no refrigeration required ) hummus in jars, has a welcome new line called Snack Bo To Go!.

It’s a tube of hummus packaged with a packet of gluten-free crackers. Neatly boxed, it’s a tasty alternative for anyone who wants to keep a better-for-you snack in a car, locker, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

In fact, if you’ve bought a hummus snack pack on an airline, it was probably Wild Garden.

A small cardboard box includes your hummus flavor of choice in a 1.76-ounce single-serve Tetra-Pak (67 calories; with the crackers the snack is around 200 calories). Squeezing out the hummus is easy and mess-free. Flavors include:

  • Back Olive Hummus
  • Fire Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Jalapeño Hummus
  • Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
  • Traditional Hummus
  •    

    Wild-Garden-Snack-Pack-to-Go-230

    Small, easy-to-pack boxes with nutritious, delicious snacking inside. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.

     

    wild-garden-hummus-to-go-tetra-paks-230

    It’s easy to squeeze hummus from these Tetra Paks. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.

     

    The different flavors of hummus are variously paired with a half-ounce of delicious, gluten-free crackers or chips:

  • CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers, an everyday favorite at THE NIBBLE (127 calories)
  • The Daily Crave Vegetable Chips (147 calories)
  • Wild Garden Quinoa Chips (122 calories)
  •  
    We tried all of the varieties, and pronounce them delicious.
     
    The MSRP is $2.29 per box (serving). MyBrands.com sells it for $2.50.

     
    If you want to buy the hummus packages only, you can get a box of 24 packets or 100 packets on Amazon.com.
     
    Visit WildGardenHummus.com for more information.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Artisan Chips For Cinco De Mayo

    original-bag-on-chips-230

    A line of chips made from the best-available ingredients. Photo courtesy Cabo Chips.

     

    If you’re having tortilla chips on Cinco de Mayo, celebrate with a better chip. We received a sample of Cabo Chips, and the toughest part has been restraining ourselves so there are still chips left on May 5th.

    Cabo Chips were born during a beach vacation to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico. Created by a college student who set out to make “the best,” these are artisan chips. The company actually grinds whole corn kernels, makes tortillas, and cuts and batch-fries them into the chips.

    The seasonings are top drawer, too: fresh lime juice, sea salt, powdered mango (not “mango flavor”), organic cinnamon and sugar. You’ll taste the difference: fresh and natural.

    There are currently four flavors:

  • Original, with delicious corn flavor.
  • Blue Corn, ditto, with a hint of lime.
  • Churro, with a light touch of organic cinnamon and sugar, for a sweeter chip that can be paired with ice cream for a riff on buñuelo.
  • Mango Lime, tangy, fun and, we believe, the only mango chip out there.
  • Ancient Grain launches in June, a complex blend of teff, chia and amaranth with sea salt and lime.
  •  

    The line is certified kosher by KSA, gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and whole grain.

    If you can’t find Cabo Chips locally, you can buy them online at CaboChips.com, in 1.5-ounce snack packs and 5.5-ounce bags.

    WHY BLUE CORN IS BETTER FOR YOU

    Long ago, we bought our first bag of blue corn chips because we were attracted to the color, and then the naturally sweeter flavor. Much later, we learned that blue corn was better for you than white or yellow corn.

    Blue corn-based foods were originally developed by the Hopi natives of Arizona and New Mexico, who bred the blue corn. Blue corn is actually regular yellow corn that has a high level of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that give the corn (and blackberries, blueberries, etc.) its blue hue.

  • Blue corn contains 20% more protein and has a lower glycemic index than white corn.
  • It is a more complete protein source than white or yellow corn.
  • The anthocyanins metabolize toxins, inhibit DNA damage, reduce inflammation, metabolize carcinogens and more.
  •  

    THE HISTORY OF TORTILLA CHIPS

    Surprisingly, tortilla chips are not a traditional Mexican food. They were first popularized and mass produced in southwestern Los Angeles in the late 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza, who, with her husband, owned a Mexican deli and tortilla factory.

    Misshapen tortillas were rejected from the tortilla manufacturing machine, so Ms. Carranza turned them into snack chips. She cut them into triangles, fried them and sold them in snack-size bags.

    Needless to say, they sold well and became a popular appetizer in California’s Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. They expanded across the U.S. in a big way in the late 1970s, with the growth of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. They replaced corn chips like Fritos as America’s favorite corn chip* snack.

    And yes, they made their way to Mexico.

     
    *The main difference between the two types of chip is that a tortilla chip is cut from a whole tortilla. A corn chip is corn meal that is processed into a particular shape.

     

    blue-corn-on-chips-230

    Why is blue corn better for you? See the explanation above. Photo courtesy Cabo Chips.

     
    OUR TOP 10 FAVORITE WAYS TO USE TORTILLA CHIPS

    Some are obvious, some are new:

  • With dips: guacamole, salsa, queso and others.
  • With soups, as a garnish or on the side instead of crackers.
  • As a base for canapés, topped with cheese, meats, spreads, etc.
  • Crushed or pulsed into a gluten-free crust or coating for chicken and fish or pork†.
  • Crumbled into omelets, used instead of tortilla strips with migas, or served as
    an egg dish side with salsa.
  • As a casserole topping.
  • As a meatloaf filler or in stuffing.
  • As a salad garnish.
  • Nachos and nacho dogs: hot dogs topped with shredded cheese, salsa and crumbled nachos.
  • With ice cream, especially sweeter flavors; or plain chips with a drizzle of honey.
  •  
    Have we left out your favorite uses? Let us know!
     
    †A great use for the broken pieces! Shake ‘n Bake was created to use Kraft’s supply of cereal crumbs.

    ‡Pulse in a food processor into a flour.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Soft Pretzels

    homemade-pretzels-ws-230

    Bake a batch for National Pretzel Day. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    April 26th is National Pretzel Day. Bake a batch of delicious soft pretzels and serve with grainy mustard and beer.

    This recipe is courtesy Williams-Sonoma. See more photos of the process.

    Find more delicious recipes at WilliamsSonoma.com.
     
    RECIPE: SOFT PRETZELS

    Ingredients For 12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 3-1/4 cups (16 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) baking soda
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Grainy mustard for serving (you can substitute Dijon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together in the bowl of a stand mixer the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. ADD the olive oil, flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

     

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the rack placed in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches long. Position each rope positioned horizontally.

    4. BRING the 2 ends of the rope up and toward the center as if forming an oval. Cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan.

    5. FILL a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups of water. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly, top side up.

    6. SPRINKLE the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard.

     

    homemade-pretzels-mustard-ws--230

    BYOB and dig in! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    GRAINY MUSTARD & MUSTARD HISTORY

    The origins of mustard are lost to history, but it is a Northern Hemisphere plant, the seeds of which have been found in Stone Age settlements.

  • Egyptians tossed the seeds onto their food, and sent King Tut to the great beyond with a good supply in his tomb.
  • The Sumerians ground it into a paste and mixed it with verjus, the juice of unriped grapes.
  • Wealthy Greeks and Romans ground mustard seeds and mixed them with wine at the table.
  •  
    Cultivated for thousands of years, mustard was the primary spice known to Europeans before the advent of the Asian spice trade. Westerners had mustard long before pepper, which originated in India. Once trade routes were established, ancient people from India to Egypt to Rome chewed mustard seeds with their meat for seasoning.

    Our word mustard comes from the Middle English mustarde, meaning condiment; which in turn comes from the Old French mostarde. Mosto derives from the Latin mustum, the word for grape must, or young, unfermented wine, which was the liquid mixed with ground mustard seed by French monks who made the condiment. The monks’ word for mustard was mustum ardens, meaning burning wine.

    By the 1400s, mustard-making had spread through Europe; each region made its own style.

    One of the earliest versions was grainy mustard, a more casual name for what is known as old-style or old-fashioned mustard, and moutarde à l’ancienne in French.

    Grainy mustard is prepared from a base of mixed mustard seeds, verjus or white wine, spices and herbs. The ingredients are ground coarsely in order to leave the seeds whole.

    Grainy mustard has a dark color and a slightly milder flavor than other mustards. It has a slightly sweet taste, making it a good accompaniment for rustic foods like sausages or country-style pates and cornichons. It can be mixed with melted garlic butter and fresh thyme to create a sauce to drizzle over fish, and many other creative preparations.

    Here’s more on the history of mustard and the different types of mustard.

     
    *Today, white wine and verjus are used to make some mustard varieties; vinegars are used to make most others.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Good Natured Vegetable Crisps

    vegetable-crips-2-bags-herrs-230

    A new way to eat your veggies! Photo courtesy Herr Foods.

     

    Americans love salty snacks, as evidenced by the never-ending stream of new chips on the market.

    From Herr’s, an estimable regional potato chip producer, comes a tasty new line in their Good Natured Selects series of baked crisps: gluten-free veggie chips called Vegetable Crisps, in Original and Ranch.

    In addition to flavor and crunch, they contain a half serving of your DV of vegetables in every ounce serving, which includes 35% of your DV of vitamins A and C.

    Real bell peppers, carrots and spinach in each chip deliver vitamins, with a flavor profile and texture that will please the most invelterate junk food lover (and those who’d like something better, too).

    Similar to other crunchy snacks, they’re 110 calories per one-ounce serving.

     

    Made from the finest all-natural ingredients, the chips contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives, no satuarated fat or trans fat. They’re certified kosher, OU(D).

    For the veg-averse, eating veggies will never taste better.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Green Almonds

    After limited pickings during the winter months, spring has begun to yield food treasures. But you may have to be a good treasure hunter to find things that are new (to you) and special.

    One tip is to ask when you see something unfamiliar, like the fuzzy green “beans” in the photo. They’re actually green (unripe) almonds.

    For a window of three to four weeks, reports Hannah Kaminsky, green almonds may be hiding in plain sight at your local farmers market. You may need a sharp eye: Less known products are often placed behind the more popular fare. Writes Hannah of these immature nuts:

    “One would never mistake them for the raw or roasted almonds they can become, which is part of the appeal. Catch familiar nuts on the unripe side and you’ll be treated to a whole new snacking sensation.

    “The fuzzy exteriors belie a firm, crunchy texture, wholly edible and entirely delicious from the outside shell to the kernel. Their short window of availability is dictated by the maturation of the almond, as it grows and transforms into the crunchy nut we all know and love.

     

    green-almonds-hannahkaminsky-230

    Unripe green almonds, fuzzy on the outside, remind us that almonds are botanically related to peaches. The soft green shell will harden into the tough brown shell of the mature almond. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     
    “Before that happens, the immature almond has a pleasantly bitter taste, with an overriding flavor of lemons and cucumbers, sometimes with a hint of tart grape in the background. Juicy yet crisp, they’re impossibly addictive when eaten with just a light pinch of salt.

    “You can also add them to salads, whole or chopped; use them for garnishes on chilled soups (make Spanish chilled almond soup with them!); combine them with spring peas; or otherwise toss them into any raw or cooked food.

    “But they’re best when allowed to shine solo. At most, cure them in a lightly sweet and sour brine, and you’ll have the stuff of pickle plate dreams.”

    Their soft-yet-firm texture can be like a grape, depending on how unripe they are when picked. But there’s a sense of the nut it’s going to become.

    Almond lovers: Head to your farmers market, or find a friend with an almond tree!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Go Nuts With Non-Chocolate Easter Treats

    Rickys-Lucky-Nuts2-230sq

    Fill an Easter basket with all six flavors.
    Photo courtesy Ricky’s Lucky Nuts.

     

    It’s hard to believe, but not everyone likes chocolate. Our friend Maria, for example would rather have something salty, or a combination of sweet and salty.

    So she, and other salt fans, are getting salted nut treats in their Easter baskets.

    RICKY’S LUCKY NUTS

    We don’t know why they’re lucky, but they sure taste good! One of the co-founders is a chef and restaurateur who knows how to please palates.

    Ricky’s, of Durango, Colorado, takes non-GMO jumbo runner peanuts from Texas and turns them into distinctively flavored, all-natural treats. Flavors include:

  • Black Pepper & Sea Salt
  • Real Coffee
  • Spicy Chile Chipotle
  • Sweet & Smoky BBQ
  • Sweet Chai
  • Thai Red Curry
  •  
    Even the sweet flavors have enough balance to please the yen for savory.

    The packages, in a rainbow of different colors, deliver 7 grams of protein per ounce and a host of vitamins and minerals from this nutrient-dense food. Take that, chocolate bunny!

    Fill an Easter basket with one or more packages of each flavor. Get them at RickysLuckyNuts.com.

    Beyond snacking from the pack from the pack, toss them into salads (green and grain), mix them into cooked rice, add them to stir-frys and create ice cream sundaes (or toss them on a plain scoop). Yum!

     

    PLANTERS NEW TART FLAVORS

    Planters is known for salty nuts, sweet nuts and spicy nuts. Add to that tart nuts!

    Two zesty new flavors deliver a pleasing pucker to persnickity palates.

  • Planters Sea Salt & Vinegar Peanuts look like regular peanuts; but oh, what a nice punch of vinegar!
  • Planters Chili Lime Peanuts have a red-orange tint from the chili powder, which adds moderate heat to natural lime flavor.
  •  
    In pastel colors (green for Chili Lime, blue for Sea Salt & Vinegar), they deserve a place in any Easter basket.

    As with Ricky’s, each serving contains seven grams of protein and the other peanut nutrients.

    The flavors are packaged in six-ounce cans with re-sealable tops. You can find them at retailers nationwide.

     

    chili-lime-can-230

    One of two delicious new flavors from Planters. Photo courtesy Planters Nuts..

     

      

    Comments

    TIP: Dip Sweet Chips On National Chip & Dip Day

    sweet-potato-chips-strawberry-dip-tablespoon.com-230

    Cinnamon sweet potato chips with
    strawberry yogurt dip. Photo courtesy
    Tablespoon.com.

     

    March 23rd is National Chip and Dip Day. When we think of chips and dip, salty chips pop into mind, with creamy dips, guacamole or salsa.

    But today’s tip is: For snacking or a fun dessert, go sweet with cinnamon-sugar flavored chips and a sweet dip.

    Just a quick glance of some of the better brands on store shelves:

  • Bare Cinnamon Apple Chips (a NIBBLE favorite, and gluten-free)
  • Cabo Chips Churro Tortilla Chips
  • Glenny’s Apple Cinnamon Low Fat Soy Crisps
  • Glutino Cinnamon and Sugar Gluten Free Bagel Chips
  • Kay’s Naturals Cinnamon Toast Protein Pretzel Sticks
  • Popchips Cinnamon Twist Sweet Potato Chips
  • Popcorners Whole Grain Chips
  • Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips
  • Terra Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Chips
  •  

    WHAT DIP SHOULD YOU USE?

    Here are some suggestions from Cabo Chips and THE NIBBLE:

  • Caramel Sauce: Cinnamon and caramel are a delicious combination. Simply warm a bowl of caramel sauce in the microwave.
  • Chocolate Sauce: Melt chocolate chips or a chopped chocolate bar in the microwave for 45 seconds. You can dip chps in the warm chocolate, or dip the chips and place on wax paper until the chocolate sets.
  • Dulce de Leche Sauce: As with caramel sauce, simply warm a bowl of dulce de leche in the microwave.
  • Mexican Fried Ice Cream: Warm the chips in a toaster oven for 5 minutes on low heat. Place in individual bowls and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with chocolate or caramel sauce a drizzle of honey. You can also add fresh berries.
  • Nutella: Place a few spoonfuls in the microwave for 30 seconds, then drizzle over the chips or simply dip them.
  • Sweet “Nachos”: Warm the chips, drizzle with warmed sauce, and garnish with butterscotch or chocolate chips or mini marshmallows.
  • Yogurt Dip: Use fruit or vanilla yogurt straight, or augment it with mini chocolate chips or other inclusions.
  • Your own recipe for a sweet dip. Cheesecake dip, anyone?
  •  

    apple-chips-salted-caramel-dip-dizzybusyandhungry-230

    Apple chips with a salted caramel dip. Photo © DizzyBusyAndHungry.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Snappers ~ Pretzels, Chocolate & Caramel

    March Madness is underway. At THE NIBBLE, it’s not just about rooting for your favorite college team(s). It’s what to snack on while you’re watching the games.

    Made by the third generation of a family whose grandparents established a soda fountain and confectionery in Pittsburgh, Snappers are a sweet-and-salty snack made from rectangular pretzels, drizzled with chocolate and caramel. Yum!

    You can find them in:

  • Original Snappers
  • Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Snappers, with a sprinkling of sea salt
  • Peanut Pretzel Snappers, with salted peanuts added to the mix
  •  
    The 6-ounce bags are available nationwide at Target stores and other major retailers including Albertsons, Costco, Giant and Jewel-Osco. Here’s the longer list of retailers.

    At $3.99 a bag, Snappers hit the spot!

     

    snappers-with-football-230r-2

    Snappers are in our snack bracket. Photo courtesy Snappers.

     

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Apple Leprechaun Snack

    apple-leprechaun-kitchenfunwithmy3sons-230

    Have fun with your food. Photo courtesy Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons.

     

    Even adults can have fun with this apple leprechaun. It was created by Jill of Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons. Yes, the kids help.

    RECIPE: LEPRECHAUN FRUIT SNACK

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 green apple
  • 1 clementine or other mandarin
  • 1 strawberry
  • 2 edible candy eyes
  • 4 mini heart or shamrock sprinkles
  • Peanut butter or toothpicks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the front off of the apple and cut out a hat from that slice. Attach it on the top using half of a toothpick. Save the apple scraps to cut out a nose.

     

    2. CUT a slice of strawberry to make the mouth. Press on the edible eyes; they will stick. (Everything should stick, but you can also use peanut butter to secure the pieces.)

    3. CUT the clementine slices in half to make the beard. Break toothpicks in half to secure them, if needed.

    4. PRESS the heart sprinkles on the hat to make a shamrock.

    Here’s the full article.
     
    WHAT’S A LEPRECHAUN?

    The leprechauns of Irish folklore are not sweet and loving pixies. These fairies are full of mischief!

    Leprechauns are usually depicted as a little old man wearing breeches, a coat and hat. When not up to practical jokes, they are solitary creatures who spend their time making and mending shoes.

    And of course, they have a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    If he is captured by a human, a leprechaun has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for their freedom.

    As for female leprechauns: No one has ever seen one!

     
      

    Comments

    TIP: Microwave Kale Chips

    “I am so sick of kale,” our friend Bonnie exclaimed, as we sat down to a restaurant lunch. We have nothing against a kale salad, but we were trended-out by the kale Caesar salad as a menu item. We wanted the original Caesar salad: We wanted romaine!

    The one thing we agreed upon was kale chips as an alternative to potato chips or fries. Unlike baked kale chips, they can be ready in five minutes, in time to join a cold beer or soft drink.

    We made this recipe in advance of St. Patrick’s Day, to test how much we’d need for a party.

    You can make chips (of any kind) in minutes with the Microwave Chip Maker, a handy device from Mastrad. Two trays are $20. We bought a second set, since they can be stacked to turn out a greater volume of chips.

    You can use a microwave-safe plate also; or cook the kale directly on the glass turntable.

    Using herb-infused oil adds another layer of flavor to the chips.

       

    kale-chips-thepamperedchef-230

    Kale chips made with conventional curly kale. Photo courtesy Mastrad.

     
    RECIPE: MICROWAVE KALE CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 bunch kale, cleaned and thoroughly dried
  • 4 tablespoons regular or herb-infused olive oil or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

    lacinato-black-tuscan-dinosaur-kale-beauty-goodeggs-230r

    Lacinto kale, also called black kale or dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale. Photo courtesy TheGoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems from the dry kale. Tear the leaves into 2″ pieces. Toss with the oil to coat and place the pieces in one layer on the tray. Don’t overlap the pieces; doing so can cause arcing* in the microwave. Season with salt and pepper.

    2a. WITH MICROWAVE CHIP MAKER TRAY: Microwave on HIGH for 1½ minutes. Continue microwaving in 30-second intervals until the desired crispness is reached. Allow to cool before removing to a bowl.

    2b. WITH A REGULAR MICROWAVE-SAFE PLATE: Microwave for 3 minutes, continuing in 30-second intervals until the desired crispness is reached. Transfer to serving bowl.

    3. REPEAT with additional batches. For the best flavor and texture, serve immediately; but you can store the chips in an airtight container for up to a week.
     
    WHICH KALE SHOULD YOU USE?

    There are more than 50 varieties of kale, of which four are most often found in the U.S. Curly kale is the variety typically found in grocery stores.

     

    You may have to hit farmers markets or specialty produce stores for the others: lacinato kale (also called black kale, dinosaur kale, and Tuscan kale. among other names), redbor kale (ornamental kale, which is equally edible) and red Russian kale.

    For kale chips, we personally preferred using lacinto kale or red Russian kale. The leaves are longer, flatter and better to tear into chip-size pieces. But you may prefer curly kale, which was used in the photo above.

    Here’s more about kale.
     
    *Arcing, or sparking, is rare and the USDA can’t explain what causes it. Theories include the mineral or moisture content of certain vegetables; and foods with sharp rather than round edges arranged too closely in the microwave.

      

    Comments

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