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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

HALLOWEEN: Cheese & Pretzel Broomsticks

Who needs candy when there’s a clever Halloween snack like this? It was created by Angie Ramirez of LittleInspiration.com, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

This healthy Halloween snacks works for kids as well as for adults, with cocktails. The witch’s broomsticks are easy to make and look great on a party platter.

RECIPE: CHEESE & PRETZEL BROOMSTICKS

Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks (ideally whole grain)
  • Block of hard cheese to shred
  • Baker’s twine or strips of dry corn husks
  •  

    cheese-broomsticks-naturebox-230

    Halloween fun, no sugar needed! Photo courtesy Little Inspiration | NatureBox.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SHRED cheese the length of the block. (Pre-shredded cheeses are too short to make the broomsticks.)

    2. LAY down a piece of baker’s twine. Add a few shredded cheese pieces and a pretzel stick (see how it’s done here). Add a few more shredded cheese strips to cover the pretzel stick.

    3. KNOT the two ends of the twine.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Spiced Almonds

    The roasted almonds are sweetened with sugar, brown sugar and honey, and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and pumpkin powder (dried, ground pumpkin—look for it at natural food stores or online). The 19.75-ounce can

      It’s easy to make spiced nuts—almonds, pecans, walnuts or other favorite—to enjoy:

    • With cocktails
    • As snacks
    • As garnish for cakes, cupcakes, puddings, ice cream and other treats
    • In green salads with goat cheese or blue cheese
    • As sides with coffee, tea and hot chocolate
    • As gifts, in a small tin, plastic container or cellophane bag tied with ribbon

     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SPICED NUTS

    We adapted this recipe from one by Spice Islands. The nuts can be made up to three days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. If you’re making a lot, it’s best to make them in small batches to ensure that the nuts are thoroughly coated.

       

    pumpkin-spice-almonds-can-planters-230

    Limited Edition Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds. Nuts are better-for-you for snacking; these Planters nuts have 5 grams of protein in every serving.

     

    planters-pumpkin-spice-nuts-kaminsky-230

    Seasonal snacking: Planter’s Pumpkin Spiced
    Almonds. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Ingredients

    • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
    • 1 tablespoon white sugar
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon finely-ground pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove or nutmeg
    • 2 cups almonds

     
    Varying The Spices

    Instead of a pepper-allspice blend, you can use cayenne and other favorites. There is no right or wrong combination: just what you like. For an herbal edge, we often add rosemary or sage. Consider adding:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

    2. COMBINE corn syrup, sugar, salt, black pepper, allspice and white pepper in a bowl. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE almonds for 5 minutes; stir. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes more, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer pecans to a sheet of wax paper. Separate nuts with a fork. Cool.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Kale Popcorn

    kale-popcorn-bowl-bag-230

    Now, you can have kale with your popcorn!
    Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Quinn Popcorn, developed by a young husband and wife team following all the bad press on microwave popcorn. They:

  • Made the bag without chemical coatings from the bag (PFOA, PFCs, plastic liners, etc.) while creating a grease-proof and compostable microwaveable bag.
  • Eliminated the susceptor (gray metal/plastic patch).
  • Use organic, non-GMO corn, with no preservatives or artificial ingredients; rBGH-free cheeses and expeller pressed oils that are high in omega-3s.
  •  
    In their better-for-you, better-for-the-environment version, you pop the kernels in the microwave, then blend them in a bowl with the oil and seasonings provided in separate packets. It’s a feel-good product, currently available in six microwave flavors:

  • Hickory Smoked Cheddar
  • Just Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil & Herbs
  • Parmesan & Rosemary
  • Real Butter & Sea Salt
  • Vermont Maple & Sea Salt
  •  
    There are also two ready-to-eat flavors, including:

  • Cheddar & Chipotle
  • Kale & Sea Salt
  •  
    For those who need a boost to get on the kale bandwagon, start with a bag of this popcorn with tiny flecks of green, salted with a bit of sweetness.

    The company calls these two flavors “Farm To Bag.” Each bag has a batch number for complete transparency, a first in the snacks industry.

    The line is Certified Non GMO, Certified Gluten Free and whole grain (23g per serving, with 39 calories).

    To learn more or buy online, visit QuinnPopcorn.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cinnamon Apple Chips

    apple-chips-beauty-kaminsky-230

    Make delicious apple chips. Photo by Hannah
    Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We love apple chips, a better-for-you sweet snack. We’re big fans of the Bare Fruit brand, which we buy online in both single serve and family size bags. The apples they use are so sweet that there’s no added sugar.

    When we’re out of Bare Fruit apple chips, we make our own with this easy recipe from Zulka Morena sugar. If you’re cutting back on sugar calories, you can make half with sugar, half without, and combine them; Splenda fans can try the noncaloric sweetener.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON APPLE CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 3-4 apples, sweetest variety
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 225°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

    2. REMOVE the apple cores with an apple corer. Use a sharp knife or mandolin slicer to thinly slice the apples into rings.

     
    3. PLACE the slices next to each other on the trays (they can overlap a bit). Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the apples.

    4. PLACE the sheets on the oven racks and bake for one hour. Remove each tray of apple slices, flip the slices and return the tray to a different oven rack than before to ensure even baking.

    5. BAKE for one more hour. Turn off the oven, leaving the apple chips inside for another 2-3 hours or until dried out. Store the chips in an airtight container for up to one week.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at Zulka.com.

     
      

    Comments

    GADGET: Olive Stuffer

    Olive connoisseurs: If you’re disappointed with the quality of commercial stuffed olives—rubbery blue cheese, cheap and fishy anchovies, chewy jalapeños—you can now stuff your own premium ingredients with the Swissmar Olive Stuffer.

    Anchovies, feta, garlic, goat cheese, pecans, plus fresh herbs: Have fun creating your own stuffed olive creations. The spring-loaded olive stuffer lets you fill large pitted olives with anything.

    Simply load the stainless steel device with the stuffing(s) of your choice, place the plunger into the pitted olive, and release.

    Buy it at Williams-Sonona.com for $14.65.

    If you don’t have an olive pitter, you should pick one up, too.

     

    olive-stuffer-WS-230

    Become a master olive stuffer. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Better For You Snacks

    A few years ago, one of our Top Picks Of The Week was a product line called Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food.

    It was developed by an M.D. who treated people with illnesses caused by bad nutrition, and it engendered The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook: More Than 100 Healthy Recipes for Everyday Snacking.

    Dr. Laura Trice showed how easy it is to make snacks and sweets that are satisfying yet nutritious (you can find the cookies online).

    If you’re looking for better-for-you snacks that don’t deprive you of a cookie fix, head to natural food stores or make your own.

    These tasty sweets in the recipe below look like truffles, but they’re protein-packed treats made from peanut butter and whey extract, plus whole grain rolled oats. Even the sweetener, maple syrup, is better for you.

    The resemblance to candy is purely intentional. The recipe is courtesy of Crofter’s, maker of organic jams and fruit spreads.

       

    protein-bites-croftersorganic-230

    Make a batch—they’re good for you! Photo courtesy Crofter’s.

     

    RECIPE: SWEET TREAT PROTEIN BITES

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup raspberry fruit spread
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup whey protein powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Optional toppings: shredded coconut, sesame seeds, vanilla protein powder
  •  

    wholesome-junk-food-cookbook-230

    Want better snacks all the time? Get this
    cookbook! Photo courtesy Running Press.

     

    Preparation

    1. MELT peanut butter, maple syrup, butter, vanilla and fruit spread in a pan over medium heat; stir to combine thoroughly.

    2. REMOVE from heat and add oats, cocoa powder, protein powder, salt and chocolate chips. Stir until chips have melted and ingredients are thoroughly combined.

    3. Form into balls and roll in topping(s) of choice. Chill in the fridge to firm before serving.
     
    It’s that easy!
     
     
    MORE HEALTHY SWEET TREATS

    For more treats like these, get a copy of The Wholeseome Junk Food Cookbook by Laura Trice, M.D. You’d be surprised at how many delicious treats are good for you!

    We also like the book as a gift for teens and tweens who want to learn to cook. Start them off making treats for themselves and their friends. You may inspire a future “Dr. Laura” in the process.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Smartfood Movie Theater Butter Popcorn

    Smartfood, a Frito-Lay brand, has made popcorn in Kettle Corn, Sea Salt and White Cheddar. And now, there’s Movie Theatre Butter.

    Recently, Smartfood send us samples of their Movie Theater Butter flavor. As the name promises, it is very buttery (the ingredients include real butter). You get buttery flavor without buttery fingers.

    The popcorn is well salted, too.

    We personally like less salt—and also know excess salt isn’t good for you. But no doubt this recipe tested well with consumers. While devoured the whole bag, and if another bag were set in front of us, we would eat it as well.

    Archaeologists estimate that popcorn dates back to around 3600 B.C.E. They deduce that popcorn was first made by throwing corn kernels on sizzling hot stones tended over a campfire, or onto heated sand.

    It was not eaten as a snack food: The corn was sifted and then pounded into a fine, powdery meal and mixed with water. This same cooking technique was used by the early Colonists, who mixed ground popcorn with milk and ate it for breakfast as a kind of cereal.

    Popcorn is the better-for-you salty snack. A cup of plain popcorn contains about 31 calories, compared to about 139 calories for a cup of plain potato chips.

     

    smartfood-movie-theater-butter-230

    Buttery, salty and whole grain. Photo courtesy Frito-Lay.

  • It’s the only snack that’s 100% whole grain: high in dietary fiber.
  • The hull (the part that gets stuck in your teeth) contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants.
  •  

    Smartfood popcorn is air popped is all natural, free of artificial flavors or preservatives. It’s available in 7.5-ounce bags at grocery stores nationwide.

    Discover more at Smartfood.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Nothin’ But Snack Bars

    Jerri Graham, founder of Nothin’ But Premium Foods, had some of the same concerns of many people who carefully read nutrition labels. She realized that the snack bars her family enjoyed were lacking.

    “Everything was either loaded with artificial protein powders or a ‘log’ of foodstuff that left much to be desired,” she says. “So, I started making bars that I wanted to eat, give to my friends, and most importantly, what I wanted to feed my own child.”

    Jerri developed recipes and began selling her better-for-you snack bars to local cafés, farmers markets and gyms. People loved them and wanted more, but her production capacity was limited.

    One day, she received a phone call from a businessman who had discovered her product, and agreed with her mission. Together, they launched the Nothin’ But line of bars and granola cookies.

    Everything tastes so fresh, so good—a healthy indulgence with simple ingredients yet layers of flavor. Nuts deliver 4 grams of protein per serving, oats contribute 2 grams of fiber, honey, organic cane sugar and dried fruit are the sweeteners.

       

    cranberry-almond-230

    These snack bars look healthy, and they taste delicious. Photo courtesy Nothin’ But Foods.

     

     

    granola_cookies-230

    Granola cookies. Photo courtesy Nothin’ But
    Foods.

     

    NOTHIN’ BUT PREMIUM SNACK BARS

    Nothin’ But Premium Snack Bars are 100% natural, made from a blend of organic oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits; plus honey, organic cane sugar and olive oil. They are egg free, gluten free, cholesterol free and certified kosher by OK.

    The four bar flavors include something for everyone:

  • Cherry Cranberry Almond
  • Chocolate Almond
  • Ginger Lemon Cashew
  • Peanut Butter Banana
  •  
    NOTHIN’ BUT GRANOLA COOKIES

    If you prefer a cookie treat, tasty granola cookies, made from the same good ingredients as the snack bars, are available in:

  • Cherry Cranberry Almond
  • Chocolate Almond
  •  

    Retail distribution is currently limited, as is typical of new brands; but you can buy Nothin’ But online at NothinButFoodsStore.com.

    Different gift assortments are available.

    Send them to your favorite student, or to anyone who appreciates better-for-you foods.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Tribe To Go, Hummus & Pita Chips Single Serve

    Hummus is the second-fastest growing category in the grocery aisles with the on-the-go segment experiencing the most growth. Sales of hummus “snack sets” have seen major increases, up more than 70% since last year.

    So it’s no surprise that Tribe Hummus, a leading brand, has entered the category with Tribe Humus & Pita Chips, a single-serve package that is launching now.

    Tribe sent us samples, and we’re here to report the good news…and the less good news.

     
    The Scoop: Good

  • Each pack contains two ounces of hummus—your choice of the two leading Tribe flavors, Classic or Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Hummus—plus seven ounces of pita chips. It’s just enough to take the edge off.
  • Hummus is a better-for-you snack. Tribe calls it “a nutritionally responsible snack, adhering to the dietitian-approved optimal snack equation of approximately 200 calories per serving.”*
  •  
    *Tribe To Go Sweet Roasted Red Pepper totals 200 calories and Tribe To Go Classic has 230 calories.

     

    tribe-single-serve-230ps

    “Snackers” are a fast-growing category of hummus. Photo courtesy Tribe Hummus.

     
    The Scoop: Less Good

  • The package must be refrigerated. You couldn’t keep it in the glove compartment, or tote it all day in a backpack. (There are shelf-stable hummus brands that let you do this.)
  • The chips are OK, but they could be better. They’re a bit greasy to the touch, and evoke Chinese noodles as much as pita. Plus, if you care to create a truly nutritious snack, why not make them from whole wheat rather than refined white flour?
  • There’s a lot of packaging headed for the landfill. If you’re not focused on sustainability, you wouldn’t think twice about this. But those who do will think about the heavy cardboard tube fitted with a metal bottom and a plastic top. Inside, there’s a plastic tub of hummus and a small bag of chips. The metal bottom is not easily pried off for dividing the garbage into paper and metal; we had to use a can opener.
  •  
    A Welcome Addition To Snack Choices

    Tribe’s To Go pack has a suggested retail price of $1.99-$2.99. It currently can be found at retailers and grocery stores such as Stop and Shop, Albertsons and Jewel, with plans of to expand to movie theaters, gas stations, airports and convenience stores by year-end.

    And that’s what we think is the best news: We’d love to find it at these latter venues, where it would most certainly be our snack of choice among the empty calories and tasteless fresh fruit.

    Can we also recommend newsstands, refrigerated vending machines and the snack concessions in office buildings? We’ll be there with cash in hand.

    Learn more about Tribe at TribeHummus.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Smucker’s Fruit-Fulls

    fruitfulls-beauty-2-230

    Nothing but fruit: Remove cap, insert nozzle
    into mouth, enjoy. Photo courtesy Smucker’s.

     

    We haven’t liked every fruit squeeze pouch brand we’ve tried. Some of them, even though they’re all natural, don’t taste that way.

    But Smucker’s new Fruit-Fulls taste just like the orchard. For 80 calories, they’re a delicious, sweet grab-and-go treat.

    Made from Washington State apples, Fruit-Fulls are simple: just pure, sweet blended fruit, essentially applesauce, with no sugar added. The flavors include:

  • Apple
  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Apple Mixed Berry
  • Apple Strawberry
  •  
    All are delicious, although we’re partial to the more complex flavors of Apple Mixed Berry and Apple Strawberry—more fruit flavor.

    Fruit-Fulls are available at stores nationwide, packaged in boxes of eight four-ounce pouches. Learn more at Smuckers.com.

     
    SERVING SUGGESTIONS

    Fruit pouches were meant to be enjoyed “from the pouch,” but we used the convenient nozzle to:

  • Add to plain yogurt
  • Top sorbet
  • Make a parfait
  • Make “fruit sandwiches,” filling sliced bananas and peaches
  •  
    TIP: Hide these from the kids or there won’t be any left for you.

     
      

    Comments

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