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Archive for Snacks

GLUTEN FREE: Three Bakers Snackers Crackers

A gluten-free recommendation from Georgi Page-Smith, who reports on GF products for THE NIBBLE.

One of the perks of my gluten-free lifestyle is the license I give myself to eat limitless quantities of cheese.

Years ago I indulged my cheese cravings with perhaps the best cheese crackers ever to exist (including Cheez-Its): Gluten Free Cheddar Snackers, by The Grainless Baker.

These crackers were unabashedly rich and cheesy, with just the right melt-in-your-mouth crumb. I purchased them in bulk from a local store until they were discontinued by the store; then I stalked them online.

One day in 2011 the crackers disappeared completely. I searched, I Googled…and I found the Grainless Baker website. It said that the company had recently joined forces with The Gluten Free Food Group and would be replacing their old products with a new gluten-free product line under a new brand name, Three Bakers.

I joined their Facebook community and waited to hear about the rollout. I think I even wrote a sad note “beg-couraging” them to not change their Cheddar Snackers formula. And then I cold-stored the information in a mental box with other sad things and doubled-down on my brie consumption.

Recently, however, these crackers drifted into my mind again and I went to check their Facebook page for an update. The page was defunct and a cheerful selection of Snackers were now available from the Three Bakers website!

I swung into action and within days, four bags of Snackers—Cheddar, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Honey Graham flavors—arrived at my doorstep. That was Friday. As of this Sunday’s writing there is about one-quarter of one of the bags left. They were that good.

Four Flavors, Cheesy Or Sweet

The Cheddar Snackers, though not as intense and decadent an experience as the originals, are incredibly good. The flavor is authentic tangy-and-toasty cheese, and they are quite light, delivering more flavor than you would expect in such a small package. The only downside on these was the texture, which was slightly more brittle than the other Snackers.

Use them as dippers, as croutons on salad or chili (photo #1), in a crust for apple pie or pot pie, as a garnish on mac and cheese, or as a snack with apple wedges.

The Chocolate Chip Snackers, with only 4 grams of sugar and 90 calories per 1 ounce serving, were simply scrumptious, with a gently dissolving crumb that quickly delivers the flavor to every part of your mouth. Best of all they are not too sweet, with no cloying aftertaste!

 

Three Bakers Cheddar Snackers
[1] Cheddar snackers add some crunch to chili (photo courtesy Three Bakers).

Three Bakers Snackers Chocolate Chip
[2] Time for dessert: chocolate chip snackers with ice cream (photo courtesy Gluten Free Palate.

Three Bakers Snackers Crackers

[3] Just plain snacking (photo courtesy Gluten Free Palate).

 
The chocolate is of a high enough quality to carry the cookie, without additional sweeteners. The Chocolate Chocolate Chip Snackers increase the chocolate ratio, for aficionados.

The Honey Graham Snackers deliver a very tasty, roasty flavor— again, with a gorgeous texture. These would also be fantastic on an ice cream sundae (photo #2), or crushed up to use in a crust. I was also impressed with the low sugar level, at 1 gram per 1 ounce serving, it made it that much easier to eat the whole bag.

All Three Bakers’ Snackers are Ccrtified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and are made with non-GMO ingredients. The whole grains provide a source of fiber and the low sugar and salt mean that you can feel good about serving them to kids.

Three Bakers also produces gluten-free breads, buns, pizzas and more. The products are available across the country; here’s a store locator.

For more information head to ThreeBakers.com.

—Georgi Page-Smith

  

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PRODUCTS: Five More Favorite Foods & Beverages

Another roundup of some recently discovered “favorites,” in alphabetical order.

1. BAI BUBBLES

Bai became a hot brand with its Bai 5 line of five-calorie drinks in great-tasting fruit flavors.

Now, the brand has a carbonated line, Bai Bubbles: a “sparkling antioxidant infusion” in 11.5-ounce cans.

We’re not inveterate soda drinkers, but Bai Bubbles achieves a middle ground between unsweetened flavored club soda and sweet diet soda.

Like the original Bai 5, each can has 5 calories and 1 gram of sugar, with the majority of its sweetness coming from calorie-free stevia, a naturally sweetener.

Everyone will have his or her favorites in this refreshing line, which has 10 flavors: Apple Pear, Blackberry Lime, Black Cherry, Blood Orange, Coconut Lime, Guava, Limón, Pineapple, Pink Grapefruit and Watermelon Lime.

Bai Bubbles is available at Walmart and other retailers nationwide. The line is certified kosher by OU.

Learn more at DrinkBai.com.
 
 
2. COOKIE CHIPS: CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

We love Cookie Chips. They’re very thin and crunchy, very tasty, nicely buttery and rather small, so you can have a few without much guilt (5 cookies have 120 calories).

Flavors include Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Sugar, Coconut White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Chip, Original (a buttery sugar cookie), Peanut Butter and Sea Salted Caramel; plus Gluten Free Chocolate Chip and Gluten Free Lemon Sugar.

They’re available in 6-ounce bags and 1.5-ounce single serve packages. The latter are a good strategy, as we’re tempted to eat half the 6-ounce bag.

The line is certified kosher by Kosher LA. Discover more at CookieChips.com.
 
 
3. LANCE SANDWICH CRACKERS: POWER BREAK

Lance makes dozens of different sandwich crackers, most variations of peanut butter and cheese.

In a new direction, Lance has just launched Lance Power Break: granola crackers sandwiched with peanut butter or peanut butter and chocolate. They call it “a pumped up snack that gives you energy…

Power Break is the first sandwich cracker with double-digit protein (12 grams), B vitamins and 13 grams of whole grain to keep you going.”

We can’t vouch for the science, but they sure taste great. Load up for grab-and-go snacks.

The line is certified kosher by OU. See more at Lance.com.

   

Bai Bubbles

Cookie Chips Chocolate Chip

Lance Power Break

New favorites: [1] Bai Bubbles, [2] Cookie Chips and [3] Lance Power Break granola sandwich crackers (photos courtesy their respective manufacturers).

 

Polar Diet Double Fudge

Snyders Wholey Cheese

[4] Polar Beverage’s very chocolatey Double Fudge Diet Soda. [5] Wholey Cheese! gluten-free cheese crackers (photos are courtesy their respective manufacturers).

 

POLAR BEVERAGES: DOUBLE FUDGE DIET SODA

One of our readers turned us on to this zero-calorie chocolate fudge soda. Wowsa, is it good!

We have long enjoyed the delicious flavored seltzers of the brand: The company does a great job with flavors and zero calories.

But we only recently received the 411 on the diet sodas. We promptly went out and bought a bottle of Double Fudge Diet Soda…and then went out and bought two cases.

  • Drink it straight.
  • Make a diet ice cream soda.
  • Add milk for an egg cream.
  •  
    The line is certified kosher by Diamond K. Find out more at PolarBev.com.
     
     
    SNYDER’S OF HANOVER: WHOLEY CHEESE!

    We’re big fans of Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels: so many styles from traditional to braided, chocolate-dipped, flavored pieces, sourdough and gluten-free.

    The company recently launched round pretzel sandwiches in Brick Oven Style Pizza, Cheddar Cheese and Hummus.

    But our favorite of the new products is Wholey Cheese!: crispy, baked cheese crackers with amusing Swiss cheese-type holes (or should that be wholes?).

    The line is all natural and gluten-free, in three flavors: Mild Cheddar, Smoked Gouda and Swiss & Black Pepper. The company says they have 28% less fat than the leading brand of cheese crackers

    Like the pretzels, Wholey Cheese! crackers are great with a soda or beer, or just by themselves. Try them as salad croutons, too.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. Head to SnydersOfHanover.com to see the entire collection.

    Did You Know: The same company that makes Snyder’s Pretzels also makes Lance Sandwich Crackers, Pop-Secret Popcorn and Kettle Chips: all great brands!

     

      

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    RECIPES: Chocolate Bacon Potato Chips, Wasabi Potato Chips

    For Father’s Day, for celebrations year-round or for general gifting, here’s something few others will be making: Chocolate Bacon Potato Chips. The bacon is optional: chocolate-only is just as delicious.

    These sweet-and-salty chips are a favorite at parties, and disappear quickly. We recommend dipping the chips most of the way, instead of completely enrobing them, to keep chocolate off of the fingers.

    It’s also faster; and no dipping tools are required.

    Don’t want chocolate? Make the wasabi-dusted potato chips recipe below.

    TIPS

  • Ridged chips are better because they are flatter, making them easier to dip.
  • The quick version is to purchase quality potato chips instead of making your own. But we make our own easily with this Mastrad microwave chip maker.
  • The better the chocolate, the tastier the chips.
  • If you want glossy chocolate, you need to temper it (here’s how to temper chocolate). But no one will notice if the chocolate is dull rather than shiny.
  • If you care about the taste of chocolate, never use candy coating. It doesn’t melt in the heat, it doesn’t require tempering, but it doesn’t taste good.
  • If you want to make the chips part of a dessert, we suggest a slightly tart-sweet counterpoint, like vanilla frozen yogurt.
  • Chocolate-dipped chips are best eaten the day they are made, when they are the crunchiest.
  •  
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE OR CHOCOLATE-BACON POTATO CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • One 16-ounce bag ridged potato chips
  •  
    For The Optional Bacon

  • 3 strips bacon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Optional: ¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  •    

    Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips

    Crisp Bacon Slice

    [1] Ridges work better (photo courtesy The Spruce). [2] Variation: Top the chocolate with crumbled bacon (photo courtesy iGourmet).

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set the bacon slices on the parchment and sprinkle each slice with brown sugar, then with the red pepper flakes. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are cooked completely. Set aside to cool. Once cool, dice the bacon into ¼” pieces.

    2. REPLACE the pan lining with parchment or waxed paper or and set aside for the dipped chips.

    3. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it at 45-second intervals until melted. Stir well between intervals to prevent scorching. To dip…

    4. HOLD a chip at one end and dip it into the chocolate about 80% of the wa, leaving an un-dipped edge at the end for neat pick-up. Hold vertically and let the excess chocolate drip into the bowl, and tap the chip against the edge a few times to remove the excess.

    5. PLACE the dipped chip onto the parchment and sprinkle with a few bits of bacon. Repeat for the rest of the chips.

    6. REFRIGERATE the chips for 10-15 minutes to set the chocolate (no longer; they’ll get soggy). Alternatively, cool for 1 hour at room temperature, or place in the refrigerator for one minute.
     

     

    Wasabi Potato Chips

    Wasabi Powder

    [3] Wasabi potato chips (photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission). [4] Wasabi powder (photo courtesy Silk Road Spices).

     

    RECIPE: WASABI POTATO CHIPS

    This recipe was developed by the Idaho Potato Commission.

    You need to make your own chips, so the spice mix can stick to the hot chips.

    Ingredients

  • 2 large Idaho potatoes (12 ounces to 14 ounces each)
  • Canola or other non-hydrogenated oil
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar (we leave it out)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the potatoes and slice into desired shape: 1/2-inch sticks, wedges or 1/8-inch thick chips. Rinse and pat dry.

    2. HEAT the oil in a deep fryer or deep-sided saucepan, to 275°F. Blanch potatoes for 5 minutes, cooking in batches as necessary. Drain and set aside on paper towels until ready to serve.

    3. BLEND dry seasonings and set aside.

    4. INCREASE the oil temperature to 350°F. Cook the fries until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes for sticks and wedges and 1 to 2 minutes for chips.

    5. SPRINKLE the hot fries with the seasoning mix. (We tossed them in a large pan using protective gloves.
     
    POTATO CHIPS HISTORY

    It was a happy accident!

    TYPES OF POTATOES

    So many types, so little time!

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bruschetta From The Grill

    Firing up the grill this weekend? Make bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh).

    We love a DIY bruschetta bar. Just rub the bread with garlic, brush it with extra virgin olive oil, grill, and place the slices on a platter along with all the fixings.

    Even easier, brush the bread with garlic olive oil! You can buy it, or infuse your own in advance by dropping halved garlic cloves into a cup of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need). Any leftover oil can go right into a vinaigrette.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

    Plus, we have our own invention dessert bruschetta, below.

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    There are two factors:

  • The size of the bread slice.
  • The cooking technique: grilling versus toasting.
  •  
    Bruschetta slices are larger, three or four inches in diameter) and grilled. Crostini, cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette about two inches wide (the word is French for “string”).

    You can use bread of a different diameter; but if it isn’t grilled, it isn’t bruschetta.

    Here’s how to remember the difference:

  • The verb bruscare is Roman dialect meaning “to roast over coals.” But there’s something simpler.
  • Think of crostini as crust or crouton (which is its literal meaning). Toast has a crust. That’s how we taught ourself to recognize the difference.
  • While Italians serve bruschetta as a snack, the smaller crostini can be served plain with soup and salad, like the original melba toast.
  •  
    Note that some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, selling jars of “bruschetta.” To be accurate, it should be labeled bruschetta topping). Bruschetta is the grilled bread, not the topping.

    RECIPE: DIY BRUSCHETTA BAR

    The simplest bruschetta topping is salt and pepper (i.e., seasoned garlic bread), but that’s for a bread basket.

    Almost any cheese, fruit, meat, spread or vegetable can be a topping. Toppings can be cooked, marinated, pickled, raw or smoked.

    For a DIY bar, offer at least three different toppings. We like everything, so tend to go overboard: Our toppings look like a buffet. Regarding bread, we prefer a crusty sourdough or rustic loaf.

  • Be sure the loaf will give you slices of a workable size.
  • If you’re not familiar with the particular loaf, ask to ensure that it doesn’t have holes for the toppings to fall through.
  • We have the loaves sliced at the store, then we cut the slices in half.
  •  
    Along with the bread, make sure you have fresh garlic and check your olive oil for freshness.

    Ingredients

  • Baguette or other loaves of bread
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and peeled, halved garlic cloves
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • Avocado, mashed and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Caprese: quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic glaze
  • Charcuterie: pâté, prosciutto, salume, etc.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, ricotta salata, soft goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, julienned/shredded
  • Fruit: sliced figs
  • Garnishes: capers, chopped herbs, chopped mixed olives
  • Greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Heat: raw jalapeños slices, grilled chile peppers
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
  • Mushrooms, marinated
  • Onions: caramelized, chives, chopped green onions (scallions)
  • Peppadews, sliced
  • Pimento, chopped or sliced
  • Raw and cooked veggies of choice: asparagus, grilled vegetables, sliced radishes, etc.
  • Spreads: bean, hummus, pimento cheese, tapenade
  • Tomatoes: sliced plain or marinated in oil and vinegar
  •  
     
    More options: shredded mozzarella or other cheese such as thinly-sliced Brie, fish (we have a passion for anchovies and herring salad on bruschetta), other marinated vegetables, mostarda.

    We also like eggplant caponata, pesto and sautéed mushrooms, but tend to use them more in cooler weather.

     

    Bruschetta Bar

    Rustic Loaf

    Rustic Loaf

    Bruschetta Bar

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    [1] Who needs a burger? We’re heading for the bruschetta bar (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).[2] Buy bread that has a pretty solid crumb (photo courtesy The Stone Soup). [3] This loaf is beautiful, but not for holding toppings (photo courtesy Bake Street). [4] A bruschetta bar from Countryside Cravings. [5] Dessert bruschetta, here with goat cheese (the recipe from Emily Bites). We use mascarpone.

    Preparation

    1. SET out the toppings and teaspoons for serving. We use ramekins; you can use any bowls you have.

    2. SLICE the bread from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Rub each side with cut garlic clove and brush each side with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill to your desired toastiness.

    3. PLACE the bread on a platter next to the toppings and watch people create their appetizers.
     
     
    DESSERT BRUSCHETTA

    Most people won’t have seen dessert bruschetta. We don’t know if we invented it, but our sweet tooth gave us the idea years ago.

    Start with a loaf of bread with dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins. For toppings:

  • Artisan preserves
  • Flavored peanut butter (chocolate, cinnamon, maple, etc.)
  • Fruits: berries; sliced dates, figs, grapes and stone fruits
  • Honey
  • Mascarpone or sweetened sour cream
  • Nutella
  • Garnishes: chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, etc.
  •   

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    PRODUCTS: 5 More Favorite Specialty Foods

    Another batch of favorites from THE NIBBLE.

    What makes it a favorite? We would buy it again…and again. In alphabetical order, we recommend:

    1. LOVE THE WILD: FROZEN FISH FILLET ENTRÉES

    Only one in five Americans meet the USDA recommendation for fish intake, a vital high protein dietary component that’s high in protein and healthy fats.

    LoveTheWild is on a mission to make it easy for you to enjoy delicious, traceable fish dinners—in fact, we can’t recall an easier preparation. Add the fillet to the piece of parchment paper, top with the cubes of sauce, fold and bake. It tastes like it was prepared at a [good] restaurant.

    Aside from a moist and tasty piece of fish, there’s no pan to clean: The parchment goes from pan to plate (or, you can remove it before plating).

    In the process, the company uses the greener technique of aquaculture, which they call “the least environmentally impactful form of animal protein production in the world.”

    The frozen entrées, nicely packaged, pair sustainably-sourced fish filets with regional, butter-based sauces that complement each species’ unique taste.

    The company hand-selects seafood from the most well-managed farms in the world, providing you with the highest quality sustainable seafood. There are currently four varieties, each of which was a hit with us:

  • Barramundi with Mango Sriracha Chutney
  • Catfish with Cajun Creme
  • Rainbow Trout with Salsa Verde
  • Striped Bass with Roasted Pepper Almond Sauce
  •  
    We received these as samples, but we’re headed out to load up!

    LoveTheWild products are sold at major retailers across the U.S., including Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans, Sprouts, and Mom’s. Find a store locator and more information at LoveTheWild.com.
     
     
    2. MEMBER’S MARK SEA SALT CARAMELS

    Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, is increasing its foothold in the specialty food space. It has revamped its private label Member’s Mark brand to include more premium products.

    Items span many categories, from sea salt caramels and honey sourced from a U.S. bee cooperative to all-natural pulled pork created with help from pit masters at the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

    The brand will add 300 new items this year and plans to add another 300 next year. In addition to food, the Maker’s Makrk merchandise includes health and wellness and apparel.

    We received samples of the sea salt caramels, honey, and olive mix. The honey and olives hit the spot; but there are good honeys and olives around.

    The hands-down winner were the delicious sea salt caramels, notable for their generous size (about 1-1/4 inches square by 7/8 inch high—a long, chewy mouthful.

    The centers are soft, handcrafted caramel, the exterior quality milk chocolate. There’s a light sprinkle of sea salt; even if you don’t see it, you’ll taste it.

    Caveat: We couldn’t stop eating them.

    If you’re not near a Sam’s Club, we also found them on Amazon, and are trying to restrain ourselves from ordering the six-pack.
     
     
    3. PEPPERIDGE FARM FARMHOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

       
    Love The Wild Striped Bass

    Members Mark Sea Salt Caramels

    Sea Salt Caramels

    Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

    [1] Love The Wild has four terrific frozen fish entrées (photo courtesy Love The Wild). [2] Member’s Mark from Sam’s Club has great salted caramels (photo courtesy Sam’s Club). [3] The caramels look like this, with tiny grains of salt. You can make these at home with this recipe from Inspired Taste. [4] Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse is perhaps the best mass-market chocolate cookie (photo courtesy Pepperidge Farm).

     
    We wouldn’t have called these cookies “farmhouse.” They’re sophisticated, thin and crispy. We think they’re Pepperidge Farm’s best cookies yet.

    Made from classic ingredients—butter, flour, vanilla and chocolate chips—the cookies are made in three varieties:

    Choose a product:Pepperidge Farm FarmhouseTM Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
  •  
    It’s hard to choose a favorite, but you don’t have to: Try them all.

    The’re available last retailers nationwide; SRP is $3.49. The line is certified kosher by OU.
    ________________

    *Traceability is the ability to verify the history, location aor application of an item by means of documented recorded identification. Consumers and retailers can follow if a product meets regulatory, environmental and ethical standards.Here’s more.

     

    Wholey Cheese Crackers

    Terra Plantain Chips

    [5] One of three flavors of gluten-free cheese crackers, from Snyder’s Of Hanover. [6] Plantain Chips from Terra Chips.

     

    4. SNYDER’S OF HANOVER: WHOLEY CHEESE! CRACKERS

    Does America need another cheese cracker?

    Yes, when they’re as light and tasty as Wholey Cheese, the new brand from Snyders Of Hanover. And gluten free, to boot.

    Potato starch is used instead of wheat flour, an advantage over Cheez-It and Goldfish:

  • Mild Cheddar
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Swiss & Black Pepper
  •  
    The only issue is the high proportion of broken crackers. But in the end, it didn’t affect us as we ate every crumb: from the bag and sprinkled onto salads, soups and potatoes.

    Find them at retailers nationwide.
     
     
    5. TERRA CHIPS: PLANTAIN CHIPS

    We have loved Terra Chips long before they were a store product. They began as a specialty of a Manhattan caterer, who sliced his way to famed and fortune (and we thank him for it).

    The company has just introduced two varieties of plantain chips:

  • Plantains, a savory chip
  • Sweet Plantains
  •  
    Plantains are members of the banana family, but are more dense and less sweet (and can’t be eaten raw). They grow in tropical climates, where they are treated as root vegetables (but they aren’t), and typically served in savory preparations.

    Plantains ripen, like bananas. The Sweet Plantains are made from the ripe fruit, at the point that natural browning occurs. There is no sugar added.

    We actually preferred the more savory chip.

    Discover more at TerraChips.com. The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

     

      

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