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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Snacks

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.



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!



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


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.


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

    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 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.



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




    TIP: Dip Sweet Chips On National Chip & Dip Day

    Cinnamon sweet potato chips with
    strawberry yogurt dip. Photo courtesy


    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


    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 with a salted caramel dip. Photo © Here’s the recipe.




    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 are in our snack bracket. Photo courtesy Snappers.




    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Apple Leprechaun Snack


    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.


    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

    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.

    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!



    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 made with conventional curly kale. Photo courtesy Mastrad.



  • 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 kale, also called black kale or dinosaur kale and Tuscan kale. Photo courtesy



    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.

    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.



    TREND: Sriracha, The New “It” Flavor

    Each year, we notice a hot new food trend. Often it’s a new flavor, blasting through everything from salad dressing to popcorn. Notable past flavor explosions like chipotle, jalapeño and wasabi introduced new kinds of heat to the American palate.

    The current “it” flavor seems to be sriracha.

    Sriracha, pronounced see-RAH-jah, is a Thai hot chili sauce. It’s made from red chiles, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt; and is aged for three months or longer.

    Unlike American hot sauces such as Tabasco, which are vinegar sauces that are infused with hot chiles, sriracha is primarily puréed chiles, making it a much thicker sauce.

    The sauce is named after the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, where it was first made and marketed. Different brands can be found in the Asian aisle of many supermarkets and in Asian groceries.

    The most popular brand is Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. It looks imported but it’s made by a California manufacturer (it was created in 1980 by Chinese-Vietnamese Californian). It has a large rooster logo in the center of the bottle. The rooster has been knocked off by Red Rooster Louisiana Hot Sauce, a product of Louisiana-based Bruce Foods.

    The History Of Sriracha Sauce



    Tribe adds Asian-style hot sauce to Middle Eastern hummus. Photo of new Fiery Sriracha Hummus courtesy Tribe.

    According to multiple sources, including an article in Bon Appétit, the sauce was made more than 80 years ago in by a local woman, Thanom Chakkapak. She initially made the condiment for her family, and then for friends, to enjoy with the local seafood (think of it as a much hotter counterpart to American cocktail sauce).

    As is a common story in the specialty food business, they encouraged her to sell it commercially—and it became the best-selling chile sauce in Thailand. In 1984, Ms. Chakkapak sold her business to a major food company, Thai Theparos Food Products.

    What’s the correct spelling: sriraja, si-racha, sriracha or siracha?

    According to Andrea Nguyen, who wrote the article for Bon Appétit: Since Thailand does not adhere to one romanization system for Thai words, many variants have emerged, chosen by manufacturers who have created their own version of the original sauce.

    However, the most commonly accepted spelling is sriracha.

    Tribe’s latest hummus flavor, Limited Batch Fiery Sriracha, is heatint up the hummus category when it hits grocery store shelves later this month.

    In addition to blending sriracha sauce into the hummus, the flavor is topped with red pepper flakes for an extra splash of heat.

    Is America going flavor-crazy with its hummus? According to Tribe, non-traditional hummus flavors represented nearly half of total hummus sales in 2014! Discover more at



    Snack Factory has introduced Sriracha Lime
    Pretzel Crisps. Photo by Faith Tomases | THE



    Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps are one of our favorite ways to enjoy pretzels. We like them for dipping, topping and pairing with soups and salads.

    The brand’s bevy of flavors (Original, Buffalo Wing, Everything, Honey Mustard & Onion, Jalapeño Jack, Sesame) have been joined by new Sriracha Lime.

    Discover more at
    More sriracha to watch for:

  • Rogue Ales has added a sriracha beer to its line-up.
  • UV Vodka has introduced sriracha-flavored vodka.
  • Kettle brands sells sriracha chips.
  • Heinz has just launched Sriracha Tomato Ketchup.
  • Jack Links and other beef jerky brands feature a sriracha flavor.
  • Sugar Plum and other chocolatiers are making sriracha-infused chocolates.
  • Even fast food is taking it on: Pizza Hut is offering a honey sriracha sauce, and Taco Bell has debuted the Sriracha Quesarito.
    And we wouldn’t be surprised if American mayonnaise manufacturers hop on the sriracha bandwagon, following the mainstream expansion of sriracha mayonnaise beyond Japanese markets. (It’s the mayo used in spicy rolls at sushi bars.)



    FOOD FUN: Popchip Snacks


    Make Guacpops with guacamole. Photo
    courtesy PopChips.


    A boat-shaped chip demands filling.

    So Popchips* created two snacks using its popular air-popped chips:

    Guacamo Popper

    Ingredients Per Chip

  • 1 Salt & Pepper Popchip
  • 1 dollop of spicy guacamole
  • Red and green jalapeño slices

    Ingredients Per Chip

  • 1 Barbeque Popchip
  • Spicy beef
  • Grated cheese
  • Jalapeño slice

    Popchips are sold nationwide. While we personally love the original (Sea Salt), there’s something for everyone. Flavors include Barbecue, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Hint Of Olive Oil, Nacho Cheese, Salt & Pepper, Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Tuscan Herb, Ranch, Sour Cream & Onion and Sweet Potato.

    That’s a lot of popped chips!

    Here’s our review of the brand, which has been a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

    Discover more at
    *The brand spells its name popchips, without a capital letter. But we, schooled in editorial techniques that still prevail, can’t leave a proper name uncapitalized.



    Another south of the border snack. Photo courtesy Popchips.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Chips For Super Bowl Sunday

    As you stroll down the snacks aisle of the supermarket, instead of grabbing the same old chips, treat your crowd to something special.

    For more than a decade, chips have been exploding in flavor. Although most supermarkets give shelf space to the three or so biggest sellers, bagel chips, bean chips, pita chips, potato chips, tortilla chips and rice chips have gone from plain to Pepperoncini (an actual flavor from Kettle brand chips).

    For decades, potato chips were available in the U.S. in Original (lightly salted), Barbecue and Sour Cream; perhaps you’d find Salt & Vinegar.* Then, artisan chip makers like Route 11 broke through with flavors like Chesapeake Crab, Dill Pickle and Mama Zuma’s Revenge (habanero).

    Kettle Brand works in overdrive to come up with a trending new flavor every year. Its current selection of 18 flavors (not including Krinkle Cut flavors) offers Maple Bacon, Red Curry and Spicy Thai potato chips.

    Now, even megabrand Lay’s makes chips in Dill Pickle and Flamin’ Hot, plus Chile Lemon, Garden Tomato & Basil and a host of others.



    Food should taste good makes tortilla chips in 19 flavors, from Cheddar to Kimchi (and yes, plain chips too). Photo courtesy FSTG.

    Flavored chips create a bigger taste experience with dips of any kind, or with straight nibbling. Why not set up a chip tasting bar for your Super Bowl Party? It just begs for a beer tasting bar alongside.



    Stacy’s newest flavor, Fire Roasted Jalapeño
    Pita Chips. Photo courtesy Stacy’s Snacks.



    Stacy’s Pita Chips began plain, as most brands do. Today the original Simply Naked Pita Chips are joined by Cinnamon Sugar, Garden Veggie Medley, Italian Harvest, Multigrain, Parmesan Garlic & Herb and Salted Caramel.

    Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, Stacy’s has released its newest flavor: Fire Roasted Jalapeño Pita Chips.

    Real jalapeño chiles are baked into the chips. The subtle jalapeño kick builds after a minute or so, and made us reach for a beer.

    The chips are available in grocery stores nationwide for a suggested retail price of $3.99.

    For more information, visit
    *Although potato chips were born in the U.S.A., the U.K. was an early pioneer in flavored potato chips. Here’s the history of potato chips.




    SUPER BOWL: Garrett Popcorn

    For Super Bowl munching, how about some Spicy CheeseCorn? The limited edition flavor from Garrett Popcorn is a welcome gift: a yummy blend of cayenne pepper and chili powder mixed with freshly melted Cheddar cheese corn.

    Combine with a cold beer, and you may not care who wins or loses.

    Send Spicy CheeseCorn as a gift or send some to yourself, at

    You can choose from an array of tin sizes and six different tin designs, from 1 gallon to 6.5 gallons ($31 to $135). And if you don}t like things spicy, you can choose from Garrett’s other flavors:

  • Almond CaramelCrisp
  • Buttery
  • CaramelCrisp
  • Cashew CaramelCrisp
  • CheeseCorn


    Spicy CheeseCorn; BYOB. Photo courtesy Garrett Popcvorn.

  • Garrett Mix (sweet CaramelCrisp with savory CheeseCorn)
  • Macadamia CaramelCrisp
  • Pecan CaramelCrisp
  • Plain
    You can order single flavors or combine three flavors in one tin. Details are on the company website.



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