THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods

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FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Celebratory Pasta

SoupDelight the family with a theme pasta of the month—above, snowflakes and snowmen.
  Use specialty shaped pastas to have a monthly celebration dinner: snowmen in January, hearts in February, stars for Independence Day, pumpkins in October, turkeys in November, Santas in December and so forth. With this new monthly dinner tradition, select a family member to research interesting facts about the holiday or season to share at the table. Read our review of Pasta Shoppe novelty-shape pastas, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Visit the Pasta Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine for a world of great pasta articles and reviews.

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GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Win Starbucks Coffee

Like coffee? Enter this week’s Gourmet Giveaway on THE Answer four fun trivia questions about coffee. Whether you answer right or wrong, you’ll be entered into the prize drawing. The lucky winner will receive this Starbucks Coffee Sampler (photo at right), chock full of goodies:
– 5 different Starbucks ground coffees,
– 2 boxes of Starbucks hot cocoa
– 2 packages of Starbucks graham crackers
– 2 packages of Starbucks biscotti
– 1 box of Marich’s delicious English Toffee CaramelsYou can keep them all for yourself or have an excuse to invite friends for coffee.
  Starbucks Coffee Gift

Win me! Drink me! Eat me! This Starbucks Gift Sampler prize is available at

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NEWS: Bad Crops Lead To Higher Cacao Prices

Cacao BeansCacao beans: victims of El Niño.   According to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), the world’s current cocoa shortfall is now 55% larger than previously thought, due to adverse weather conditions that caused crop reductions over the 2006/2007 season. The global production deficit is now estimated at 242,000 tonnes. Severe dry and windy conditions affected Africa at the end of 2006, and output declined 10% (Africa supplies 70% of the world’s cacao). Over the same period, El Niño temperature fluctuations led to crop declines of 8% in the Asia and Oceania region, and 6% in the Americas.
However, the ICCO states that demand has not decreased and remains at a record high. World cacao consumption has grown on average 3.8% each year over the last five years, and 2.5% over the 2006/07 season. This demand, combined with moves by some manufacturers to stocking up on cacao, has led to average price increases of 12%. Expect to see prices reflected in everything from bars to cocoa powder to baked goods.

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TRENDS: The World Of Cookies

Are you a standard cookie eater or a trendsetter? Although the overall $5.9 billion U.S. cookie market sales increased 14% in value from 2002 to 2007, standard cookies are losing ground and niche cookies are trending up. According to a new report by research firm Mintel, standard cookies still represent 57.5% of sales. But this figure has been declining over the five year period covered by the report, suggesting that more specialized cookies are gaining in popularity. What are “specialized” cookies?
Health orientated cookies. These include cookies that consumers consider to be healthy, made with natural or organic ingredients, and/or in smaller portion sizes.
Cookie bars. This category has grown a whopping 57% over the five years of the report. Future category growth could be driven by cookie bars, and new manufacturers may enter the category offering hybrid product lines such as energy and meal replacement cookie bars. What’s slowing?
  Organic Cookies - Liz Lovely
Liz Lovely cookies are riding the trends of organic and supersized. Read our review.
Sales of premium and luxury cookies, the “indulgent” products. It’s not that consumers are moving away from indulgent cookies, the researchers say, but the premium genre will move towards producing cookie bar and health-orientated cookies (all natural and organic), causing a blurring of segment lines. Two surprise demographic findings:
– Baby boomers in the 55 to 64 age group will experience the strongest consumption growth up to 2012, preferring treats that contain heart-healthy dark chocolate, antioxidant-rich fruits, and nuts and whole grains.- Men apparently eat cookies more often than women. This indicates opportunities for more “manly snacks,” such as oversize cookies with large chunks or chocolates or nuts. Apparently, the U.S. will be in supersize mode for some time to come.

If you’re now hungry for a cookie, click on over to the Cookies, Brownies & Bars Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine to see some of our favorites.

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FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Spritz Your Dressings / Mist Your Salads

Oil Mister

There are stainless-steel misters and acrylic or glass misters like this one, that enable you to see your oil or vinaigrette.
  Even big companies are jumping on the bandwagon now, with prepackaged spray dressings. But we have been spraying olive oil and vinaigrettes from non-aerosol, refillable spray bottles for years before. The idea was born when we wanted a way to get more coverage of our greens by using less dressing, without hand-tossing the salad to cover every leaf (in other words, get more dressing flavor by using less dressing, with fewer calories). We started by buying empty plastic cosmetics spray bottles to fill and spritz, but the industry has caught up and now makes “misters,” shown in the photo at the left. You can buy high-tech looking, stainless versions, or more cruet-style versions that let you see your oil or vinaigrette. There are also pocket-size versions that you can carry with you.
Add a mister to your table to cut down on dressing calories. Alas, mayonnaise-based dressings are too heavy to fit through the spray, although you can experiment with making creamy vinaigrettes. Find more diet ideas in the Diet Nibbles Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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