About

Nibble is born!

We’re the new kids on the block.

For ages we hunted high and low for a deliciously healthy, high protein snack that was easy to eat on the run. You know, for those moments when your stomach is grumbling, you’re flagging and you’ve got 2 minutes to spare before you’re dragged into a meeting / about to hop on the train / stuck on the school run / (insert busy life stuff).

We didn’t want a snack that just sounded healthy, but was actually full of sugar. We were looking for a lovely, low GI option (What’s that?). Something really yummy – not worthy-tasting or weirdly unnatural.

In the end, we got tired of searching, so we made our own. You could say Nibble was born out of desperation!

Why High Protein?

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Our Ingredients

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The backstory

Nibble founder, Erin Moroney

I was a classic (delinquent) former-veggie. I really love vegetables and ate tons of them, but I was light on the protein front and it was starting to take its toll. I was constantly tired, my blood sugar levels were all over the place, and my nails and hair were breaking—a lot (don’t get my hairdresser started!).

In the run-up to the marathon, I decided I better nail my nutrition if I wanted to survive the training. After a serious look at my diet, I realised (finally!) that despite all the healthy food I was eating, I was getting it all wrong. It turns out, lo and behold, I was ‘protein deficient’. I had a lot of the classic symptoms.

Short of eating chicken & almonds all day, I needed a way to get more protein into my diet. A lot more protein. Protein bars seemed like the way forward, but I didn’t want tons of sugar (or dates for that matter).

So after a lot of aimless wandering around supermarkets, I thought sod it. I’ll make my own.

And truth be told, it wasn’t easy. There’s a reason why there aren’t many low sugar products around—making them is a massive technical challenge. But happily (a few hundred test batches later), we got there in the end!

We use the finest natural ingredients including antioxidant-rich dried plum purée and a blend of toasted pumpkin/sunflower seeds and crunchy protein crisps (tell me more. .. ). Our bites are super nutritious, with less sugar and more yummy flavours. Perfect for healthy eating on the go.

Enjoy!

(Before founding Nibble, Erin co-owned a leading photographic agency and most recently she was a creative agency art director and producer. So yeah, nothing to do with food :)!)

AND THE BROWNIES?
Made with lots of love for Austin & Julie x

Well, this is a slightly different story! Nibble Brownie Bites were inspired by Erin’s 12 year-old American niece, Julianna. Julie is a notoriously fussy eater who rarely ate any protein (but loved brownies). To help boost her niece’s protein intake (and lower her sugar consumption!), Erin set out on a mission to develop a brownie recipe that passed the Julie-test (ie. it couldn’t look too healthy otherwise she wouldn’t even try it!). Erin’s older nephew, Austin, is a chocoholic (and already a Nibble Protein addict) so he’d love these too. Roughly based on the original recipe, these bites would only include “brownie-stuff” (no seeds or healthy looking bits)—with some sneaky protein snuck in. The brownies proved so popular, they sparked a whole range (with a note to Austin & Julie on the back of every pack)!

And in total contrast to the first range, the brownies came together very quickly (most of the painful points had already been worked out!). You’d never know these little bad boys were 20% dried plum purée (and 18% plant protein).

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Getting a little technical

The tricky bits

Over the course of a year, we consulted with 4 different food scientists on two continents before we cracked this bad boy. So why was it so tricky?

Well, we didn’t make things particularly easy for ourselves. We had a long list of must-haves and they hadn’t all been achieved in one product before. We got the old “there probably was a reason no one has done it before yet” response from potential manufacturers. Hmm, not so helpful.

So if you really want to know why it was such a mission and why we’re different…

(The hard work was worth it– we’ve been recognised with a 2017 Bronze Innovation Challenge award!).

High protein

This should have been the easy part, right? If only… Pea protein is super powdery and usually a ton of sugar is needed to bind it together (water is generally a no-go from a shelf-life point of view). And in order to qualify as “High Protein” in the UK, at least 20% of the energy (or calories) has to come from protein. Protein and carbs (inc sugar) are 4 calories a gram while fat is a whopping 9 calories a gram. So if you don’t want a lot or sugar or too much fat… it gets dicey quickly. It’s a good thing we paid attention in Maths.

We had to get a little creative with natural food science– hence the epic test batches and the slightly longer list of ingredients. We also discovered new foods to include, like crunchy pea protein crisps (straight from California) that add extra texture and more low-fat protein.

Lower sugar

It’s not always easy to just reduce sugar in recipes. Sugar helps bind everything together, it improves mouth feel/prevents dryness, it makes things taste better, and it extends shelf life. Nailing the above, using all natural ingredients, and getting something that tasted good was a puzzle with a lot of moving parts. And oh yes, we did get laughed at when we told manufacturers our target sugar content.

After hundreds of trials, we FINALLY got there. We are lower in sugar than almost all other brands—and by a lot. Our bites (per 42g bag) contain between 5.9-7.4 grams of sugar, depending on flavour. Our average sugar content is just 6.5 grams per BAG (an apple is 10g), giving each whole Nibble less than 1g of sugar. That works out to less than half the sugar of most date balls (in some cases we have 1/3 of the sugar!).

Low GI

Although sugar is still essentially sugar, not all forms are created equal. We wanted the healthiest natural option possible so we insisted on using low Glycemic Index ingredients. GI measures the speed at which carbs are broken down into glucose, rating foods zero to100, with 100 being pure glucose and table sugar sitting around 60-70. The lower the GI number, the longer it takes for your body to break down your food—which is a generally good thing (TELL ME MORE…). The problem is, the most common (and cheapest) bar sweeteners are high GI—like high glucose brown rice syrup (GI 98).

To sweeten our bites, we have used the lowest GI sweeteners we could find. Our bites are made with low GI ingredients dried plums (GI 29) and coconut blossom nectar (GI 30-35). Finding a manufacturer that would work with these new(ish) ingredients, like coconut nectar, was a slightly different matter…

No dates

We were suffering from a bit of date-fatigue—they’re everywhere! And if truth be told, we just aren’t a massive fan of the taste (it can be hard to taste much else when they’re used). And of course they’re high in sugar—that old chestnut. We wanted a date-free product, but date syrup is a go-to for many health bar manufacturers.

We just wanted something different—cue the dried plums! They have a delicious delicate taste so other flavours have a bit of a blank canvas. And they contain about 40% less sugar than dates, they are high in fibre, rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are harder to source, but they are a total revelation. We just can’t believe we haven’t been eating them before now.

No brown rice syrup

Ok this does follow on from low GI, but it’s such a big one, it deserves it’s own section. Brown rice syrup is the first ingredient in SO many leading protein bars and balls. Although it sounds super healthy, it’s essentially a high glucose syrup with a staggering GI of 98 out of a scale of 100 (which is pure glucose). Even table sugar only comes in with a GI of 60-70. So if you’re doing hardcore exercise and need a quick glucose hit, that’s one thing, but if you’re desk surfing, it’s something all together different. . .That’s because high GI foods can lead to blood sugar crashes that can leave you feeling rubbish and insatiably hungry (TELL ME MORE…).

Instead we use low GI dried plums and coconut blossom nectar to add sweetness to our bites, while keeping blood sugar levels steady which gives you sustained energy. Our bites really do keep you fuller longer, because your body isn’t craving sugar to balance out the crash.

No agave syrup

Yup, we’re still on sugars… Agave syrup is labelled as a low GI sweetener—so why aren’t we using it? Well, it’s a highly processed syrup that is almost all fructose. Amazingly, it’s the main ingredient for tequila (the tipple is made from the core of the the Agave tequilana plant). And although fructose doesn’t cause the same spikes as glucose (hence the low GI rating), it needs to go straight to your liver for processing. Our livers have enough to do already! Agave’s composition has been compared to High Fructose Corn syrup. If you ask a manufacturer for a low GI snack bar option, you’ll probably be steered towards agave…

No, thanks. Instead, we use low GI coconut nectar syrup which is also a source of vitamins C, B3, B3, iron and magnesium. None of the manufacturers we spoke to had actually used coconut syrup before in production.

No dairy, gluten, or soy

In case we weren’t making things difficult enough, we didn’t want dairy, gluten, soy or really any other allergens in our bites. The most commonly used protein isolates are whey (a dairy product) and soy– both considered allergens. There are minute traces of dairy and soy in SO many ingredients—it’s a nightmare! Even if your actual ingredients don’t contain dairy, gluten, or soy, chances are they’ve been made in a factory (or carried in a lorry) that may have had one of those ingredients in it before and that’s enough to eliminate it from free-from status. Our bites don’t contain soy or nuts, but our manufacturer handles them so they’re off our offocial free-from list. You can see how this gets complicated. And even if you can eventually find certain free-from ingredients (like cocoa butter without traces of dairy), you have to pay a premium for them.

There’s no way around it—that’s why free-from products cost more. Relatively few manufacturers make them because of the agro and associated costs.

Contains big pieces of seeds (main range)

We wanted lovely chunks of whole foods in our bites wherever possible—like pieces of toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. They taste and look great, but manufacturers don’t like them because they can get caught in machines.

We’ve had a few battles with this one! This was an unexpectedly thorny issue, so right now part of our manufacturing process is being done by hand.

Round bite sized pieces

Who would have thought this would be a problem? Most bars are rolled out into a slab and cut—not so easy for 10p coin-sized pieces. Very few manufacturers are set up to make “bites” and if they do they are often square because they are easier to cut. Bites are also harder to pack so they are never a favourite from a production point of view.

Our bites are currently made in moulds by an army of (freakishly fast) workers.

Resealable bag (main range)

No, of course we couldn’t go for a bog standard bag—it needed to be resealable. The whole point of Nibble is to dip in and dip out when you’re on the go. And there’s nothing worse than finding errant bits of food on the bottom of your handbag / manbag. Very few manufacturers have the packaging machines to handle resealable bags because they are just too expensive (the machinery is about 7 times the cost of your average packing machine).

Yup, more cost, but it’s worth it!

20+ Number of different lemon oils trialled before finding the "ONE"
300+ Number of test batches before cracking our recipe (yes, really!)
24 Average number of toasted pumpkin seeds in a bag of Nibble