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Thursday, March 30, 2006 

Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter


This delightful stuff tastes remarkably like a melted peanut butter cup yet has no trans fats, no cholesterol, a mere 2.5 grams of saturated fat, only 35 mg of sodium, and only 7 grams of sugar! The smooth texture is positively dreamy, and it makes a decadent by-the-spoonful snack as well as a chocolately way to jazz up fruit or add pizazz to that boring old peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Aside from the delicious qualities of this yummy peanut butter, it also provides 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. If you didn't know, peanuts are a great source of vitamin E, folate, niacin, and magnesium and have been shown to lower blood cholesterol, help promote weight loss, and help ward off certain cancers. So peanut butter lovers, raise your spoons without guilt--this is one indulgence you can feel good about.

Try it now: Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter

Monday, March 27, 2006 

Health is Wealth Spinach Munchees

As I'm constantly on the go, a quick lunch is an absolute necessity for me. Since I'm also insistant that the lunch be of the healthy variety, I'm sometimes left at a loss for something to eat. A good option that I've found, however, are Spinach Munchees from Health is Wealth. These bite-sized mini pockets are made with spinach and soy mozzarella and are wrapped in whole wheat pockets. They're all-natural and contain zero cholesterol and trans fats.

The munchees take about 12 minutes in a 425 degree oven, and the finished product is light and crispy on the outside with a delicious cheese and spinach filling on the inside. A six-munchee serving contains 180 calories with 7 grams of fat (.5 saturated, 2 grams polyunsaturated, 3.5 monounsaturated), 3 grams of fiber, 25 grams total carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, 7 grams of protein. They boast 40% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 10% calcium, and 10% iron (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). As with all frozen foods, they are unfortunately a little high in sodium--320 mg. per serving.

Ingredients
Wrapper: Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour, Unbleached Wheat Flour, Water, Sea Salt, Annatto and Tumeric.
Filling: Chopped Spinach, Fat Free Soy Cheese (Organic Soybean Curd {Soybeans, Water, Citric Acid}, Calcium Caseinate, Corn Starch, Natural Flavor, Salt, Calcium Citrate, Rice Starch, Locust Bean Gum, Carrageenan, Soy Lecithin, Annatto, Vitamin A Acetate, Riboflavin), Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Bread Crumbs (Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour, Yeast, Sea Salt, Malt Syrup Solids (Barley Malt Extract, Soy Flour)) and Natural Spices

Manufacturer Says: Health is Wealth Spinach Munchees use only the finest leaf green spinach and all natural ingredients. Enjoy them as an appetizer, a light entree or snack.

This unique blend of whole wheat, expeller pressed non-hydrogenated oils and low fat ingredients produces a bite size mini pocket that is low in calories and high in complex carbohydrates — without preservatives or trans-fatty acids. Our Munchees are 100% Vegetarian. All natural, cholesterol-free, lactose-free, and no MSG.

Find them at a store near you: Spinach Munchees

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

Baked Tostitos Original Bite Size

My wife brought home some authentic homemade salsa, made in someone else's, and she told me I had to try it. Since eating salsa off of your fingers isn't very appealing, we broken open a bag of Baked Tostitos. The taste is not at all the same as the normal greasy chips but is not bad either. The chips are a bit thicker and are a little bit less crisp. They do taste lighter and saltier though, which is a big plus for a salt-lover like me, but would make them a bad choice for the sodium-conscious. They are certainly not as tasty as the regular chips and are not nearly as good to eat by themselves. Not a big problem as I was here to eat fantastic salsa, so I scooped up a bunch. I can say that the salsa was great, but that is another review! The point here is that the chips did not detract from enjoying the salsa. This way I can eat more salsa while cutting back on the calorie and fat intake.

The Conclusion:
I will probably buy these over regular chips for myself, since the chip is merely a conduit to enjoy the condiment and it is healthier. I may, however, opt for a more traditional choice when entertaining guests and others may be turned off by the modestly less appealing flavor.

The Manufacturer Says
A great way to enjoy reduced fat snacking.

The Facts
Serving Size: 1 oz.
Servings per Container: 13
Calories: 110
Fat: 1g (5 calories) No Trans Fat
Sodium: 200mg (kinda high)
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 3g
Calcium: 4%
Iron: 2%
Thiamin: 4%
Vitamin B6: 6%
Phosphorus: 6%
Weight Watchers Points® 2
Ingredients: Corn and Salt

Ratings: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 3
Diet Appropriate: 4
Category: Snack Foods/Chips

Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk

I can't say that I ever much bought into the health concerns over hormones and antibiotics used on milk-producing cows. I am a believer, though, in reducing antibiotic use, when possible, to avoid bacterial resistance. This aside, I was interested in tasting whether an organic chocolate milk was really any different than regular chocolate milk. Enter Horizon Organic's entry. Right from handling the package I noticed a difference. It seems that the package itself is supposed to be produced using low energy and recyclable material. This makes sense since, I suppose, those interested in organic products might be pretty likely to desire environmental responsibility. As an added aside, this single-serve package is designed so that it does not need to be refrigerated until opened.

Enough with the packaging though, how about the taste... Well, it is decidedly different than regular chocolate milk. It has a pasty or thick taste. In fact, I checked the package twice to make sure it was not whole milk but, was reassured that it is low fat after all. I would not say it is bad. The taste was still pleasant and chocolaty but, certainly, was not as good as some of the other kinds I have tried. The big test, however, came as my three-year-old son, a true chocolate milk aficionado, tried it. He gulped down the whole think without any indication that it was different from his normal kind. This is good for parents wishing the children to switch to organic products. It seems that if you switch them early, they will hardly notice a difference.

Overall, the product is eminently drinkable and I would drink it again. I am interested in trying their products not designed to be kept at room temperature to determine if they have a better consistency. Nutritionally, it is similar to other chocolate milk.

The Manufacturer Says
The organic milk is good for you because the cows are not treated with antibiotics and growth hormones.

The Facts
Serving Size: 8 oz
Servings per Container: 1
Calories: 180
Fat: 5g (45 calories) no trans fat
Fiber: 2% (<1g)
Protein: 8g
Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin D: 25%
Calcium: 25%
Iron: 2%
Sodium: 160mg
Weight Watchers Points®: 4

Ratings: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 3
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 3
Diet Appropriate: 3
Category: Drinks/Milk

Monday, March 20, 2006 

Vitalicious VitaTops - MultiBran

My wife ordered a Vitalicious Sampler in the interest of healthier breakfasts. The normal bran muffin, while tasty, are pretty far from healthy as they are loaded in fat and calories. VitaTops, however, are fat-free and lower calorie though still have a sizable 100 calories per muffin top. Vitalicious suggests this is a “controlled” portion but, since it is a little too small to satisfy, it took me a few more controlled portions before I approached fullness.

Normally I would assume the low fat bran combo would result in a sawdust taste but, since these came highly recommended, my expectations were mixed. The initial taste is a bit branny though is moist and smooth. Don’t forget the water, however, or you will be pretty parched about halfway through.

VitaTops are definitely not like any other muffin I have tasted and got better with additional bites. I would say that a regular bran muffin is slightly superior-tasting but, as VitaTops are healthier and a change-of-pace, they are worth a try. I would definitely buy these again because, if I am going to eat bran, it better be at least a little bit healthy even if it resembles a bran-filled multi-vitamin. For those of you who need to watch sodium intake, though, these would probably not be a wise choice with a hefty 360mg. Outside of this, though, they are, as the name suggests, filled with added vitamin nutrition and have high fiber with a solid 3g of protein.

The Facts:
Calories: 100
Servings Size: 1 top (2oz)
Servings per Container: 1
Fat: 0g
Sodium: 360mg
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin A: 50%
Vitamin B6: 50%
Vitamin B12: 50%
Vitamin C: 50%
Vitamin D: 50%
Vitamin E: 50%
Thiamin: 4%
Riboflavin: 10%
Folic Acid: 50%
Pantothenic Acid: 12.5%
Biotin: 50%
Zinc: 50%
Niacin: 4%
Iron: 50%
Calcium: 2%
Weight Watchers Points®: 1 (though close to the 2 mark)

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 4
Satisfying/filling: 2
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 3
Category: Breakfast Foods/muffins

Saturday, March 18, 2006 

Millville Oats & Honey Crunchy Granola Bars

I have been eating Millville Oats & Honey Crunchy Granola Bars, sold and distributed by Aldi Inc, for quite some time without thinking about whether they might fill the bill of a healthy snack. Usually granola bars are filled with trans fats and are more closely related to a candy bar than health food, especially when made for a chain grocery store but, these are a little different. They contain no trans fats and are made with whole grain oats with a fair amount of fiber and, unfortunately, quite a lot of sugar. They are very tasty, especially if you like a light honey flavor. They are crunchy, as the name suggests and, though not as dry as a typical crunchy granola bar, require staying in close proximity to a water fountain. For those interested in trying this, remember that a crunchy bar equals a messy bar which can be a problem if you are eating while working, pieces of granola under laptop keys can be a major drag, or will be without a plate, so plan appropriately. These are not for the calorie-conscious either, as they are 170 calories per package (2 smallish bars) though my wife usually eats only one of the bars. They are also a little too high in sugar and sodium to be an ideal snack food. That said, these are tasty, something a little different and better for you than most grocery store granola bars so they may be worth a try.

The Facts:
Calories: 170
Serving Size: 2 Bars (1 package)
Servings Per Container: 6
Fat: 5g (45 calories)
Sodium: 160mg
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 4g
Iron: 6%
Weight Watchers Points®: 3

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 3
Taste: 4
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 3
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 2
Category: Granola Bars/Snack Food

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

Stretch Island Organic Apple Fruit Leather

Fruit Leather tastes similar to competing products such as Betty Crocker’s Fruit Roll-Ups® but is much healthier. It doesn’t have partially hydrogenated oils or added sugars and includes only natural ingredients.

While the flavor is good, I am not quite sure that it tastes like apple. I even checked the package again to be sure what it was. Again, it was not that it was bad, just not necessarily consistent with the name. This is not all that unusual for this type of product so don’t be too concerned.

The taste is sweet enough to appeal to children and adults alike and is, perhaps, sweeter-tasting than the competitors. The higher sugar content probably is a factor here though it is from fruit juice versus corn syrup found in the competition. Additionally, a subtle taste of lemon juice enhances the flavor of what can be a pretty bland snack food.

Rest assured that kids will not be able to tell the difference and will enjoy these every bit as much as the others. Kids may miss out on the gimmicky package of fruit rolled up in plastic, though I always thought it a huge pain in the neck, or uncoiling it as in Fruit by The Foot®, but will still think the flat shape and pliability of Stretch Island's version is novel enough.

Overall, it is not a matter, in this case, of choosing the healthier choice and making a sacrifice in taste but, quite the opposite, this is the superior-tasting and healthier product.

The Facts:
Fruit LeatherFruit Roll-Ups®
Calories:4550
Serving Size:14g (1 pouch)14g (1 roll)
Servings per Container:11
Fat:01g (5 calories)
Sodium:0g55g
Potassium:95mg
Fiber:1g
Weight Watchers Points®:1 (on the low end)1


Ingredients:
Organic apple puree concentrate, organic lemon juice concentrate, organic cinnamon.

Ratings:
Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 2
Healthy: 5
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 5
Category: Snack Foods/Candy

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

Zoe's Flax & Soy Bar - Heavenly Apple

Whenever I'm heading to the gym to lift weights, I grab a Zoe Flax & Soy Bar to fuel up. Unlike other bars on the market, Zoe's Bars are all natural and have no trans fatty acids, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup. They are low in sodium, wheat free, and provide 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.

Zoe’s Bars are made with ground flaxseed and soy and provide 100% daily value of ALA omega-3. The Heavenly Apple flavor takes some getting used to, but once you've acquired a taste for it, it's fantastic. The texture is chewy and crispy and wholly satisfying. There's only 10 grams of sugar, but it still manages to keep the sweet tooth in check.

Each serving contains:
5g Soy Protein
5g Fiber
2200mg Omega-3
1 Tablespoon Ground Flaxseed
Dairy Free
No Trans Fatty Acids
Weight Watchers Points: 4

Try it now: Zoe's Flax & Soy Bar - Heavenly Apple

Monday, March 13, 2006 

Hodgson Mill - Whole Wheat Pasta

While many people know that Wheat Pasta is a healthier choice than traditional pastas, quite a few people steer clear because they just don't like the texture, the taste, or both. When I first tried Hodgson's Mill Whole Wheat Pasta, I had the advantage of not knowing that I was in for anything different. My wife cooked it up for me and gave me no indication other than that it was regular old pasta with my favorite homemade sauce. I have even less expectation of anything different since my wife generally doesn't buy into health food, organic, all-natural, or any other alternative food choices. Not having pre-conceived notions, helped me to enjoy this pasta. I did detect a bit of gumminess and a hint of a wheat flavor enough to suspect that this was not my normal pasta but not enough to detract from my eating enjoyment. It is important to point out, though, that I pretty much view pasta as a conduit to eating sauce. So, as long as it wasn't awful, I would be ok. The first experience was with the elbow pasta. This type is especially good at hold pasta sauce so any negative flavor would be masked further. On a second occasion, I ate the spaghetti, with much less sauce. The wheat flavor and gumminess was a little stronger but, it was still not enough to turn me away. I would say that I would have little problem replacing my regular pasta with this stuff and figure that the differences I notice now would become less significant as I got more used to eating the healthier alternative. I might, though, try Bionaturae's Whole Wheat Pasta to see if it tastes better and go with the better of the two.

Health-wise, this is great stuff, as it is whole grain, and has higher fiber than its processed and enriched competitors.

The Manufacturer Says:
High fiber tastes great too.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 2oz (dry)
Servings Per Container: 8
Calories: 190
Fat: 1g (15 calories)
Sodium: 10mg
Fiber: 6g
Protein: 9g
Calcium: 2%
Thiamine: 20%
Riboflavin: 4%
Niacin: 10%
Iron: 15%
Weight Watcher's Points®: 3 (high fiber makes it just below the 4 mark)

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 4
Healthy: 5
Performance (for athletes): 5
Diet Appropriate: 5
Category: Pasta

Friday, March 10, 2006 

Meijer Bite Size Shredded Wheat

I have always been a fan of the sugar-coated version of shredded wheat but was not so sure that I that would translate to the plain kind. In fact, these have been sitting in my pantry for months as I avoided them for the sugary and far less healthy breakfast choices. We ran out of those yesterday and have not had a chance to go shopping so, it was pretty much these or nothing. To my surprise, they are not bad. They don't taste "health foody" and, since they absorb a lot of milk, actually were sweeter than I expected. They key was to let it soak in the milk long enough to saturate each one. No big deal for experienced shredded wheat eaters. The catch is, though, that you have to really like milk for this to be acceptable. No problem for me but, I know a few people that would gag at the thought. Nutritionally these are a winner. They have very low sugar, none added, as the only ingredient listed is 100% whole wheat. They also claim that it is 100% whole grain. They are, of course, loaded in fiber and have good set of vitamin and mineral nutrition and no sodium. It is important to note that, since the cereal is not overly sweet, it does not entice me to eat way more than I should as is typical with my normal breakfast fare. This is good news for someone trying to lose a few pounds.

I don't think I would have a problem eating this kind of shredded wheat, though it would still be more on the occasional side.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups (significantly larger than many breakfast cereals)
Servings per Container: about 10
Calories: 170
Fat: 1g (10 Calories)
Sodium: 0g
Potassium: 80mg
Fiber: 6g
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 6%
Thiamin: 8%
Riboflavin: 2%
Niacin: 15%
Phosphorus: 20%
Magnesium: 15%
Zinc: 8%
Copper: 8%
Weight Watchers Points®: 4 with 1/2 cup of skim milk

Manufacturer Says:
Not a whole lot. I guess they let the product speak for itself. They extoll the benefits of whole grain and that the product is 100% made whole grain wheat

Ratings:
Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 4
Healthy: 5
Performance (for athletes): 5
Diet Appropriate: 5
Category: Breakfast food/cold cereals

Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Vruit - Berry Veggie Blend



The common advice is that we should drink about 64 ounces of fluid a day. I probably consume twice that amount and mostly in the form of plain old water. Since I can, at times, struggle to get all my fruit and vegetable servings in a day, a healthy drink that helps fill the requirement is welcome. Of course, I have tried to drink vegetable juices before and haven't gotten very far. In fact, I once tried to drink a V-8 and only made it about 1/8 through a 6 ounce bottle. That said, I would was repulsed at the thought of even taking a sip of Vruit. At the assurances of a co-worker, more like a dare, I reluctantly popped a straw in the juice box and gave a cautiously quick sip. To my surprise, it wasn't bad at all. It was sweet with only a hint of the vegetable taste that I feared so much. I had no problem downing the whole container and, dare I say, enjoyed it. Even the kids liked it and it would be a great replacement for their typical juice boxes. Plus, this stuff gives you the vegetables in a form that doesn't have nearly as much sodium as competing vegetable drinks.

Keep in mind, though, that you should probably only get one serving per day of fruits/vegetables from juice so don't think you can totally rely on this as your source.

The Manufacturer says:
A blend of 100% fruit and vegetable juices that is nutritious and delicious. Eight ounces of Vruit provides one of recommended servings of the fruit and vegetable group.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 8.45oz
Servings per Container: 1
Calories: 110
Fat: 0
Sodium: 25mg
Protein: 1g
Potassium: 370mg
Vitamin A: 100%
Vitamin C: 100%
Iron: 2%
Calcium: 2%

Ratings:
Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 3
Category: Juice

Try Vruit here

Fruity Booty


After trying Veggie Booty, I was pretty excited to have Fruity Booty which is also made by Roberts American Gourmet. My expectations were high, since the manufacturer made a tasty treat out of seemingly unappetizing ingredients with Veggie Booty. Orange, cherry, papaya, mango, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, pineapple, grape, and apple flavors found in Fruity Booty would almost certainly make for a better combination. Well, I was a little disappointed. It is not that they weren't good, they taste a little like Corn Pops® with a hint of fruity flavor, but only that I had was expecting something fantastic. Expectations aside, they are good and the kids liked them too. Unfortunately, as I later found, these are not nearly as popular as some of the other Roberts American Gourmet products and can be a bit hard to find. Too bad, because they are a good alternative if you like a fruity-but-not-too-sweet-taste and want to keep your snacks on the healthier side.

The Manufacturer Says:
Fruity Booty contains a blend of Orange, Cherry, Papaya, Mango, Raspberry, Blackberry, Strawberry,Pineapple, Grape, and Apple.

Fruity Booty is a snack that will change the way you eat and provide you with a 10 fruit blend, while enjoying the finest snack on the planet.

Fruity Booty puts you in the mindset to eat healthier and change your life. Take it on a train, or in your car, on a walk, or on a boat. Fruity Booty will be your good friend. Contains impressive amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 1oz
Servings per container: 4 (it is pretty easy to polish off the whole bag)
Calories: 130
Fat: 5g (45 calories)
Cholesterol: 0mg!
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: 30%
Vitamin C: 10%
Calcium: 15%
Iron: 2%

Ratings:
Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 3
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 3
Category: Snack Food

Crispy Delites 100% Natural Veggie Chips - Mixed Vegetables


Typically vegetable chips have quite a bit of fat in them, so I was intrigued when I came across Crispy Delites Mixed Vegetable Chips with only 3.5 grams of fat per serving. The Mixed Vegetable chips contain carrot, stringbean, taro, celery, red onion, pumpkin, canola oil, and sea salt. I prefer taking one chip out at a time as opposed to tossing a handful of chips in my mouth because I'm actually not that crazy about the blend of flavors. The individual chips, however, are delightfully light and crunchy and have great flavor. The carrot is just a teeny bit play-doh tasting, but still pretty good. The 5.8 oz can has 5.5 servings, but it's very easy to get carried away and eat much more than the 1.07 oz serving size. The nutrition stats are pretty impressive--a low 115 calories per serving with only 120 mg of sodium and a generous 240 mg of potassium. Total carbs are 17 grams with 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugars. The chips also boast 3 grams of protein and provide 29% of Daily Value (based on 2,000 calorie diet) of vitamin A, 15% vitamin E, 20% of vitamin C, 6% calcium, and 9% iron. Not too shabby for a snack food or as a side with soup!


Manufacturer says: Mixed Vegetable Chips are made from 100% fresh vegetables, a kiss of canola oil, sea salt, and nothing else. Crispy Delites are simple goodness, packed with vitamins and nutritional benefits. You're going to love 'em and feel good about it too!

Try them now at: Crispy Delites Mixed Vegetable Chips

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 

Health Valley Apple Cobbler Cereal Bars



Around mid-morning I'm typically rummaging around for something to snack on that will curb my sweet tooth and won't blow my diet. Recently I discovered a snack bar--Health Valley Apple Cobbler Cereal Bars--that both tastes great and isn't loaded with calories and fat.

Apple Cobbler Cereal Bars taste remarkably like apple pie (YUM!) and are 70% organic with all-natural ingredients. They contain only 130 calories, 2 grams of fat (0 saturated/trans), and 50 mg of sodium. They are also a great source of six B vitamins as well as selenium. The only downside to these babies is that they aren't very filling, and they are soooooo good you want to keep eating them. These bars also satisfy as a dessert.

Ingredients: apple filling (organic cane juice, apples, concentrated fruit juices [pineapple, peach, pear], tapioca, vegetable glycerin, natural flavors, apple pectin, cinnamon, carob bean gum, annatto and turmeric [for color], organic wheat flour, organic cane juice, organic expeller pressed canola oil, organic oats, organic wheat gluten, organic honey, organic wheat bran, natural flavors, nonfat dry milk, cream of tartar, baking soda, soy lecithin, maltodextrin (from corn), citrus oils, carrageenan, sea salt, annatto and turmeric (for color).
Nutrition Blend: natural beta carotene, niacin, Vitamin B6 (pyridioxine hydrochloride), riboflavin, Vitamin B1(thiamin hydrochloride), Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamine), sodium selenite, folic acid.



Find them in a store near you: Health Valley Apple Cobbler Cereal Bars

Veggie Booty

Veggie Booty
When I crave snack food, spinach, kale, cabbage, carrots, and broccoli are hardly the first things that come to mind. It seems that some slightly off person at Roberts American Gourmet differed with my opinion as these are the key ingredients they used to create Veggie Booty. As someone who is generally turned off by "health food", I was pretty sure I would that this unusual combo would taste no better than chewing on the end of a pencil. I fully expected that I would just end up discarding the bag after an initial taste. Boy was I wrong. They are great! It is a different flavor to be sure but, it is delicious. The strange combination just works. The flavors blend into an exotic flavor reminiscent of a tasty specialty popcorn. The only negative is the texture can be a bit Styrofoamy. Don’t let that scare you away, however, or you will really miss out as the flavor more than compensates. Plus, as a lover of salty flavors, Veggie Booty manages to taste salty without excessive sodium, especially when compared to other snack food choices.

I was not the only one who loves Veggie Booty in my family. The kids polished of a bag and asked for more. Even my wife, who is really skeptical of any health food, liked them.

Keep in mind, though, that these are a snack food and are a bit high in fat, so resist the temptation to eat tons of it!

The Manufacturer Says:
Veggie Booty is a delicious snack that you and your family will love. It contains a blend of Spinach, Kale, Cabbage, Carrots, and Broccoli--and believe it or not, kids love it!

Veggie Booty puts you in the mindset to eat healthier and change your life. Take it on a train, or in your car, on a walk, or on a boat, Veggie Booty will be your good friend. This is a life changing snack that will help you eat healthier. Contains impressive amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 1oz
Servings per container: 4 (plan on eating the whole bag)
Calories: 130
Fat: 5g (0 trans 0 saturated)
Sodium: 70mg
Fiber: 2.25g
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: 5%
Vitamin C: 25%
Iron: 4%
Weight Watcher's Points: 3 (barely! give a few to a friend and it would be 2)

Ratings:
Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 5
Taste: 5
Satisfying/filling: 4
Healthy: 5
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 4
Category: Snack Food

Try them now at: Veggie Booty

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 

Just Peas


When I got these as part of a gift basket from Well Baskets I wasn't sure what to do with them. A packet of dried peas? Is this called for in healthy recipes? Do I have to add something to them? Is this actually supposed to be a snack food? I generally like peas, but I never thought of them as something I would have as a quick and healthy snack. I studied the package a little more to see if they were sweetened or had something added to make them more than what they seemed but, NO! The package unequivocally states that the ARE Just Peas! I finally decided to give them a try. Not Bad! Not Bad at all! More than that, they are very good! When my six year old daughter saw me eating them she wanted to try. I thought there was no way that this would suit the typically sweet-toothed youngster but I was in for a surprise. Before I knew it they were all gone. Even my four year old sucked quite a few of them down. They were a hit among the kids, even those that don't like cooked peas.

The dehydration process softens the pea flavor some and adds a crunchy texture which makes them more appealing than I would have ever imagined. Make sure you have a glass of water around, though, because they will leave you parched after a full serving. For this reason, they would not be great to have close to exercise time, but are better suited to a mid-morning, lunchtime, or afternoon snack.

With protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, Iron, fiber, and low sodium Just Peas are a great alternative to other snack foods and made me excited to taste other offerings from the Just Tomatoes Company.

The Facts:
Serving Size: 1oz (1/2oz packet has half of the amounts found here)
Servings per container: 3.5 (1 serving is 1/2 oz packet)
Calories: 100
Fat: 0.5g
Sodium: 5mg
Dietary Fiber: 3g
Sugars: 7g
Protein: 7g
Vitamin A: 8%
Vitamin C: 20%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 10%

The Manufacture Says:
These peas are a nutritious and filling snack--a favorite of kids and adults. More than just a snack... these peas are fun to cook with, too. Add them to soups, sauces, and rice dishes. Top salads and baked potatoes. Add to stir fry or pasta. Great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron.

Ratings:
Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 5
Taste: 5
Satisfying/filling: 4
Healthy: 5
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 5
Category: Snack Food and Herbs/spices

Try them now at: Just Peas

Monday, March 06, 2006 

Lavosh Classic Island Crackers



There are those rare times when I am forced to eat like a normal person, such as days when I don’t engage in my multiple hours of exercise, or when I entertain for my not-so-insanely-athletic friends. This past weekend was just such an occasion, as I was making dinner for a second date, and I needed to throw together an appetizer in a few minutes. Looking around my kitchen, I found Lavosh Classic Island Crackers and some pepper-jack cheese. Perfect. I figured my date, an avid runner herself, would have some appreciation for crackers with no saturated fat.

Did I like them? Yes, and they were good enough to munch on sans-cheese despite the strange look from my date. The poppy and sesame seeds added just enough flavor for them to stand on their own.

Did she like them? Pretty sure she did. The third date was dinner at her place, and she made cheese and crackers with none other than Lavosh Peppercorn Crackers. Turns out she was a big fan of these crackers before having them at my place.

Good for training? They aren’t particularly good to have just before excercise, though they are a healthy snack anytime if you add cheese or hommus, as they then have a good mix of carbohydrates/proteins/fats.

Try them now: Lavosh Classic Island Crackers

Esparrago Chunky Asparagus Salsa


As a lover of Mexican food and, especially, good salsa, I was excited to try the Esparrago Salsa. The catch is, however, asparagus is not one of my favorite vegetables. No, I don't hate it, but I can think of at least a dozen vegetables I would go for first. I had an open mind despite this because I figured that salsa is such a mix of flavors that the asparagus would hardly stand out at all. Thus, I would be getting the benefits without any of the taste drawbacks. Unfortunately, this was not quite true.

The salsa is hearty and the base is pretty good, but the asparagus adds a flavor that just doesn't quite fit in salsa. It was not bad, just not one of the better salsas I have had. I actually had two choices of salsa on the table and, after using up all of the Esparrago on I had on my plate, I replaced it with an alternative (Mrs. Renfro's) that I like a whole lot more. So, despite the health benefits, I do not think I would buy this over my other favorites because they are all-natural as well and I do not consider the health differences to be huge. I should point out, though, that the sodium is far less than that found in competing salsas so it is definitely worth trying for those needing to watch salt intake.

Overall, though I wouldn't buy this stuff, it is good enough to use once in awhile. I think, perhaps, if there was a much spicier version, it would be more appealing and might have a better chance of winning me over.

The Facts:
BrandEsparragoMrs. Renfros
Serving size:2 Tbsp2 Tbsp
Servings per container:about 10about 13
Calories:1010
Fat:0g0g
Sodium:95mg390mg
Protein:1g0g
Vitamin A:4%0
Vitamin C:10%2%
Iron:2%2%
Folate:6%0
Fiber:<1g0
Weight Watchers Points®:00

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 3
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 5
Performance (for athletes): 5
Diet Appropriate: 5
Category: Condiment

Try it now: Esparrago Chunky Asparagus Salsa

Hunka Chunka Organic Cookies - Double Chocolate Chip

I am always a bit worried when a cookie is advertised as organic. My first thought is that the package would taste better than the cookie. I suppose that I have opened my mind a bit and did not cringe when I put the first cookie in my mouth but, suffice it to say, my expectations were not real high. I was pleasantly surprised that with the very chocolaty taste. The texture is a bit unusual and certainly not like any cookie I had eaten. They felt lighter and more filled with air than cookie which, I suppose, keeps the calories and fat down. The whole family tried them and made quick work of the 2 oz bag. Everyone’s reaction was positive. The kids didn't seem to think they were anything unusual at all. You could hardly expect a better reaction when trying to introduce healthy treats to your kids. For myself, I would reach for the Chips Ahoy® before these if taste was the only consideration. Since I am trying to be healthier, I would probably choose Hunka Chunka Double Chocolate Chip slightly more often however. The "light and airy" texture makes them a little less filling than some of the traditional favorites so you might expect to eat a few more than you would of your other favorites. You can do it, however, with a little less guilt knowing that these are much better for you!

Overall, I think these cookies are a great alternative for kids and for adults who are trying to improve eating without major sacrifices in food enjoyment.

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 4
Satisfying/filling: 4
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 3
Diet Appropriate: 4
Category: Dessert Foods

Try it now: Hunka Chunka Organic Cookies - Double Chocolate Chip

Friday, March 03, 2006 

Just Gone Bananas

Just Bananas
I have always been a fan of dried banana chips and have been known to eat a pound in one sitting. The problem is that most of them are loaded in fat and calories making rapid weight gain a near certainty if I ate them as much as I wanted. This is where Just Gone Bananas, a product of Just Tomatoes, fills a great role. These still have a refreshing banana taste but without the high calories of traditional fried banana chips. In fact, I like these better because they have a stronger banana taste without the heaviness that is found in competing banana chips. As in other Just Tomatoes products, Just Gone Bananas has just one ingredient, Bananas. These are great for a boost in potassium post-workout or as a refreshing snack. They are a bit high in sugar and calories to be ideal for weight loss.

The 1/2 ounce size is pretty impractical, unless you are not sure if you are going to like them, because it too small to curb even the tiniest of appetites. I suggest going for the tub though there will be a strong temptation to eat the whole thing at once.

The Facts: (Tub size listed here, the 1/2 oz size has 1 serving and 1/2 of the values found below)
Serving Size: 1oz
Servings per Container: 2.5
Calories: 100
Total Fat: 0.5g
Sodium: 0mg
Total Carbohydrate: 25g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 16g
Protein: 1g
Vitamin C: 4%

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 5
Taste: 5
Satisfying/filling: 4
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 5
Diet Appropriate: 2
Category: Snack food

Try them at: Just Bananas

Thursday, March 02, 2006 

Crispy Delites 100% Natural Veggie Chips - Carrot

I have had enough dehydrated vegetables to know that no matter how much I may not care for the water-filled version I usually like the dehydrated version. The crispy Delites carrot chips are no exception. I suppose that after dehydrating them, the flavor becomes more subtle and it taste more like a snack food then a vegetable. Crispy Delites are baked in canola oil and have added salt with detracts a bit from the "healthiness" but makes them eminently more edible than they might be without. I do not think it appropriate to think of these as a substitute for fresh carrots but, as a better choice than potato chips and other similar indulgences. The lower fat and extra vitamins combined with pleasant flavor make these a decent choice. The chip alternative aspect is not very important to me because I pretty much never eat regular chips (tortilla chips are the exception). I think of these, rather, as a change of pace from my typical snack foods (frequently crackers) and as a good way to get a boost of vitamin A. I would probably eat them as a mid-afternoon snack or as a mid-workout snack. I don't see myself craving them or eating them on anything approaching a regular basis.

An additional plus, is the single serving bag at 105 calories is great for a small snack and to prevent overeating.

Manufacturer Says:
Dehydration method maintains 100% of the nutrition. A one ounce serving has almost a pound of fresh vegetables.

The Facts:
Serving size: 1oz
Servings per container: 1
Calories: 105
Fat: 3.5g
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 3%
Sodium: 120mg
Protein: 3g
Potassium: 20%
Vitamin A: 100%
Vitamin C: 30%
Vitamin E: 20%
Fiber: 2g
Weight Watchers Points: 2

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 3
Taste: 3
Satisfying/filling: 3
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 4
Category: Snack food

R.W. Garcia Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips


As a Mexican food lover I fancy myself somewhat of a tortilla chip connoisseur so I wasted no time popping the bag open and digging in. The first surprise was the packaging. Most tortilla bags are filled with so much air in a thin plastic bag that there is at least a 50% risk of having a tortilla chip explosion when opening the bag. R.W. Garcia chip bag material is a bit sturdier and opened nice a cleanly. I didn’t have to spend time gathering lost chips before eating.

The R.W. Garcia Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips remind me of some of some tasty blue corn chips I had at a fine Mexican establishment a few years back. I suppose, though, that those were nowhere near as healthy as these. These tortilla chips achieve their delicious flavor without trans fats and are gluten free. They are not low-fat, however, so they may not be the best choice for the fat-conscious but they are a bit lower in fat content than regular tortilla chips. The major surprise is that, though I am a salt lover, that these still hit the spot despite the very low sodium content (45mg). This is a big plus for many whom might have to be very careful when considering a chip.

A minor issue I have, though, is that the package I had, the "Super Natural Grab Bag" boasted 3 servings which I, of course, devoured in one sitting. I am not sure why manufacturers make this size since it is more than someone should eat by themselves but way too little to share with more than one person. I would expect that most people would eat the whole bag. Hopefully the folks at R.W. Garcia will help those of use prone to gluttony and make a smaller size.

Size issue aside, I would recommend these as a healthy choice for any tortilla chip-lover, especially sodium-conscious individuals, as you can rest assured that your dining experience will certainly not be hurt when substituting other chips with these.

The Manufacturer Says:
Made from Organic Blue Corn and lightly cooked in the natural oils with no trans fats are completely wheat and gluten free.

The Facts:
Serving size: 1oz
Servings per container: 3
Calories: 140
Fat: 5g
Calcium: 6%
Sodium: 45mg
Protein: 3g

Rating: (all rankings out of 5)
Overall: 4
Taste: 5
Satisfying/filling: 5
Healthy: 4
Performance (for athletes): 4
Diet Appropriate: 3
Category: Snack food

Try them here

 
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