Sea Veggies…taste like the ocean…and not in a good way

YangBan Sea Salt Sea Veggies
YangBan Sea Salt Sea Veggies

Product: YangBan Sea Salt Sea Veggies – $1.39+

BLECH!  YUCK!  GROSS!  EWWWW!

Does that sum it up enough?  I was actually pretty stoked about these great little seaweed chips that I found on Manager’s Special at my local grocery store.  I think, now that I’ve had them, that I now know why they were there…

Now, don’t get me wrong…I am a vegetarian sushi loving girl…and as such, I am accustomed to the inclusion of seaweed (nori) in my rolls.  I love it when paired with the vegetables and the sushi rice.  But on its own…well…

…it tastes like…the ocean floor.  Or like orca.  I can’t decide which.

This afternoon, I was starving after a quick run on my lunch break at the gym.  So, when my 3:00 p.m. snack time hit, I reached into my desk and emerged with the little package of YangBan Sea Veggies.  I had actually thought to, perhaps, bring a backup plan in case these didn’t hit the mark on flavor, but I decided against it.  It was a healthy little snack…made from seaweed.

And…that’s exactly what it is.  In fact, each little chip is just a section of nori, this one dusted with a light coating of sea salt.  It looked harmless enough.  In fact…I thought…it might even be tasty.

I was wrong.  Not a fan.  At all.  It took a handful of Reeses Pieces and lots of water to get rid of the taste of algae, but…eventually it got there.  My palate cleansed, I went and threw away the rest of the bag and vowed to go home and get rid of the hot chili flavor as well.  In sushi…I love nori.  In snack form…on its own…not so much.

So, if seaweed is your thing…then this might be the snack for you.  It’s super healthy…only 35 calories for the little bag.  But…I didn’t even take in one since I just couldn’t get past one bite.

BLECH!

That being said…never again.

Another healthier chip option from Boulder Canyon with Rice and Adzuki Bean Chipotle Cheese chips

Boulder Canyon Rice and Adzuki Bean Chipotle Cheese Snack Chips
Boulder Canyon Rice and Adzuki Bean Chipotle Cheese Snack Chips

Product: Boulder Canyon Rice and Adzuki Bean Chipotle Cheese Snack Chips – $2.99+

I started off with the original.  Just a touch of sea salt and I had in my possession a snack chip made from rice flour and adzuki beans.  Yes…you read that right…adzuki beans.  And what did I make of these?  That they were phenomenal.  Like…better tasting Doritos.  And much healthier option at that than what preservatives and unnatural ingredients go into Doritos.

So, this time I was quite excited to dive into the bag of Boulder Canyon’s Rice and Adzuki Bean Chipotle Cheese flavored chips.  I mean…a little extra spice is always.  Combine it with the addition of cheese…and yeah…it’s winning.

That being said, after I scooped up a serving of these chips to haul to the office with me, I couldn’t wait to dive into them and really test them out.  I mean, the original flavor had been mind-blowing delicious…so these had to be yummy-amazing right?

ABSOLUTELY!

That afternoon, when my 3:00 snack time rolled around, I pulled out my container which had a 1 ounce serving (or around 20 chips), and took up my first chip.  One bite…and I was even happier with these than I was the original.  Oddly enough, the fact that these tasted more like Cool Ranch Doritos (despite having cheese in them) was amazing.  Cool Ranch was always my favorite.  I was hooked.  Love at first bite.

The texture and flavor with each of these was fantastic.  And one serving only set me back 140 calories and 7 grams of fat.  Not too shabby for a snack trip.  In addition, with the inclusion of adzuki beans in the ingredients, these chips give 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.  I loved these and was quite sad when I got down to the bottom of my serving and had no more to nosh on.

Would I buy these again?  In a heartbeat.  Without a moment of hesitation.  YUM YUM YUMMY!

Looking for a healthier option for a snack chip, I would definitely direct you to find Boulder Canyon’s Rice and Adzuki Bean Chipotle Cheese snack chips.  I promise…these are not just a healthier snack chip option…but delicious too.

Boulder Canyon makes a delicious chip with Rice with Adzuki Bean Natural Sea Salt Snack Chips

Boulder Canyon Rice with Adzuki Beans Natural Sea Salt Snack Chips
Boulder Canyon Rice with Adzuki Bean Natural Sea Salt Snack Chips

Product: Boulder Canyon Rice with Adzuki Bean Natural Sea Salt Snack Chips – $2.99+

Who would have thought?  A snack chip made out of rice flour and adzuki beans?  It doesn’t seem at all natural or like it should be even found in nature.  And…well, while not a natural occurrence in our natural environment, Boulder Canyon now delivers this straight to our grocery store aisles.  Founded in 1994, Boulder Canyon has been producing all natural, kettle cooked potato chips that go beyond the standard brands in both quality and taste.  This isn’t just me speaking…this is the company’s mission statement.

And…the thing is, they can back it up.

Prior to this, I had been able to try a few of Boulder Canyon’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.  I first sampled them here in my area (shocking, I know!) and then found them again at a grocery store out in Los Angeles, California, while visiting some friends.  We got them hooked on them as well.  And as snack chips went, these were a safe (save for the Malt Vinegar and Sea Salt variety) as far as gluten-free chips went.  Better still…they were delicious.

Well, as I’ve gotten more accustomed to the whole gluten-free snack thing…I’ve branched out some.  So, when a couple of bags of Boulder Canyon Rice with Adzuki Bean Snack Chips were on super sale at Big Lots…I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try them.  A blind tasting this time.  No samples from a gluten-free fair or expo…this was something I just saw and went with.  At the price with a 20% discount on top of it…I’d be hard-pressed not to make a purchase.

And, as is the norm, I had other snacks to work through first before I got to these…but the magical snack moment arrived yesterday.  I needed a quick 3:00 p.m. snack for the office to see me through to when I could cook dinner.  I had packed up a serving (1 ounce) of these chips and brought them with me for that purpose.  When the time rolled around, I opened up my little container and took my first bite.

I fell in love with them.  Yes…with one simple bite.  The flavor was so familiar and distinctive…but it was light, non-greasy, and clean.  I offered one to my teammate, who has a very picky and discerning palate, and she took a hesitant bite…but soon was crunching on the chip as well.  She said the flavor reminded her of Cool Ranch Doritos.  She was absolutely right.  But it had a better flavor…less mess…and was just better all around.  And trust me…Cool Ranch Doritos used to be my favorite chip!  So this is saying something!

The Boulder Canyon Rice with Adzuki Bean Natural Sea Salt Snack Chips (whew…that’s a mouthful…but a delicious one!) are made from rice flour, corn starch, adzuki beans, and corn flour.  They are seasoned with chili flakes, cumin, and sea salt.  What this does then is lend a little bit of spice and bite to each chip, keeping each taste interesting.

The flavor of these chips, I believe, mostly comes from the adzuki beans, which tend to have a nutty flavor and are commonly used in Japanese dishes.  They are low in fat and high in protein.  That’s a great combination to base a snack chip off, don’t you think?  And with the way Boulder Canyon slow cooks their chips using sunflower and/or safflower oil, you don’t need to worry about trans fat or cholesterol.  All of their products are free from both.

The Rice with Adzuki Bean Natural Sea Salt Chips have 140 calories per serving and 7 grams of fat.  That isn’t bad for a snack chip when it comes down to it.  Even though this is a flavor that is based on sea salt…the sodium content is quite low (130 mg) and each serving provides 2 grams of protein.  Not too shabby for a snack chip.  These particular chips are also gluten-free (obviously) and non-GMO.  They are all-natural, so no strange chemicals go into the making of this snack.

The flavor that these chips provide is unmatched.  You wouldn’t even guess that they are made with beans.  Never in a million years.  You don’t taste the beans…you honestly just taste the delicious flavors that are packed into each bite, seasoned to perfection, and made as healthy as a snack chip can be.  When you can back up your mission statement of providing superior flavor and superior products, then you’re doing your job well.

Boulder Canyon can definitely back up their claims.  I would buy these again in a heartbeat!  And as they taste like really fantastic tortilla chips, they’d be perfect to dip in hummus or salsa or even guacamole.  Mmmm…something to try next time.

If you are looking for something different when it comes to snacks…be bold (heh…see what I did there?) and try Boulder Canyon’s Rice with Adzuki Bean Natural Sea Salt Snack Chips.  I promise…it will be love at first bite.

Terra Original Vegetable Chips get to the root of enticing, exotic snack chips

Terra Chips Original Vegetable Chips
Terra Chips Original Vegetable Chips

Product: Terra Chips Original Vegetable Chips – $3.49+

Everyone does potato chips.  And if it’s not potato chips…it’s corn chips.  But, really…when something has been done, just with different seasonings, it’s hard to really tell one chip apart from the next.  Then it’s just down to name brands or generic brands.  And, really, there isn’t that much of a difference.  More often than not that name brand company is making that generic brand.  That’s how it works!

But then…there are some companies that think outside the box…or in this case…the potato chip bag.  I’m talking about Terra.  Terra Chips created a mission statement to the customers that are seeking out a different sort of snack.  Their mission is to provide wholes gourmet snack food that is not only chef-inspired, but always made with 100% natural ingredients.  Talk about a solid commitment to quality.

But how does one dress up a simple potato chip?

In the case of Terra, chefs put their own spin on the most popular snack food in America.  And for the Terra Original Vegetable Chips…there is even a unique spin on something original.  Instead of just potatoes, Terra introduces a plethora of different root vegetables to the mix.  The Terra Original Vegetable Chips includes a variety of light, naturally colorful vegetables that add a little crunch, a little savoriness, and a little sweetness to each bite.  This particular variety of Terra Chips is a fantastic mix of sweet potato, parsnip, batata, taro and yuca.  All of them are fried in canola oil with beet juice concentrate for color, and salt for seasoning.

The result is an amazing bag of chips that has this amazing balance of flavors from rich, delicate, and nutty.  I love the way each vegetable tastes different and has a different texture.  Some are not as heavy as others, some have a bigger crunch.  It keeps the snack interesting and definitely entices the palate with each bite.

I have had great luck with Terra Chips.  Most of their chips are gluten-free and they are very good about labeling.  If you are interested in stepping outside the chip bag…I highly recommend giving the exotic line of vegetable chips from Terra a try.  Trust me…you will welcome the change and the variety of flavor you get with each bite.

Go Picnic Black Bean Dip & Plantain Chips another winning on-the-go meal

Go Picnic Black Bean Dip & Crispy Plantain Chips
Go Picnic Black Bean Dip & Crispy Plantain Chips

Product: Go Picnic Black Bean Dip and Crispy Plantain Chips – $5.99+

Fast food, shmast food.

Being a gluten-free vegetarian means a stop-off at any regional fast food joint is just not an option.  I mean, I got sick for 5 days after eating Chik-Fil-A’s supposedly gluten-free waffle fries this past summer.  Let me tell you, I have yet to go back.

So, when someone like me – someone who is constantly on the go and on the road – needs something to eat…what then?  Well…thanks to Go Picnic my options just got a little more exciting and much healthier than any fast food stop would have been.

Now, I’ve blogged about Go Picnic before.  I am a HUGE fan of the gluten-free Hummus + Crackers meal, which is usually my on-the-road poison.  However, when I attended the Gluten-Free Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana a month or so back, I dropped by the Go Picnic booth and raved to them about how much I appreciated their gluten-free boxes (especially the ones that are also vegetarian/vegan).  It just so happened that they had some of their brand new on-the-go meals at the expo…and if I bought them that day, I’d be saving some money, for sure.

So, my roomie and I made a decision to purchase six meals.  She got two of the Sunbutter + Crackers plus the Turkey Pepperoni + Cheese boxes.  As for me, I went with two of my favorite…the Hummus + Crackers and one of the brand new offerings…the Black Bean Dip & Plantain Chips box.  I was pretty stoked about that one as it was new, vegan, and gluten-free.  And it just sounded…different and interesting.

Well, the perfect opportunity to break out the Go Picnic meals came this past weekend as my roomie and I were venturing out to Ohio to visit our friend Jenn.  Our plan…to see The Monkees on Saturday night and then on Sunday morning…I was off to the races.  Literally.  I was running in the Hot Chocolate 15K in Columbus.  So, we left work at noon on Friday and went to run a few local errands before settling in for the 4 hour car trip up to Columbus, Ohio.  With the errands out of the way…it was lunch time.  And for me, lunch was the Go Picnic Black Bean Dip & Plantain Chips on-the-go meal.

After opening the box, I settled on starting with the star of the actual box…the Go Picnic Garden Black Bean Dip with the Sweet Perry Orchards Crispy Roasted Plantain Chips.  I thought, at first, that this was an interesting combination and wasn’t quite sure how it would work in the end.  However, the combination was actually quite delicious.  What I loved was how the sweetness of the dried and roasted plantains made into chips complimented the rich, sweetness of the black bean dip.  The Go Picnic Garden Black Bean Dip is amazing.  A creamy, somewhat sweet and spicy blend of black beans, green chilies, jalapeno peppers, spices, garlic, and onion made for a fantastic base to dip the chips in.  And Sweet Perry Orchards Crispy Roasted Plantain Chips made a fantastic alternative to crackers or corn chips.  Honestly.  They provided a hint of sweetness as well.  They were crispy, crunchy, and just the perfect compliment to the rich dip.  I was so happy with this flavor combination.  The Go Picnic Garden Black Bean Dip is only 40 calories of this box’s total 360 calories and provides 2 grams of protein.  Let’s hear it for the protein magic of beans!  And the Sweet Perry Orchards Crispy Roasted Plantain Chips also only contain 70 calories in the provided 0.5 ounce bag.  It also only sets you back 3 grams in fat.  They are also very low in sodium (50 mg).

My next taste from the box that I chose to devour was the Sweet Perry Orchards Ginger Zip Fruit and Nut Mix.  This was a surprisingly delicious mix of peanuts coated in ginger, dried cranberries, and banana chips.  The ginger was the part that concerned me, as often it can be a little too strong and too much.  Thankfully, pairing it with lightly salted peanut, banana chips, and the tart sweetness of the dried cranberries, the blend worked.  It worked fantastically, actually.  I was digging down into the little 0.75 ounce bag that came in the Go Picnic box in hopes of finding more of the mix in there.  But, alas, when I said devour…that’s what I did.  This one surprised me and it was a nice surprise.  The ginger was just enough to add a bit of heat to a few of the bites, but it didn’t overwhelm the mix.  It was nicely balanced.  And the little snack bag you receive in the box is only 90 calories of the entire 360 in the box itself.  And the rest of the nutrition information is nice as well.  The little pack provides 5 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein.  Not bad for a fruit and nut mix.  Not bad at all.  Oh, and the sugar content on this one isn’t bad either.  Most “trail mixes” are laden with sugar.  Thanks to the ginger, this one only has 10 grams of sugar.  Other trail mixes would be at least twice that per serving.

My next choice to eat from the box was the Sweet Perry Orchards Power Play Tasty Seed Blend.  Now, one of my favorite parts of the Go Picnic Hummus + Crackers box is the packet of dry-roasted edamame.  Well, this is a different twist on that pack.  Sweet Perry Orchards Power Play Tasty Seed Blend is a mix of dry roasted edamame, pumpkin seeds, and watermelon kernels.  Sound weird?  It’s not.  In fact, what this little 0.75 ounce pack provides is a heap of protein and healthy fats.  Yep.  While salt is added, it’s not overdone either.  The seeds really stand up for themselves and pack a bunch of flavor in each bite.  The blend is interesting and different.  I mean, who can say they’ve really enjoyed a watermelon kernel before?  Well…truth is…I did.  And the pumpkin seeds and edamame were also fantastic.  Sweet Perry Orchards Power Play Tasty Seed Blend provides 110 calories of the entire 360 calories in the box and 5 grams of fat.  This blend also provides 8 grams of protein.  That’s awesome.  As for the sodium…which can be a real sticking point, this bag only has 70 mg of sodium in it.  Yep.  It really is a healthy choice.

And finally…dessert.  Because that’s what we look forward to at the end of a meal.  Even lunch on-the-go.  The Go Picnic Black Bean Dip & Plantain Chips box comes with dessert of dark chocolate.  Oh yes…almost like it was made for me.  Dark, delicious chocolate.  The little piece is Professor Zim Zams Extraordinary Sweets Dark Chocolate with Orange.  It’s a little circle of orange-flavored dark chocolate goodness.  Now, sometimes the orange and chocolate combination works for me.  Sometimes…it doesn’t.  In this case, the bittersweet dark chocolate meshes so well with the tart orange.  It’s a seamless marriage of flavor to be honest.  And it was a decadent enough bite to satisfy that need for dessert or something sweet to cleanse the palate.  Professor Zim Zams Extraordinary Sweets Dark Chocolate with Orange is only 0.35 ounces of rich chocolate flavor…but it’s just enough.  This little disk of sweetness provides the Go Picnic box with the remaining 50 calories.  It contributes 4 grams of fat into the serving and 2 grams of protein.  And it is good to the last little bite.  Because…I admit…I savored the chocolate.  I love a good, sweet ending.

In the end, Go Picnic provided a hearty on-the-go meal in a little box that really satisfied every taste.  Sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.  It meant that I felt satisfied at the end of the box.  And with only 360 calories, it’s a nutritious meal that you can take with you on the road, on a hike, on a picnic, or just for something easy on a busy day at the office.  This little box also provided me with 13 complete grams of protein at the end of it, which is fantastic as I am a gluten-free, vegetarian athlete (distance runner!) so making sure I get enough protein in my diet can be a huge challenge.  This satisfied.

I haven’t been able to find this actual box listed yet on Go Picnic’s Web site.  But it is one of the new offerings from the company.  I say…give it a bit of time and it will be there.  As for me…I hope to find this one in the stores soon because I loved every bite of it.  If you can find it…pick it up and try it.  I promise…you’ll be as hooked as me.  Go Picnic…you won me and my taste buds over again with simple flavors and nutritious snacks.

Go Picnic Black Bean Dip & Crispy Plantain Chips
Go Picnic Black Bean Dip & Crispy Plantain Chips

Beanitos Black Bean Chipotle BBQ chips a better snack option

Beanitos Black Bean Chipotle BBQ Chips
Beanitos Black Bean Chipotle BBQ Chips

Product: Beanitos Black Bean Chipotle BBQ Chips – $3.49+

Okay…I know you’re thinking it…because I thought it too.

Chips…made from beans?!  Isn’t that usually reserved for…you know…potatoes, corn, or even rice?

The answer is…yes.  And yes.

I was a huge skeptic about Beanitos chips.  I admit it.  I saw them on the gluten-free shelves at my various grocery stores and natural food stores and immediately turned my nose up at them.  While I’m a huge fan of beans, the idea of chips made out of them just didn’t sound…right.  At all.

And then I attended a gluten-free tasting fair at one of the natural food stores here in town and one of the samples they had out were Beanitos.  Well…free samples are a good way to introduce a skeptic to something with the potential to be epic, yes?  I hesitated at the dish…but finally picked up the little tongs and snagged one of the round chips.  I turned it over in my hands, then, very tentatively took a bite.  And…then another.  And then I just popped the rest of it in my mouth.  Huh.  I hadn’t expected to like them.  But…chips made from beans were actually quite tasty.

And for a couple weeks, that’s where I left it.  I had tried them.  Yes…they were good.  But I didn’t purchase any.  Probably due to the plethora of snacks I currently had kicking around in my pantry.

Until my local grocery store put almost the entire gluten-free section on closeout.  And fearing that I was about to lose my gluten-free aisle…I snatched up everything that was marked down.  Beanitos was one of the items on the markdown.  So I grabbed a couple of bags.  And this week, I opened up the bag to get a serving (1 ounce, or about 10 chips) to take to work with me for my afternoon snack.  They were next up as far as snacks in order of expiration dates.  The first flavor up was the Chipotle BBQ flavor.

Love.  Seriously.  Spicy without too much heat.  They have a great chipotle and mesquite flavor.  They have just enough to bring out the flavor without overwhelming your palate with spice.  They were a bit salty, but the sodium level is low on the bag.  So, it’s not horrible…just I’m so used to unsalted snacks.  I couldn’t stop eating them.  So it is a good thing I portion out my snacks because I would have been quite tempted to just devour them all.  I also think they would go crazy-good with my homemade guacamole.

Beanitos are completely corn free, gluten free, and potato free.  It is all made from beans and rice.  And that makes for a heartier texture and a more solid chip.  They are high in fiber and protein, which is a nice change.  And, in addition, they are cholesterol free, trans fat free, non-GMO, and kosher.  A serving is 140 calories and 7 grams of fat.  Not bad for a chip.  Not bad at all.  They come in a bunch of different flavors and all of the chips are vegan except the cheddar cheese flavor.  I mean…come on…these chips are made out of protein-packed beans!

Yes, I was a skeptic, but tasting made me a believer.  Chips made from beans are actually quite delicious.  I can’t wait to dive into another variety of them.  I no longer fear Beanitos.  I plan to keep them in my pantry!