Product Review: Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps + Recipe Bonus

Whitney's Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps
Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps

Product: Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps – $4.00+

‘Twas the month of December and I was starting to contrive
Brand new recipes for when my Cuisine Cube was due to arrive…

Yes!  The December cube is here!  It arrived on Monday and I happily dug right in, wondering what sort of goodness lay under the flaps of cardboard and paper.  What I was met with was a delightful array of items.  It was like Christmas had come early as I sorted through the breakfast, baking, lunch/snack, dessert dinner, and other dessert options.  I was ready to dive right in and have a little of everything.  But, self-control does still in handy at times.

First of all, let’s discuss Cuisine Cube.  I’ve blogged on items I’ve received since signing up in May.  Cuisine Cube is a gluten-free delivery service put together by a team of enthusiastic eaters, food professionals, and allergy suffers from New York City.  They have scoured the country looking for lesser known brands made by small artisan producers that taste better than the highly processed and subpar items you can find at virtually every grocery store.  This was a way to help support small businesses.  These products are meticulously selected and then delivered right to your door.  So, you get to try a new brand or item you may never have discovered otherwise.  It’s a great, efficient, and fantastic service.  One that I always look forward to each month.

So, this month, I selected Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps to lead off my month of delicious eating.  I thought they looked a lot like the Glutino Bagel Chips that you can find in most grocery stores these days.  But, I didn’t just want to eat these straight out of the package…or just throw them on top of a salad.  I wanted to do something a little different with them.  And I did.

But…not without trying one first.  I can’t just re-purpose a product without trying it out as it is first…

There you have it…I opened up the package and popped one of the crisps into my mouth.  And I was immediately greeted with the crunchy texture.  I love that for these kinds of crisps.  They are called crisps for a reason…they should be crispy.  But, even more importantly…the flavor!  Before I had to go gluten-free…and before I started to really pay attention to what I ate, I was a Cheeze-It connoisseur.  And the cheddar flavor in these crisps…reminded me of those.  But better.  WAY better.  I was almost sad to repurpose these for my recipe…because they were amazing on their own.

But my creative chef mind was calling…

So…the rest of these amazing and delicious crisps went into my food processor and got pulverized.

Now, before I share this recipe with you, let’s talk about the Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps.  As far as ingredients go, these are made from sorghum flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, xanthan gum, Vermont Farmstead’s Farmstead Cheddar, milk, white vinegar, brown sugar, baking soda, kosher salt, dry mustard and cayenne pepper.  These are produced in a designated gluten-free facility.

Nutritionally speaking, a serving is 1 ounce of these crisps…and the package holds 4 servings.  One serving will provide you with 120 calories and 3 grams of fat.  You will be consuming 10 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, and 2 grams of sugar.  In addition, these have 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

So, what came of these crisps?

Well, back before I became a vegetarian, and definitely back before I was diagnosed as a Celiac…one of my favorite things to order at Red Lobster was the Fried Calamari appetizer.  My roommate would eat the calamari…I wanted the fried broccoli and red peppers that were served with it.  Honestly, one of my favorite foods (and definitely not good for you by any means…but it was so good)…which I hadn’t even thought about in years…

But I happened to have a red bell pepper and some broccoli from my CSA bin in my fridge…and now…a breading.  I do not fry anything.  I just don’t.  So, I set out to recreate the infamous Red Lobster vegetables…by baking them.  And thanks to Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps…I now had the perfect gluten-free breading.

Recipe: Crispy Broccoli and Red Peppers

Crispy Broccoli and Red Peppers (made with Whitney's Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps)
Crispy Broccoli and Red Peppers (made with Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps)

Servings: 2-4
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1-2 egg whites (beaten)
  • 4 ounces gluten-free breading (I used a package of Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large plastic bag, place in the broccoli florets and red pepper slices.  Add the egg white(s).  Close the bag and shake to coat.  Add the gluten-free breading.  Reseal the bag and shake again.  Spread the vegetables onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until crispy.

~*~*~

Guess what?  This was so close to how I remember the original tasting.  I love the flavors that baking something in the oven can really coax out of things like vegetables.  And the Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps made the perfect coating for these vegetables.  It gave it a nice cheese flavor on top of turning a beautiful golden color in the oven and really making the apartment smell fantastic.  I was smelling a great cheddar aroma after these were in the oven for only 5 minutes.  Way beyond impressed.  I sort of want these in my pantry for always.

So, if you are curious about the Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps, head over to their site and read more about their products and order some for yourself.  Or order from Cuisine Cube’s stock up site!

And if you want to give Cuisine Cube a try, head over to their Web site and check out their subscription options…joining for a monthly, three month, or six month subscription.  This Cube (box of goodies) will arrive at your door within the first week of each month and you will have at least 5 full-size gluten-free items inside.  I encourage you to give it a try…

…because I never would have heard of these crisps without the aid of Cuisine Cube.

And yeah…they were really fantastic…on their own and in my dish.

Product Review: Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread
Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Product: Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread – $4.99+

For all those different gluten-free bread needs, I often turn Schär.  Not only has Schär put out a variety of bread products on the market, they make sure that the products that they do put out are up to their high standards.  This is why when I need sandwich rolls or ciabatta or even baguettes…I head to the gluten-free bread section and pull one of these products off the shelf.  Yes.  Not frozen.  I get so tired of having to thaw out my bread…but without preservatives and the like, gluten-free products don’t keep for long if they aren’t refrigerated.

Schär specializes in the development and production of foods for people with special dietary needs, with a goal of becoming a leader in that field.  They have very much established themselves as a leader in the gluten-free foods out on the market.  They are certainly one brand that I never hesitate to purchase, even if I’ve never tried the product.  And since Schär guarantees the highest safety standards in the manufacturing of their products, you can rest assured that you won’t have any contamination from their products.  They aim to produce quality and delicious products that ensure the consumer a balanced nutrition and quality of life through their restrictive diet.

In the past, I have often used Schär Gluten Free Baguettes, Ciabatta Rolls, Sandwich Rolls, Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, Table Crackers, and even some of their sweets, like their Chocolate Hazelnut Bars.

So, when my roomie and I spotted a loaf of the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread at Wal-Mart on sale, we couldn’t pass up that deal.  So…we purchased it.  And I was already coming up with ideas for sandwiches and the like.  I was excited to try it.  Honestly.  I had my usual brand (Rudi’s Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread) already open, so I didn’t immediately break into my loaf from Schär.  Until last night.

You see, last night the Series 8 premier of Doctor Who was playing at my local movie theater.  I wanted to keep dinner light and easy so we could get out the door and get to the theater in time.  So, I opted to make one of my vegan gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches.  Yummy.  I try to enhance the sandwich by adding items to it.  No time to get really creative, so I sliced up the rest of a tomato and added it to the sandwiches.  I spread Earth Balance onto the slices of bread, put the cheese and tomato on and placed it in the skillet to toast.

The first thing I noticed about the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread was that the slices are very small.  If you are familiar with Udi’s Gluten-Free Bread…then think about slices about that size.  I’ve grown used to this when I branch away from my standard bread…so…I won’t hold it against Schär.  It toasted up nicely on my skillet and the vegan cheese melted as well as vegan cheese can melt.  Once each side was toasted, I served up one sandwich to my roommate and one for myself.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread
Gluten-Free and Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

She took the first bite and I asked her what she thought of the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread.  She said it was “pretty good.”  I think she did actually like it, but prefers our usual Rudi’s brand when it comes to sandwich bread.  And…I agree.  However, that’s not saying that the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread isn’t good.  It is.  In fact, one aspect of it that I did quite enjoy was the wholesome flavor that came with each bite.  It almost reminded me of wheat bread, back when I could eat it.  I don’t think my sandwich was the best vehicle to test this bread out on, however.

So, tonight…I gave it another test run.  And this time, I used it as a base for a Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with a Green Sauce (which I made from kale, fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and some salt and pepper).  Oh…oh…this was a game changer.  I toasted the bread, dry, in the oven for about 10 minutes.  It came out a gorgeous golden color…not burned or charred on any of the edges.  Perfect.  I put the Green Sauce on the bread then topped it off with the chopped avocado.  My first bite…and…oh…oh yes!  YES!!  This was brilliant.  This was what that bread was made for.  And it turned out the smaller size was perfect for the amount of topping and chopped avocado that I had.  Each bite had every flavor and the savoriness of the bread just elevated this dish even higher.

It was the more complex dish that truly won me over with the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread.

So, let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  A loaf of Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread is made from water, corn starch, rice flour, rice starch, soy flakes, potato starch, buckwheat flour, soy bran, rice syrup, soy protein, palm oil, psyllium seed husk (vegetable fiber), millet flakes, yeast, beet sugar syrup, sugar, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (emulsifier), apple extract, salt, calcium citrate, citric acid, tartaric acid, folic acid. This loaf of bread is gluten-free, wheat free, lactose free, dairy free and egg free.  It is also cholesterol free.

As far as nutrition goes, a serving of Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread is 1 slice of bread.  One slice of bread provides you with 80 calories and 1 gram of fat.  In addition, you will be consuming 125 mg sodium and less than 1 gram of sugar.  Love those stats.  Finally, you will be taking in 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  The bread won’t leave you feeling full…but it won’t make you feel like you hardly ate either.

So, while it wasn’t exactly love at first bite with Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread, I came around.  It just took a second tasting to really value the texture, flavor, and overall feel of this bread.  Yes, the slices are small, and yes…it can be tough without some toasting or warming…but in the end…a definite quality product I would be proud to purchase again!

Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread
Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest – Indianapolis, Indiana – August 23, 2014

GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!
GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!

This past Saturday, I had the honor of being able to attend the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest up in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I love going to gluten-free expos and events and Indianapolis seems to always have one at some point during any calendar year.  This year was no exception, and I was thrilled to read about the new location for this year’s event – the Indian State Fairgrounds.  With all the vendors and exhibitors I saw listed, I knew this year’s event was going to be HUGE! I was not let down at all.One of the magazines I currently subscribe to, Gluten Free & More (formerly Living Without), was putting on the Living Without Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in various cities this year as a way to show those with food allergies and/or sensitivities that we can live life without deprivation and missing out on delicious food.  It was a coming together of the magazine, as well as over a hundred of their favorite exhibitors to celebrate living well.  And it was open to anyone who wanted to stop in.

Tickets went on sale and, as a subscriber, I received a free entry, and then received a discount code for another ticket…so I had Cathy taken care of as well.  So, on Saturday morning, we ate a light breakfast before climbing into the car and hauling up to Indianapolis.  We timed it perfectly because we burned through our breakfast just as we got up there, about 30 minutes after it officially opened.

And…there was already a line waiting to get in.

Oh…that made me happy, indeed.

It was a hot summer day already and standing outside in the blazing sun didn’t sound like too much fun…but it wasn’t going to be a long wait.  Just about 5 minutes, at the most.  And while standing in line, I got to listen to people who have done expos like this before (like me) describe the events and how things work to the first timers.  I even got to geek out over favorite products and the like for a few moments.  I love making gluten-free friends!

Before we knew it, we were inside the doors, in the air conditioning, and getting the tickets scanned.  We were given blue wristbands to wear (for re-entry purposes and to show we paid!).  Cathy and I put them on and headed into the expo proper.  We were greeted at the door by people passing out reusable shopping bags from Glutino (a personal favorite!).  Perfect for all the samples and products you are bound to pick up and buy.

Trust me, you don’t walk out of these events empty-handed.

Cathy and I decided that we were going to be systematic about our approach to each table/vendor/aisle.  We’d start on one side and then work our way up, then come back down the other side.  This was a good plan in theory, and we decided to start in the middle aisle to avoid the congestion of the end aisles.  We soon found out…no matter what…it was just hopping and congested.  People were surrounding tables, getting free samples, trying products, trying local baked goods, and the like.  So, we ditched our original systematic plan for the…let’s just see what there is and wriggle into open areas when we can.

We’re pros.  HA!

That being said, we began our Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest at the Glutino/Udi’s/Earth Balance booth, which was giving out samples of Udi’s Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies as well as Glutino’s Gluten-Free Multigrain English Muffins, schmeared with Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread.  It was all crazy, crazy delicious.  I actually have the Glutino English Muffins in my freezer, I just haven’t tried them yet. Now…I know buying them wasn’t a mistake at all.  They were delicious.  And that Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread…out-of-this-world good!

And from there…it only got better.  We made a point to stop by each vendor’s table and talk to them about their products, if we had tried them.  If we hadn’t…we would ask all about them.  I made a point of raving to the Pamela’s Product people about the Figgies & Jammies.  Because they are awesome and worthy of praise.  I talked to the Hodgson Mills representative and when I mentioned being a food blogger he said to reach out to the Hodgson Mills team anytime.  I was told the same thing by various other vendors as well.  And one local vendor who was selling the most amazing bar-b-que sauce and seasoning (which we purchased) said to tag her on Facebook when I use their products so they can read my blog.  I was having a great time.

I think, though, the best moment had to come at the Freedom Foods table.  Because, as many of you are aware, Freedom Foods only makes my favorite gluten-free cereal, Tropic-O’s.  NOM NOM!  I can’t find this cereal here anymore, since my Whole Foods stopped carrying it, so my parents ship it to me from Birmingham, Alabama.  We have a system down.  But, recently, they put out a gluten-free, dairy-free, and not-free version of Nutella…which I fell in love with.  My local Kroger is the only place that had it…and I bought the last jar of it a few weeks ago.  It has never been restocked.  So…I stocked up on some Quinoa Pancake Mix, lots of “Smudge” (that’s the Nutella stuff!), and a few other products to try, all the time raving about how much I love their products and how they honestly care about what ingredients go into all of their stuff.  It didn’t hurt that the guy at the table had a New Zealand/Australian accent.  HELLO!  I actually ended up going back to the table before leaving that day and buying 4 more jars of Smudge.  I hadn’t opened the one I had at home for fear I would never find it again.  Now…it’s on!

I was able to sample some of the best gluten-free Snickerdoodles I have ever eaten.  And this pasta that was made from lentils that tasted exactly like regular pasta…but I couldn’t afford the hefty price tag on it.  Unfortunately.  It was nice to sample it, however.  At the very back of the building, for those over 21, was the gluten-free cider/beer tasting area.  There was so much food and samples…so I was glad we ate light.  And Cathy and I have a system down…where we split a sample so we aren’t filling up on our own.  It always works at these events.

However, I have to say the greatest moment ever was when I finally got to meet GF Jules in person. GF Jules (formerly Jules Gluten Free) was one of the first Celiac/Gluten-Free bloggers/recipe makers/amazing people I started to follow on social media after my diagnosis.  While I have been to events where she has been present, I have never been able to actually meet her.  That changed.  We discovered that we were food allergy soul sisters, both of us being vegetarian Celiacs who also can’t handle dairy.  Go figure.  She was so nice and just so easy to talk with.  I picked up one of her cookbooks, which she signed, and she was kind enough to take a picture with me.  I might have geeked out a little bit.  Or a lot.  You know how it goes…

And soon, after a couple hours of tasting, testing, buying, talking, and exploring, our time at the expo drew to a close.  We were going to meet our friend, Greg, for lunch that day, so we bid adieu to the fantastic event and made our way out to the car.

This event was probably the best one I have attended so far.  Great people, great vendors, great information all around.  And I came home with samples and products to try in the very near future.  Can’t argue with that, right?  Right!

I hope they return next year.  I’m already making plans to attend.  If one of these events happens near you…I definitely encourage you to go!

Product Review: Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Multiseed Snack Crackers

Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Multiseed Snack Crackers
Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Multiseed Snack Crackers

Product: Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Multiseed Snack Crackers – $1.49

So, I haven’t been into Aldi since I went there on Mother’s Day and stocked up on ALL THE GLUTEN FREE ITEMS that I could get my hands on and that I truly needed.  I had so many mixes that I really didn’t need to add to the growing collection in my pantry.  But, man…it sure was nice for Celiac Awareness Month (May, in case you didn’t know) for Aldi to bring out a gluten-free line of products to test on the market.  From the way it sounded, people were gobbling these products up.  My store had run out of the gluten-free wraps (dang it!) by the time I had gotten there.

Now, with only a couple products remaining from my original haul…I have since heard that the gluten-free products are nigh on impossible to find now.  I truly hope that Aldi didn’t do away with this line permanently.  I was really looking forward to a restock…since less than $30 got me a whole lot of food.  And rather good food too.

Which leads me to this installment of the next Aldi liveGfree product that came into the rotation.  Snack time at work is a very important time and I take my snacks very seriously.  On weeks where I am without the fresh fruit and veggies from my bin, I turn to my pantry.  Such is the case this week and the next product that happened to be up were the Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Multiseed Snack Crackers.  From the packaging, they closely resemble Crunchmaster crackers in both size and appearance.

So, I tore into the bag last night and loaded up a little container with a serving of the crackers.  And as snack time rolled around today, I was all set to revel in my Crunchmaster-wannabe crackers.  I expected them to taste every bit like a Crunchmaster cracker.

Boy…were my taste buds surprised.

For one thing…the Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Multiseed Snack Crackers are less about the salt…and lean more on the sweet.  Yes…these crackers are sweet.  More of the sesame seed shines through over any seasoning or any other seed incorporated.  So, while I was anticipating a salty, savory bite, what I ended up getting was something that tasted of sweetened sesame seeds. And that’s okay…just not what I expected.  I do appreciate that, while these are a Sea Salt flavor, they aren’t overly salty.  I’m not sure I’m 100% sold on eating them on their own.  With the abundant sweetness, I sort of feel like it needs a creamy, spicy kick of hummus to tame it.  I definitely prefer Crunchmaster over these, but at more than half the price, these are a great deal.

Sort of on the fence, as it were.  I did find the more I ate them…the more they grew on me…

So…since I can’t figure out how I feel about the taste, let’s talk about ingredients and delve into those nutritionals, shall we?

The Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Multiseed Snack Crackers are made from brown rice flour, long grain white rice flour, brown sugar, sesame seeds, long grain brown rice flour, corn starch, vegetable oil (corn and/or canola and/or sunflower), flax seed, quinoa seeds, millet, sea salt, oat fiber, and natural flavor.  They are certified gluten-free and are cholesterol free.

As for the nutrition information, a serving of the Aldi liveGfree Gluten Free Sea Salt Mulitseed Snack Crackers is 1 ounce, or about 13 crackers.  This serving will provide you with 130 calories and 5 grams of fat.  A serving also dishes up 120 mg sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  In addition, you will be taking in 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  These crackers are definitely not made to make you feel full.  So, remember to stick to that serving size and know that you will feel hungry soon after your snack.

While I honestly believe these crackers would be better served with some sort of fantastic dip, like a hummus, they aren’t bad on their own.  They just seem to need something that would help balance out the sweetness and that sesame seed flavor that just permeates each bite.  They aren’t bad…but I would buy Crunchmaster first before coming back to these.  I applaud the effort for a snack cracker by Aldi and would definitely encourage them to keep this line around.

I hope they are listening!

Product Review: Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Product: Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – $3.99+

It took awhile for her to come around…

Actually it took a lot of me just forcing her to eat it…but now my roomie, formerly someone who loathed hummus and everything about it…someone who when I would make her eat it insisted it had to be warm first (EWW!!)…has since seen the error in her ways.  It happened a little while ago actually.  She’s been a hummus fiend ever since.  Without it needing to be heated.

So…hummus has become one of those things we tend to have on hand in the kitchen these days.  It’s a great, healthy spread…good on just about any vegetable…or a gluten-free cracker…or in a gluten-free wrap or sandwich.  Hummus is not only delicious…it’s also so versatile.

I admit…this is the first time I’ve ever purchased hummus in a box.  Usually it’s in those lidded plastic containers in the refrigerated area of the grocery store.  But Pacific Foods has created a, ready for this?, shelf stable hummus.  Yes…shelf stable.  Which is good, because I forgot I had this in pantry.  I actually got this box of hummus for free with a deal going on at my local Earth Fare awhile back.  It was spend $10 or something and get free hummus.  Free and hummus.  Two of my favorite words!

Well…it’s late in the week.  Tomorrow another CSA bin of fruits and veggies will be delivered to my door, and I’m still trying to use up some of the veggies from this past week.  I decided to make it easy.  Knowing that one of the veggies still in my bin was my carrots, I went to the pantry and put the box of Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus into the fridge before heading to the gym this morning.  I knew tonight, I could polish off the remaining two ears of corn by grilling them up and serving them with some carrot sticks and a serving of the hummus.

Work was hectic today…so I was glad to have an easier dinner planned.  Upon returning home, I peeled the corn and got it in the grill pan with some roasted garlic and her vegan buttery spread.  As that was grilling and, as usual, smoking up the apartment, I started to peel and slice the carrots.  When they were ready, I plated them, seasoned the corn, and then grabbed the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from the fridge.  I opened up the box and noticed that it really needed to be stirred.  This…is no easy task.  When you try to stir something in a bowl, it’s easy.  When you try to stir something in a box…a mess is bound to happen.  I kept it pretty well contained to the box itself though.  Once it was blended, I scooped out some healthy tablespoons and dinner…was served.

Mmmm…veggies for dinner.

That’s pretty usual for me actually…being a gluten-free vegetarian.

So…how was it?

It was delicious.  Definitely not as creamy as the refrigerated varieties, but not bad.  It was packed with really good flavor.  I could taste the roasted red peppers…which just elevated the spread.  I loved how easy it was to scoop up with the carrot sticks.  And it was so refreshing.  Honestly.  In fact, I ate my grilled corn up first so I could end my meal with the hummus.  That’s how much I liked it.  It reminded me a lot of the hummus I make.  That’s what the texture reminded me of, and perhaps that is why I enjoyed it so much.

Interesting to note…the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is one of few shelf-stable hummus’ on the market.  It is actually packaged in BPA-free cartons.  The hummus contains 1/3 fewer calories and 40% less fat than the leading refrigerated brand.  And, Pacific Foods, as always, places their reputation on their high-quality ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is made from water, organic chickpeas, organic roasted red bell peppers, organic red bell peppers, organic canola oil, organic tahini, organic garlic, organic lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, organic sesame oil, organic spices.  It is vegetarian, vegan, cholesterol free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, wheat-free, and yeast-free.

So let’s talk nutrition, shall we?  Hummus is such a healthy spread.  Honestly.  It’s amazing.  A serving of the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is 2 tablespoons.  This will provide you with 45 calories and 3 grams of fat.  A serving will also give you 130 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  LOVE IT.  It will also give you 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein.

Hummus is one of the best condiments and spreads to ever come into the world.  It’s rich, creamy, and delicious.  It’s good on sandwiches, or on salads, or on pizzas, or on crackers, or on vegetables…etc.  You see what I’m getting at here?  Hummus makes the world a richer and happier place.  Well…maybe not alone…but it is one healthy way to enjoy some of your favorite foods in a new way.  Or…just dip some tortilla chips or fresh veggies in it…and you’ll be just as happy.  Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is amazing and I will totally be trying out the other two flavors in the future.

In case you were wondering…Pacific Foods also has an Organic Classic Hummus and an Organic Roasted Garlic Hummus.

Try all three versions.  But, if nothing else, trust me on the amazing tastiness that the Roasted Red Pepper variety provides.  Oh…so good!

Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Product Review: Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers

Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers
Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers

Product: Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers – $4.99+

One of my go-to brands here!  Everything…and I literally mean…EVERYTHING that I have tried from Glutino has been amazing.  From my first ever product…their pretzels to their pizza to their breads to their breakfast bars…to everything else I can lay my hands on (especially the chocolate covered pretzels…which are my favorite thing in life…in general!)…I have found Glutino to be one of the gluten-free brands that I can trust to put forth a quality product that also has perfect flavor and texture.

Not too long ago, for no reason I can discern whatsoever, I picked up a box of their Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers.  Normally I don’t keep random crackers in my pantry.  God only knows why I had a box of these in my pantry…unless they were on sale or I just, at the time, had a craving.  Or maybe I thought I’d need them.  Regardless, they’ve been in my pantry for a little while.  In the back.  Where I kept forgetting they were there.

UGH!  This is why I clean up my pantry every month.  To remind me of what I have and what I need to use.

Well, yesterday I went ahead with some much-needed meal preparation.  I was in the kitchen for much of the afternoon, not only working on things I would need for Sunday’s dinner…but things for Monday and beyond.  The week.  Or beyond that…because one thing I was making was a fantastic Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup, which I can freeze some portions.

Anyway…it’s Monday.  It’s crazy.  And I really just wanted to be able to come home, eat something, and then settle in to watch some World Cup with dinner.  This meant I prepped the soup on Sunday, let it cool down, froze four portions of it and put the other two into the fridge for easy reheating on Monday evening.  That’s exactly what I did.  I also baked Vegan Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Scones too…but I digress…

I was thinking, while at work, that we might want something with the soup tonight…and was trying to figure out if I wanted to bake up gluten-free corn bread…or grill up some corn…or just have crackers (I have another brand awaiting its turn for tasting and blogging rights).  I asked my roommate around lunch time and she was apathetic toward any suggestion.  I hate when she doesn’t care…because…honestly…I’m good with anything.  I just want some input.  But…on the way home, it seemed she had it all worked out…requesting crackers with the soup.

Sweet.  Decision made.

The next question was which kind to have with dinner.  Since the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers had graced my pantry shelf longer than the other one…they won the non-existent coin toss.  In other words…default!

As I heated up bowls of soup, I plucked the box from the pantry and opened up the top.  Two silver bags of freshness were waiting for me.  I checked the nutrition information and found that the box held four servings, so each silver bag held two servings of crackers.  Perfection!  I got out some paper towels, cut open one of the freshness sealed bags and poured out the contents, splitting the crackers evenly between Cathy and I.

These crackers are larger than a standard Ritz cracker.  They have this subtle pale color, but inside each cracker you can see little flecks of flavor.  I loved vegetable crackers growing up, so I was hoping that these would live up to my high expectations.  I finished up the soup, and served it with a serving of crackers each.  I wasn’t exactly sure how vegetable flavored crackers would go with peanut soup…but I was willing to at least give it a shot.

Believe it or not…it worked.  Seriously.

I think the texture and overall flavor of Glutino’s crackers (regardless of flavor) reminds me a lot of oyster crackers (Dear Glutino…please make oyster crackers for my soup!).  And I used to eat the hell out of oyster crackers.  But here is where the magic comes in with this particular cracker.  You see, it’s flavored…with vegetable flavors.  Seriously.  You get this little taste of herbs, garlic, and even tomato in each bite.  It would be great with cheese or even some hummus and vegetables on top.  The vegetable flavor definitely gives this cracker a more savory feel and taste.  And I loved it.  While I dipped most of my crackers in the soup, I kept some out to eat on their own.  That’s how good these are!  They can be eaten plain and their subtle flavors bring a lot to the cracker itself.  Delicious, any way you choose to eat them.  Trust me.

Ingredients in the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers include corn starch, white rice flour, organic palm sugar, modified corn starch, dextrose, eggs, sunflower lecithin, tomato powder, salt, dehydrated oregano, dehydrated garlic, guar gum, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, and rosemary extract.  Not a big fan of that word “modified” in there…but…I just now noticed it!

As far as nutrition information goes…the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers contain 14o calories per serving (about 8 crackers) and 5 grams of fat.  These crackers also serve up 5 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, and only 1 gram of sugar.  That’s not bad at all.  In addition, one serving will also provide you with only 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein.  Not too filling…so don’t expect the crackers to hold you all day.  Not happening.

Seriously…if you’re looking for a snack cracker or something to serve up at a party, I highly recommend the Glutino Gluten Free Vegetable Crackers.  They are perfectly seasoned bites of cracker goodness.  Great for soups, snacks, and savory hors d’oevres.  Really just great.  Eat them on their own, or dip or top them however you like.  You won’t be disappointed.  On the contrary, you might find yourself stocking your pantry with these on a regular basis.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup

Trader Joe's Latin Style Black Bean Soup
Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup

Product: Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup – $2.79+

The weather outside is back to being frightful.  I wish it would just warm up.  Honestly.  I am so done with winter.

One thing, however, that is good about colder temperatures outdoors is…soup!  Granted, I can happily eat soup in the spring, summer and fall, but it just feels so right and homey when consumed in winter.  Especially on really bitterly cold days.

My roommate and I actually had picked up this box of soup at Trader Joe’s awhile back.  But other soups came first…mostly homemade.  And this kept its place in the pantry.  That is until last night.  What was so different about last night?  Well…I had nothing in my fridge or pantry due to being out of town and cancelling my CSA bin for another week.  Sure, I grabbed a few items at the grocery store, but nothing condusive to a soup.  And I really, really wanted soup.

Thank goodness my pantry is usually stocked with some sort of soup or vegetable broth.  I chose to make vegan and gluten-free BLT sandwiches and serve it with bowl of the Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup.  An easy, stress-free dinner.  Just what I needed as my day had been rather tiring and long, mostly on the road.  Cathy said she was okay with that dinner and so…that’s what I ended up making.  I pulled the soup box out of the pantry and put 2 cups of it into a bowl, reserving the other 2 cups for today when I make the same dinner again because…well…I can and I have everything!

The soup was easy enough to warm up, so while it warmed on the stovetop, I toasted some bread to top with baby kale, tomato slices, and slices of vegan and gluten-free bacon that I made a week ago.  It’s good to go from freezer to pan and it is awesome.  I posted the recipe a couple weeks ago and just linked it there.  Anyway, the soup was a crazy purple-brown color.  So, yeah…not the most appetizing looking soup, but it smelled fantastic as it cooked.  I stirred it on occasion while taking care not to burn the bread in the oven nor the bacon in a pan on the stove.  I managed.  And as everything finished up and the bread slices were spread with Veganaise and topped with the vegetables and bacon, I got out a ladle to dish up the soup.

I filled the bowls with a serving each and settled in for dinner.  Soup and sandwich.  Classic…and one of my favorite combinations.  I almost did gluten-free and vegan grilled cheese…but the BLT was too tempting.  And it worked so well with this soup!

First of all, this soup was not much to look at, but HELLO FLAVOR!  The seasoning of this soup was beyond amazing.  It had a little bit of heat and layers and depth to each spoonful.  I tend to dip my sandwiches into my soup, especially when it’s a non-chunky soup like this, and it meshed really well with the vegan and gluten-free BLT.  I thought as far as flavor went, this soup had it going on.  The spice was just enough…not too strong.  And the other flavors, garlic, cumin, and chipotle didn’t overpower.  I sipped at this soup, really just taking it in to form my opinion.  And when I asked my roommate what she thought of it, she echoed exactly what I was thinking.  It was good…but it was lacking something.  It was just…black bean broth.  It was missing…something.  That’s the thing about boxed soups, all you get is the flavor base.  When you make it at home, it’s usually thicker, maybe chunky, has more depth.  That’s what this lacked.  It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong…but it was just lacking.  That’s why when I cooked the rest of it up tonight, I made some homemade crackers to float on top.  HA!  I can be resourceful.

That being said, Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup is made up from filtered water, black beans, onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, flavor concentrate (tomato puree, sea salt, sugar, canola oil, spices, chipotle pepper, natural flavor), tomato paste, garlic, sea salt, olive oil, cumin, guar gum, and black pepper.  For being the last ingredient listed, the black pepper and chipotle flavors really do stand out the most.  But, I like heat, so I’m okay with that.  None of these ingredients raised any flags to me.  I recognized them all.

Nutritionally speaking, Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup is almost a rockstar.  A serving is 1 cup of the soup.  This 1 cup bowlful will provide you with 70 calories and 1 gram of fat.  A serving also dishes up 520 mg sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  While it seems a bit high in sodium, it is a packaged soup and I knew that when I purchased it.  And, in the grand scheme of things and compared to other soups on the market, 520 mg of sodium isn’t the worst I have seen.  A serving of this soup also provides 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.  So, you will feel full…trust me…after eating this soup.  Yes…even without the chunks.

So, the basic feeling on this soup is that, it is good and tasty, but definitely lacking.  I liked the spices and the heat, but the texture was just…not quite what I expect when I hear the term black bean soup.  I was disappointed there, but would definitely consider getting this soup again, perhaps to use more as a base for a chili, or next time add some rice or vegetables or…even black beans, instead of a soup on its own.

Trader Joe's Latin Style Black Bean Soup (with my homemade crackers)
Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup (with my homemade crackers)

Product Review: Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice

Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice
Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice

Product Review: Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice – $2.49+

Tasty Bite, as many of you know, is one of my favorite go-to quick meals…especially for busy nights/days or just nights where I don’t have much in the pantry/freezer/fridge…or just don’t want to spend my entire evening on my feet in the kitchen prepping and cooking something.

The great thing about the Tasty Bite meals is that they are clean…healthy…and beyond delicious.  I only have a few remaining packages in my kitchen pantry, but they were perfect after returning from my recent trip to Florida.  Without last week’s check in the bank (the boss still has it), my roommate and I are honestly living off what we have in our apartment…and trust me…that means Tasty Bite meals, pancakes, eggs, or pasta.  This is no joke.  And for the rest of this week, the budget purse strings are being pulled tighter than ever to try to recover from our much-needed and totally fun (but expensive) vacation.

So, after disembarking at the Louisville airport on Tuesday…just before noon…we returned home with hungry stomachs.  I do not do fast food.  I can’t.  Not with my food allergies.  And I’m okay with that.  I actually do not miss fast food at all.  Not one bit.  The drive-thru was never my friend anyway…so my dietary restrictions put a total kibosh on them.  No problem.  I’d rather prepare my food anyway.

That being said…with a practically empty apartment food-wise, I was happy to dig out a few pouches of Tasty Bite products.  I’m down to one Indian meal and a couple of rice options.  I opted for a rice option with some added protein…because I’m in recovery mode from my 48.6 mile running adventure.

My choice – Tasty Bite’s Ginger Lentil Rice.

Yes…this is exactly what it sounds like…ginger-infused long grain rice that is tossed with brown lentils and red peppers.  It makes a colorful and flavorful plate…trust me.  The package simply gets put in the microwave for about 90 seconds, and BAM…into a bowl and enjoy!  Totally that easy.  And don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this comes in a pouch on a shelf in the microwave.  It still fits into clean eating.  Observe the ingredients: water, rice, onions, whole brown lentils, red pepper, coconut milk, sunflower oil, ginger, garlic, salt, curry powder, chilies, sugar.  Quick…Clean…Eating.

And the taste…was fantastic.  Seriously.  The ginger, garlic, curry, chilies all provide layers and depth of flavor to each bite.  The lentils add great texture and the rice actually steams up to perfection in that 90 seconds.  All the components work together and make magic with each bite.  Each freakin’ tasty bite.  I used some Glutino Gluten-Free Sea Salt Snack Crackers to scoop up the rice and add a nice crunch to my plate.  It was a magical, quick lunch after returning from the Happiest Place on Earth.  I savored each bite…chewed slowly…and just let the flavors roll over my tongue.  This one is amazing.  It’s not just rice.  It’s rice that is so much more.

Nutritionally speaking, this meal is a healthy choice as well.  One serving is half the pouch.  This serving gives you 190 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.  This serving will also give you 380 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  That is amazing for a processed food.  And a serving will also give you 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  So it is filling as well.  Loving it.

So, if you’re concerned about Indian food…not sure you’d like it…or just not ready to try something new…then give Tasty Bite a chance through their flavored rices.  In fact…I highly encourage purchasing the Ginger Lentil Rice.  The flavors will wow you…and just might encourage you to give those Indian meals a try after all.

I promise…you won’t be disappointed.

A serving of Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice
A serving of Tasty Bite Ginger Lentil Rice

Product Review: Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar

Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar
Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar

Product: Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar – $2.95+

One of my favorite things in life is that sweet/spicy blend of cinnamon and sugar.  Honestly.  I love a light coating on my gluten-free French toast…or over my air-popped popcorn.  I love it just dusted over a schmear of vegan butter spread on a gluten-free slice of bread, tasted in the oven…to make the perfect cinnamon toast.  Yes…cinnamon and sugar is my thing.  It might explain why Snickerdoodles continue to be my favorite cookie…ever!

And while this product is no longer really all that “new”…I had really never been able to find it in the stores around here.  Until a local grocery store started to carry them in their gluten-free section.  I am, of course, speaking of Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar.  I fell in love with Crunchmaster crackers a long time ago.  And about a year ago, I believe, they introduced a few new products.  One of which was the Grammy Crisps.  When I spotted these on the shelf…I had to take them home.  I had to.  There was no arguing with me about budget this time.  This was a necessity.

Now…growing up I loved graham crackers.  I still do, but my gluten-free options are pretty limited to two brands.  So, when I heard about the Grammy Crisps from Crunchmaster, I immediately envisioned that flavor of those cinnamon sugar graham crackers from my youth.  You know, the ones where one side is coated in crystals of sugar and cinnamon…the other side plain.  And what you get is the most amazing graham cracker flavor…ever?

That’s what I envisioned with these.

And I was…kind of right.

Today was the day I broke out the box of Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar and dished up a serving (30 grams) to take to work with me for my afternoon snack.  I think I sat in anticipation all day, wondering what these would taste like.  I almost started to berate myself for not having a backup in case these were just…nasty.  But I don’t think I’ve ever had a product from Crunchmaster that wasn’t at least consumable.

When 3 p.m. rolled around, my snack drawer was opened and I was pulling out my little container that held these squares of graham-cracker like cinnamon sugar flavor.  Without any show of self control (because sometimes I have none!)…I popped one of these crackers into my mouth and crunched away.  My first initial thought was that it actually lacked in flavor.  It just tasted…bland.  And I was sad.  But then, the dusting of cinnamon and sugar on these rice crackers finally kicked in.  So…they weren’t overly sweet…or very sweet at all…but then you get this nice hit of semi-sweet warmth from the cinnamon and sugar.  It takes a moment…but it gets there.

The texture of these crisps reminds me a lot of what regular Crunchmaster crackers are like.  Very substantial, crunchy, but light.  They really do give you a nice crunch with each bite.  I just wish the seasoning was, perhaps, cooked into the crisps rather than dusted on the outside.  It is just this close to perfect.  But it misses the margin ever so slightly.

Let’s talk ingredients.  I would say, with the exception of the sugar, that this snack would almost be considered clean.  It has very few ingredients, being made from brown rice flour, whole grain sorghum flour, sugar, cinnamon sugar seasoning, potato starch, safflower oil, and salt.  I recognize every single one of those ingredients.  Which is always reassuring when it comes to buying something processed in the store.  At least I don’t have to look up some crazy preservative or chemical additive to find out what it is.  The Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar are certified gluten-free, free of peanuts, cholesterol free, contain no saturated fat, and are made from 100% whole grain.

Now, let’s talk the nutrition aspect.  These are little brown rice crackers that are dusted with a cinnamon sugar blend.  One serving is 30 grams, or about 25 crisps.  This serving will dish you up 130 calories and 2 grams of fat.  That isn’t bad for a snack.  The sugar level sits only at 5 grams, which is actually amazing considering that these are cinnamon and sugar flavored snack crackers.  These have only 150 mg of sodium as well.  And, this serving will also give you 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

My love for Crunchmaster products continues…even though I wasn’t blown away by these crisps.  They are good.  They are.  They remind me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch…actually…just without all the sweet sugary flavor that encapsulated every little square of that cereal.  That was my sister’s favorite cereal growing up, so we ate that a lot.  The flavor of these is a bit reminiscent of that.  I liked these though, enough to polish off the box in the next couple of days (I’m a serving-size stickler).  If you love the flavor of graham crackers…with a touch of sweet and spice…then the Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps Cinnamon & Sugar might just be for you.

If you find them…they are at least worth a taste.  If you like the taste of cinnamon and sugar…these have it.  It just isn’t the initial WOW-factor on flavor I expected.  But, they are definitely worth a try.  Trust me.

Pepperidge Farm swims into gluten-free market with Mega Cheese Goldfish Puffs

Pepperidge Farm Mega Cheese Goldfish Puffs
Pepperidge Farm Mega Cheese Goldfish Puffs

Product: Pepperidge Farm Mega Cheese Goldfish Puffs – $1.99+

It has been over 2 years since I last had Goldfish crackers.  Yes…those crunchy little baked cheese crackers.  The snack the smiles back…until you bite it’s head off.  Those Goldfish.  They are the epitome of snack crackers, hailed as a healthier snack cracker due to having to added preservatives and the fact that they are baked.  So, there is at least that much.  But regular Goldfish crackers are made with wheat flour…which meant when I had to go gluten-free…I had to say good-bye to these little bite-size crackers of goodness.

Okay…that might not have been a bad thing.  I mean…while one of the better choices for crackers for both kids and adults, a quick glance at what goes into Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish Crackers…is definitely not falling into the new Clean Eating habits I am working toward with my sports nutritionist.  I mean…aside from the gluten-containing ingredients, Goldfish crackers often contain food dyes and other such ingredients.  But, they are certainly the lesser of the evils when it comes to snack choices.

The same can be said for the new line of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Puffs, which come in three flavors: Buffalo Wing, Mega Cheese, and Cheddar Bacon.

I’m not a huge fan of Buffalo Wing things…and I’m a vegetarian so the Cheddar Bacon wasn’t happening.  Therefore…my only choice was Pepperidge Farm Mega Cheese Goldfish Puffs.  I was okay with that.  Besides, when I could eat Goldfish, the cheese were always my favorite anyway.

So, let’s talk about these, shall we?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I stopped into my local Target and spotted these on the shelf.  I knew they existed.  I had heard all about them from the various networks of the gluten-free community that I deal with via the internet.  However, I failed to do much reading up on them.  When I spotted them at Target in this big bag…I pulled it down and flipped it over.  Sure enough…clear as day on the back of the package it was labeled: GLUTEN FREE.  I love it when things are actually labeled.  I wasn’t going to purchase them.  I didn’t need them.  But my roomie said she’d get them for me.  And…what the heck?  Everyone in life needs to treat themselves to something every now and again.

So, after taking them home…they had to sit for a week, which is shorter than usual for snacks, but I’ve been clearing them out.  I’ve been good.  But yesterday marked the day I broke these bad-boy fishies out for my afternoon snack at work.  I always dole out a serving so I don’t sit there and mindlessly eat out of the bag.  I would do it too, which is why I am so adamant on portion sizes.  The first thing I noticed is why these are called Puffs.  They are puffed crackers.  Think…Cheetos…but in the shape of really big Goldfish crackers.  Yes…they even still have that signature smile.  They also have that infamous aftificial cheesy smell, you know…like that sweet smelling powdered cheese smell that accompanies those powdered cheese packets boxes of macaroni and cheese.  These crackers are called “Mega Cheese” because they include three different kinds of cheese flavors: cheddar, Asiago, and Romano.  Three cheeses that I actually like.  So, that was promising.

I had to let my roommate try one.  Cathy is basically my “Mikey”…in that she samples these foods first.  She’s better than she used to be, but she can still be rather picky about her food.  So, I figure if she likes it…we’re on to something.  She popped a big fishy into her mouth and chewed.  Then…her eyes got a little bigger and she said, “They’re good!  Like…like…Cheetos!”  A-HA!  I knew that’s what they were going for.  I was now eager to try them myself.  When I popped my first Goldfish Puff…immediately, the taste and texture was very much like Cheetos.  I loved Cheetos as a child.  So, this was like combining two of my favorite treats from my childhood into one.  They really were pretty good.

The first flavor that hits you is sweet…which means the asiago cheese is what you get.  It’s very sharp and definitely wakes up those tastebuds.  But it then mixes in those cheddar and romano flavors and suddenly…they taste like…nacho cheese.  And maybe that’s what they were going for.  Maybe they are supposed to taste like boxed macaroni and cheese products.  I mean…kids love Kraft mac and cheese, right?  Therefore, they would love these.

I loved how crunchy these were, despite being “puffs.”  That was a nice surprise.  The secret to that is that these are made from corn meal instead of a wheat flour.  It really gets that cheesy-poof texture just right.  And I loved how fun it was to munch away at my desk on puffed Goldfish.  I mean…I felt like a kid again.  And it only made me smile.

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.  Ingredient-wise…not the cleanest of snack foods, but not the worst I have encountered either.  I allow this one to fall in the 20% of non-clean eating that I am allotting myself.  I mean, you can’t go through life without treats.  You have to have something every now and again.  And this was a surprisingly delicious and fun treat for me.  There is no use of high fructose corn syrup or any food colors, so at least there is that.

As for nutrition, a serving size is 41 pieces, or about 30 grams.  I always weigh my servings.  In this serving, you will be served up 140 calories and 6 grams of fat.  Holding true with other Goldfish products, these do not contain any trans fats.  YAY!  The Mega Cheese Goldfish Puffs are also cholesterol free in addition to being gluten-free.  They have only 280 mg of sodium, which isn’t bad for a snack cracker, right?  It’s better than Cheetos sodium count, so there is something to think about.  These puffy crackers also will provide 2 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fiber.

So, like everything…moderation is key.  Would I buy these again?  YES!  They are good and they make a fantastic, tasty, nice treat.  They aren’t horrible when it comes to nutrition.  And the Mega Cheese promise is truly delivered with each bite.  I love the whimsical and classic Goldfish shape is continued even in the puffed up corn snacks.  They taste amazing.  They are fun.  So, my roomie’s treat to me definitely worked out favorably.  I’m hooked.  Pun intended…

The thing about these New Pepperidge Farm Mega Cheese Goldfish Puffs, which have 140 CALORIES PER 41 PIECES (who the heck is counting to 41??), is that they are clearly meant to be a competitor to Cheetos.  And I think that’s tough, because I have a real soft spot for Cheetos.  Soft as in the pockets of my stomach where Cheetos have burned away my stomach lining.  But also because I think Cheetos are some of the greatest snacks ever.  Herr’s and other companies have tried and failed to tear me away from the original Chester Cheetah Cheetos and Cheese Puffs.  You have an uphill climb, here, Pepperidge Farm. – See more at: http://www.sogoodblog.com/2013/07/15/review-pepperidge-farm-mega-cheese-goldfish-puffs/#sthash.t9OXMSMw.dpuf