Supermarket Saturday: The Sea of Starbucks Packaged Snacks, Part 1

Starbucks offers as many (or maybe more) food options today as they do coffee.  There’s the pastry case full of treats, the cold case full of bentos, sandwiches and salads, last minute entice-rs like biscotti and chocolate covered grahams and then the shelves and rounders of packaged snacks.  How in the wild world do you decide which to pick?

The food in the pastry and cold food case is pretty transparent (you generally know what you’re getting and if you want more info, you can get nutrition facts and ingredients on the Starbucks website HERE). BUT, if you’re on-the-go and/or prefer a packaged snack, you have to pick each of them up, check the labels, sort through the information and THEN decide what you want.  Who’s got time for THAT?

I’m on it!

I started with the salty, crunchy snacks and will work my way through the packaged sweet snacks/treats.  In order to make the review legit and unbiased, I did an informally formal blind taste test.

How it went down: There were 8 blind tasters (i.e. they didn’t know what they were tasting) plus me; 4 adults, 1 teenager and 4 young kids.

They each received a tasting sheet:

A numbered plate:

A cup of water and a pen:

 

They were instructed to keep comments and opinions to themselves, drink a sip of water in between each sample and to mark the face which best describes their opinion of the snack.  They could also (though not mandatory) write a comment or descriptor from the word bank describing the snack.  They were then asked to rank their top 1, 2 & 3 favorites.

 

 

Here are the details.  Snacks are listed from most to least favorite:

POP! lite Sunflower Oil & Sea Salt Popcorn


Ingredients: Popcorn, Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt.

Taste/Texture: This popcorn is very mildly flavored. It’s salty, crunchy and tastes similar to air-popped popcorn.

Nutrition notes: It’s 100% whole grain, low in calories and saturated fat.  Even though it didn’t taste overly salty, the sodium content (420 mg) is a bit high for a 100 calorie snack. Still, a good choice for a grab-and-go snack.

Tasters’ Ranking: 1 (tied with Starbucks Kettle Corn)

Starbucks Kettle Corn

Ingredients: Popcorn, sugar, sunflower oil, salt

Taste/Texture: Tastes like your typical pre-popped kettle corn.  It’s crunchy, sweet and salty.

Nutrition notes: It’s 100% whole grain (providing 3 g of fiber), low in calories (130), saturated fat (0 g) and sodium (130 mg).  It has 6 grams of added sugar, much lower than a pastry and most granola bars but enough to reconsider if you’re trying to limit your sugar intake.  All in all, if you’re craving something sweet, this is a good choice.

Tasters’ Ranking: 1 (tied with Pop! lite)

Starbucks Butter Popcorn

Ingredients: Popcorn, corn oil, seasoning (maltodextrin, salt, natural flavor, whey powder (milk), butter powder (milk), dextrose, annatto and turmeric extract).

Taste/Texture: Reminiscent of movie theater butter popcorn .  It’s super buttery (a couple tasters thought it was cheesy), crunchy, salty, and a little greasy.

Nutrition notes: It’s 100% whole grain (providing 3 g of fiber), low in calories (150), saturated fat (1 g) and moderately salty (240 mg sodium).  Great for a grab-and-go snack.

Tasters’ Ranking: 2

One Potato Two Potato Plain Jaynes Sweet Potato Chips

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, expeller pressed sunflower oil, sea salt.

Taste/Texture: Crunchy and thick, sweet and salty.  They were a bit greasy but not beyond what you’d expect from a chip. 

Nutrition notes: Made from real sweet potatoes, they’re high in fiber (4 g) and vitamin A (180% DV) and low in sodium (140 mg). But be careful…each bag contains 2 servings.  So, while you think you’re getting a 150 calorie snack, you’re really getting 300 if you eat the whole bag.

Tasters’ Ranking: 3 (tied with Hippeas Sriracha Sunshine)

Hippeas Sriracha Sunshine Organic Chickpea Puffs

Ingredients: Organic chickpea flour, organic rice flour, organic sunflower oil, organic tapioca starch, organic seasoning [sugar, salt, red pepper, vinegar powder (maltodextrin, vinegar), garlic powder, jalapeno pepper, paprika extract (color), natural flavor, yeast extract], organic pea hull fiber

Taste/Texture:  Crunchy like Cheetos but bigger like a cheese puff.  A little spicy, salty and flavorful. Initially, they are sweet with a spicy chili aftertaste…reminiscent of a sweet and spicy BBQ.

Nutrition notes: 130 calories, 5 grams of fat and 0 grams of saturated fat.  You get 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and only 170 mg of sodium…great for a grab-and-go snack.

Tasters’ Ranking: 3 (tied with One Potato Two Potato Sweet Potato Chips)

Moon Cheese Mozzarella

Ingredients: Mozzarella cheese (pasteurized part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes)

Taste/Texture: Very crunchy and dense, the texture is like a cross between Pop’s cereal and Corn Nuts.  Initially, it’s mildly cheesy with a stronger cheese after taste.

Nutrition notes:  One serving (9-10 pieces) is roughly the same as eating 1 part-skim string cheese (100 calories, 7 g fat, 4 grams saturated fat). Buyer beware…each bag is 3 servings so, if you eat the entire bag, you get 3 times the calories and fat.  That’s pretty high for a snack.  But, if you stick to 1 serving, it’s an OK choice.

Moon Cheese Cheddar

Ingredients: Cheddar cheese [pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto (vegetable color)]

Taste/Texture: Very crunchy and dense, the texture is like a cross between Pop’s cereal and Corn Nuts.  Very strong cheddar cheese flavor and even stronger after taste.

Nutrition notes: One serving (9-10 pieces) is roughly the same as eating 1 part-skim string cheese (100 calories, 7 g fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat). Buyer beware…each bag is 3 servings so, if you eat the entire bag, you get 3 times the calories and fat.  That’s pretty high for a snack. But, if you stick to 1 serving, it’s an OK choice.

Hippeas Far Out Fajita Organic Chickpea Puffs

Ingredients: Organic chickpea flour, organic rice flour, organic sunflower oil, organic tapioca starch, organic seasoning [salt, garlic powder, chili powder (spices, salt, garlic), sugar, dextrose, onion powder, spice, citric acid, paprika extract (color), yeast extract], organic pea hull fiber

Taste/Texture: Crunchy like Cheetos but bigger like a cheese puff.  Strong “spice” flavor and salty, a cross between BBQ and Mexican flavors.

Nutrition notes: 130 calories, 5 grams of fat and 0 grams of saturated fat.  You get 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and only 150 mg of sodium…great for a grab-and-go snack.

Rhythm Superfoods Roasted Kale, Sea Salt

Ingredients: Lacinato Kale, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Vitamin E

Taste/Texture: Light, airy texture, mild crunch initially but then gets chewy.  Salty, earthy and bitter.  Looks like dried leaves and tastes like kale.

Nutrition notes:  The entire package is 100 calories, 9 grams of fat and 0 g saturated fat.  It’s another 2-servings-per-package snack so you have to double what’s on the label.  Sodium is high (500 mg) for a 100 calories snack but otherwise, it’s fine.  You get large dose of vitamin K, some calcium and iron because it’s a bunch of kale.

Rhythm Superfoods Naked Beet Chips

Ingredients: Beets

Taste/Texture: Earthy, bitter, and beet-y, particularly in the aftertaste.  Tastes like it’s freeze dried but it’s hard, thick and crunchy like a vegetable chip.

Nutrition notes: 100 calories, 0 g of fat and 5 grams of fiber.  Hard to beat (ha) a single ingredient packaged snack.

Hippeas Vegan White Cheddar Organic Chickpea Puffs

Ingredients: Organic chickpea flour, organic rice flour, organic sunflower oil, organic tapioca starch, organic seasoning [degermed corn flour, salt, sugar, onion powder, citric acid, garlic powder, lactic acid, canola oil, natural flavor], organic pea hull fiber

Taste/Texture: Crunchy like Cheetos but shaped bigger like a cheese puff.  Not a ton of flavor and was a bit chalky and bitter.

Nutrition notes: 130 calories, 5 grams of fat and 0 grams of saturated fat.  You get 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and only 135 mg of sodium…great for a grab-and-go snack.

Starbucks is constantly shuffling their snack selections so these may not be EXACTLY what’s in your store.  Feel free to let me know if you’ve found a salty, crunchy snack at Starbucks that you love.  I’d love to hear from you.  Stay tuned for Part 2: Fruit snacks, nuts and more!

Also, if you’ve tried and like any of the snacks above, you can purchase them in multi-packs or larger bags on Amazon by clicking the product names above.

 

Wild Card Wednesday: True Eats Recommendations!!

Happy Hump Day!!

Lately, I’ve had quite a few people ask me for links to the products and cooking tools I’ve recommended so far SO I dedicate this Wild Card Wednesday post to re-sharing those links, along with the original articles explaining WHY you need these products in your life.

Why am I qualified to make these recommendations?  Check out my About Me page!

(Full disclosure: I am part of the Amazon Associates program so if you purchase anything via my Amazon links, I get a small percentage of the sale. But even if I didn’t, I would still recommend each and every one of the products listed below.)

INGREDIENTS

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

Tomato Paste in a tube

Nielsen Massey’s Vanilla Bean Paste

Ghiradelli Unsweetened Cocoa

Kikkoman Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs

Dellalo Whole Wheat Lasagna noodles

Tonnino Tuna Fillets

SNACKS

That’s It bars

Teriyaki Roasted Seaweed

Calbee Harvest Snaps

Made in Nature Dried Fruit

Peeled Snacks Dried Fruit

Tillamook Old Fashioned Vanilla Greek yogurt

  • BUY: Available in most grocery, health food and super stores
  • WHY?

Saffron Road Korean BBQ Crunchy Chickpeas

Field Trip Uncured Turkey Jerky

 TRADER JOE’S

Organic Brown Rice, Rice Medley and Organic Quinoa (frozen)

Toasted Oatmeal Flakes

Unsulfured, unsweetened dried fruit

Whole Grain Crispbread

COOKING TOOLS

Global 7″ Chef’s Knife

Magic Bullet Nutribullet

Inspiralizer

Scanpan

Epicurean Non-Slip Cutting Board

OXO Good Grips Cutting Board

Stainless Steel Bench Scraper

‘Ove’ Glove

Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer

Progressive Nut Chopper

OXO Stainless Steel Food Scale

Casabella Cherry Pitter

OXO Pineapple Corer

Chef’s Choice Pro Diamond Knife Sharpener

MinoSharp Ceramic Wheel Water Sharpener Plus

Chef’s Choice Trizor XV Edge Sharpener

Charles Viancin Silicon Lids

FUN STUFF FOR KIDS

Make Your Own Dog Treats Kit

Fred & Friends Dinner Winner plate

Fred & Friends Mrs. Food Face plate

Constructive Eating Construction Plate and Utensil Set

R & M Mini Cookie (or fruit and veggie) cutters

Bentgo Kids Bento Lunch Box

Nerdy Nummies Cookbook

MISCELLANEOUS

Sur la Table Knife Skills class

HipsSister

The (original) Skinnytaste Cookbook

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow

Skinnytaste Meal Planner

 

Favorite Recipe Friday: Ina Garten’s Chicken Piccata

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You can almost guarantee that if a recipe is Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Contessa), it’s gonna be good.  Her unconventional Chicken Piccata is one of my long-time favorites. The chicken breasts are lightly breaded, quickly pan fried and finished in the oven.  The sauce is silky and tart, buttery yet light. It’s quick, easy, and kid-friendly yet elegant enough for guests.  As is, the recipe is good.  But, I made a few changes to make it a bit healthier.  Mainly, I decreased the salt, swapped out seasoned breadcrumbs for whole wheat panko and fresh herbs, decreased the serving size and cut the fat and it’s still SO good and satisfying.  The best part about this recipe is it’s easy and the chicken comes out perfectly juicy every time.

Nutrition Note: Did you know that typical pre-seasoned breadcrumbs contain partially hydrogenated oil, preservatives, anti-caking agents and numerous types of sugar?  Totally unnecessary!  I like to substitute whole wheat panko (like these by Kikkoman) because they are super crunchy, are less processed and contain way less sodium.

Here’s my version, (adapted from) Ina Garten:

Chicken Piccata

Ingredients:

1 pound (2) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally

1 ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large egg

½ tablespoon water

¾ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs

4 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, and/or basil)

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons), lemon halves reserved

½ cup dry white wine (I use sauvignon blanc)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast piece between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to ¼-inch thick. Season chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper in a shallow plate. In a small bowl, beat the egg and ½ tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons fresh herbs, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper on a third plate. Dredge each chicken breast lightly in the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 chicken breast pieces, cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned.  Remove and place on prepared sheet pan.  Add remaining teaspoon olive oil, cook remaining chicken pieces and add them on the prepared sheet pan. Transfer to oven and bake for 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce: Wipe out the skillet with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add garlic, sauté for 20 seconds, then add the lemon juice, wine, reserved lemon halves, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Boil over medium heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast half on each plate. Top each with sauce and remaining herbs.

Serving size: (3 ounces chicken with sauceCalories: 310  Total Fat: 14 g  Saturated Fat: 6 g  Cholesterol: 138 mg Sodium: 524 mg  Carbohydrate: 13 g  Fiber: <1 g  Sugars: 2 g  Protein: 28 g

Serving suggestion: Serve over mashed potatoes, cauliflower puree or whole grain rice with a side of roasted veggies or green salad.

 

Supermarket Saturday: Tillamook Old-Fashioned Vanilla Greek Yogurt

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(Berries and almonds not included)

Yogurt in it’s purest form is a healthy snack. Plain yogurt is great in baked goods or as a healthier alternative to sour cream. BUT, you won’t find me spoon-deep, snacking on a single-serve container of plain yogurt. 

There are plenty of “fruit at the bottom” varieties to choose from but they tend to have more sugar than a doughnut in even a small 8 ounce serving.  Yes, you could jazz up plain-Jane yogurt up by adding fresh fruit but it’s just not quite right.  It needs a little added sugar.

Tillamook to the rescue!

The one and only flavored yogurt I buy is Tillamook Old-Fashioned Vanilla Greek yogurt.  It’s not your standard artificially flavored vanilla yogurt.  It’s thick and creamy and laced with those mesmerizing black specs of real vanilla bean.  It’s 140 calories, low fat and has 14 grams of protein.  Yes, it has 12 grams of sugar (about 8 of which are added) but it’s still better than most other (non-artificially) sweetened yogurts.  Oh, and did I mention the vanilla beans??

I love to top it with a handful of fresh berries and sliced almonds for breakfast or as a mid-day snack.  Tillamook does offer the same variety of yogurt in fruit flavors but the Old-Fashioned Vanilla is where it’s at!  Buy it. Eat it. Repeat.

Where to buy: Conventional grocery stores, health food stores, superstores (like Target)

 

Supermarket Saturday: Delallo Organic Whole Wheat Lasagna

Everybody likes lasagna.  Even Garfield.  Cheese, tomato sauce, Italian herbs, cheese, noodles and did I mention cheese?.? Lasagna is amazing because it’s easy to make, can be made ahead of time, it’s great for a crowd (or as leftovers) and it’s DELICIOUS.

I recently stumbled upon these Delallo Whole Wheat Lasagna noodles.  Not only are they nutritious (5 g of fiber vs. 2 g in white lasagna noodles), they are sturdy enough to hold their shape once cooked but not gummy like some whole wheat pasta can be.  They have 2 ingredients: whole wheat and water.  And BONUS: they are oven-ready, which means you don’t have to boil them before you build your lasagna.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of very tasty noodle-less lasagna recipes but, I ♥ carbs. I need carbs.  In fact, we ALL do.  But, it is important to choose nutritious carbs, most of the time.

So, why choose 100% whole wheat over traditional white pasta?  To make a long story short…white flour undergoes a process that removes it’s outer bran layer.  The bran layer is where most of the fiber and important nutrients live.  So, when that layer is removed, the nutrients are too.

So what?

Well, that fiber and those nutrients (including, but not limited to B vitamins) are really important.  Fiber helps regulate your blood sugar, prevents constipation and keeps you fuller longer.  And B vitamins help maintain a healthy metabolism, immune and nervous system and maintain healthy skin, hair and muscles.

When I make pasta at home (which is usually about 1 time a week), I always upgrade to 100% whole grain noodles.  My kids really don’t know any different and they gobble it up every time. And, I honestly prefer the nutty flavor and added texture you get from whole grains (which by the way, has improved SIGNIFICANTLY since first becoming commercially available).

Moral of the story: Make lasagna with THESE delicious whole wheat noodles and you’ll live forever!  Just kidding. But you will have an excuse to eat more lasagna.

Buon Appetito!

P.S. Delallo actually sells more varities of delicious whole wheat pasta than any other widely available brand I’ve seen.  Check ’em out HERE.

Where to buy: Health food stores or on Amazon HERE.

 

Supermarket Saturday: Trader Joe’s Toasted Oatmeal Flakes

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The American cereal aisle is a sea of sugar and refined grains.  Decent (healthy, delicious and satisfying) cereal is REALLY hard to find. Yes, I could grab a box of Bran Flakes or Fiber One but I’d rather not eat cardboard for breakfast.   I often find myself calling upon The Force to beam down some new cereal options.  Unfortunately, The Force is not within me, so I end up with something “healthy-ish”.  That is until I found Trader Joe’s Toasted Oatmeal Flakes…

“Made with Whole Grain Rolled Oats & Whole Grain Wheat”,  it’s like Frosted Flakes on steroids.  And by steroids, I mean beefed up with healthy ingredients like whole wheat, oats and a lot less sugar than you find in most cereal (see below).  More importantly, it’s delicious, super crunchy (and holds it’s crunch in milk), and because it’s got 3 g fiber and 3 grams of protein (both naturally occurring) it will keep you fuller longer. And since it’s just flakes, it’s a perfect base for a handful of berries and a sprinkling of sliced almonds for an extra boost of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Where to buy: Trader Joe’s.  Click HERE to find a Trader Joe’s near you.

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Supermarket Saturday: Saffron Road Korean BBQ Crunchy Chickpeas

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Move aside BBQ flavored Corn Nuts, there’s a new kid in town.  One of my favorite go-to snack foods is Saffron Road Korean BBQ Crunchy Chickpeas. These chicks are seriously addictive.  They have it all: sweet, spicy and savory and are seriously satisfying (woahhhh tongue twister).  With only 120 calories and 5 grams of protein (per ounce), these chickpeas are a great grab-and-go snack sure to keep those hunger pangs at bay.

Bonus: While they are slightly spicy, they are kid-friendly (both my kids are fans).

Where to buy: Traditional grocery and natural food stores.  Or as an “add-on” item on Amazon HERE.