One of my goals this year is to try being more consistent with filling my pantry and fridge with cleaner snack choices. I've gone through phases when I will pick recipes or buy trendy new snacks, but I have never become really consistent with making these choices stick. We always go back to buying the same old, highly processed garbage...and I want to change that....for good. So I am taking a different approach this time. Instead of making a lot of different choices over a short period of time, I'm making little changes over a longer span of time. I chose 4 different snacks to replace in my pantry this month. That's it, just 4. I am replacing potato chips, tortilla chips, granola bars, and fruit snacks with healthier, less processed options. I have decided to review 2 products that are pre-packaged and make 2 from scratch. Below is a review of the packaged snacks as well as a summary of how everything turned out and how my family is adapting to the change. I also listed the recipes of the 2 home-made snacks. But first, let's define what cleaner eating means to me.
What Is Cleaner Eating? My definition of cleaner eating includes eating less ultra processed foods, foods that have gone through many phases of processing, like injecting flavors, adding chemical preservatives, or adding additional sugars, fats and salt. These "extras", though they add flavor and texture to our foods, are most likely endangering our health. Now, processing doesn't have to be a bad thing. Any time we bake, cook, preserve, freeze our foods, we are in some way processing it. Nutritional changes to foods, like fortifying it with nutrients is also processing, but adding nutrients to some of our foods can be a good thing to help prevent deficiencies, especially in our communities that have food deserts and just can't get certain nutrients from original sources. It's the ultra processed foods where chemicals from the lab, not from nature, are being added to our foods for flavor, texture, preserving, color, etc. These are the things I am trying to stop putting in my pantry and replacing with healthier, less processed versions. I am starting slow, as I stated above...so if you are interested in what I am trying this month...then keep on reading!
I decided to try swapping out 2 of our staple snacks in our pantry with 2 other healthier versions. I switched our potato chips out for beet chips this month and "fruit" snacks for apple chips. The criteria I used in my review was flavor, texture, ingredients, and nutrition. Here is my review:
Rhythm Beet Chips
Flavor: I have never tasted beet chips before and I have to tell you, they were delish! They had a really good beet flavor and were perfectly seasoned with sea salt.
Texture: I really like a good crunch to my chips and these did not disappoint!
Ingredients: Rhythm had only 4 ingredients in their chips: organic beets, high oleic sunflower oil, sea salt, and rosemary extract for freshness. That's it.
Nutrition: Serving size: 1.4oz or 40grams. Carbs: 29g Iron and Calcium: 4% Calories: 160 Fiber:7g Potassium: 15%
Fat: 3g Protein:4g
Sat fat: 1g Sugars: 17,
Tran fat: 0g Added Sugars: 0g
So these chips were a good source of fiber and protein for a snack and the calories and carbs were decent as well. These chips were tasty, nutritious and satisfying as a quick go-to snack when you are hungry for something salty and crunchy. Next month, I will be making homemade potato and sweet potato chips. Stay tuned.
Bare Apple Chips
Flavor: Delicious! I love these snacks and so does my son...so this is a no brainer when it comes to switching these tasty treats with the garbage bombs that are fruit snacks. Don't get me wrong...fruit snacks can be a part of a balanced diet...but in my opinion, should be enjoyed as a treat. These were deliciously apple flavored and tangy as well as sweet!
Texture: There was a really nice crunch to these snacks...something I just really enjoy in my snacks.
Ingredients: Just 1...organic apples! I love that they leave the skin on!
Nutrition: Serving size: 1/2 cup or 30grams Carbs:27g Iron: 2%
Calories: 110 Fiber:4g Calcium: 2%
Fat: 0g Protein:0g
Sat Fat: 0g Sugars:21g
Trans Fat: 0g Added Sugars:0g
These snacks were also a good source of fiber, which can stave off hunger for a little longer then fruit snacks. The sugars are also from the apples, so completely natural, no added anything. These are a great sub for fruit snacks in my book and are easily portable as well.
I love to cook and wanted to be able to provide some healthy yet easy snacks for my family to nosh on through out the week that I could feel good about giving them. I found the following recipes on Pinterest and decided to try them out. I thought swapping the store bought granola bars for homemade ones would be a good choice for this month. I also LOVE tortilla chips and salsa, but am tired of buying the bags of chips at the store when they are so quick and easy to make at home. And the best part is they taste like the chips you would get at a good Mexican restaurant! Check out the recipes and reviews below:
Soft and Chewy Protein Granola Bars
Flavor: The flavor was good, but I may tweak them a little in the future with some dried fruit and nuts, like almonds or walnuts. I really enjoyed the peanut butter and oats.
Texture: This is what through me a little. The texture is chewy but heavy at the same time. I guess I'm more used to a lighter, crispy rice texture. I may also consider adding some rice cereal to this recipe as well. After a couple of bites I really started to enjoy the texture....and it was filling! It satisfied me for at least 2 hours, if not longer. So that is a big bonus.
Nutrition: 1 bar(the recipe says to cut it into 12 bars, but I cut it into 15 bars)
Calories: 107 vs. 90 calories for store bought granola bar
Fat: 4.8g vs.
Sat Fat: 1.5g
Carbs: 14.3g vs. 19g for store bought bar
Fiber: 1.7g vs. 0g for store bought bar
Protein: 3.6g vs. 1g for store bought bar
Comparing this recipe to a store bought granola bar of approximately the same size: The ingredients were too many to list...a lot of them some version of corn syrup. There were also preservatives and it was nice to know that I knew everything that was going into my granola bars. I will definitely make these again with some of the changes mentioned.
Flavor and texture: I baked 2 batches of chips. The first batch was tasty but too chewy for me. I also added too much salt, so I tweaked the second batch with a longer baking time(13 minutes) and added less salt. These turned out crunchy and tasted a lot like tortilla chips you would get at a restaurant. I was impressed. They tasted especially good with some fresh salsa. They took only about 20 minutes from start to finish and for a healthier nosh throughout the week, I will definitely be working these into my snack routine. For larger crowds or get togethers, though, it may be easier and less time consuming to just by a healthier store bought chip...these are great for small batches, but may be a little too much work for bigger crowds. Just my opinion.
Nutrition: Serving size: 4 chips(1 tortilla or 1oz) Vs. Tostidos: Serving size: 7 chips(1oz)
Calories: 120 Calories: 140
Fat: 7.5g Fat: 7g
Sat fat: 2g Sat fat:
Trans fat: 0g Trans fat: 0g
Carbs: 13g Carbs: 19g
Fiber: 1g Fiber: 1g
Protein: 2g Protein: 2g
Sugars: 0g Sugars: 0g
Added sugars: 0g Added sugars: 0g
Overall, the home made tortilla chips vs. the store bought chips were pretty comparable in nutrition. The store bought also only had a few ingredients, just as the home made ones. But the flavor was just fresher with the home made chips and it was just fun to make. So if you are looking for a quick healthy home made snack, these are very much worth it. Also, a nice thing is you can change up the flavors of your chips by adding all sorts of seasonings to them to make them your own, such as with lime, ranch flavored, spicy...whatever creative spin you want to put on it.
Giving myself a month to try out new trends and recipe ideas was a game changer. By just picking out a few of the items in my pantry to swap rather then looking at everything that needs to change and getting overwhelmed really made me feel that I can tackle cleaner eating this year. Next months focus will be on home made potato chips and healthier versions of microwave popcorn. I will also be changing cookies out for some healthier energy bites. So stay tuned for the next leg of my cleaner pantry journey. Until then...
In Good Health,