Potato Chip & Snack Reviews Feed

Food Review: Island Choice Sunflower Seeds

20220513_112838By Mike Thayer

Sunflower seeds make a great snack!

Whether in the shell or shelled, these little seeds taste great, are packed with nutrients and it's a budget friendly snack!

WAY better for you than chips or donuts, sunflower seeds are linked to a number of health benefits like lowering your risk in developing high blood pressure or heart disease.  They also support your immune system and boost your energy levels!

Sunflower seeds are versatile too.  In addition to being a great snack, they're easily incorporated into other foods as well.  You can top a lettuce salad with them, mix them into granola or trail mix, put them in baked goods, add them to vegetable dishes or a stir fry, enjoy them with oatmeal.  You can even use them in making pesto, which I'm looking forward to trying.

I picked up a bag of Island Choice Sunflower seeds the other day when shopping at Dollar Tree.  A convenient 5 ounce bag of shelled seeds, a palm full of the lightly salted and roasted seeds delivered on that distinct nutty sunflower flavor, making for a very satisfying bite when on the go.

Costing me $1.25 at Dollar Tree, I'm giving Island Choice Sunflower Seeds 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a simple snack that tastes good and is good for you and you don't have to mess with shells.  There was a bit of seed breakage in the bag, but no more than is typical of any brand of shelled sunflower seeds.  Compare the price to a 5.25 ounce bag of David Original Sunflower Seeds for $1.99 at the mainstream grocery store.  The David brand is a bit of a messy eat, having to deal with those shells.

5 stars

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Cracker Review: Simple Truth Rice & Almond Thin Crackers

Simple Truth Rice & Almond Crackers
A healthier version of Wheat Thins

By Mike Thayer

I'm always on the lookout for new chip, cracker and savory snack flavors, to include healthier versions of those foods that actually taste good. After a recent visit to the doctor, I'm also in search of lower sodium products (heart/cardiovascular health) as well as a greater variety of gluten free (digestive health) options.

Enter, Simple Truth Rice & Almond Thin Crackers.

Similar in size and shape to Wheat Thins, these crackers have a nice texture, a good snap and at only 130 calories (one serving is 15 crackers, a nice portion) you're pretty much free to pair these crackers up with something, such as sliced avocado, jalapeno slices & cheddar cheese or dip them in some hummus.

These crackers aren't boring, they deliver a light, nutty flavor enhanced by the sea salt and the recipe is straight forward and simple with no added sugars.

Ingredients:  rice flour, almond meal, potato starch, sunflower oil, sea salt, quinoa, natural flavor.

Compare that ingredient list to Wheat Thins...

Ingredients:  whole grain wheat flour, canola oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup (from corn and barley), salt, refiner's syrup, leavening (calcium phosphate and baking soda). bht added to packaging material to preserve freshness.

BHT is controversial, imagine that, another preservative that is controversial.  It's not a coincidence that the more we educate ourselves about food, ingredients and pr0cesses, the more the controversial ingredients start disappearing from recipes...

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is an additive used to retard rancidity in oils and foods containing oils and fats. Some studies have shown it to be carcinogenic.

That ingredient is about shelf life, not flavor.  It's definitely not about nutritional health, so it's best to avoid BHT.

Costing me $2.49 for a 3.5 ounce box at Dillon's, I'm giving Simple Truth Rice & Almond Thin Crackers 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're good crackers with a nice little crunch, they hold up well to dipping and there was minimal breakage in the bottom of the box.  They're worthy of a repeat buy.

4 stars

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Snack Review: Simple Truth Multigrain with Sea Salt Rice Crackers

Simple Truth Multigrain with Sea Salt Rice Crackers
 

By Mike Thayer

I'm always on the lookout for new chip, cracker and savory snack flavors, to include healthier versions of those foods that actually taste good. After a recent visit to the doctor, I'm also in search of lower sodium products (heart/cardiovascular health) as well as a greater variety of gluten free (digestive health) options.

Enter, Simple Truth Multigrain with Sea Salt Gluten Free Rice Crackers.

Simple Truth is Kroger's natural and organic brand.  Unveiled in 2019, you'll find Simple Truth products in the produce, meat, dairy, snack and many other aisles in Kroger stores.  In my neck of the woods, that means Dillon's.

At 130 calories per serving (16 crackers, a generous portion!), these rice crackers made a pretty good cracker snack!  It's a standard sized cracker with a nice crispness to it and a pleasant multi-grain flavor that isn't too dry.  The sea salt enhances the savory flavor, and here's where the importance of what kind of salt, a.k.a., sodium makes a difference.  By weight, all types of salt, be it table, Kosher, sea salt or other is approximately 40% sodium.  The grain size and how robust the flavor is on your tongue are key.  One teaspoon of table salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium, slightly above the recommended daily allowance of 2,300 mg.  Compare that to a teaspoon of Kosher at about 1800mg and course sea salt at roughly 2,000 milligrams.  Simply put, Kosher salt and other larger grain salts like course sea salt 'seem' to be lower in sodium, but only because you can't put as many grains of it on a teaspoon.  It's a volume thing.  But here's how you benefit, those larger grains also have a more robust flavor punch, so you don't need as much to get that palate pleasing salt flavor.

I really like these crackers, they taste good, have a good cracker snap, compliment a charcuterie board quite nicely, hold up to dips well and there was minimal breakage in the bottom of the bag.  Oh, and the sea salt is the last ingredient listed.  If you're a label reader, that's a good thing, especially if you're on a low sodium diet, like yours truly.

Costing me $3.29 for a 3.5 ounce box, I'm giving Simple Truth Multigrain with Sea Salt Rice Crackers 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  In a price breakdown that comes to about 94 cents per ounce of crackers so they're a bit expensive, but they are tasty and a healthier version of traditional, wheat based crackers, making them worthy of a repeat buy.

4 stars

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Chip Review: Simply Nature Cauliflower Tortilla Chips, Nacho Flavored

Simply Nature Cauliflower Tortilla Chips, Nacho Flavored
Simply Nature makes a darn good nacho flavored tortilla chip

By Mike Thayer

Nacho Cheese Doritos are my all-time favorite chip snack.  They have a fantastic crunch and that nacho cheese flavor is the best out there.  I like them with a sandwich, they're good with a bean dip, they make a great base for a walking taco and yes, they're delicious just by themselves.

But they are a highly processed food, containing some ingredients that are hard to pronounce which usually isn't a good thing and the recipe included controversial dyes and artificial additives.  I've learned the hard way, highly processed and artificial in food is not a good thing.

So with replacing Nacho Cheese Doritos in mind, I'm on the lookout for new nacho cheese flavored tortilla chip.

Enter Simply Nature Cauliflower Tortilla Chips, Nacho Flavored.

Simply Nature Chips
Chips are tasty as is, they hold up to dips, there was minimal breakage in the bag.

Simply Nature makes some good products, I've tried several and liked them all, so I recently picked up a bag their nacho flavored tortilla chips made with cauliflower to sample.

First plus, the chips are made with cauliflower and cassava rather than corn or wheat.  Corn and its GMO properties continues to grow in controversy and the gluten in wheat is a big drawback to any health benefit for many, including yours truly.  Neither cauliflower or cassava have those negatives.

And just take a look at the ingredient comparison:

Simply Nature:  cassava, organic sunflower oil, cauliflower, chia seed, onion, tapioca syrup, salt, tomato, vegetable blend (spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets, shiitake mushrooms), garlic, spices, paprika extract, lactic acid, natural flavors.

Doritos:  corn, vegetable oil (sunflower, canola and/or corn oil), corn maltodextrin, salt, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), whey, monosodium glutamate, buttermilk, romano cheese (part skim cow's milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), whey protein concentrate, onion powder, corn flour, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, lactose, spices, artificial color, yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40, lactic acid, citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, skim milk, red bell pepper powder, green bell pepper powder, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate.

If you weren't an ingredient label reader before now, does this help change your mind about what you're putting into your body?

"But Mike," you ask, "I don't give a rat's rear end about the ingredient labels, how do the Simply Nature chips taste?"

They're pretty darn tasty.  I sampled them straight out of the bag and with some bean dip.  I kept reaching for another chip.  No, they're not as tasty as Nacho Cheese Doritos, but they're a really good replacement and in putting better food in my body moving forward, it's out with the Nacho Cheese Doritos and in with the Simply Nature chips instead.

Costing me $3.39 for a 4.5 ounce bag, I'm giving the Simply Nature Cauliflower Nacho Flavored Tortilla Chips 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're a bit high in price and they're not as tasty as Doritos, but they're tasty enough and a healthier snack option making them a repeat buy.  Combined with other healthier food choices, score this as a smarter eating, better for you win.

4 stars

Related: Chip Review: Simply Nature Black Bean Chips

Related: Snack Review: Simply Nature Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt

Related: Snack Review: Simply Nature Organic Multi Grain Tortilla Chips

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Chip Review: Simply Nature Black Bean Chips

Simply Nature Black Bean Chips
A really nice alternative to traditional tortilla chips

By Mike Thayer

I'm always on the lookout for new chip and savory snack flavors, to include healthier versions of those foods that actually taste good.  After a recent visit to the doctor, I'm also in search of lower sodium and gluten free options.  A bonus would be lower in carbs too.

Doing some routine weekly grocery shopping at Aldi recently, I came across some black bean chips made by Simply Nature.

I love tortilla chips and I really like black beans, so I'm thinking, what a great pairing!

Made from the obvious black beans and some rice, a serving of these chips delivers 5 grams of protein, contains 85 milligrams of sodium and 15 grams in carbs.  Compare that to a traditional tortilla chip made from corn and you get 2 grams of protein, 115 mg of sodium and 19 carbs. All other nutritional values are about the same. That may not sound like much of a difference in just the one serving, but when you're counting carbs, watching the sodium intake and trying to add more protein to your diet without adding bad cholesterol (animal based foods), these amounts matter from meal to meal.  Another way to look at it is the cumulative total for eating through the bag over the course of a week or whatever, or oops, one sitting...  510mg of sodium for the black bean chips vs. 690mg for the traditional tortilla chips; 30 grams of protein vs. 12; 90 carbs vs. 114.  Those numbers become a little more eye-opening huh?  And we haven't even factored in the other foods consumed meal to meal adding to all those totals.

But it doesn't matter if it's a healthier chip if it doesn't taste good and these things do.  Sampling them with salsa and guacamole sides, they're flat out tasty, have a great tortilla crunch and I didn't wish I was eating traditional tortilla chips.  They hold up to dipping well and when I did get to the bottom of the bag - no, not in one sitting - there was minimal chip breakage.

Costing me $2.39 for a 6 ounce bag of chips, I'm giving Simply Nature Black Bean Chips 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  These things are tasty, crunchy and they hold up to dips well whether it's a light salsa or something heavier like quacamole.  They're an excellent alternative to traditional tortilla chips and healthier too, providing the benefits of reduced sodium, a lower carb count and more protein.  Reasonably priced, they're definitely worthy of a repeat buy.

5 stars

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Snack Review: Fit & Active Cheddar Cheese Rice Snacks

Fit&Active Cheddar Cheese Rice Snacks
Good crunch, nice cheese flavor.

By Mike Thayer

My body appreciates gluten free products.

I feel better when I don't have so many wheat products in my diet, the breads, pastas, crackers, protein bars, whole grain chips, etc.  Eliminating wheat based items has resulted in less bloat, less gas and I don't feel as tired.

Replacing  wheat based snacks such as pretzels or crackers with a rice based option is one way to get back on and staying on the gluten free path.

Enter Fit & Active Cheddar Cheese Rice Snacks.

Rice cakes have been around for years, I remember buying some when they first became a trendy low-carb alternative to bread back in the 1980's.  I sampled rice cakes made by Quaker Oats, they had NO flavor and had the texture of Styrofoam.

The Fit & Active Cheddar Cheese Rice Snacks are WAY better.  Mini discs made with rice and corn, these are low in sodium (175mg per serving, less than 8% of the recommended daily intake) for a chip snack food and contain just 1 gram of sugar.   They've got a really nice cheddar cheese flavor and they're crispy.  They deliver every note you're looking for in a chip snack, crunch, savory, a bit of salt and most importantly, flavor!  These don't eat like the Styrofoam bits I thought they might be.  In fact, they're a bit addicting, the flavor and crunch makes it tough to stop at just one serving, the sign of a good savory snack!

Costing me $3.19 for a 6 ounce bag at Aldi, I'm giving the Fit & Active Cheddar Cheese Rice Snacks 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Nice and cheesy with a good crunch, these things satisfy the savory chip craving.  Compare that price to Quaker White Cheddar rice cakes in a 5.50 ounce bag for $3.99 at the mainstream grocery store.  

4 stars

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Snack Review: Simply Nature Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt

Simply Nature Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt
These things are tasty! Great with a dip.

By Mike Thayer

Sweet Potato Chips, something I would not have considered eating a couple years ago, stuck in my "preferred" routine of classic potato chips with the only variations being sour cream & onion flavored, cheddar cheese or changing things up in texture, with wavy chips.

And although sweet potato chips don't have any gluten because it's not a wheat product, I am trying to go gluten free with my diet, so I need as many options as possible when it comes to snacking.  These sweet potato chips fit the bill in the name of variety.

This is a healthier chip snack too.  There's no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors, no preservatives, they're low sodium and again, 'gluten free' but that's just some marketing put on the package, of course sweet potato chips are gluten free, it's potato, not wheat!

They taste great on their own, they're even better with a dip.  I enjoyed some with a french onion dip, as well as a chili and lime aioli.

Costing me $2.99 at Aldi for a 7 ounce bag, compare this to a similar size bag of sweet potato chips at the mainstream grocery store starting at $3.49 and up.  The Simply Nature brand is quite tasty and worthy of a repeat buy.  I'm giving the Simply Nature Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.

4 stars

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Snack Review: Simply Nature White Cheddar Puffs

Simply Nature White Cheddar Puffs
Every bit as good as a regular cheese puff

By Mike Thayer

My body appreciates gluten free products.

I feel better when I don't have so many wheat products in my diet, the breads, pastas, crackers, protein bars, whole grain chips, etc.  Eliminating wheat based items has resulted in less bloat, less gas and I don't feel as tired.

I was first introduced to eating gluten free back in 2020, but unfortunately I got away from eating that way.  I've been looking forward to re-introducing myself to gluten free since completing my Best in the Wichita Metro Burger Challenge 2022.

Replacing a wheat based snack such as pretzels with a corn based option like cheese puffs is one way to get back on the gluten free path.

Simply Nature White Cheddar Puffs are made with baked corn and rice and contain no added sugars.   They've got a really nice cheddar cheese flavor, they're light (they are puffs after all) and they're crispy.  They deliver every note you're looking for in a chip snack, crunch, savory, a bit of salt and most importantly, flavor!  These don't eat like the Styrofoam bits I thought they might be. 

Costing me $2.09 for a 4 ounce bag at Aldi, I'm giving the Simply Nature White Cheddar Puffs 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Compare that to Cheetos puffs which costs about $2.29 at the mainstream grocery store but comes in a 2.5 ounce bag. 

4 stars

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Coming Soon: The best gluten free chips and crackers to snack on

Gluten Free chip & cracker options
There are a lot of options out there!

By Mike Thayer

Now that my Best in the Wichita Metro Burger Challenge 2022 is about over, I can focus once again on eating a little healthier.

Pre-Challenge, I was focused on eating gluten free for a time.  I felt better as a result.  I haven't been officially diagnosed as having a gluten intolerance, but I'm here to tell you my body thanked me for making the diet adjustment in reducing gluten.  Eliminating wheat products resulted in less bloat, less gas and I didn't feel as tired.  Unfortunately I got away from eating that way, so I'm looking forward to getting back on that path.

Thanks to an old girlfriend (shout out to Lori S), I was first introduced to the gluten free world back in 2020.  Now that I'm getting back in the gluten free game, I've noticed the options and product variety has really multiplied since then and the quality has improved.  There's chips, puffs, pretzels, crackers and more.  You'll find sweet, savory and salty.  Take your pick from cauliflower, black bean, sweet potato, rice and more.  The options are many and bonus, the prices are more reasonable!

I'll be evaluating all those choices you see pictured and more in the coming weeks, stay tuned!

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Chip Review: Clancy's Stackerz Cheddar Cheese Potato Crisps

Clancy's Stackerz Cheddar Cheese Potato Crisps
The Aldi Private Label version of Pringles or Lays stackable chips

By Mike Thayer

My name is Mike Thayer and I'm a Chip-a-holic.

I love chips, all shapes, sizes, veggie varieties and flavors.  When it comes to potato chips specifically, I'm partial to wavy chips for dipping.  But I do also hold a special fondness for stackable 'potato crisps.'

Pringles is the King of stackable chips, first introduced in 1968 by Proctor & Gamble and marketed as "Newfangled Potato Chips."  The Pringles line was sold in 2012 to current owner, Kellogg's.

Coming in at Number 2 in stackable chips, is Lays and their "Stax."  The Frito-Lay company introduced them in 2003 to directly compete with Pringles.  Heavier and thicker than Pringles, Stax remains the second best option in stackable chips, primarily because they don't pleasurably shatter in your mouth like Pringles do.

Clancy's Stackerz
Intact stack, minimal breakage

Today I'm trying Aldi's private label knock off of Pringles, Clancy's Stackerz, the cheddar cheese flavor.  Note the unabashed attempt to mimic the Pringles iconic chip mascot a bit on the canister.  The big mustache play...

So how do Stackerz, stack up?  Yes, pun intended...  and c'mon, you HAD to know I was going to go there!

They don't.

Sure, they stack fine, there's minimal breakage in the cannister, the cheddar cheese flavor is definitely there and they deliver a decent potato crisp crunch, but these chips are on the greasy side.  After a few chips, you start to get that oily buildup aftertaste in your mouth.  These chips are kind of a hybrid of the Pringles and Lays, not as thin as the Pringles, but not as thick as the Lays.  Let me sum it up this way, while it's easy to polish off a canister of Pringles, it was easy for me to put the lid back on the Clancy's Stackerz.

Clancy's Stackerz
Greasy chips

Costing me $1.09, I'm giving Clancy's Stackerz Cheddar Cheese Potato Crisps 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're reasonably priced, the cheddar cheese flavor is good, but that oily texture is a stackable chip killer.  These are not worthy of a repeat buy, I'll pay the name brand price for Pringles, nothing else competes.

3 stars

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