With dozens of different store-bought dips and spreads, I decided to give myself plenty of time to taste test for Super Bowl Sunday. I’ve tried five kinds of hummus, including zesty lemon and chipotle, black bean dip, babaganoush (eggplant dip), and guacamole. The Whole Foods Guac is definitely your best choice. The recipe– a creamy blend of avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, and a bit of salt– looks like it could be served tableside in their produce section. No garlic– so this version is safe for lots of cheering and yelling, game day! The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
Whole Foods Brand Guacamole
Appearance: This guac maintains its iconic green color because it’s packaged in an air-tight plastic container. Make sure it stays that way. You don’t want to serve brackish brown guac to your guests!
Texture: Buttery and thick texture, with nice chunks of fresh tomato
Flavor: Rich, fresh flavor. Packs some heat, so be prepared with extra dippers and water.
Cost: $ 5.59 for a pound, at Whole Foods Market stores
Health: Great source of potassium and vitamins E, A and C. Guacamole is a tasty, healthy snack. It’s really the fried chips and sour cream that pack on the pounds. For a more healthful Super Bowl party, serve the dip alongside red bell pepper slices and whole-wheat pita chips.
Recommendation: For a snack or appetizer, try a guacamole tostada. Spread the guac over mini toasts with fresh salsa, sliced tomato and a sharp cheese. Also, an ideal match for the classic chips and salsa. Definitely buy the guacamole the day of the game, because even with the acidity of the lime juice, the dip will eventually turn.
Resolution Stats: 23 new food stuffs tried, 82 more to go
Final Verdict: Everybody loves guacamole, so just make sure you have enough in the dip bowl!
In the winter time, there is nothing like piping hot, flaky naan fresh from a tandoor oven. David and I are fortunate enough that we will be able to learn how to make naan and lots of other classic Indian vegetarian dishes– from an expert. My siblings bought us a two-hour private cooking class that we are taking January 30 (so stay tuned for our homemade naan). Until then, I’m trying out various store-bought brands to see which flavors and textures I like best. See the verdict. The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
365 Everyday Value Whole Wheat Naan
Appearance: The bread is flat and shaped like an oval. The fluffy, well-browned bubbles give the bread a handmade appearance.
Texture: Light but not as flaky as freshly baked restaurant naan. The flatbread is thicker and more dense than it appears.
Flavor: A bit bland. There is just a faint sweetness. Also comes in original (plain) and garlic.
Health: 260 calories and 7 grams of fat per flatbread. The whole wheat flavor is definitely your best bet in terms of nutrition. It’s tempting to eat more than one since the bread is so light. The challenge is eating just one serving.
Cost: $ 3.49 for the package of 4 flatbreads.
Recommendation: You can eat naan with any food, Indian or not. In fact, most of the time I like to use the naan to make pizzas on the grill.
Resolution Stats: 21 new food stuffs tried, 84 more to go.
Final Verdict: If you are looking for authentic, flaky naan, try making your own or buying it from your favorite Indian restaurant. Sometimes you can buy pizza dough from a pizzeria, so see if you can also get naan dough. If you buy the store-bought stuff, I suggest getting the plain or whole wheat flavors, grilling it first, and then adding your own garlic or onion topping.
Cheez-It crackers have been a favorite of mine since childhood. Unfortunately, these cheese crackers are not made with real cheddar. Turns out the big wheel of cheese on the front of the box is a sham. Their delicious toasted cheese flavor comes from a cheese imposter. I was looking forward to trying the Whole Foods Brand alternative called Quack’ n Bites, but they are not nearly as good when it comes to taste. See the final verdict. The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
Quack n’ Bites organic Cheese Crackers
Appearance: These crackers are shaped like teeny tiny ducks. The shape is cute, but the size is disappointing.
Texture: Crisp, baked crackers. Nice crunch.
Flavor: I felt like I had them before. They taste like Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers, but not as salty or cheesy. Again, disappointing.
Cost: $2.99 for a 5.5 ounce box.
Health: Just because these crackers are organic, doesn’t mean they’re actually healthful. You are much better off snacking on fresh fruit and veggies or making your own crackers. 68 of these ducklings have 140 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. Of course, I made sure to check the nutrition label, and they do have cheddar cheese!
Recommendation: Enjoy these crackers straight out of the box, in tomato soup, or crumbled over a salad.
Resolution Stats: 20 new food stuffs tried, 85 more to go
Final Verdict: Reasonably healthy as far as crackers go. If you are looking for a packaged snack with lots of flavor, not your best choice.
Would love to find a cereal bar that has its nutrition, taste and cookie-like texture down. I browsed the shelves at WFM to see if they could raise up the cereal bar to breakfast status? The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
365 Brand Mixed Berry Cereal Bars
Appearance: From the wrapper, looks just like a generic Nutri-Grain bar. The top of the bar has a dusting of whole grains and you can see the oats running throughout the bar.
Texture: When you bite into the bar you can feel the texture of the oats and the moist fruit filling. Loved the soft crust, similar texture to a soft-baked cookie.
Flavor: True to the mixed berry flavor, the filling tastes like a puree of different berries. The bars also come in apple and blueberry.
Cost: $ 2.49 for a box of 8 bars
Health: Good in the organic department, made with organic fruit and oats. Comes with some of the vitamins that dry cereals have, such as b12, b2, and folic acid. Minus a few points for the sugar (18g per bar) and for being short on fiber and protein, which are essential to a healthy breakfast. The calories are reasonable (140 calories), as is the amount of fat (2 grams).
Resolution Stats: 20 new food stuffs tried, 85 more to go
Final Recommendation: If you are looking for a quick afternoon snack at your desk, these bars are perfect. But if you are looking for a filling breakfast or are in need of an energy boost, you are better off going for a bowl of Wheaties with milk and fruit.
Granola is a sweet treat. Sure, it has wholesome rolled oats and nuts, but it also has lots of sugar. So I decided to save my large cereal mug for a new kind of granola that’s lower in sugar than other brands. It’s called Bear Naked Fit Vanilla Almond Crunch Granola. As it turns out, even with just 4 grams of sugar, the cereal is still like having dessert for breakfast. After reading the nutrition info and ingredients, I still couldn’t figure out why the name says “fit”, but I did notice that Bear Naked partners with Terracycle— a program that really recycles and is doing good for the environment. Now, I feel kind of guilty about my taste-testing verdict….Oh, well, I’ll for sure recycle the bag. The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best)
Bear Naked Fit Vanilla Almond Crunch Granola
Appearance: Cool eco-friendly, “sustainable” packaging; Inside the bag, there are plenty of whole almond-oat clusters, and lots of broken oat bits.
Texture: The granola lives up to its name– I enjoyed munching on the super crunchy oats. Completely different texture than the soft-baked oats in the regular Bear Naked flavors.
Flavor: Tastes like a dessert topping. Strong (maybe even too strong) vanilla flavor. There is also Triple Berry Crunch Fit Granola flavor (haven’t tried yet).
Cost: A whopping $6.39 for a 12-ounce bag. If the cereal is so “naked” there should be fewer $ signs
Health: Apparently, low-sugar doesn’t mean low-calorie– In fact, a serving size, just one-quarter cup, weighs in at 120 calories. Ingredient short-list: Oats, almonds, flax seeds, etc….I thought it weird that vanilla is not listed under ingredients, yet the name of the granola is “Vanilla Almond Crunch”– the bag just says “natural flavors”.
Recommendation: If you really like healthy breakfasts, I recommend sprinkling it over yogurt and fresh fruit. If it’s a cold morning, try toasting the granola for a bit, finish with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and a drizzle of honey.
Resolution Stats: 17 new food stuffs tried, 88 more to go
Final Verdict: It’s way past breakfast, and I still can’t figure out why this granola is called “fit”, but I guess they sold me. Tasty but high-calorie. Bad for your waistline but good for the environment. Let me know if you can figure out why it’s called “Bear Naked Fit”?