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Gluten free doesn’t have to mean taste free!

Recently a mother wrote a comment on our Facebook page that caught me by surprise. We often get compliments on recipes, questions about ingredients, but this one mother searching for products for her 5 year old son really spoke to me. She has been trying many different approaches to avoid medications to treat her son. Her little boy is on the autism spectrum and suffers from constant outbursts and behavior issues. He also has many skin problems such as eczema and sensitivity to heat. Per her doctor’s recommendation they started to avoid artificial sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives.  And more recently she has almost completely cut out gluten from his diet. She has seen some improvement and is hopeful that this new regimen will be successful in avoiding harsh drugs for her son.

She wrote to me asking for some gluten free products that we recommend that fit her criteria of no artificial additives. But her one request: please make sure the products are “kid friendly.” I could just hear her frustration coming through the message. It is difficult to find those products that will satisfy children’s cravings for crunchy and full flavor snacks. Her son, like many other kids who start on a gluten free diet have already experienced the full flavor of popular snacks and processed wheat crackers. Therefore they don’t want to compromise on taste, and they shouldn’t have to.

crunchmaster giveaway image oct 2013Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps and Cheezy Crisp answer this moms request perfectly! Not only are they certified gluten free, but also 100% whole grain, peanut free, and free of saturated fat and cholesterol.  Crunchmaster crisps are baked rather than fried and they use only expeller pressed safflower oil – no chemical solvents.  Plus, these crisps taste delicious!  Remember that the kids, ages 5-13, who participate in the Kid Kritics blind taste tests are not on a gluten free or special diet. Some of the kids in our sample group are ones who often (unfortunately) do snack on junk foods when given the opportunity. But we were not surprised when Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps and Cheezy Crisps passed the test and received the Kid Kritics Seal of Approval. They really are that good!

Crunchmasters crips go beyond just snacking, they make a great substitute for “breading” in recipes that you had to stop making for your family once gluten free came in the picture. You can now crumble the Cheezy Crisps into fine crumbs and use them as breading for foods like chicken nuggets or cheezy broccoli bites (recipehere)! (try on other vegetable bites too!) The Grammy crisps make a great crumble for pie crust or topping on deserts. We have a few recipes with them that you can find here: www.kidkritics.com.

Crunchmaster is now available in many different stores or online making them so much easier to find! And they often have coupons available on their website. We are so happy to be able to share their great product with moms struggling to keep their kids on a gluten free diet while still allowing them to be just kids!

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

Disclosure: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics marketing program.  Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.  The taste tests were done by children at the YMCA/Boys and Girls Club and products only receive the Kid Kritcs Seal of Approval with 70% or more approval.  The company donated samples of this product for the creation of recipes.  I was compensated for my time.  All opinions stated are my own.

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Newly Kid Kritics Approved RW Garcia Chips!

Everyone loves a salty snack now and then, right?  Kids like to find that crunchy snack in their lunch boxes.  Adults enjoy munching on something salty during the big game or at parties.  I know our family does!  The problem is, so many popular salty snacks are filled with junk – MSG, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, and other additives.  Plus, they can contain upwards of 200 mg sodium per serving.  And who knows if they are made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.  I don’t want to serve that kind of snack to my family or guests. 

rw-garcia-mixtbag-chipsIn steps RW Garcia.  Their philosophy?  “Great tasting can be good for you.”  And they mean it.  RW Garcia makes organic and 100% natural snack foods.  As a Registered Dietitian, I like that this company is committed to sourcing top quality ingredients.  Their MixtBag Tortilla Chips are Non GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten Free, and made with simple, all-natural ingredients.  And the sodium content is much lower than most with 50-80 mg per serving.  The Kid Kritics team approved of the MixtBag ingredients and the Kid Kritics themselves loved the taste and crunchy texture. 

Intrigued about the name MixtBag?  In each Mixtbag you get not just one, but two varieties of tortilla chip!  There are three different Mixtbags.  First is the Yellow & Blue Corn MixtBag made with, you guessed it, stone ground yellow and blue corn!  Next comes their Red & Yellow Mixtbag made with yellow and white corn.  Beet powder gives the red chips their color (and some added phytonutrients).  Finally, the Sweet & Spicy Salsa MixtBag is bursting with flavor and spices. 

The Kid Kritics raved about all 3 in the blind taste test.  Here are a few of their commentes, “Yummy in my tummy … Extraordinary … Tastes like chips you eat with Nachos … I would take these on a vacation … I will take them to the movies … They were superb … scrumptious!”  It’s true, they do taste great on their own, but you can also pair them up with veggies and a healthy dip such as salsa, guacamole, hummus, black bean dip, spinach dip, or even lima bean dip!  Find these recipes and more on KidKritics.com! (click here for recipes)

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

… for the health of your family,

Jaimie Proctor, MS, RD

Disclosure: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics marketing program.  Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.  The taste tests were done by children at the YMCA/Boys and Girls Club and products only receive the Kid Kritcs Seal of Approval with 70% or more approval.  The company donated samples of this product for the creation of recipes.  I was compensated for my time.  All opinions stated are my own.

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Deliciously Guilt Free Way to Start your Morning! A Good Bowl of Cereal.

Cereal is seriously one of my favorite things to talk about! I wasn’t introduced to cereal until I was 15 years old since I grew up in Brazil and we had no such delicious breakfast alternative to pour in a bowl with milk in the mornings.

Nowadays I have a love-hate relationship with cereal. Although I think it’s absolutely delicious, promotes extra milk intake, can pack a ton of nutrients and fiber it does not mean a complete breakfast. The weak attempt of most cereal boxes to “illustrate” a fruit next to or chopped in your bowl of cereal is hardly ever practiced at home by most families. I read recently that the cereal industry has been shaken due to constant demands for change in formulations.  Parents are demanding less sugar varieties and whole grains (so glad by the way!).  This combined with rushed family routines (no longer having time to sit down for a meal – even a bowl of cereal!) has led to the explosion in the granola bar and breakfast bar industry.  But cereal can be a part of a balanced diet and we need to take time to sit and eat even though we’re so busy.  I’m here today to bring attention why we, as Registered Dietitians, like Snackimals Cereals by Barbara’s Bakery and why the Kid Kritics Approved them in blind taste tests! barbaras cinnamon snackimals

Their package design is simply adorable! The cute monkey, panda and elephant are just as cute in the cereal pieces as they are pictured on the box. And how fun that they are running a promo right now that you can actually name the cute blue monkey on their box (click here to enter! You win a free app and enter to win a whole year of Snackimals stuff!).

Of course what’s inside the box is really what matters. The nutrition value is right on target for what I look for in a cereal, lower sugar than many kids cereals, with only 7g per serving! Good amount of fiber, calcium and protein as well. And thanks Barbara’s Bakery for making these from organic, non-GMO ingredients and whole grains! We so appreciate your dedication to transparency, honesty and only using the best quality ingredients.

Snackimals cereals come in two flavors: Cinnamon Crunch and Vanilla Blast. They are both Kid Kritics Approved.  In my house the cinnamon is a favorite. They are crunchy and safe sized pieces that you can pack as snack as well. I’m not a big fan of soggy type cereals, the ones you pour on the bowl and before you even grab the spoon (or answer to one or two kid emergencies) the cereal is already a bowl of mush. Snackimals is not one of those! It holds up well in milk (any kind too! We use almond, rice and cow’s milk) so you can enjoy it at your own pace and still get the same crunch until the very last bite.Snackimals cereals

Snackimals cereals are flavored perfectly with just enough taste to stand on their own, but not overpowering so you can pair them up with blueberries, strawberries or even banana and still taste all the flavors in your bowl. If you are lucky enough to have any extra cereal in the box you can incorporate it into a number of creative recipes (ok, you may just have to buy another box! But it’s so worth it). I like the idea of using cereals instead of cookies for recipes like pie crusts, parfaits, crumb toppings for desert or even breading for chicken. The difference is you are using a lower sugar ingredient (when compared to most cookies) and adding the nutrition that cereals pack (usually higher calcium, fiber and vitamins).

Lastly, if you are thinking this will be a great cereal for your kids to try you are right. But don’t be surprised if the parents finish the box before the kids even get a taste, that’s what happened at my house. My husband (yes, the guy that grew up on sugar laced frosted corn flakes!) is a big fan of Snackimals Cereal too!

For the health of your family,

Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LD

Disclosure: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics marketing program.  Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.  The taste tests were done by children at the YMCA/Boys and Girls Club and products only receive the Kid Kritcs Seal of Approval with 70% or more approval.  The company donated samples of this product for the creation of recipes.  I was compensated for my time.  All opinions stated are my own.

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A snack chip with antioxidants!

“Can we really have more chips mom?” That was the sound of disbelief in my children’s voice when I said sure to a second serving of “Falafel Chips”.

My kids are all too familiar with label reading, ingredient standards and product analysis since their mom is a Registered Dietitian.   It can be especially challenging to find healthier versions of chips and crunchy snacks.  But thanks to Kid Kritics’ continued search to find healthier products kids crave we’ve got a generous selection to choose from now.

Falafel ChipsFlamous brands Original Falafel Chips starts with plain and simple Organic non-GMO corn and whole beans (including chickpeas, fava beans, black beans, pinto beans) and adds their 13-spice blend that answers all my requests when looking for a nutritious and healthy snack for my kids (and myself! I’m a bit of a snack fan too).  

That Falafel Blend of spice they add is what gives this chip its Mediterranean taste and the antioxidant power that is 10X more than vegetable juice and green tea, ounce for ounce. The beans and corn add the fiber and protein which makes it an approved snack on our list.

Now, you may think that formulation sounds like a sophisticated snack chip that most kids would not eat.  But when we served them to our Kid Kritics taste test panel they devoured them! The chips are crisp and so full of flavor they stand out amongst all chips. The fact that they are Non-GMO, gluten free and nut free is so helpful when making lunch boxes or planning events where there are people with different diet restrictions.  They even have a 1.6oz bag that is great for school lunches. (click here for store finder)

falafel_chip_crusted_chickenThe Falafel chips are great to serve with soups, dips, and as side items for sandwiches, but our Healthier Recipe Moms wanted to explore what else you could revolutionize with these amazing chips. And they came up with recipes including: Falafel Chips Crusted Chicken Strips, Tex-Mex Falafel Chip Bake, Falafel Taco Salad and much more. (more recipes here!)

So how will you be enjoying your Falafel Chips?

Next time your kids beg for chips, be the hero and let them munch on Falafel Chips by Flamous Brands. 

for the health of your family,

Carolina Jantac, MS,RD,LD

 

Disclosure: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics marketing program.  Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.  The taste tests were done by children at the YMCA/Boys and Girls Club and products only receive the Kid Kritcs Seal of Approval with 70% or more approval.  The company donated samples of this product for the creation of recipes.  I  was compensated for my time.  All opinions stated are my own.

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Clean Eating – Turkey Burgers! Recipes and ideas on how to dress yours up.

As a family we love to barbecue, but my favorite part is that my husband takes over the prepping and cooking and I get to sit back and relax. To make his life easier without sacrificing flavor and quality we searched for a good turkey burger that is ready to grill.

The problem with most of the turkey burgers available is the fillers. I don’t want hydrolyzed corn or soy protein, water, MSG or any other “junk” in my burger.  When grilling for the family or a party you may have to accommodate for food allergies or intolerances and kids may prefer a different seasoning than parents.  So we needed a simple, wholesome turkey meat burger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShelton’s Turkey Burgers fit the list! Their free-range and antibiotic free turkey meat makes up 100% of their burgers, no additives, no fillers – also making them gluten free.  That’s the epitome of clean eating!   As a Registered Dietitian I love that Shelton’s leaves out the salt so you can season the burgers as you wish – perfect for those on a low sodium diet.  And, as a mom of two young children, I also love that their turkeys are free-range and never given antibiotics or artificial growth stimulants.  (see product label here)

These turkey burgers are conveniently packaged and can go straight to the grill or skillet without thawing.  They cook evenly and fit on a regular sized bun perfectly.  When preparing it on the grill we wait until it’s almost cooked all the way before adding a slice of cheese, which melts to perfection.  My husband likes to spice his up by sprinkling a little chili powder on both sides before placing it on the grill. For my kids I like to add a little onion and garlic powder for flavor while adding some extra nutrients.sheltons chick dont do drugs

When we served these burgers to our Kid Kritics taste panel the result was an overwhelming praise that included a lot of: “Yummy,” “I want my mom to get some,” “Delicious and so tasty.”  They collectively awarded it the Kid Kritics Seal of Approval without question!

Taking it one step further, we sent Shelton’s Turkey Burgers to our Healthier Recipe Mom group who loved the product and sent us back some delicious recipes they created using them. (see recipes here)italian turkey burgers

We are so proud to have our Kid Kritics Approved seal behind products from a company like Shelton’s Premium Poultry. These are ones we can buy for our family and recommend to yours with confidence because their free-range turkeys “don’t do drugs!”  Shelton’s is a family-owned business in the clearest sense.  All of the ownership and upper management are made up of one family, the third generation Flanagans. I have had the pleasure of meeting them and they are just as amazing in person as they are described. It is so nice to know the people making our food are sincere, honest and driven by passion!  They are committed to raising happy, healthy free range turkeys … for the health of their family and yours.

~Carolina Jantac, MS,RD,LD

 

Disclosure: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics marketing program.  Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.  The taste tests were done by children at the YMCA/Boys and Girls Club and products only receive the Kid Kritcs Seal of Approval with 70% or more approval.  The company donated samples of this product for the creation of recipes.  I  was compensated for my time.  All opinions stated are my own.

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DISCLOSURE: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics Approved marketing program. Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.