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Taste test: Gluten-free foods

Taste Test | Gluten-free foods

Gluten-free foods are all the rage these days, with the choices on local grocery store shelves increasing daily. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, rye and barley, but it's also used as an additive in thousands of products. For those who have trouble digesting even small amounts of gluten, foods certified free of the substance are lifesavers. But note: Just because a food is gluten free, that doesn't mean it's low-calorie, so watch the nutrition data. This week, we tried five snack foods. Next issue, our panelists put gluten-free baking mixes to the test.

Product

serving

Schar Italian Breadsticks

Seven sticks

Mi-Del Ginger Snaps

Five Cookies

Glutino Crackers

Eight Crackers

Corazona's Italiano 4-Cheese Potato Chips

One Ounce

Ener-G Pretzels

25 pretzels

Calories

Fat/Fiber/Sodium

Breadsticks

130

2.5g / 1g / 310mg

Ginger Snaps

140

6g / 1g / 85mg

Crackers

140

5g / less than 1g / 260mg

Potato Chips

140

6g / 2g / 160mg

Pretzels

140

7g / less than 1g / 430mg

Judges'

Comments

Breadsticks

These long sticks were described as 'smart and healthy' with a nice snap. Judges said they would probably serve them alongside a spicy dip to add a bit of flavor. One said he would wrap them in lunch meat or vegetables for a tasty decoration. They were a bit floury. One panelist called them chalky.

Ginger Snaps

Great color made these a crowd pleaser. Judges liked the strong ginger flavor and the good crunch on the cookie. "Authentic ginger really comes through in these," said one. They also were a pleasing size and shape.

Crackers

These crackers were pretty and would look nice on a party platter, judges said. They liked the buttery, salty flavor of the crackers and the hint of sweetness. "They are better than most 'gourmet' crackers," said one panelist. But they were a little bland. One judge said they reminded him of Zwieback toast or teething biscuits. Still, he said they would be nice with a soft, garlic spread.

Potato Chips

Panelists liked the crunchy texture of these chips and the mild taste. They didn't have a strong cheese flavor, despite the "4-Cheese" description on the bag. Judges said they reminded them of Charles Chips and Pringles.

Pretzels

These were too small, too plain and too crunchy for most of our panelists. One said they fell apart in his mouth before he could chew them. "They are strangely ricey crispy," said one.

Shopping

Breadsticks

$6.89 for a 5.3-ounce bag of 10 packs from Sweetbay.

Ginger Snaps

$3.99 for an 8-ounce bag from Sweetbay.

Crackers

$5.59 for a 4.4-ounce box from Sweetbay.

Potato Chips

$3.59 for a 6-ounce bag from Winn-Dixie.

Pretzels

$2.19 for a 2.65-ounce bag from Publix.

Panelists: Registered Dietician Nan Jensen; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; and Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the City of Treasure Island. All foods were tasted blind.



Gluten-free foods are all the rage these days, with the choices on local grocery store shelves increasing daily. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, rye and barley, but it's also used as an additive in thousands of products. For those who have trouble digesting even small amounts of gluten, foods certified free of the substance are lifesavers. But note: Just because a food is gluten-free, that doesn't mean it's low-calorie, so watch the nutrition data. This week, we tried five snack foods. Next issue, our panelists put gluten-free baking mixes to the test.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/serving Schar Italian Breadsticks

Seven sticks

Mi-Del Ginger Snaps

Five cookies

Glutino Crackers

Eight crackers

Corazonas Italiano 4-Cheese Potato Chips

One ounce

Ener-G Pretzels

25 pretzels

Calories Fat/fiber/sodium 130

2.5g / 1g / 310mg

140

6g / 1g / 85mg

140

5g / less than 1g / 260mg

140

6g / 2g / 160mg

140

7g / less than 1g / 430mg

Judges' comments These long sticks were described as "smart and healthy" with a nice snap. Judges said they would probably serve them alongside a spicy dip to add a bit of flavor. One said he would wrap them in lunch meat or vegetables for a tasty decoration. They were a bit floury. One panelist called them chalky. Great color made these a crowd pleaser. Judges liked the strong ginger flavor and the good crunch on the cookie. "Authentic ginger really comes through in these," said one. They also were a pleasing size and shape. These crackers were pretty and would look nice on a party platter, judges said. They liked the buttery, salty flavor of the crackers and the hint of sweetness. "They are better than most 'gourmet' crackers," said one panelist. But they were a little bland. One judge said they reminded him of Zwieback toast or teething biscuits. Still, he said they would be nice with a soft, garlic spread. Panelists liked the crunchy texture of these chips and the mild taste. They didn't have a strong cheese flavor, despite the "4-Cheese" description on the bag. Judges said they reminded them of Charles Chips and Pringles. These were too small, too plain and too crunchy for most of our panelists. One said they fell apart in his mouth before he could chew them. "They are strangely ricey crispy," said one.
Shopping information $6.89 for a 5.3-ounce bag of 10 packs from Sweetbay. $3.99 for an 8-ounce bag from Sweetbay. $5.59 for a 4.4-ounce box from Sweetbay. $3.59 for a 6-ounce bag from Winn-Dixie. $2.19 for a 2.65-ounce bag from Publix.
Product/serving Schar Italian Breadsticks

Seven sticks

Mi-Del Ginger Snaps

Five cookies

Glutino Crackers

Eight crackers

Corazonas Italiano 4-Cheese Potato Chips

One ounce

Ener-G Pretzels

25 pretzels

Calories Fat/fiber/sodium 130

2.5g / 1g / 310mg

140

6g / 1g / 85mg

140

5g / less than 1g / 260mg

140

6g / 2g / 160mg

140

7g / less than 1g / 430mg

Judges' comments These long sticks were described as "smart and healthy" with a nice snap. Judges said they would probably serve them alongside a spicy dip to add a bit of flavor. One said he would wrap them in lunch meat or vegetables for a tasty decoration. They were a bit floury. One panelist called them chalky. Great color made these a crowd pleaser. Judges liked the strong ginger flavor and the good crunch on the cookie. "Authentic ginger really comes through in these," said one. They also were a pleasing size and shape. These crackers were pretty and would look nice on a party platter, judges said. They liked the buttery, salty flavor of the crackers and the hint of sweetness. "They are better than most 'gourmet' crackers," said one panelist. But they were a little bland. One judge said they reminded him of Zwieback toast or teething biscuits. Still, he said they would be nice with a soft, garlic spread. Panelists liked the crunchy texture of these chips and the mild taste. They didn't have a strong cheese flavor, despite the "4-Cheese" description on the bag. Judges said they reminded them of Charles Chips and Pringles. These were too small, too plain and too crunchy for most of our panelists. One said they fell apart in his mouth before he could chew them. "They are strangely ricey crispy," said one.
Shopping information $6.89 for a 5.3-ounce bag of 10 packs from Sweetbay. $3.99 for an 8-ounce bag from Sweetbay. $5.59 for a 4.4-ounce box from Sweetbay. $3.59 for a 6-ounce bag from Winn-Dixie. $2.19 for a 2.65-ounce bag from Publix.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; and Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island. All foods were tasted blind.

Taste test: Gluten-free foods 09/24/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 24, 2010 5:30am]
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