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Taste test: flavored nuts for party snacks

Just before Thanksgiving, I sent one of my children to the store to pick up some fancy peanuts to serve with appetizers. For what I thought would be an easy mission, I received three text messages seeking advice about different flavor combinations available at the local grocery store. I figured it was time to check out the peanut aisle myself. My shopper was correct — the choices were overwhelming. I found salted peanuts, chocolate-covered varieties and jars of mixed nuts claiming to be good for everything from heart health to men's health. Our judges also like to serve nuts on their New Year's party charcuterie plates. So, this week, we tried a selection of uniquely flavored nuts and ranked them in order of our favorites.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductMoana Loa Honey Roasted MacadamiasBlue Diamond Bold Wasabi and Soy Sauce Almonds Great Value Cajun Style Pistachios Planters Chili Lime Peanuts
Judges'

comments
What is there to dislike about a macadamia nut? Nothing, according to our judges. They raved about these tender nuts slathered in honey and salt. The sweet and savory combination was delicious. "The sweet hits you first and then the salt," said one judge. "I would add these to sugar cookies or maybe white chocolate macadamia nut cookies." Another said they would be perfect atop a hearty green salad and some soft goat cheese. "You can't ruin a macadamia nut," said a panelist who enjoyed a second helping of these. A couple of judges said they would need to buy more than one can because the nuts likely would go fast with a party crowd.Judges who appreciate a spicy kick to their snacks loved these almonds. The wasabi was balanced with the soy flavors. "I love these!" said one judge. "I keep nuts like this in my car and these would be perfect because they keep good and they are good for you," she said. "And the container fits perfectly in the center console." Another judge liked the deep brown color of the nuts, saying, "They would be great with beer." While these were a little dry for a couple of panelists, they all appreciated the plumpness of the pistachios and the hint of Cajun spices. Even though the package labeled the seasoning as "bold," judges described the flavors as very mild. However, they approved of the moderate seasoning level. The only objection was the leftover shells. "You would have to put a basket for shells next to these at a party," allowed one taster. Another said she would remove the shells and sprinkle the pistachios on a salad or maybe even a baked chicken dish.Judges wished Planters would have pulled back a little on the heat in these peanuts. "The orange spices on the nuts are the hot tipoff," said one panelist. "The chili is prominent and the lime comes later. They are too hot for me." Another judge liked the nuts but agreed, "They are really, really spicy." One said she would have to add more drinks to her bar if she served these peanuts at a party. "Even the salt on these makes me thirsty," she said. "But, I like them!"
Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.98 for a 4.5-ounce can from Walmart.$3.89 for a 6-ounce can from Publix.$6.98 for a 12-ounce bag from Walmart.$1.48 for a 6-ounce can from Walmart.


Panelists: Diane Painter, server and host at Cordon Bleu restaurant in Tierra Verde; Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; Rhonda Sanderford, managing principal partner of Yes-Homes; and Scott Keeler, Times photographer.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to mstark@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving size¼ cup1 ounce¼ cup1 ounce
Calories180170150160
Fat/Fiber17g / 2g15g / 3g12g / 3g14g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium6g / 85mg2g / 115mg2g / 360mg1g / 160mg
Carbs/Protein9g / 2g6g / 6g8g / 6g5g / 7g

Taste test: flavored nuts for party snacks 12/26/16 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2016 12:19pm]
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