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Taste test: Salad toppings

Studies show that American consumers have good intentions when it comes to eating healthy. We tend to buy lots of fresh fruit and vegetables — only to toss them out by the end of the week. Produce suppliers are trying to make salads more appealing by selling prepackaged toppings of nuts, fruits and grains to dress up a plate of greens. We found five varieties of salad toppings that hopefully will inspire us to eat the produce in our vegetable drawers before it spoils.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Fresh Gourmet Cranberries & Glazed Walnuts 67Wonderful Almond Accents Honey Roasted With Cranberries 64T. Marzetti's Asian Sesame Mix 61

Walnuts and cranberries in this mixture add just enough zing and crunch to jazz up any salad. "What's not to love?" asked one judge. "I especially like the nice balance of sweet and salty." Another said the blend would go nicely on a salad with some Gorgonzola and fresh apples.Wonderful's blend was heavy on almonds and would provide a lot of snap to any salad it accompanied, judges said. The company website provides several options for using the almond toppings on various salads. One judge liked the brand for its lack of other seasonings. "It's very straightforward and you know exactly what you are going to be adding to your salad," she said. "This would even be good on top of ice cream."Panelists raved about the Asian twist to this topping. The same manufacturer also makes similar prepackaged mixtures of fruit and nuts. "This would add so much to a salad, especially an Asian chicken salad," said one judge. A couple of others noted that this would go great on vegetables in a stir-fry dish.

they buy?
All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.98 for a 3.5-ounce pouch from Walmart.$2.98 for a 3.5-ounce pouch from Walmart.$1.98 for a 3.5-ounce pouch from Walmart.

Also Sampled: Salad Pizazz ($2.78 for a 4-ounce pouch from Walmart, 37 points) and Sahale Snacks Crunchers ($3.68 for a 4-ounce packet from Walmart, 58 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

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

Serving sizeOne-fourth cupOne tablespoonOne tablespoon
Fat/Fiber5g / 1g2g / 1g3g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium17 / 30mg2g / 5mg0 / 35mg
Carbs/Protein21g / 1g3g / 1g3g / 1g

Taste test: Salad toppings 02/03/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 3, 2014 3:49pm]
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