Health Kick Chick

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Self Magazine 2nd Annual Food Award Tasting

So yesterday was the big event that I was so nervous about.  I turned out to be a pretty low-key gathering of local foodies and other magazine elites and lil’ ol’ me. We were told by Food Editor that each food selection was made based on the strictest nutritional requirements according to healthy calorie ranges by meal type, sodium, fat, fiber, whole grain content, etc.

We were given food in several categories to try including tortilla chips, salsas, sweet nuts, frozen vegetarian entrees and fudge bars.  All the choices were given randomized numbers to protect their anonymity.

First round was a variety of tortilla chips:

Health Kick Chick Pick: Garden of Eatin’ Organic Multigrain Tortilla Chips.  They had the best crunch, were thick enough to scoop up something like bean dip or guac but weren’t thick enough to be a cracker.

Next up was the salsas, natch.

Health Kick Chick Pick: I loved the least exotic of the bunch, Herr’s Chunky Mild Salsa.  For me, the balance of flavors (savory, sweet, tangy, spicy) was perfect.  The tomatoes, onions and jalapenos were just the right size–not too chunky and not pureed.  I’m not sure if I’d buy this in the store because I didn’t see or taste any cilantro in it but it was the best of the ones I tried.

Next in line was whole grain tortillas (including multigrain and whole wheat varieties).

Health Kick Chick Pick: Trader Joes Truly Handmade Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas.  I’m not a fan of any flour tortilla because they taste like clay to me (don’t ask me how I know what clay tastes like).  Plus, corn tortillas are more authentic, right?  But a decision was needed and I decided that of the 5, the TJ’s tortillas were the least offensive.  They also looked like they were made by someone rather than by something.

Aww, nuts:

Health Kick Chick Pick: This sweet nut challenge was a toughie, but I ended up choosing the Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Almonds.  I don’t typically like roasted nuts but these were a nice salty sweet snack that didn’t really feel like you were eating something fairly healthy.  These would also have a high trigger factor for me so they’ll probably remain on the store shelves.

I must give a notable mention to the Walgreens Select Honey Roasted Mixed Nuts.  It was such a great mix including Brazil, cashews, hazlenuts, pecans and almonds.  Yum!  If you were less oily, you would’ve been my top pick.

Vegetarian Frozen Entree:

Blargh!  From sampling some of these dinners, it’s clear to see why some people will always eat meat.  One entree had spongy grains tossed with white beans and cranberries and another featured a similar mixture with black beans subbed out for the cranberries.  Both were just…wierd.

Health Kick Chick Pick: Surprisingly, the least “healthy” of the bunch did it for me.  The Weight Watchers Smart Ones Santa Fe Rice and Beans took the lead.  It was the melty cheesiest, best seasoned with all of the ingredients being cooked to identifiable separate textures.  It didn’t feel like a vegetarian meal and at the end of the day, isn’t that what you really want?  It was also the only one I finished:

Honorable mention: Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna.  The pasta was cooked to al dente perfection and the ingredients were deliciously spiced and hearty.  I almost missed the cheese.  Almost.  For me, tofu and soy cheese just doesn’t cut it.  But if I were vegan, I’d reach for this again.

Make room for dessert.  Fudge pops!

Let me preference this by saying that I love ice cream.  Creamy, high milkfat lightly sweetened, richly flavored ice cream.  For me, these fudge bars are something I’d reach for if I was very low on calories and wanted a sweet treat or if there was no other options available.

That being said, the Health Kick Chick Pick: Weight Watchers won this round again.  The aptly named Giant Chocolate Fudge Bar was the fattest of them all and had a fluffy, creamy texture. It didn’t have a funky chemical aftertaste like all the others did and was truly indulgent.

I looked up the nutritional information when I got home and surprisingly, it’s made without high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweetner.  I might keep some in my freezer for the summertime since my local BJ’s always has them on sale.

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