Crispy. Crunchy. Salty. Sweet. These are the textures and tastes that we all crave in a snack. Walk down the snack aisle of any grocery store, and you are in sensory overload. For those of us forced to live gluten free (and dairy free), the options become much more limited. However, new gluten free snacks are appearing on grocery shelves it seems every day. Below are a sampling of some of my personal favorites on the market.
Best Stand-in for Goldfish Crackers: Schar's Cheese Bites
In our attempt to find a gluten free replacement for the elusive, bright
orange Goldfish cracker, we recently tried a new product, Cheese Bites,
from Schar. The verdict? Yummy! They do contain real cheese, and
therefore milk, so I could not take part in the taste test. Of the three
remaining in our household (two of which eat gluten), everyone agreed
that they are a tasty, cheesy cracker. Here is the breakdown:
- Husband: "These are light and cheesy. I actually like them better than goldfish."
- Daughter: She was too busy devouring them to provide commentary. Just a thumbs up.
- Son: "These are good mommy. These are better than fishies because they have triangles and squares and circles too."
Best Potato Chips: Kettle Brand Sea Salt, Ruffle's Natural Reduced Fat Sea Salt
My personal preference is for thicker, less greasy potato chips. Both Kettle and Ruffles fulfill that desire without any added ingredients - just potatoes, oil, and salt. Ruffles is one of the brands under Frito Lay, which offers a wide variety of snacks that are gluten free. They do an excellent job of listing all nutritional and allergen information for each of their products on their website.
Best Tortilla Chips: El Milagro
I am a sucker for tortilla chips, fresh guacamole and a salt-rimmed margarita on a weekend night. El Milagro chips win top billing in this category for me. They are truly authentic, derived from simple ingredients, and can stand up to the thickest of dips. When I am in the mood for thinner, saltier chips, Xochitl and Mission are great options too.
Best Crackers: Glutino (Original, Vegetable, Table) Crackers, Ener-G Gourmet Crackers, Food Should Taste Good Multi-grain Crackers
Glutino crackers are my replacement for the wheat-filled, party crackers that so often serve as the foundation for spreads and cheeses. They are light and flaky and also work well with soups as a stand-in for Saltines. Ener-G crackers taste surprisingly buttery, given that they are dairy free. They work great with spreads or slathered with peanut butter for a quick snack. Food Should Taste Good makes a great line of snacks. Are they chips? Are they crackers? Who cares. They are delish.
Best Pretzels: Glutino, Snyder's
Pretzel sticks are such a hit in our household that they have their own tin right on the counter top. People cruise by all day long and grab a handful. Glutino's pretzels have a little more of a buttery taste to them, while Snyder's are thicker and crunchier - reminding me more of the crunchy, sourdough pretzels BC (before celiac).
Best Cheese Puff: Snyder's
Since I could not taste test, this was done via an afternoon playgroup with several moms and nearly a dozen children. Everyone wanted more. Synder's also makes some good veggie crisps, when you are looking for a little more nutritional value in a snack. Cheetos are gluten free but contain dairy ingredients.
Best Flavored Crackers: Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins (Smokehouse)
These are addictive. Most of the flavors do contain milk as an ingredient, so I stick with the smokehouse and BBQ varieties. It is scary because the box says it contains 4 servings, but I could see easily polishing off at least half a box in a single sitting!
Best Popcorn: Trader Joe's Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil, Lite Popcorn 50% Less Salt, Cobra Corn
Movie night is a Friday evening tradition in our household. Accompanying any movie is a big bowl of popcorn. I like to make it the "old fashioned" way, using kernels popped on the stove in oil. When I am feeling less ambitious, I just open a bag of deliciousness from Trader Joe's - olive oil and lite popcorn varieties are my favs.
If you are in the mood for bolder flavors, give Cobra Corn a try. Warning - this popcorn has a kick. Most of the kids that taste-tested the free sample I received felt it was too spicy for their tiny taste buds. Most of the adults, however, really enjoyed the smokey Indian spice of the Mumbai Masala popcorn. Produced right here in Chicago, their popcorn has no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and 3grams of fiber per serving.
Best Granola: Bakery on Main (Cranberry, Tropical Nut) Granola
I personally avoid oats, so that limits my granola options. Bakery on Main makes some delicious granola varieties without oats, as well as granola bars. Great mixed in cereal, on top of yogurt and ice cream, or straight out of the bag.
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