Friday, February 24, 2017

Nourish Snacks

By now, you know how much I love snacks, particularly the kind I can munch on.  I'm a bit of a snack food addict, really.

So when I visited my office in Cambridge and discovered that they had a brand of snacks I had never seen before, Nourish Snacks, I was super excited.  And once I saw the kind of snacks they were, I was even more excited.

Nourish Snacks makes a variety of snacks, all exactly the sort I like, sweet and savory, crunchy little nibbles.  While they are "healthy", designed with protein, fiber, and antioxidant needs in mind, they don't exactly scream health food - not just plain nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, no brown rice syrup or random protein isolates mixed in.  They are all gluten-free, dairy-free, non-gmo, etc, but I think the thing they have going for them is that they are portion controlled, all in little packs of 200 calories or less.  Oh, and they have fun names.

I've made a point to try a number of items every time I visit Cambridge. They make more then 20 different snacks, ranging from savory options like crunchy roasted corn kernels (salted, habanero, or citrus-chili), to roasted chickpeas (honey-roasted, or bbq chickpeas mixed with either roasted edamame and corn kernels or peanuts),  to fruit and nut mixes (cinnamon apples and almonds, cherries and roasted edamame), to granola or oat clusters (dark chocolate or coconut chia-oat clusters, mocha granola with cocoa almonds, coconut-vanilla, chocolate-banana, or blueberry-apple granola bites), to half-popped corn kernels (plain, mixed with peanuts, or mixed with dark chocolate), to a special edition chocolate puffs filled with cocoa-hazelnut cream mixed with dark chocolate covered peanuts.  So many interesting sounding mixed, and, did I mention, fun names to go along with them?

Overall though, I wanted to like these, and the ingredients sounded like things I should like, but, mostly, I didn't really care for them.

Corn Snacks

Mr. Popular: Half-popped corn kernels.
"Coming soon to a theater near you! (Of course, you'll need to sneak in your own bag.) These barely-popped, high-fiber corn kernels come with an addictive, crispy crunch that explains why they're so darn POPular."

Since popcorn is one of my favorite snack foods, I started with the Mr. Popular, one of their top sellers, salty half-popped corn kernels.

This wasn't the first time I had discovered such a snack, and I was immediately reminded of Halfpops.  I never liked Halfpops as much as I wanted to, given that they are basically halfway between crunchy corn kernels and popcorn, both things I love, so I *should* love this kind of snack.

And, just like Halfpops, I didn't love the Mr. Popular.  The kernels were more blown apart than Halfpops, kinda like they'd been smashed, so they had a bit more personality to them.  But ... they weren't really very crunchy, and left me pretty bored.
Hot & Popular: Spicy peanuts, half-popped corn kernels.
"Some like it hot— especially cool characters like Mr. Popular! If spicy-salty snacks are your style, you’ll go nuts for this hot ’n bothered blend of crispy, half-popped corn kernels and flavorful peanuts."

So I moved on to the Hot & Popular, a mix of the same half-popped corn kernels, but this time, with spicy peanuts mixed in.  This sounded even better.  And ... it was a bit better, but still, not really what I wanted.

The peanuts were well coated in seasoning, a mix of tomato, green bell pepper, onion, paprika, and salt, and were flavorful, but they weren't really spicy as advertised, and I actually wanted some kind of crunchy shell on them, rather than just the rub.  And again, I didn't love the half-popped corn kernels.
Chili'n in the Corn'r: Citrus-Chile Roasted Corn.
"We're obsessed with these chili-roasted corn kernels-- they're mild, yet flavorful and totally addictive. "

I wanted to love these.  They had the right crunch.  But, the spicing wasn't for me, a mix of paprika, chili pepper, red pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and ... citric acid.  It was just a strange combination, and I also didn't really care for the small corn kernals.  I couldn't get excited about this one.

They just renamed this product Just Chillin'.

Nut Based

Mind Your Ps & BBQs : Bbq-roasted chickpeas, Virginia peanuts.
"Our crispy BBQ chickpeas mixed with crunchy Virginia peanuts makes for a tangy, protein-packed party mix. Grab a tall glass of a cold splash and savor the flavor!"

So, I don't like chickpeas.  That is, I don't like regularly cooked chickpeas (or any other legumes really).  But if you roast them and make them crispy (better yet, fry them!), I'm all in, particularly if they have great spicing.  I'll eat them by the handful.  I'll add them to salad.

These chickpeas weren't quite as crispy as I like, since I do prefer that they be fried, and these still somewhat resembled chickpeas.  Still, crispy, and well seasoned with the "BBQ" flavor made from paprika, onion, tomato, garlic, red pepper, and even natural smoke.  I didn't love them, but I went back for a second handful, so, that is certainly saying something.

The peanuts were just fairly plain peanuts.  The BBQ flavor didn't really make it onto them.  They were fine, but, just peanuts.

So, overall, this really wasn't bad.  I thought the just peanuts and chickpeas was a bit boring though, so I added it to another snack mix (a chex and pretzel based one), to get more textures and some carbs in there too.
Cinn-sational: Cinnamon-spiced apples & almonds.
"Our chewy Fuji apples and cinnamon-sugar coated almonds pair perfectly in this blend. The result: a snack that's sweet, savory, and truly cinn-sational."

This one wasn't for me.

The apple chunks were assorted sizes, and, just dried apples, a bit too chewy for me.  The almonds were a bit bitter.

It was all coated in cinnamon, which I do like, but I really didn't detect the sugar element.

I guess I expected this to be sorta sweet and desserty, and, instead it was overall quite bitter.

Granola Bites

Coco'nilla Crunch: Coconut-vanilla granola bites.
"One taste of these crispy, crave-worthy gems and we guarantee you'll be in love at first bite. Their perfect blend of toasted coconut, dreamy vanilla flavor, and premium oats makes for an alluring, pop-in-your-mouth munchie."

These sounded like great little breakfast munchies.  Coconut.  Vanilla.  Crunchy and munchable.

I eagerly popped one in my mouth.

I hated it, instantly.  I didn't taste coconut, nor vanilla.  What I tasted was bitter.  It was then that I looked at the ingredients.  Chicory root.  Chia.  One, or both, was likely responsible.  Interestingly, they have removed chicory from the recipe, so maybe this was a concern?

Anyway, I really did not like how bitter these were, and handed them off to a friend quickly.
Berry'd Treasure: Blueberry-apple granola bites.
"Bursting with real blueberries, these chewy granola treats are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and bite-sized happiness. Warning: Kids love 'em too, so prepare to share or hide the loot."

Another breakfast munchie that sounded decent.  Another one I hated immediately.

These were not crunchy, but instead, mushy and chewy, I think from the dried apple?  I don't want to munch on mushy things.  Plus, I don't like apple bits anyway.  The blueberry was fine, but that couldn't save these.
Mocha-Mazing: cocoa-dusted almonds, mocha granola.
"This rich blend of crispy, mocha flavored granola, dark chocolate chips, and cocoa-dusted almonds guarantees an energizing jolt with sweet satisfaction. A guilt-free indulgence on its own, this snack can also be enjoyed as a yogurt topper."

After all the other failed granolas, I half-heartedly opened up this bag.  As with the others, the granola I was not a fan of.  Sorta chocolately, sure, but, also, mushy.  Who wants to chew on mushy granola clusters?

The cocoa dusted almonds were fine though, decent chocolate flavor, standard nuts.  I picked them all out of the package, and was happy enough.

Amusingly, this product has been discontinued, and it was the only one I even bothered to finish!
Monkey Love: Chocolate-banana granola bites.
"Sweet tooth driving you bananas? This gluten-free spin on the classic chocolate-banana dessert combo will definitely hit the spot-- and for 150 calories, say hello to your new favorite indulgence."
This one was not awful, but not particularly good either.  Oat and crispy brown rice base, sweetened with agave and cane sugar, tiny chocolate chips, banana flavored.  I liked the form factor of the bites, and they weren't as soft as some of the other varieties, but they weren't particularly crunchy either.  The chocolate was good, and the banana not too overwhelming.  But, overall, boring.
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