Thursday, May 7, 2015
Review: Somersault Snacks
A quick walk through any grocery store - and through the majority of American homes - will tell you that snacking is a national obsession. We collectively not only snack before, between and after meals, we often snack instead of a meal.
Given all that, we all - if we're thinking about it at all - have to make a whole lot of decisions about what snacks we will allow ourselves, and which options work best for us. I think a lot of this depends a lot on where we're starting from. If our snacks tend to be packaged snack cakes and brightly colored who-knows-what, healthier choices are pretty easy to find and it's a really good idea to seek them out.
If you're someone who doesn't snack, or chooses to snack in a way that includes only real food items that could just as easily be on the plate of one of your well balanced meals, I think you've got it down and don't really need a review of a product that is meant to be a snack item.
But, let's be real - most of us aren't there and many have no intention or desire to be - we just want a tasty snack food that is a step up from junk food.
After trying out a few of Somersault Snack's flavor options, I think these fall into that category, especially if your snacking goals involve a reduction of sugar and fewer calories without moving into artificial 'diet' ingredients.
Somersault Snacks currently offers five varieties that include both savory and sweet alternatives, and I was fortunate enough to be able to sample all but their Salty Pepper (which I may seek out, because my personal snacking nemesis is Salt & Pepper Potato Chips).
Each of their varieties have a few things in common: They are each composed of a small thick nugget that provides a good crunch experience, made up of wheat and sesame seeds and - in some cases - a light touch of sugar, and then either infused or coated in flavoring that come from real spices rather than chemical copycats. The suggested serving size on the packaging is 14 pieces, which adds up to somewhere between 140 - 150 calories.
In my experience, no more than half of that serving size provided me with a satisfactory and filling snacking experience - far more satisfactory for a small amount than any junk food choice I've ever tried.
I found that I enjoyed each of the flavors, as did my husband and a friend of ours, although we had different opinions about what we liked best, due to the way the different flavors actually address snacking preferences - I like salty crunch over sweets, but both are handled in a way that provides the right 'hit' without overdoing.
Pacific Sea Salt with some seaweed snacks and Wasabi peas?? Yes, please!).
So let's start with those, as they were the most subtly flavored - and also the bag that disappeared the fastest.
The ingredients list for this variety is:
Sunflower seeds, wheat flour, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed high oleic sunflower oil, chicory root fiber, organic evaporated cane juice, sea salt.
Obviously, these are not for people avoiding gluten, but otherwise, this is a pretty good list. The taste is primarily sesame and salt, which is good on its own (and the salt is a flavor note, not the overwhelming quality at play), but for some reason, I really really wanted to try a version that had flakes of seaweed in it, too.
I kept thinking, 'this is missing something' but then, we ate the whole bag long before the others were gone, so... maybe not. Either way, I'd be inclined to pick this up as an alternative to evil potato chips, because a little goes a much longer way to satisfying my salt cravings, and the sesame and sunflower seeds bring it a lot closer to being a nutritious choice.
Santa Fe Salsa was the other savory variety we tried. These are for folks who'd like a better alternative to Doritos and similarly strongly seasoned snack items.
The ingredients list for these are:
Sunflower seeds, wheat flour, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed high oleic sunflower oil, sea salt, organic evaporated cane juice, tomato powder, chicory root fiber, modified food starch, onion powder, dehydrated parsley, autolyzed yeast extract, chili powder, dehydrated jalapeno pepper, sour cream solids, vinegar powder, natural sour cream flavor, garlic powder, citric acid, dehydrated chives, natural buttermilk flavor, spices, extractives of paprika, natural mesquite flavor, oil of lime.
Honestly, that list is a bit long for me, and I wonder what 'spices' are when several spices have been listed out individually, but I do think a half dozen of these are a better choice than a bowl full of almost any Tex-Mex seasoned snack food you'll find in the grocery store.
I enjoyed the flavor blend - each piece is coated with the seasoning, so it is quite vibrant on the tongue. However, I found to my dismay that whenever I ate one, I wound up coughing, so after tasting enough for the review, I let the others enjoy the rest. And this bag was the second to disappear, so it definitely appealed to their palate better than mine.
Cinnamon-Crunch is one of Somersault Snacks' two options that are on the sweet side. As with the salt, sweet here is a flavor note rather than simply 'tastes like sugar'. With cinnamon, especially, you get a spice that appeals to the sweet tooth without actually being a sweetener so just a little bit of sugar provides a hit of sweet satisfaction without overdoing it.
The ingredients list:
Sunflower seeds, organic evaporated cane juice, wheat flour, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed high oleic sunflower oil, chicory root fiber, potato starch, molasses, ground cinnamon, sea salt, natural flavor.
(Ah, 'natural flavor'... what are you??)
I think the consensus among the three of us that tested these was that this was the least favorite, with comments that they tasted a lot like a cinnamon-sugar breakfast cereal. That said, I found I liked having a snack that included a few of these along with the last type we tried - the Dutch Cocoa. And as with all of them, just a very few provided a sense of satiety with only a small handful, which I find to be a valuable benefit that helps avoid other, less beneficial snack choices.
Dutch Cocoa was the most controversial among the three of us - I liked it a lot because there was a nice dark chocolate hit without a lot of sugar, while others found the general lack of rich sweetness as a forefront taste to be problematic.
And as I said, I found I liked it better when a few of the Cinnamon Crunch nuggets were added to them.
The ingredients list for these:
Sunflower seeds, sugar, organic evaporated cane juice, cocoa powder, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed high oleic sunflower oil, chicory root fiber, natural flavors (milk). modified food starch, sea salt.
Because I was the one who liked these the most, but I don't generally tend to seek out sweet snacks, this bag lasted the longest. But the thing is, I'm the same way with chocolate candy - one small occasional bite will do me. For those seeking out both chocolate as a flavor along with a bit of salty savory crunch, this may be a good choice that fills the need without the temptation to overdo.
Somersault Snacks provides a helpful comparison tool to let you see the results of selecting one of their products over another snack option, from graham crackers to nuts to energy bars. I was a little uncomfortable with suggestions that these might be a better option than, say, a fresh skin-on apple or a handful of nuts, but the tool breaks down aspects by calories, protein, fat, fiber, carbs, sugar, Vit. E, and sodium, so that individual consumers can select the criteria that best meets their personal dietary and snacking goals.
Overall, I enjoyed these although it did take a little bit of adjusting my sights about what a crunchy snack food should look and feel like - the dense thickness forces a bit of extra mindfulness, because you can't toss a handful of these into your mouth all at once. And I've decided that's a good thing - one slow bite at a time, to experience the textures and flavors provides a rich snacking experience without a lot of empty calories.
For anyone struggling with mindless snacking, I would recommend these as a great alternative to reset some habits in a reasonable doable way, before leaping from 'snack without thinking' to 'I never snack'. Somersault Snacks can be a good stepping stone on the way to a better relationship with food.
Somersault Snacks are available for purchase on their website for in a variety of forms from individual 1 oz packets ($1.09) or 6 oz. packets ($4.29) (and in the case of Pacific Sea Salt, a 20 oz. Family Size for $12.49) to 9 or 12 count boxes of the various sizes. In addition, they include a Store Locator so that you can find where to purchase locally.
Somersault Snacks Website
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