It’s your friendly neighborhood voracious snackaholic again, back to finish this round-up of four store-bought vegan snacks!
In Part One of this gratifying venture, I had a lot to say about that delightful and chewy salted caramel wonder and that kid-friendly soft-baked gluten free fruit bar.
Here in this post are the final two vegan and gluten-free treats from my four-snack haul.
One was very good! And the other – not as good, I’m sad to report. But again, I’m only one palate, and yours may gravitate toward different textures and tastes than mine.
First, I want to acknowledge that it can feel strange to start tip-toeing into plant-based diet options, especially if you eat a significant amount of meat and/or dairy. If that’s where you are right now, I say, CONGRATULATIONS for being here!
Sometimes skepticism and fear of the unknown can be powerful enough to keep us from looking into something new, even if it could be beneficially life-changing.
But when we finally do take that step (sometimes agonizingly, I know!), it feels great knowing that at least we opened the door to take a look into a new room. No matter what our final opinion of that new space is!
My ultimate goal here is to deliver a well-rounded description of my experience with every bit of food I talk about, so that you might want to try what I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy and make the final determination for yourself!
How They’re Judged
Here again is my rating key. I’ll be tallying up the numbers at the end of each snack option.
1 = I’d rather eat thorny cactus. Terrible.
10 = I could live on these, they’re absolutely delicious!
1 = Too crunchy or too mushy or otherwise unappealing “mouthfeel.”
10 = Great balance of crunch, chew, and density. Overall, a super satisfying bite.
1 = My meat-eating cousin wouldn’t touch this because it looks too healthy / My 5-year-old won’t eat it because it looks weird / It looks nothing like what the package makes you think it might look like.
10 = It looks like what I expect it should based on the packaging / I want to sink my teeth in as soon as the wrapper comes off!
1 = No organic ingredients, more than four food sources that are not from whole foods.
10 = All organic ingredients, all whole foods.
1 = Not worth the hassle. Crumbs flying everywhere. Potential for melting makes for messy eating.
10 = Amazing – I could eat everything in the package because there were no crumbs falling out or melting parts to sticking to the wrapper or my hands.
Total score based on previous five attributes.
And of course:
V = Vegan
GF = Gluten Free
As soon I open this fun little package of bites, I’m immediately catapulted back to my childhood. I see storefronts out in full Easter regalia, where speckled chocolate eggs peeked out from fluffy pink grass nestled in yellow baskets.
These Enjoy Life Protein Bites look just like speckled chocolate egg candies! Luckily, they are far healthier – because I find them to be just as addictive as those speckled chocolate eggs were for me when I was a kid.
Each 1.07 ounce package comes with 4 bites that measure about an inch at their widest point. Yes, they’re small, which is why I order A BOX at a time. I find them irresistible, reasonably priced in bulk per box, and they’re a fun, flavorful snack to have on hand.
Their sweet combination of delicious, relatively guilt-free, and fun-to-eat bite size makes these addictive!
The Importance of Chocolate-Berry Balance
The richness of cocoa butter in the chocolate is perfectly balanced with just enough sweet, fruity acidity of raspberry. If you enjoy berries with chocolate, you’ll really appreciate the taste of this protein bite!
Each piece has a thin, firm outer layer of semisweet chocolate and a nougat-like texture that I love so much. A majority of its center is filled with this nougat-like creaminess, so the entire composition of this bite makes for an almost luxurious feel.
The Bells and Whistles of These Delicious Bites
Unlike the chocolate speckled eggs of my childhood fantasies, the speckles that adorn this little egg-shaped bite are not composed of artificial sweeteners or sugars of any kind. These speckles are teeny, antioxidant-rich pumpkin seed bits! How is that for a fantastically subtle but powerful piece of nutrition sprinkled in there!
This version of candy egg speckles makes me feel like I’ve truly reached conscientious adulthood, lol.
Along with a raspberry essence that lightly permeates the smooth and creamy nougat-like center, there are tiny bits of dried raspberries. These raspberry bits give the otherwise smooth, creamy nougat-like center the ideal extra pop of fruity tartness.
What other praises can I shower upon these delectable bites?!
Well, not only are they vegan and gluten-free – but they are also SOY and MUSTARD free! So these are an excellent option for anyone in your life who is prone to a variety food allergies.
A generous 8 grams of plant-based protein in every package!
As an added bonus, these bites have been tested and thoroughly enjoyed by the 5-year-old picky eater in my life. This is like striking gold. If she loves them, then it’s highly likely that your kids will love them too – as long as they like chocolate, of course.
Delicious but Not Quite Perfect
The first glaring thing I see on the ingredients list is that none of them is organic. Not a single one.
But the other pleasantly stark thing I notice on the ingredients list is that there is nothing on it that I have to look up! I recognize all of the ingredients.
The only ingredient that may not be as recognizable to many people is tapioca syrup. But fear not!
Tapioca starch becomes tapioca syrup through a fermentation process. The starch is extracted from cassava root, a starchy root vegetable that is grown in hot climates. It is known to contain resistant starch, which means that it resists digestion and functions similarly to fiber in the way that it feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
Cane Sugar and Safflower Oil
These bites also contain cane sugar and safflower oil, which some people might be opposed to if they’re looking to stay away from the commercial flavor agents. I personally think that any concern about cane sugar and safflower oil in small amounts like the ones in the bites are outdone by the other benefits the bites offer!
But, there are some who love their snacks only organic and date-sweetened, with a list of solely whole foods on the ingredient list. If that’s you, head on over here to check out the Skout bars! Organic whole food snack purists will love Skout.
Ah, here we are again at the tail-end of the ingredient list with “natural flavor.”
There’s really no escaping it, so I’ve discussed this in multiple posts. You can see my rundown of this ingredient oddity here and here. Ultimately, though natural flavors don’t thrill me, it’s acceptable as long as I know that they’re there. Knowing what ingredients are in our food allows us to decide how frequently we want to indulge in that food.
Hopefully, we now that we have a good understanding of what we’ll be ingesting with every bite of these Enjoy Life Chocolate Protein Bites. Here are my final thoughts in numbers:
Taste = 9 *
*chocolate not as rich as the Nugo bars
Texture = 9
Appearance = 10
Health = 8
Neatness = 7 **
**the chocolate shell will crumble a bit when you bite, and these are also prone to melting, so don’t leave them sitting in the sun!
Overall = 8.6
Rhythm Organic Carrot Sticks (V, GF)
Back when I would struggle with my weight a lot, I’d envy people who would show up to work with a bag of raw, boring, grossly unappealing carrot sticks. They would stand there talking shop with me, munching enthusiastically as if those horrifically dull and dry carrot sticks were actually cream-stuffed cannolis in disguise.
For me, carrot sticks came to represent willpower and strength in the person who could gobble them up instead of having five cookies.
I knew that the effort to make them seem appealing was an intense (but disingenuous) one for whomever chose to eat from that cruel bag of carrots. But still, I envied that effort because there was never any way I was going to forsake cookies or chips for a carrot.
I’ve since gotten over the fright of seeing a bag of carrot sticks, and I enjoy including carrots in my cooked dishes. But I’ve remained intrigued by whether I could ever eat them solo as a healthy snack.
Here come Rhythm Organic Carrot Sticks, which looked so promising!
Vegan, gluten-free, dried not fried (as they say on the bag), and only four ingredients, all of which are organic!! Carrots, high oleic sunflower oil, sea salt, and rosemary extract.
Jackpot!! What a wholesome, nutritional powerhouse.
My eyes lit up at the simplicity of this ingredient list. What a dream! I love oil and salt. And rosemary too. So few ingredients, what could go wrong? It sounded delicious.
I Wanted to Love Them – I Only Sort of Like Them
While I love and appreciate the concept of a super wholesome, organic snack like this, is it going to rock my socks off? Probably not, but I’ll feel good about putting something beneficial in my belly.
On the other hand, if a snack fills all of my inner Oreo-cupcake-and-ice-cream loving senses with overwhelming bliss but is high in commercially processed ingredients and low in nutritional value, I won’t be eating that again, either.
Texture-wise, these carrot sticks have a satisfying crunch. If you’re looking for potato chips in carrot form (like Terra Chips, if you’re familiar with those), you won’t find that in Rhythm Carrot Sticks. They’re dried not fried, and therefore lack that extra fat that makes many of us gravitate toward potato chips.
In terms of taste, they taste a little bit like soap to me. Not with every bite, just every few bites or so I feel like they taste a little bit like soap, but I attribute this to the strange aftertaste that a carrot can yield when dehydrated, and certainly not because I think there is soap in them – I am sure there isn’t!
It could be that I’m in the minority of people who can detect this because that’s how my genetics are wired, just as there are people who dislike cilantro because they carry a variation in their olfactory-receptor genes that make cilantro taste like soap. I’m not sure this is the case for me, but it’s a possibility.
But It’s Me, Not the Carrot Sticks
Ultimately, I am a person who adores sweeter snacks over savory, so that also could have a lot to do with my thoughts on these carrot sticks. They’re not terrible, they just don’t thrill me. But as we examined earlier, carrot sticks really can’t ever do that for me, because I have such an agonized relationship with them!
I’m snacking on them right now as I’m typing, and they do taste better the second time around. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to having dehydrated, lightly salted organic carrots in the purest form that can be had in a store-bought package. Big plus for me that they’re not miserable little hand-cut carrots drowning in the pretension of a regimented dieter’s holier-than-thou ziploc bag. Yes, I never said I didn’t have issues, haha.
Now, keep in mind that just because they weren’t my favorite, that doesn’t mean that you won’t thoroughly enjoy these. I think people who are looking for a crunchy, savory, super healthy snack will find these worth adding to their list of snack options.
Taste = 7
Texture = 8
Appearance = 8
Health = 10
Neatness = 10
Overall = 8.6
Are You Sweet or Savory?
What’s your personal preference – are you more of a sweet tooth or a salt lover?
I’d love to know so that I can bring you insight on snack options that might work for you!
Please let me know that and/or any other thoughts you have about this article in the comments below.