If you follow me regularly you know that there are three things in life that truly make me happy: cocktails, snacks, and travel — the perfect trifecta in my opinion. So you are likely wondering what those three things have in common. Oh, ye of little faith. Let’s connect the dots. You see when I am imbibing in a cocktail, I like to nibble on something savory and when I am imbibing I enjoy nothing more than to do it while I am in a local bar in some far corner of the world. To get to said far corner requires travel which is when I typically pack a gluten-free contingency pack with some snack for long- or ultra-longhaul flights. All of the snacks below are super-easy to toss in your travel bag and hit the open road or skies — not to mention if you are staying close to home (nothing like a good staycation sometimes) can easily be found at your local market. And that is the perfect segue to these reviews because I actually found them all at my local market. Okay, enough with the six degrees because if Kevin Bacon suddenly shows up, I am out of here.
I always love it when I come across new products particularly when they are one of my favorite snack items. Pretzels just happen to be one of my favorites. I mean they are essentially the prefect snack food. Crunchy bread-like pieces of salt-dusted goodness — what is not to love? When I came across these gluten-free Sea Salt Pretzel Twists and Sticks from Gratify Foods I was at first a bit apprehensive because while I had seen the brand before in passing, I had never actually tried them. If I am nothing else that it is a creature of habit and tend to stick to my go-to snacks unless something really catches my eye. I spied these along the rather impressive snack wall that my market has and thought why not?
These were actually very good and had a really nice texture. Sometimes I find that gluten-free pretzels are often a bit too airy with an awkward mouthfeel missing the traditional pretzel crunch. These were definitely much more like their gluten-filled counterparts with a more robust texture and perfect crunch. They are also not overly salty — I mean they are pretzels so a bit of salt is to be expected and these had the perfect balance. In addition to being gluten-free these are also milk-, casein-, egg-, and lactose-free. Gratify also makes wonderfully decadent chocolate, peanut butter/chocolate, and peppermint/chocolate covered varieties — all of which were really outstanding and were the perfect find during the previous holidays but isn’t any time a good time for pretzels covered in rich chocolate? Gratify also make a terrific pretzel thin and should you come across them — buy two bags — they are extremely addictive.
Van’s Baked Crackers
The second round of products that I have really become a fan of recently are the gluten-free baked crackers from Van’s Foods. These are quite good and really reminiscent of a flavored Wheat Thin (something I truly enjoyed in my pre-diagnosis days). The base cracker is made from brown rice, oats, millet, quinoa, and amaranth making for a nice whole grain balanced base. Since these are baked they are pretty light and not oily as is often the case with some similar gluten-filled counterparts.
The first flavor up is the Van’s Fire-Roasted Veggie Crispy Whole Grain Baked Crackers. This flavor was probably my least favorite of the three. For some reason they tasted almost burnt and it was just to powerful to make these enjoyable. There was a aftertaste that lingered a bit too long for my liking. I really did not taste any vegetable notes — just the overpowering burnt flavor that in no way resembled fire roasted. Yet, all was not lost as the next two flavors were actually very good.
The Lots of Everything had a much better more balanced flavor portfolio with notes of onion, garlic, and caraway seed that played very well of the grains in the cracker base. The flavoring was robust but not overpowering. These paired perfectly with plain hummus or a nice Gouda because the seasoning helped to elevate their flavors by adding a bit of kick.
The final variety was Say Cheese. These were probably my favorite because they had a nice cheddar flavor that really appealed to me. There was a slight tanginess to these and they were not overly salty as can sometimes be the case with cheese flavored crackers.
So, if you are looking to expand you snack portfolio definitely check out some of these nibbles. Next time you are walking down your favorite gluten-free aisle why not toss some of these in your cart and give them a go.