New Food Products to Check Out or Skip

Posted On May 16, 2015 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

New Food Products to Check Out or Skip

I’m always on the lookout for new products popping up on grocery store shelves. Trying new stuff is always fun and sometimes a real gem comes along that makes cooking healthier, tastier, and simpler. Who doesn’t want to stock their shelves with those sorts of products? In between flashy packaging and using trendy ingredients (chia seeds, Greek yogurt, and quinoa for example), there is a lot of fluff. This review of some of the latest new products will help guide you on which ones to throw in your cart and which ones to walk on by.

Gluten-Free Baking Mixes

If you have Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the wide array of Gluten-free baking mixes, including cake, cookie, brownie, and pancake blends, offer a great alternative so you can have your cake and eat it too! But if you don’t have to follow a gluten-free diet, these alternatives aren’t any healthier, especially not over whole grain options. Often gluten-free flours are lower in protein and fiber and regardless of whether a cookie or baked goodie has gluten in it or not, it should still be viewed as a treat and eaten on occasion in small amounts.

Bottom line: Check them out if you have to follow a gluten-free diet.

Cereals and granola bars made with ancient grains

Quinoa-based energy and snack bars sound healthier than the standard granola bar, but are they? It really depends on the brand, and other ingredients used. Hot cooked grains are still nutritionally superior to any shelf stable product like cold cereal from ancient grains. Ancient grains like amaranth and freekeh are higher in protein, fiber, and heart-healthy plant stanols and sterols than some other standard grains like rice, but once they’ve been processed and coated in sugar they’re no healthier than a regular granola bar.

Bottom line: Incorporate more cooked ancient grains and minimally processed whole grains into your diet, but read the label on snack bars and stick with bars offering 4g each of fiber and protein and no more than 6g in added sugar. For cold cereals, look for added sugars of no more than 3g per serving.

Skillet Sauces

Coming in flavors ranging from fajita sauce, to stir-fry, to tomato Sicilian, pre-made skillet sauces and marinades can turn a ho-hum meal into a new family favorite and make you feel like a gourmet chef. Some flavors are better than others, with calories per serving ranging from 30 calories per ¼ cup to 30 calories per tablespoon. Stick with the lower calorie flavors and look for varieties with less or no added sugar.

Bottom line: They are a little higher in sodium than the homemade counterparts might be but they can make fabulous, and quick, weeknight meals either on the stove-top or slowly simmered in the crockpot. Look for them in the spice isle.

Baked Veggie Snacks

Similar to ancient-grain based products, packaged dried veggies miss the mark compared to eating a bowlful of steamed green beans or freshly baked sweet potato. Baked beet chips and veggie straws from carrot and zucchini sound better than the standard cracker or potato chip, but usually they aren’t.

Bottom line: They’re usually slightly lower in fat and calories but eating fresh veggies will always be better than baked veggie chips. Eat them as a treat in single serving portions.

Do you have any other new food products that you're curious if you should check out or skip? Let us know what they are in the comments below.