I was prompted to write this week's Eat - Don't Eat by seeing a version of animal crackers at Whole Foods. Called "Sea Snacks," these are labeled as "all natural." I was pretty stunned that these cookies that were also labeled "a great snack" had no fiber. That's right, no fiber!
Since it's also that time of year to be packing lunches for your kids, here are some ideas on cookies. There are some delicious, healthy choices that your kids will love.
I looked first to see which cookies were made with anything that might resemble whole grain flour. Put very simply: not many. For adults and kids alike, the top contender is the Fig Newtons Minis. Made by Nabisco, this is one of the increasingly popular mini packages that helps folks to limit the amount they eat. The Newtons have a whole wheat crust and are really tasty, coming in at 2 grams of fiber with only 130 calories per package. Feed these to your kids for a snack.
As silly and inane as I find the South Beach Diet to be, there are a few good points to it and the Peanut Butter cookies made under the South Beach name are one. These guys come in a packet of two crispy peanut butter cookies, which are made with whole wheat flour and come in at a whopping 2 grams of fiber per cookie. Even though they are 100 calories and have 5 grams of fat in two cookies, the two cookie pack does serve to tell you what a normal portion is. Most of the fat is monounsaturated fat, and the cookies taste fantastic.
I could spend hours and hours taking up your time with cookies that are basically empty calories. Even though those listed above are higher in fiber and better than other choices, they are made by Nabisco/Kraft so they have a ton of artificial and processed ingredients that I always worry about.
Even so, while the Sea Snacks cookies are all natural, they are not made with whole grain flour, have no fiber at all (Really! None!) and are just as high in fat as a lot of the more highly processed cookies. A box of these bad boys have no artificial ingredients, but even the Barnum's Animal Crackers (again a Nabisco product) with all the artificial ingredients have at least 1 gram of fiber in a serving.
Interestingly, the boxes of both of these cookies are the same size but contain TWO servings for a total of about 240 calories. Because of the research on packaging we know that folks will eat until they stop -- or until something tells them to stop. The packs of Fig Newtons or Peanut Butter cookies are a far better choice for that reason alone.
If you think that I am biased toward the high fiber (silly and weird) South Beach Diet foods, think again. The Kraft product branded South Beach Diet Cookies -- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip are quite simply terrible. They are better for you than the animal crackers, but they just taste funny. They have a strong sugary flavor with the first bite and don't taste like oatmeal cookies. Even worse, they don't have anything that resembles a satisfying chocolate flavor.