Biscuits for kids- which ones get the tick of approval?
I've had a number of requests for cracker reviews, as in cracker biscuits as opposed to cracking good reviews. But I'll aim for both. So, in this post we'll be looking at children-specific crackers, as well as those marketed to the whole family. I'll keep adding more reviews- so stay tuned on Facebook and Instagram every Chewsday (Tuesday!)
This cracker is the Little Bellies corn cakes- beetroot and apple flavour.
🔶Ingredients: 🔹Corn (85%), beetroot juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, citric acid and an emulsifier. Remember that juice concentrate is the fruit with the pulp and fluid removed, leaving mostly the sugar. 🔹Essentially this cracker a corn cake, with sweet juice pasted on one side.
🔶The positives: 🔹Low salt content, at only 28mg per 100g. 🔹Fat and sugar content meets healthy guidelines 🔹Fibre content looks reasonable at 4%. However, fibre content is measured per serve of a food (not per 100g) so because these biscuits weigh so little, they have hardly any fibre per serve. Therefore these are not considered a high fibre food and this is not technically a positive!
🔶The negatives: 🔹$100 per kilo. No joke. These are a very expensive food for what you get!
🔶The marketing: 🔹These crackers are absolutely drowning in very convincing marketing designed to trick parents into handing over their life savings for a packet of savoury biscuits. "Real fruit and veggie juices" "No artificial nasties" "Organic finger food for little mouths" "Low in salt" "Satisfy even the fussiest water". Blah blah blah 🔹The one claim that really stood out to me was "I'm soft and easy to eat". Now, this may be a very big selling point for parents. In my experience, many of the mums I see during the first few months of solid foods are totally fixated on their bub choking. I understand- it's stressful. But often this all-consuming fear of choking means that they withhold so many foods that their baby actually has the skills to explore. So, marketing a food as a soft finger food is pretty darn clever. Having said that, these biscuits had the exact same texture as regular corn cakes and have no special properties making them better for babies than any other foods.
🔶The alternatives: 🔹Realistically, these are just pieces of puffed corn that have been stuck together. They don't have a lot of nutritive value, nor a lot of negative components. So, I'd suggest a corn cake/cracker that comes in a bigger and more economical packet, or a packet of puffed corn.
This Chewsday Review is product I get asked about all the time, and fits perfectly into my recent 'cracker' theme. Presenting... Peckish Brown Rice Crackers- Plain & Simple (no salt) variety. So, how do these crackers stack up against the millions of others out there? Let's see!
🔹brown rice flour and rice bran oil
🔹Rice bran oil makes up 10% of the ingredients by weight. In short, rice bran oil is extracted from the outer layer of a rice grain and has shown some benefits in reducing cholesterol levels when used in cooking. It has a slightly higher saturated fat content than olive oil, but a mix of the two good fats- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Rice bran oil has a high smoke point which means it can be safely cooked at a high temperature, which is good for commercially produced food products like these crackers.
🔹No added salt, meaning it has a very low sodium content. At 53mg of sodium per 100g it's 3 times less than other low sodium options, and 17 times less sodium than other flavoured rice crackers.
🔹Fat and saturated fat content within healthy guidelines
🔹Almost negligible sugar content
🔹Interestingly the fibre content is not disclosed on the information panel. Fibre content isn't required by law, but I'm pretty sure this product would have a high fibre content, so I can't understand why it isn't listed.
🔹Great crunch. I was pretty surprised by how UNlike cardboard these crackers actually were. They really were super crunchy. My sensory seeking clients would absolutely love the texture of these!
🔹These crackers aren't particularly flavourful. Realistically, they're made from flour and an oil with almost no flavour- so it makes sense. However, if you pair these with dips or cheese then I think you're on a real winner (so maybe not so much of a negative!)
🔹Gluten free- obviously a big plus making it suitable for kids or adults with coeliac disease. 🔹Not fried- baked. This isn't always a winner because if you 'bake' a cracker in a tray of oil then it's still baked not fried!
🔹Made with rice bran oil. There's a bit of hype around this oil, suggesting it's the 'healthiest in the world'. Not quite. But it's definitely not a bad oil!
🔹Palm oil free. This is definitely a good thing. Palm oil is high in saturated fat and used in many processed foods because it's so cheap. It's also linked to major environmental issues.
🔹No salt- definitely not something most other rice crackers can claim!
🔹No real need to find an alternative to these, as nutritionally they're pretty great! If they're a bit plain for you, add a square of cheese or a yoghurt based dip for a healthy snack. They'd also be a good alternative to a sandwich in the lunch box! Choose your own spread!
Today's review is of Little Quacker Rice Biscuits- strawberry flavour. Props to Little Quacker for the name and the duck logo (although speech pathologist followers might be eye rolling at the deliberate mispronunciation!)
🔹Organic rice flour, organic sugar, salt, organic natural strawberry flavour, citric acid, gelatin, purple carrot juice.
🔹The flour, sugar and flavour may be organic, but this doesn't make them any more nutritious than regular ingredients.
🔹Strawberry flavour is also a little unclear. I'm not sure whether this actually comes from strawberries, contains sweetener or is just a strawberry essence.
🔹Fat and saturated fat content is almost negligible, which obviously fits within healthy guidelines
🔹Gluten, dairy, egg and nut free for kids with allergies (as are other rice crackers)
🔹$75 per kilo. 20c per biscuit. Doesn't sound like much, but regular rice crackers are about $22 per kilo and 4c per biscuit.
🔹Sodium content of 319mg/100g. Technically this isn't a 'high' salt product but it's definitely not a low salt food. In fact, it's got as much sodium as pizza or cheddar flavoured rice crackers. Now that's not what you'd be expecting in a sweet biscuit!
🔹Sugar content exceeds healthy guidelines by about a third. The addition of sugar and juice contributes to this total. In two biscuits you only get 1g of sugar, but that's just because a biscuit weighs only 2.5g.
🔹'Oven baked' This tells me nothing useful but is obviously designed to suggest it's a healthy option.
🔹'The perfect balance between nutrition and taste'. Well this is debatable. These biscuits aren't too bad, but there's very little nutrition in them.
🔹The 'organic' label is plastered all over the product. That's great, but remember that organic doesn't mean more nutritious.
🔹Regular rice crackers that cost less!
🔹If your child prefers a sweet taste then a dry cereal like Cheerios might be an option. Otherwise you could use a chia jam (check out my Instagram post) to add fibre and sweetness to plain crackers.
🔹Overall, this isn't a really undesirable product from a nutritional point of view- I just don't think it's got enough positives to be worth the price tag!
This Chewsday review comes straight out of the 'health food aisle' and was submitted by a lovely client of mine. It's Orgran Itsy Bitsy Bears, biscuits with choc chips. I do think Orgran is an awesome brand for families dealing with food allergies, because all of their products are free from most common allergens. But, how do these biscuits compare to regular biscuits? Are they any healthier?
🔶Ingredients: 🔹maize starch, raw sugar, choc chips, palm oil, rice flour, rice bran, yellow pea flour, brown rice syrup, psyllium, vegetable gum, guar gum, sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, salt, mono glycerine sugar, vanilla flavour. Phew! 🔹the choc chips are made of sugar, palm oil and cocoa powder. They have no milk solids like regular chocolate (because then they wouldn't be dairy free) but I feel like calling them choc chips is a stretch. 🔹the brown rice syrup sounds healthy, but it's just another form of sugar (no better or worse than the raw sugar also included).
🔶The positives: 🔹Suitable for people with gluten, soy, egg, milk or nut allergies or those who follow a vegan diet.
🔶The negatives: 🔹palm oil (used in both the biscuits and the 'choc chips') is a cheap oil with little goodness. Orgran claims that they use palm oil from suppliers who don't cut down the homes of Orang-Utans, but it's still one of the worst oils to use in cooking. 🔹total fat content that exceeds healthy guidelines, with half of that fat coming from saturated fat (palm oil is 50% saturated fat). These biscuits have twice the amount of the upper limit of recommended saturated fat, which is the fat I'm most concerned about. 🔹high sugar content, with almost 1/3 of these biscuits made up of sugar. 🔹high sodium (salt content). Guidelines suggest less than 400mg per 100g and these sweet biscuits only scrape in by 6mg.
🔶The marketing: 🔹I must say, the packaging is super confusing. The nutrition panel on the side is an American style and does not comply with Australian laws. The large panel on the back does meet Australian regulations, but the inclusion of seven languages for each nutritional component makes it very difficult to read! Looking at my list of negatives above, this is perhaps part of their plan... 🔹no artificial colours or flavours- we've seen this on every Chewsday product reviewed so far this year. 🔹"KIDS choc chip biscuits". What a rort. There is nothing about these biscuits that makes them special for kids. Well, nothing apart from the fact that they're shaped like teddy bears. 🔹each of the itsy bitsy bears have a character associated with them. Hmmm I've seen something like this before...
🔶The alternatives: 🔹these are tiny teddies. If you're allergic to ingredients in tiny teddies, then itsy bitsy bears will definitely be better for you. Nutritionally though, they're exactly the same. And they're a sometimes food. 🔹as far as plain sweet biscuits go, these are very similar to most others. Choose any sweet biscuits only occasionally, and make sure you or your kiddies take the time to sit down and properly enjoy the taste.
About the author of this blog post:
Dr Kyla Smith is a paediatric dietitian specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. She has a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla on her website and her Facebook page or on her Instagram page.
You can also email her.