It’s Coeliac Awareness Week this week, so today’s Chewsday Review features a gluten free product. It’s been kindly reviewed by Belinda Martin, Accredited Practising Dietitian from Advanced Dietitians Group in Perth, WA. Belinda works with kids with a diagnosis of coeliac disease, and allergy and intolerances.
🔷Tapioca Starch, Chickpea Flour, Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Flour, Natural Flavour, Raising Agent (500), Herb Extract.
🔷This product is mainly made up of gluten free flours. The first ingredient, Tapioca starch is a gluten free flour made from the root of the cassava plant. It is a good source of carbohydrates, but it is otherwise of low nutritional value. The second ingredient is chickpea flour, which is a great gluten free flour to use in cooking. It’s high in protein and when mixed with water is stickier than other flours. This makes it good for binding ingredients together. Fat and sugar make up 33.3% of the product. The ingredients also include raising agent number 500 which is sodium bicarbonate, aka bicarb soda. Natural flavour and Herb extract are listed as well. Manufacturers don’t have to disclose what these are. In this product due to its ultra-vanilla flavour, I assume these are vanilla flavouring and vanilla extract.
🔷Common allergens: may contain sesame seeds and tree nuts.
🔷Caution statement: ‘Free from Gluten mini smiles are small in size and require chewing. They should not be consumed by children under 3 years. Whilst I don’t think these are great for kids under 12 months from a choking point of view, for older kids the usual rules apply re: choking. Choose foods based on your child’s skill level, supervise as you would normally when they are eating, make sure they are always sitting down when eating and don’t give kids food in the car.
🔷 A convenient gluten free biscuit for kiddos with Coeliac disease or for those who avoid gluten for other reasons. They are also dairy free and egg free which is helpful for kids with food allergies.
🔷 Saturated fat content is within healthy guidelines at 1.8g/100g (aim for less than 3g).
🔷Sodium content is low and within healthy guidelines at 90mg/100g.
🔷 Contains a small amount of fibre (3.2g/100g) which probably comes from the chickpea flour.
🔷 Higher than recommended fat content of 15.6g/100g (general guidelines suggest aiming for less than 10g/100g). However, the fat is mainly from added sunflower oil. This is mostly a polyunsaturated fat, so a healthier fat.
🔷High sugar content of 17.7g/100g. Mainly from added sugar.
🔷At $21.70/kg, like most ready-made gluten free products these are a bit pricey.
🔷Like it or not eating ‘gluten free’ is often confused with being healthier. Woolworths have teamed up with Coeliac Australia to provide more gluten free products and discounts to people with Coeliac Disease, but they have still been smart about their marketing. ‘Free from gluten’ is in the largest writing on the packet, giving it a bit of a health halo. Just remember, gluten free doesn’t mean it is a healthier option.
🔷These are called ‘vanilla flavoured mini smiles’. Mmm. Well they are actually biscuits! They are very well marketed at kids. The biscuits themselves have different types of smiley faces and some even with sunglasses drawn on them! How cool – who wouldn’t want to eat them?! Not to mention the big packet has 8 little packets all that makes a nice crinkly inviting “eat me” noise!
🔷‘The perfect lunchbox biscuits’Definitely well-marketed to parents but I’d argue that it’s hardly a perfect lunchbox inclusion. This product is still high in fat and sugar.
🔷A bit more on the packaging itself. Interestingly when I asked my husband what he thought of the packaging – he said it looks like a medical product. Maybe that’s what Woollies is going for with their gluten free range.
The taste verdict:
🔷I tried them and so did my 5-year-old who said ‘yummo they are very vanilla-ry and nice and crunchy! Can I have some more please?’. To me they tasted a bit gritty and sweet but OK. Similar to shortbread consistency.
🔷These are pretty similar to a gluten free version of the milk arrowroot biscuit, but are lower in salt and use a healthier oil.
🔷 Obviously this is a sometimes foods. You can always make your own biscuits or muffins from gluten free flours, or give alternatives like rice cakes, corn thins and rice crackers. For kids 4-5yrs+ you could offer popcorn as an alternative.
You can read more of Belinda’s work at https://advanceddietitiansgroup.com.au/
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About Mealtime Building Blocks
Dr Kyla Smith and Liz Beaton are paediatric dietitians specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. Lauren Pike is an occupational therapist working in fussy eating and feeding difficulties. They have a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla, Liz and Lauren here www.mealtimes.com.au