Healthy cookies compared. Trader Joes and Nutridel

** November 2010 Editor's Note: Trader Joe's no longer sells Righteous Rounds! Bummer.

*** March 2011 Editor's Note: We just learned that Nutridel changed its nutrition profile on the cookies! The calories per one oatmeal cookie went up from 62 to 120--BIG DIFFERENCE! The fat also doubled.  The below chart reflects the new nutrition information.

Believe it or not, you can have your cookie and eat it too-.

We have embraced three "healthy" cookies over the last few months. Nutridel's full line of cookie flavors, Trader Joe's Righteous Rounds and Trader Joe's Vegan Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.
Nutridel's Oatmeal cookie, TJ\'s Vegan cookie and the Righteous Rounds
But what does healthy mean? It is definitely in the eye of the eater. For our family, healthy means pure ingredients, moderate sugar and fat, and yummy flavor. Any healthy cookie is a waste of money if you (or the kids) don't like it.

We've made it easy for you. For a quick, objective review, we've compared the nutrition data for these three cookies in the table below. Our qualitative comments about taste and other cookie considerations follow.

Nutrition Facts Nutridel (Oatmeal flavor) TJ's Righteous Rounds TJ's Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serving Size 1 cookie ; 26 grams 5 cookies 28 grams 1 cookie ; 28 grams
Calories 120 130 140
Total Fat 5.0g 4g 7g
Saturated 1.0g 15mg 115mg
Sodium 45mg 130 140
Total Carbs 14g 20g Under 18g
Dietary Fiber 2.5g 3g Under 1g
Sugars 5g 9g 8g
Protein 2.5g 4g 2g
Bonus Benefits Iron 10%; Calcium 4% Vitamin A: 50%
Calcium: 10%
Thiamin: 30%
Pantothenic Acid 4%
Vitamin C: 35%
Iron: 6%
Riboflavin: 10%
Iron: 4%
Ingredients Few, natural and simple. Clearly the winner in this category Enriched flour listed first. Also listed molasses, soy protein, butter, fruit and vegetable concentrates Not as pure as the other two. Palm shortening, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, molasses, soy lecithin etc.

NUTRIDEL
Oatmeal Nutridel Cookie
How do they taste?

The crunchy, flat, disc-like cookies are tastier than a granola bar, but healthier than biscotti. They come in four flavors: oatmeal, almond, flaxseed, and pecan. The taste is slightly sweet and very natural, which is no surprise given the very pure ingredient list; for the oatmeal flavor: oats, whole wheat flour, wheat bran, sunflower seeds, dry coconut, sesame seeds, molasses and sunflower oil. Simple.

The nutrition data (in the above chart) also confirms that this cookie is a sensible, no-guilt treat. But for many, "sensible" is NOT on the cookie wish-list. And that is this cookie's only downside (and maybe the price; see below). But how about this? These cookies are flexible. Not in a bendy, yoga stretch sort of way, but you can actually customize them.

Want something nutritious but with a little more heft? Spread some almond butter between them? Need more indulgence, use Nutella ; it's divine. Or, crumble them over yogurt. Ice cream sandwich anyone?

Where do I get them?

The brand, (a blend of the words "NUTRItious and DELicious) is new and as of now the cookies are sold in coffee shops, yoga studios, and specialty stores. However, you can order them online. The sampler pack offers 8 packages of 2 cookies each (so 16 cookies) for $16. I happened upon them at my local coffee shop and paid $2.50 for one pack of two cookies. I was with my 3 year old and wanted a small treat but not a sugar bomb. Perfect. I had family, friends and my book club try these cookies and all gave them a thumbs up.

TRADER JOE'S RIGHTEOUS ROUNDS
Trader Joe\'s Righteous Rounds
How do they taste?

Since nearly all Trader Joe products are private labeled, we have no idea from where these small, crunchy cookies originate. What we do know is that to retain their "goodness", the cookies are not heated above 75 degrees and that a serving delivers a near vitamin punch of nutrients (see above chart).

The silver-dollar sized cookies are sweet and impart a little bit of chocolate flavor. If you are a die-hard chocolate chip cookie fan, the rounds may not quite do it for you. However, if you are a parent and need some treats in the house, Righteous Rounds are perfect.

A serving is five cookies, but my 3-year old is more than happy with 1 or 2 for her dessert. Compare these cookies to a granola bar, kid-friendly protein bar, or any other packaged treat, and I'm guessing the Righteous Rounds will win the nutrition and taste battle.

TRADER JOE'S VEGAN OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Trader Joe\'s Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

We had been on a search for a really good cookie. Jim likes a treat and one that tastes like a treat. The Nutridels and Rounds weren't decadent enough for him. So I continually brought home new cookies to sample. After trying this particular cookie, the search ended, finally!

How do they taste?

Unlike the other two cookies, these are not crunchy. They are firm, a little soft, sweet with a slight salty flavor too. There are big chocolate chips and the oatmeal provides great texture. This is the best, store-bought cookie we've ever tasted.

How do they stack up against Nutridel and the Righteous Rounds?

The cookies are labeled "vegan", but that does not, in our view, equate to them being "healthy". (I'm sure some cookie eaters would disagree). The biggest downside of this cookie is that one cookie yields 18% of the RDA for saturated fat. If you can limit yourself to just ONE, that is not so bad. What we really like is that one cookie yields a reasonable 8 grams of sugar (not bad compared to many kids' cereals and protein bars that often contain over 15 grams of sugar for a similar serving size), and delicious taste.

Editor's Note: Athletic-Minded Traveler is NOT paid to sing the praises of these cookies. In fact for the Nutridel cookies, I was so pleased by the flavor and nutrition that I contacted the company and asked about the business. Since then Nutridel has launched their website, is taking orders, has expanded their retail distribution and has collected a number of positive reviews.

Nutridel has recently changed

Nutridel has recently changed its formula and has nearly doubled the calories in its cookies.

Wow, Thank you Noelle Bowman!

Wow, Thank you Noelle Bowman! We will update this blog soon for the new nutrition information...It's an Athletic-MInded Traveler pet peeve--moving target nutrition data.

Our family likes good 'ol

Our family likes good 'ol animal crackers. They are pretty sensible. The Trader Joe's Organic version have 120 calories for 17 crackers (cookies) and only 6 grams of sugar. So not bad. There are no vitamins etc., but one serving also has 2 grams of protein. And the ingredients are very pure and basic.

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