While I do have hip replacement on my mind (my dad is soon to undergo the procedure), it's chip replacement that is the subject of this post. So if you're in search of a healthy snack, read on.
EDITOR'S NOTE: As of August 2009, Trader Joe's has discontinued the Soy Crisp product. Before the product "pull," the nutrition data for the BBQ soy crisp flavor changed. The pdf file at the bottom of this blog that compares soy crisps to various other chips, reflects the OLD nutrition data. To learn more about the new data, view our post here.
If you need a Soy Crisp replacement, we recommend Glenny's or Whole Foods 365 Brand. A recent study on teen lifestyle and nutrition conducted by BuzzBack Market Research found that, among other things, teens consider chips to be the "must have" snack. I guess the finding isn't too surprising. Who doesn't love a salty, crispy, flavorful snack? Of course the catch is that chips (in their original form) are hardly a sensible snack.
However, I also just read (NYT Online) that five big snack producers (Dannon, Kraft, Mars, PepsiCo and Campbell Soup) have committed to providing more nutritious foods to schools. "More nutritious" being defined as having less than 35% sugar by weight (obviously not an issue for chips), less than 230 mg of sodium per serving, zero trans fats and less than 35% of calories coming from fat. There will also be restrictions regarding serving sizes. Healthy snacks in schools? Depends on your definition of healthy...
Regardless, will teens go for healthier versions of their fat-laden favorites? Will the "baked," "low-fat," "low sodium," "light," or "natural" substitutes satiate their chip craving? I've tried both baked and light versions of nearly every chip out there and while some are definitely better than others, (in fact some are quite yummy if your stomach can handle olestra), I say scrap the chips and go for something that is healthier and tastier; in its original form...
Soy Crisps. I prefer them to chips any day. Grant it, I'm not a huge chip lover in the first place, but soy crisps need no dip or other accoutrements. They are scrumptious straight out of the bag. Have you tried them? If not, make sure you are buying "soy" and not "rice", "potato" or some other type of crisp. I've tried them all and the soy ones are far superior in taste and texture.
From a nutrition standpoint, soy crisps have a lot going for them.
Most brands offer 7 to 9 grams of protein per serving (about 19 crisps 28 grams), 2 grams of dietary fiber as well as some calcium and iron; some flavors even have small amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. There's no saturated fat, but there is quite a bit of sodium and it varies significantly across flavors, so look at labels-.or our chart. But, it's not all bad news on the nutrition front if you're a chip devotee. Many snack chip flavors have less sodium and sugar than soy crisps and most chips also contain trace amounts of calcium, iron, Vitamin E, and other vitamins and minerals. However, the full-fat versions of nearly every chip out there pack more calories gram for gram than soy crisps, and most flavors have artery clogging saturated fat. Keep in mind that more calories per weight in grams for a single serving means you'll feel less full and therefore will likely eat more. If you're trying to watch your weight this is where chips are a big loser in the soy versus chip comparison.
So we've tried to make it easy for you. Below is a link to a pdf chart comparing the nutrition profile of soy crisps with chips; both the original flavors and their lighter, lower fat versions. You decide. We've limited the soy crisp brands to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, because we think they taste the best. Genisoy also makes a number of soy crisps, but we like these others much better. There are also a number of other flavors available under the Whole Foods brand, but again, we recommend Ranch or BBQ-the cheese is pretty good too!
Let us know if you'd like this chart. It's an excel file. Also, we did the same thing for energy bars a while back and if you'd like that chart, also let us know by leaving a response or emailing us...here's our contact page. And no matter your choice, keep in mind that nearly every chip is a better choice than french fries which contain the super bad trans fats! A small order from McDonalds has 2.5 grams of the artery clogging stuff. Soy Crisps versus Chips (pdf file)