August 28, 2008

Amy's Cheese Pizza Toaster Pops Review

If you think that I make all of my meals, you are sadly, sadly wrong. Most of the time I grab some cereal or heat up a frozen meal.

But eating manufactured foods does not have to be unhealthy! Go organic or all natural. It's delicious, easy, and surprisingly healthy, though admittedly more expensive than regular foods. But, if you are not willing to make your own foods, this is the best option. At least you know that you are not filling your body with chemicals, trans fats, and substances which mess with your appetite.

I love two brands in particular: Amy's and Cedarlane. This happens to be an Amy's product.

When you are looking for frozen foods, the first thing you should look at is the ingredients list.

If the ingredient list is short, like this one, that is a great thing. Think of how many ingredients you use when you cook. If you think that the amount is relatively the same, that is a good thing. Also know that the ingredients on the top of the list have the greatest amount in the food. Thus, there is mostly organic wheat flour, bran, and germ in the pops. Scan the list and make sure that there are no hydrogenated oils, corn syrups, or things that you cannot pronounce, unless they explain the ingredient afterward in layman's terms. If you are buying sweet treats, it is best to make sure that sugar is not the first ingredient on the list. But be careful! Companies try to keep sugar off of the top of the list by using multiple sweeteners, thus spreading out the sugary products in the list. Also, whole wheat flour is ideal, rather than "enriched."

So, next you look at Nutrition Facts.

I usually look at calories first. This looks good. Next, the fat. Again, very reasonable. Always check the fat content against the saturated fat in grams. If the company is using healthy fats, the saturated fat should be significantly less than the total fat. If you are not sure what is a reasonable fat content, refer to the percentages.

Always, ALWAYS look at portions. Everything may look reasonable, but the company may be pitching one container as two meals so as to cut the meal's facts in half and look healthier.

I don't really care about cholesterol or carbohydrates. Sugar can be important to look at, but not in a meal like this. If you do look at sugar levels, try to be fair. Remember that sugars are naturally found in fruits. My Larabars (best snack bar ever) have a fair amount of sugar despite the fact that there is no added sugar.

If I really feel like analyzing (ha!) I look at what I like to call the "bonuses." This includes fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This is pretty good. It's a toaster pop, so what do you expect? I do like the protein count, though. Nice.

So here is the uncooked pop. The fact that the pop was already brown was interesting. I hoped that this would not be a problem when cooking. Otherwise, the tarts hold up well in packaging, although they have a nasty habit of freezing together, usually in pairs.

I did have on problem though: the instructions. They said to put them in the toaster twice, but my toaster has settings. I was in another room when I started to smell the smoke. Fortunately, there was little damage to the tart. I just had to cut this end off. If your toaster has settings, I suggest that you watch it while it cooks the pop.

The results, as usual with Amy's, were exceptional. Much better than I expected when I first bought the product, which was on sale. The center was gooey and flavorful and there was a nice amount of sauce to dough, which I was worried about. I think that the pop could have benefited from a little more crisping up, but I wasn't about to stick it back in the toaster. Despite this, the crust was crispy enough for contrast, as you can tell by the cracks.

This shot gives you a nice view of what I was talking about in the center. Gooey, but I dare say a bit too undercooked for my tastes. The insides were evenly mixed without being pureed together a la cheesy tomato paste.

So would I try it again? Definitely. I love quick fixes. I even stick things in the toaster that I probably shouldn't because I don't like to wait for the toaster oven to cook it. At least this time I was right to do so.

Rating: B+