Taste Test – Thornhill Farms Rice Crackers

While my main focus is creating and sharing delicious and nutritious food with you here on my blog, I also really appreciate the opportunities I get from companies to try out different products. As a dietitian, I definitely have a “real food, least processed” philosophy to my own eating, and try and help people work towards that in their own lives as well. But I also appreciate that we don’t all have the same values or lifestyles, and it’s really important to be aware of all the products out there that someone might ask you about. I also like trying out products that might fit different specialty diets, like vegan, gluten free, etc, because there are always new products coming to the marketplace to meet different people’s needs.

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That is why I said yes when I was asked if I would like to try out some gluten-free rice crackers from Canadian company Thornhill Farms. Let’s be honest – the gluten-free product market shows little signs of fading, and people choose gluten-free for various reasons. I feel the more you know, the better you can help educate and help patients with their food choices. As you can see, the people at Thornhill Farms were super generous with their samples. There were more than enough for my little family of two, so I made sure to share with friends.

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They actually sent me two different rice cracker products – first were their Baked Snack Crackers, which came in three flavours:

  • Lime & Black Pepper
  • Cheddar
  • Sour Cream & Onion

We tried them out both on their own, and with other foods. I found all of the flavours to be fairly subtle, with the Lime & Black Pepper being the boldest. We actually crumbled up some of those onto chicken taco salads one night when we realized we were missing the tortilla chips we would normally use. They added a nice crunch and flavour to the salad. They also went quite nice with an impromptu nectarine salsa I made one night.

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I put a bowl of the Sour Cream & Onion Flavour out one night when we had friends over to play board games, and while no one overtly said anything about them, they did disappear, so I would consider that a win. Not a bad alternative to Sour Cream & Onion chips, seeing as they are baked, and have less saturated fat.

 

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The other product I was sent were their Rice Bites, which I think are meant to be more a chip replacement than the crackers. They too came in 3 flavours (although it appears one of them had already been devoured before they made it to the photo shoot):

  • Black Pepper
  • Applewood Smoky BBQ
  • Sea Salt

Other than these being different flavours, and having a different shape and packaging, I can’t say I found them to be any different than the crackers. In looking at the ingredient list too, I would say they are basically the same thing as well. I liked the Sea Salt flavour, just because it paired well with anything you wanted to put with it – I’m all for neutral dippers so I can showcase different healthy dips. I was surprised by the BBQ flavour, as I’m not usually a BBQ flavour person, but it wasn’t bad. And the Black Pepper wasn’t too peppery, which was nice as well.

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So while these crackers win point on flavour and versatility, they do have some negatives (at least in my mind). One is packaging – I really don’t like packages I can’t reseal after opening. That’s just asking for products to go stale in my cupboard, especially since I don’t eat crackers that often. I get that it’s hard to make packages like the ones the crackers come in reseal, but the bagged bites? It wouldn’t be to hard.

From a nutritional stand point, I also have to point out that they are kind of a miss. Yes, they are gluten-free, have no trans fat, and are baked. But they are made with white rice flour, which also means they have no fibre. I think it also makes them a bit blander than if they used a brown rice flavour – they are missing that background nuttiness you get from whole grains.

I also found that when I ate them on their own, they left a bit of a coating/film on my teeth. I don’t think it had to do with the flavourings, but more to do with the cracker itself. I didn’t notice this as much when I ate them with dips or other foods.

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The bottom line: I could take them or leave them. They have some tasty flavours, which are great on their own, or pair nicely with other foods. But they are a processed grain product, so I wouldn’t make them an every day thing either. If you are looking for a gluten-free snack or cracker, you could give them a go. They won’t be making it onto my regular shopping list, but I’m glad I was able to try them. 

 

Disclaimer – These products were provided to me free of charge to sample and review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Categories: Gluten Free, Review, Snack, Vegetarian

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