Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The power of muffins

Photo/GlutenFreeGarden State
Garden Lites and Nickelodeon have teamed up to launch a new product line geared toward kids.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Power Muffins and the SpongeBob SquarePants Chocolate Krabby Square Muffins are, like other Garden Lites products, chock-full of vegetables. Mixed with lesser quantities of other ingredients, they are moist, delicious treats.

I've been extolling appreciation for Garden Lites products since September, when we first discovered these wonderful muffins and souffles at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Secaucus. At the time, the Garden Lites staff had only prototypes of the boxes that would eventually hold the kid-friendly items. Based on what we learned then and have tasted of the "regular" products, we happily agreed to put the child-size snacks to a taste test.

We assembled a panel of three children for this review. I'll call them Anna, Bryn and Caitlin.

Anna, age 6, has no known food allergies or gluten issues. The other two are not on gluten-free diets, but do have severe nut allergies, as well as various other food allergies, such as dairy, beef, sesame, certain fruits and eggs. Bryn, age 9, also is a finicky eater who isn't keen on vegetables.

The Ninja Turtle Muffins are, well, green. They're made with zucchini and spinach, but taste nothing like those vegetables, which are among the first ingredients. They are, in fact, quite sweet. Best of all, like all Garden Lites products, they're gluten-free and free of the most common allergens. They're even produced in a nut-free facility.

Interestingly, the chocolate muffins were less sweet. However, they also were very good, especially considering they had more zucchini and carrots than less-appealing ingredients.

In a statement, Garden Lites' Assistant Brand Manager Julie Gould said parents may feel like they've won the lottery with the new products. “We know parents are concerned about proper nutrition and Garden Lites Muffins make sensible snacking easy. Kids love the taste and the character appeal, while parents love the fact that they make it an easy way for kids to get their vegetables,” she said. 

Anna didn't care for the chocolate muffins, but devoured her Turtle muffin and immediately asked for another one. She wants to bring them to school in her lunch or snack bag. Score!

Bryn, a huge Ninja Turtles fan, really liked both types of muffins. She was surprised to learn later that they contained vegetables.  Despite her usual aversion to fruits and veggies, she enthusiastically said she wanted her mother to keep them stocked. Score again!

Caitlin, age 5, enjoyed the chocolate muffin, but wasn't a fan of the Turtle one. It may have been the taste, but she did eye the green muffin with apprehension, due to its color. She wanted more of the chocolate, so we'll consider it a hat trick!

The new Garden Lites Nickelodeon-theme muffins are available at select retailers. They come in a box of six individually-wrapped muffins that sells for about $3.49. Both varieties can be found in the frozen section of stores nationwide, including  Target, Publix, and ShopRite. 

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