September 10, 2012

Product review: Plentils Crunchy Lentil Chips

Allergy-friendly company Enjoy Life Foods was one of our generous sponsors from last year's Food Allergies Rock concert event.  Recently the company reached out to us to see if we would be interested in trying out a new chip.  Would my milk-allergic, nut-allergic kids like to try some new snacks?  Um.  YES!!

Enjoy Life's newest addition, Plentils, is a line of snack chips that uses lentil flour as a key ingredient.  Like their other products, Plentils are free of the top 8 allergens -- milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts.  It is also gluten-free and free of any artificial flavors.

We received a sample of four Plentil flavors: margherita pizza, sour cream and dill, garlic & parmesan, and light sea salt.  Now, my kids have never tried a lot of the popular chip brands and flavors.  This is in part due to their food allergies and in part because I try to avoid buying a lot of junk food.  Never have the boys eaten Doritos or Pringles' or Lay's Sour Cream and Onion, snacks that were standard munchies in my husband's and my own teenage and 20-something years.  My kids were pretty excited to try Plentils.  Heck, I was pretty excited to try them!  I wanted to know if it was possible to have a healthier and allergy-friendly chip that was a flavor substitute for the usual party snack. 

The first two flavors we tried were the Dill & Sour Cream and Margherita Pizza.  Why these two, you ask?  Well, if you must know I used to love Sour Cream & Onion chips as a kid and my husband is a recovering Doritos addict.  My well-trained and ultra-cautious (bless his allergic heart) son, Ryken, kept asking me, "Mommy, are these safe?  It says 'cream' and 'pizza'...'parmesan'?!?!"  I read and reread the labels twice and gave the bags to him for his own inspection.  I have been having Ryken double check labels since he is a proficient reader and want to reinforce his responsibility in ensuring his own safety.  No milk, no nuts.

Sorry for the shirtless chip models.  It's been a sweaty September!

The safety check out of the way, we broke open the bags and away we munched.  The lentils were crisp and light although definitely thicker than a typical corn-based or potato-based chip.  Both varieties were flavorful without being too overpowering.  Ryken, who usually doesn't like most beans, was surprised that these contained lentil flour.  He rechecked the label in disbelief.  Plentils definitely didn't leave the same powdery residue that I remember from bright orange Doritos or flavored Pringles.  Overall, the kids liked the dill sour cream and the margherita pizza but, without question, they liked the pizza-flavored chips best.  My husband and I agreed that the pizza flavor was reminiscent of Doritos!

Incidentally I also sampled the Garlic & Parmesan flavor just before posting this review.  My first reaction: Funyuns.  And that's a good thing in my book!  

The seasonings made these Plentils looks like Cool Ranch Doritos.

Enjoy Life's product website discusses the use of lentils to create a more nutritious snack.  The company touts lentils as an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals including folate, thiamine, and iron to name a few.  However, in checking out the nutritional information on the Plentils packaging, there was very little listed about the mineral and vitamin content.  The standard calcium, iron, vitamins A and C are listed but there is only 4 percent of iron per 1-ounce serving size.  I was surprised to see that the chip doesn't have a lot of fiber (1 gram per serving) and it contains 6 grams of fat and roughly 130 calories per 1 ounce serving.  Each serving contains 3 grams of protein compared to 2 grams in Dorito's or Lay's Potato Chips.  It is true, as Enjoy Life's website states, that the fat content is roughly 40 percent less than that of potato chips.  However, Plentils' calorie count and fat are only slightly less than Doritos.  Just because it uses lentil flour does not mean Plentils should be regarded as a health food; but they are a bit healthier that the other chips out there in part because of its natural flavors.

Overall, we liked Plentils and think Enjoy Life succeeded in creating a safe and appealing snack chip.  Subtle and tasty, Plentils will be a nice option for a special treat or party food for my kids.

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