Today I had the exciting privilege of being a taste tester for the 2010 SELF Magazine Healthy Food Awards. The taste test took place at the SELF office in Manhattan.
I had a general idea of what to expect after reading their 2009 Healthy Food Awards recap. I knew I’d be tasting foods from certain categories, and I made sure to RSVP to only the meat-free nights! After reading the list of winners from last year, though (Sour Patch Watermelons?! Soft Baked Cookies?! Margarine?!) I began to wonder…how healthy are these foods actually going to be? Suddenly the thought of blindly tasting foods without reading the ingredient labels started to make my heart beat faster.
I decided I’d ask the SELF team how they chose which foods were included in the test. Did certain companies apply to have their products tested? Did SELF staffers make up the list of contestants? Are all of these products current advertisers in SELF? Is the winner paying to be featured? My head started spinning. What was their criteria for a food making the cut to be deemed as healthy?!
They have a team of registered dietitians who draw up the criteria for the Healthy Food Awards. While she didn’t give me the specific criteria, she said they have to have low levels of sugar, have multiple health benefits, and be readily available to the public (sold in most major supermarkets). I asked her if any of the products I’d be tasting that night contained artificial sweeteners, and she said they didn’t. Whew!
We all sat around a table in their conference room, tasted food from various categories, and picked our favorites.
After the voting, we got clued in as to what the products were. While I have no idea which products will win the contest and get featured in the magazine (you’ll have to buy the SELF July 2010 issue to find out), I can tell you what my top choices were in a few categories! Here were the ones I chose:
Nature’s Path Hemp Plus Oatmeal – It was funny when I found out this is what I had picked, because this is the oatmeal I usually eat! It has flax seeds and hemp seeds. Yum.
Veggie Burger Category:
Amy’s Texas Veggie Burger- This burger was bursting with flavor and had a great texture too. Would great for a BBQ. I’d totally buy them!
Heinz Organic Ketchup: While this ketchup does have sugar in it (boo), at least it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, and all the ingredients are organic. I liked the taste because it had a nice tomato flavor and wasn’t too sweet or tangy.
Frozen Fruit Pop Category:
Whole Foods 365 Mango Popsicles– I’m actually having trouble finding info on these pops online, which is disturbing. I’ll get back to you on this one, friends!
Granola Bar Category:
Planters NUT*rition Heart Healthy Bar – I’ll be honest with you, it didn’t taste healthy, it was just yummier than the others I tried. The Planters site says this product is “coming soon” so I can’t actually find the full ingredients list yet. I’m sure when I find it, I’ll see that there’s a lot of sugar, because this puppy tasted like candy.
So there’s a snap shot of some of the products I tried tonight at SELF. I’m going for round 2 of testing later this week, so I’ll let you know what else I try! I’m looking forward to seeing what the winners will be. And don’t forget to pick up the SELF July 2010 magazine. Maybe there will be a quote in there from me! You never know.