Good Lord, how did this happen? Wasn’t it Valentine’s Day, like, yesterday? And now it’s May Day, with Cinco de Mayo right around the corner. Hey, look, here comes summer!
All of which makes this a great time to review a couple of products Andrew sent me last summer, and I neglected to review in a timely fashion: R.W. Garcia Soy and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips, and Baja Bob’s Sugar Free Margarita Mix. I just love it when Andrew sends me a party in a box!
The reason I didn’t review these when I should have was because I wanted to share them with friends and get their reaction, and I wound up not having people over until Labor Day. By then the summer was over, and a review seemed sort of… well, late.
However, I am here to tell you the reception of both products was great. Every chip, every margarita, disappeared. The margaritas were pronounced the equal of any margarita made with a commercial mix, and of course they’re a whole lot lower carb. (Margarita mix has a ton of sugar in it. Traditional margaritas, made with only tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau or Grand Marnier, are somewhat lower in sugar, but that orange liqueur sure ain’t sugar-free. They each have about 10 grams per fluid ounce. And, if you’re counting, fresh lime juice has about a 2.6 grams.)
I’m not a big mixed drink person, frankly. I’m a big fan of dry red wine, I like a light beer now and then, and I have what can only be regarded as an unusually high regard for good tequila, straight. (Or even the right cheap tequila. If all you’ve ever tried is Cuervo, you owe it to yourself to try Sauza; it’s about the same price, but vastly smoother and softer. Cuervo is paint thinner, and good only for mixing.) But I’ve never been one for sweet drinks with umbrellas in them. The big exception is, however, the margarita. Like most people who drink, I love ’em, especially on a hot summer night.
Or on a cruise. On Jimmy Moore’s Low Carb Cruise, Andrew brought along a couple of cases of the new Baja Bob Sugar Free Drink Mixers Box of 10 Easy-Open Packets, and became the most popular guy in the group every evening at the bar. Tells me he went through over 20 boxes of margarita mix; that’s over 200 margaritas. (Did I mention we’re a fun bunch? You really ought to join us next year.)
In short, a big two thumbs and a bottoms up to the Baja Bob’s margarita mix. If you, like most of us, are a margarita fan, you should order some right away to have on hand for the summer barbecue season. The individual packets are great if you get invited to a lot of parties (lucky you!) – you can take along your own mixer in a pocket or purse. Take a few extra, you’re likely to have a request or two.
And for the record, I’ve tried both the dried and the bottled Baja Bob’s, and haven’t noticed a big difference, though I admit I haven’t tried them side-by-side. Order what you find convenient.
How about the R.W. Garcia Soy and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips? My guests said they could tell a difference between them and, say, Doritos or Tostitos, they seemed more, you know, sort of whole-grainy-health-foody, but that they were good. Every crumb of two bags disappeared, and that was with just six people, and other food available.
I like the R.W. Garcia chips just fine; I was a whole grain devotee anyway before I went low carb. I really enjoy the things, and it’s nice to eat a chip now and then. I’m an American, after all, I grew up eating chips. (And I’m very sorry that there’s really no way to come up with a good low carb potato chip. Potato chips are my own personal kryptonite.) I’d happily buy the R.W. Garcia chips again. Okay, I didn’t buy them the first time; Andrew sent them for me to review. But I’d happily pay price for them.
However, I cannot recommend that you make the R.W. Garcia Soy and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips a regular feature of your low carb diet. They should be an occasional indulgence, something you eat now and then for a party, or when you have a serious chip craving, but not something you eat daily or even weekly. Why?
First of all, they’re far from dirt-low in carbs. One serving has 14 grams of carbohydrate with 5 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 9 grams – and that’s for 1/10 of a bag. When was the last time you stopped at 1/10 of a bag of chips? That carb count is better than regular tortilla chips, which run about 19.5 grams of carb and 1.5 grams of fiber for the same serving, but it’s still something to be cautious about.
The R.W. Garcia chips also have 6 grams of protein per serving, as opposed to only 2 for the regular chips. That protein should help moderate the blood sugar rush-and-crash a little, but still, we’re not talking pork rinds, are we?
Too, chips are a binge food for many people, as witness the fact that most of us don’t stop at that tenth-of-a-bag “serving.” There’s something about them that just makes it sooo easy to keep on reaching for another, and another, and another. How do you think my friends and I (and That Nice Boy I Married, of course) went through two bags between six people? I find it best not to keep chips in the house, even reduced-carb chips like these. Better to buy them for a special occasion, eat ’em up, then wait till another special occasion. Maybe you’ve got better self-control than I, and could have a stash of chips in the house, waiting for a special occasion. I know myself well enough to know it’s a bad idea.
My final doubt about R.W. Garcia Soy and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips is right in the name: Soy. I am not only unconvinced that soy is the Magical Health Food Of All Existence, I’m unconvinced it’s safe for regular human consumption. I don’t shun it entirely, since there are a few holes soy-bearing-products fill in a low carb diet that really don’t seem to be filled any other way. We eat low carb tortillas now and then (we like La Tortilla Factory brand), tofu shirataki (the only really low carb noodle I like), and use Eden brand canned black soybeans in chili. None of these, however, is something we consume even weekly; we can go weeks or months without eating these. Likewise, I’m unafraid of eating these chips now and then – after all, the first rule of toxicology is “dose is everything” – but their soy content puts them firmly in the “now and then treat” category, rather than the staple category.
Still, if you’re having a big barbecue, and are planning to have chips for your guests, it would be great self-defense to have a bag of these on hand. Don’t forget the guacamole! Or, if you really want to impress the heck out of your guests, try my Mom’s utterly decadent:
Avocado Cheese Dip
This dip has been known to make my mom a very popular person at parties. It also makes perhaps the most elegant omelets on the face of the earth.
- 2 packages, 8 ounces each cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
- 1 ripe black avocado, peeled and seeded
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 can, 3 – 4 ounces, green chilies, drained – use jalapenos instead, if you like it hot!
Put these ingredients through the food processor until very smooth. Scrape into a pretty serving bowl, and place the avocado seed in the middle – for some weird reason, the seed keeps this from turning brown quite so quickly. If you’re making this a few hours ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap, with the wrap actually touching the surface of the dip. I wouldn’t make this more than a few hours ahead of time. Makes about 5 cups – plenty for a good sized party. 45 grams of carbohydrate in the batch, of which 9 are fiber, for a total of 36 grams usable carb. 83 grams of protein! Dip with pork rinds, vegetables, or those R.W. Garcia chips. Or serve over steak, or in omelets!
(Reprinted by permission from 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, 2002 Fair Winds Press)
Disclosure: I was provided these products free of charge in order to review them. It in no way affected my opinion of the products.
© 2010 by Dana Carpender. Used by kind permission of the party animal author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.