Appetizers
July 6, 2011
Beans-and-rice tortilla chips get a thumbs-up taste test

Let us count the good things about a new line of tortilla chips made from two kinds of beans (navy and black) and rice, instead of the traditional corn. Beanfields' four protein-rich flavors of "crispylicious" chips:

- Are gluten-free.
- Contain 4 grams of fiber per 1-ounce serving.
- Are free of all the "FDA's eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies."

You get the picture. And you can get the product at Whole Foods (www.wholefoodsmarket.com) and Elliott's Natural Foods stores (www.elliottnaturalfoods.com) around the Sacramento area. They're $3 to $4 per 6-ounce bag. More at www.beanfieldssnacks.com.

Yes, the chips seem to fall more on the healthful side of the snack divide, but what about taste? We distributed the four flavors (unsalted, sea salt, sea salt and pepper, and pico de gallo) to a group of tasters. Here's what they said, starting with my own comments:

"Though rather dry, the chips are crunchy and fresh-tasting, and much lighter than their corn-based cousins. Since I love black pepper, the zesty sea salt and pepper flavor went to the top of my list, followed by pico de gallo, sea salt and unsalted. An alternative chip that's worth trying."

"I would need a gallon of some frosty beverage to nudge the sea salt and black pepper variety down my throat. Is that so bad? I would need some salsa or guacamole for the pico de gallo chips to make it to one of my soirees. But they were the best."

"Salt and pepper: Tangy. Loved the crispy, peppery flavor. Pico de gallo: Do I taste cilantro? These are great mates for salsa."

"Kind of a Goldilocks thing: Naturally unsalted - too blah. Sea salt and pepper - too peppery. Pico de gallo - just right."

"I like the pico de gallo. The pepper chips are too peppery."

"Plenty of flavor. I prefer the salt and pepper, though the flavor lingers. The chips were a bit dry - but they are chips, after all. They cry out for for an ice cold beer."

"The pepper one is too peppery. The bite isn't there at first, but then it hits. The unsalted one is very bland. The pico de gallo is the only one I'd eat."

"I like the pico de gallo the best. The unsalted is pretty flavorful, good for salsa dipping. The pepper one's a bit much, though I usually like pepper."

"I would choose the more flavorful pico de gallo chips over the sea salt, which were comparatively bland in taste."

"The pico de gallo was really good, with lots of flavor. The sea salt and pepper version, however, was dry."

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