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I sometimes buy rice cakes as part of my efforts to have healthier snacks or packed lunches for work. The trouble is I don't really like the taste of them. I end up disguising the flavour by adding something such as cheese, or salad cream on top which defeats the object of having a low fat base in the first place! When I saw Real Foods Original Corn Thins on special offer in Tesco, I thought it would be worth my while to try them as an alternative to rice cakes. They were available for 86p for a 150g bag, with the usual price being £1.19 for the same amount.
WHAT ARE CORN THINS?
The Real Food Company describes their corn thins as "crispbread slices." The picture on the packet showed a product that looks very similar to a rice cake. They are made from 99% maize, with the only other ingredients being sunflower oil and salt. I always feel happier eating a product when I can easily recognise all the ingredients. The crispbreads are made by popping grains of maize, and then presumably fusing them together to make a round.
The product comes in a plastic bag, similar to those that bagels come in. On the inside there is a second foil bag which helps to keep the thins crisp. Once you have opened that though, you need to carefully reseal the outer bag, using the tie provided. I left the first bag that I bought open all day by accident, and the food inside had lost it's crispness by the evening. Now I tend to store the unused thins in an airtight jar, as I think they stay fresher that way.
As the crispbreads are called thins, I expected them to be , well, thin. Whilst they are certainly less chunky than many rice cakes and similar products, they are still more than half a centimetre thick. I thought that they would be more like an oatcake or cracker. I am not disappointed though, because they are more substantial and therefore satisying to eat due to their increased size.
They look reasonably attractive, even if they don't appear very exciting when first taken from the packet. They are circular, about 9-10 cm in diameter, so a good size for topping. If they were any smaller it would be hard to pile up your fillings! Each crispbread has a mottled yellow and white colour, and an uneven surface. They feel slightly soft to the touch. I expected them to smell of corn, but they smell only slightly of that.
I thought that I would try my first crispbread plain, straight from the packet. I was surprised that it felt crispy when I chewed it as the thin felt quite soft in the hand. They definitely have a crunch to them, which also helps to stop them falling apart under a runnier topping I think. If you leave them in your mouth long enough they start to melt, which gives an interesting range of textures in one crispbread! I don't think they taste of fresh corn with all its sweetness. Instead they remind me of plain unsalted popcorn. It is a pleasant flavour, and there is just enough of it to stop these being bland. I would happily eat these plain, while I could never imagine doing this with an oatcake, cracker or rice cake. When used with a topping, the corn taste is mild enough not to take over.
The packet displays a couple of serving suggestions. One is to top the crispbreads with grilled mushrooms, spinach, and Parmesan. The other is to use sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, and honey mustard. I have tried the former, and it tastes great. I also like them with low fat cheese and chives, and cottage cheese with honey and sliced bananas. They are a versatile snack, good with both hot/ cold and sweet/savoury toppings. They hold their shape and aren't too crumbly to eat or hold. This makes them ideal for me to take in a lunchbox to work as I don't have to worry about getting crumbs all down myself! I find that a couple with a decent topping on is enough to fill me up if I wanted a snack, but as part of a lunch, I would want something substantial as a "side".
GOOD FOR YOU?
These corn thins contain 0.4g fat, [of which 0.06g is saturated fat], per serving which is defined as two pieces. I think this makes them a good open sandwich style base for dieters. The Real Food Company say that these contain more dietry fibre per gram than wholemeal bread which is another bonus.
They are Kosher, and gluten free, as well as being suitable for vegetarians.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THEM?
I would. They taste nice and not too bland. I like having them in my store cupboard because I know that I can use them with a wide variety of toppings. They are ideal as a snack or as part of a lunch, packed or otherwise. They are worth a try if you are looking for something a bit different from oatcakes, crackers and foods such as those. I would even suggest you try them if you don't like the taste of swetcorn, because they don't taste strongly of that.
They are available in flavoured varieties such as sesame, but I have not tried those. I have only seen the original ones for sale, but I would definitely try the others if I come across them. They are incidently back on offer at the moment in Tesco, where you will find them with the crackers, and Ryvita type products. Otherwise, you can often find them in health food shops.
(+) Convenient, simple to prepare: can be eaten cold, or heated for a few minutes, variety of flavours (-) Two pop tarts to each packet inside box could be perceived as a waste/excessive use of packaging