I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a creeper at the grocery store. While waiting in line, I like to casually check out the carts of others, just to see what the hot items are. Creepy? Yes. Judgemental? Possibly. Interesting? Of course! My career is based on food, and sometimes I feel like I’m never “off duty”.
Today after work I went to the store for a few things. I was behind a small family who were loading their items on the belt. Apparently there was a Pop Tart sale, as they were buying at least 8 boxes (that I was able to stealthily count). It made me realize that I haven’t really had a Pop Tart since I was very young, and I remember them tasting like cardboard. I wondered to myself, has anything really changed? I also recently tried a recipe that I found off one of my favourite blogs, the Minimalist Baker. It was a DIY Pop Tarts from scratch, using only 7 ingredients. With a few substitutions (I used butter instead of Earth Balance and made a strawberry rhubarb compote as rhubarb was in season) I completed the recipe with success and the result was AMAZING. Here is a link to the recipe (FYI they also freeze very well!)
Here is the nutritional information for the DIY Pop Tarts (found at the bottom of the recipe):
Serving size: 1 pop tart w/out glaze Calories: 335 Fat: 8 g Saturated fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 35 g Sugar: 3.5 g Fiber: 1.5 g Protein: 4.5 g
No one said it was going to be health food :). But, I would treat this more like a dessert and you can definitely customize the size of the tart to smaller if you want it for a lighter snack/dessert. The thing I like most about these are the minimal ingredients and lower sugar content. Speaking of sugar, let’s compare to our old friend, Kellogg’s Pop Tart:
Look at the strawberries on the front! Here is the product description, from the Kellogg’s website: “A delicious pastry with real fruit filling and topped in icing. As a source of 4 essential vitamins and minerals, Strawberry Frosted Pop Tarts toaster pastries are a fast and fun way to snack”. Wow. No wonder parents and kids love this product. For the kids, the box is colourful, they are sweet, delicious and you can easily take one en route to school. For the parents, they are quick to eat, apparently have real fruit, and a whopping 4 essential vitamins and minerals. Hmmm….
Ingredients (from Kellogg’s website): Wheat flour, sugar/glucose-fructose, dextrose, vegetable shortening (contains palm oil), icing sugar, crackermeal, modified wheat starch, salt, dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples, baking powder, citric acid, natural flavour, corn cereal, gelatin, modified corn starch, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, calcium phosphate, colour.
I counted 21 ingredients. Companies are required to list their ingredients by weight, so the majority of the Pop Tart is made of: flour (not whole grain), sugar, sugar, shortening (fat), more sugar, refined grain, refined grain, salt and FINALLY some fruit.
The Government of Canada defines “source of” as “at least 5% of recommended daily intake“. So I guess these Pop Tarts are a “source of” iron, niacin, folate and thiamin. Unfortunately Kellogg forgot to point out that 1 Pop Tart has absolutely no protein, very little fibre (2 things that help keep us satisfied and prevent subsequent sugar crashes) but is a fantastic source of sugar (18g, equal to 4.5 teaspoons of sugar).
Parents should save their money and pass on the Pop Tarts. Worried about the 4 essential nutrients you might miss from the Pop Tarts? Have a piece of fruit (like fresh orange) with a slice of whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter. The bread and fruit are both loaded with B vitamins such as folate, niacin and thiamin. The peanut butter has some iron, and the vitamin C from the orange will help your body absorb the iron better. Plus, with all that fibre from the food, you will feel satisfied for longer! If you are looking for a treat, I suggest trying the DIY Pop Tarts. They are obviously a bit more of a time investment than purchasing Pop Tarts in the box, but well worth it and you cut out 14 ingredients!