Is the healthy brand always best? Is the supermarket brand always worst?

I am going to bust some myths here. And, along the way, I am going to talk about some brands in a way I did not originally intend. Brands I think you should know about.

All I can say is you flip over enough packages and read enough ingredient lists and sometimes, just sometimes, you get a few surprises.

Like these.

Dr. Lucy’s
You got allergies or other food concerns and you’ve got a sweet tooth, then I’m thinking Dr. Lucy sounds heaven-sent.

Why? Her cookies are made without wheat, gluten, dairy milk, butter, eggs, casein, peanuts or tree nuts.

She has four cookie flavors: Chocolate chip, oatmeal, cinnamon thin, and sugar. Now, because we know the ingredient list is pretty much all that counts, let’s jump right to that.

Ingredient list for Dr. Lucy’s Sugar cookies
Beet sugar, Dr. Lucy’s Flour Blend (gluten-free oat, garbanzo, potato starch, tapioca, sorghum and fava flours), organic whipped spread (expeller-pressed oils: palm fruit, soybean, canola, olive; filtered water; pure salt; natural flavor derived from corn; soybeans; soy lecithin; non-dairy lactic acid; colored with beta-carotene from natural sources), organic soy milk, egg replacer (potato starch, tapioca starch flour, non-dairy calcium lactate, calcium carbonate, citric acid derived from corn, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, methylcellulose), potassium bitartrate, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, sea salt.

My take on the ingredient list

Sure, the first ingredient is a sugar. But, hey, it is a cookie, so no big surprise there. And, hey, there are a lot of ingredients (I always prefer the short ingredient lists, such as “apple”), but while I’m not dancing in the streets, at least there is no high fructose corn syrup (although there is a corn derivative).

And how do they taste?
They look gorgeous (see the picture, above): Small, yes, but inviting and scrumptious. They also smell wonderful: Sweet and yummy. So let’s bite in.

The texture is pretty dry, crumbly. I can live with that. But the taste? Well, the taste starts off divine: Wonderfully sweet and awfully close to the real thing. But, in seconds, you notice this nasty under taste that turns into a bitter aftertaste. A nasty, bitter taste that is so unpleasant, I don’t reach for seconds. And this from someone who never met a cookie they did not like.

But, just to be sure, I turned to our resident taster and asked him to try the cookies.
“Sweetie, would you like to try a cookie?”

“Cookie? Sure, yeah, okay.”

Nom, nom, nom.

“How was it?”

“Good, but there’s this weird taste. Sorta bitter.”

"Try another one."

“Sure.”

Nom, nom.

“How was that one?”

“Yeah, it has it, too. That yucky taste.”

We tried a third flavor. Which he, in an attempt to kill the weird taste, dunked into a glass of milk.

“How was that?”

“No. No way. They don’t work well in milk on account of being so desiccated.”

“Well, I have one more flavor. Try this.”

“No. No more. These cookies start off tasting great and the texture is what you would expect from a traditional cookie, but the aftertaste is what you would expect if you ate a mud pie. Sort of a bitter, tangy, aftertaste. No more.”

So, for the second time ever in this household, we tossed not one, not two, but four boxes of cookies into the trash.

And I am sorry for it. Because if it wasn’t for that aftertaste, these cookies would be brilliant.

With the healthier alternative in the trash, we turned to a supermarket brand
Now, I adore shortbread. So I was quite willing to try Walkers Shortbread.

The ingredient list
As always, let’s start with the stuff that really counts: The ingredients of the assortment of the shortbread cookies in the sweet Walkers Shortbread Assortment Truck Tin:
Wheat flour, butter, sugar, salt

Do we love this ingredient list, or what? It is short, sweet, simple. Throw in a broccoli and we are set for life, I tell you.

And how do they taste?
As I said, I adore shortbread. So let’s skip me and go to a more impartial judge.
“Here, sweetie, try this.”

“What is it?”

“A cookie.”

“No, they taste bad. Bitter.”

“No, no. These are different; from a different company.”

“Okay.”

Nom, nom, nom.

“So, whadda you think?”

“Well, no after taste.”

“What else?”

“They’re good.”

“They are, aren’t they?”

“Yeah. But do they come in chocolate?”

There is just no pleasing the man (I say this as I watch him feel around the tin for another shortbread - delicious!). Oh no, wait, there is.

Chocolate, and amazing chocolate at that
Now that I look around, I see all sorts of more mainstream products that actually have pretty good ingredient lists. Such as the chocolate items at The King's Cupboard.

Take, for example, their Dark Chocolate Chunk Hot Chocolate Mix. Now, you sure don't want to be eating this if you are on a diet. But if you are not, this a hot chocolate whose ingredients are as tasty as the drink: Ground chocolate (sugar, cocoa*, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin, vanilla), chocolate chunk (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), cocoa.

Sauce me up
Now, this company has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to chocolate goodies, from cake mix to frosting to pudding. But the best of a very good lot has got to be the chocolate sauces.

This is what we did. First, the husband bought a small container of vanilla ice cream. Next, he heated a generous handful of frozen blueberries in a pot for a minute or two, just until they were warm. He poured the blueberries over the ice cream, then poured a generous dollop of The King's Cupboard Raspberry Chocolate Sauce over the blueberries. And, just for fun, he stuck two of the Walkers shortbread cookies in each bowl.

That was almost, just almost, enough chocolate for the man.

And while we're talking about tempting treats . . .
Once I started looking around, I found all sorts of companies with pretty good ingredient lists. For example, The Truffle Kit makes all sorts of dessert kits. Such as a macaroon kit. Which contains (prepare yourself for a lengthy ingredient list):
Organic dried coconut, organic sugar, sea salt

Ha! Kidding about the lengthy part. (And macaroons, very yum.)

And their truffle kit is just as appealing. The best one, called The Essentials, also comes with what looks like a wee ice cream scoop so you can easily mold your truffles. Very delicious.

So clearly the husband is right. Everything is better with chocolate.