Giving Tree Crisps: The Short Version
Giving Tree crisps are properly crispy & surprisingly delicious. They quite possibly offer an additional way to very pleasurably increase fruit and veggie intake with *most* of the nutritional virtues of fresh produce.
The veggie crisps in particular provide something genuinely new and different and I applaud the innovation.
They have earned a place in my kitchen and in my travel luggage.
Currently available from Wholefoods, Planet Organic, Holland & Barrett, Ocado and online from various stores.
Giving Tree Crisps: Discovery
Something I like about visiting Wholefoods & Planet Organic stores is discovering new products from smaller producers. Often these have been on the market for some time but with limited distribution.
I performed a comical double take when I last visited Wholefoods and my subconscious brain noticed *Pumpkin Crisps* and *Broccoli Crisps* as I walked by an end-aisle display. Pumpkin and Broccoli are not words I am used to seeing before *Crisps*. My interest was piqued.
So a picked up a bundle and am tremendously impressed by what I think is an innovative and unique range of products. Let me tell you a bit about them.
Giving Tree Crisps: Product Range
- Veggie varieties are Pumpkin and Broccoli, also combined into a ‘Mixed Vegetable’ pack
- The veggie crisp ingredients are just the veg and a small quantity of rice bran oil
- Fruit varieties are Apple, Strawberry, Mango and Peach, and that is the only ingredient
- No salt, no emulsifier, no preservative, just the fruit or veg and rice bran oil
I can imagine that these could be a hit with kids and a real boon for parents of kids who are not keen on veggies. Are there any parents that can comment on this?
Giving Tree Crisps: Free From Credentials
The full range is free-from all major allergens and is not at risk of cross-contamination. Gluten-free crisps are already easy to find from big name brands but quite a lot do contain wheat or have a “May Contain” warning since they are processed alongside things that contain wheat.
Giving Tree Crisps: Taste and Texture
Compared to other fruit and veg crisps I have tried –
- These are far less salty and far less oily
- They are a bit more crispy and crunchy than other non-potato veggie crisps
- They are very notably and pleasurably tasty and the taste comes from the fruit or veg
It is quite amazing that the crisps have an enjoyable and very notable taste, but they really do. I understand the that this is because both freeze drying of fruit and vacuum frying of veggies reduces the water content and concentrates the full flavor into a smaller package.
These crisps *really* show what can be done to make nice snacks without added sugar and salt.
There seem to be two unique features of the Giving Tree broccoli and pumpkin crisps. The first is the ingredients, like salt, they do *not* have. The second is they are vacuum fried, in contrast to the more regular method of deep frying crisps.
Of the Fruit crisps I found the Mango and Strawberry most pleasant, thanks to both having a strong flavor and the Mango crisps being chunky and satisfying to bite into. The Peach and Apple were less great, with milder flavor and smaller pieces.
Giving Tree Crisps: Nutrition
Would it not be super if these really tasty Giving Tree crisps really could be counted as perfectly sound substitute for their fresh alternative? Giving Tree actually label their crisps with “All the Nutrition of Fresh”, so let’s take a look.
The fruit crisps are freeze-dried and nothing is added. Freeze-drying does have an impact on some bioactive compounds within fruit but most of the nutrient value is typically retained. I would therefore regard the fruit crisps as comparable to fresh, raw, fruit. I would probably prefer the fruit most of the time too but the crisps make for a nice sensory change.
The veggie crisps are vacuum fried using rice bran oil. By reference to published studies accessible via PubMed the key features of vacuum frying are:
- It is performed at lower heat and temperature and uses far less oil than traditional frying
- Far less oil is absorbed and retained by the vegetables
- More nutrients are retained
- Depending on the vacuum frying method actually used the nutrient loss compared to fresh may be minimal
“Vacuum-fried carrot and potato chips absorbed about 50% less oil than atmospheric-fried chips, whereas vacuum-fried apple chips reduced oil absorption by 25%. Total carotenoids and ascorbic acid (AA) were greatly preserved during vacuum frying. Carrot chips vacuum fried at 98 °C retained about 90% of total carotenoids, whereas potato and apple slices vacuum fried at 98 °C, preserved around 95% of their initial AA content”
So you can be confident that these crisps are healthier substitutes for other crisps, and since they are very tasty, that substitution really works. It really does not require that you trade away any sensory pleasure.
Since the studies I read indicated that vacuum frying does result in nutrient loss I contacted Giving Tree to ask about this. They told me that their veggie crisps are fried at lower temperatures than those mentioned in the studies I referenced and pointed out that one of the studies, focused on frying of jackfruit chips, reported –
“Frying under vacuum at lower temperatures was found to retain bioactive compounds such as total phenolics, total flavonoids, and total carotenoids”
The lower the temperature used the greater the retention of nutrients. Now there probably still is some nutrient loss, but that is compared to the fresh, meaning raw. Vegetable and broccoli and pumpkin are only occasionally eaten raw. Since any heating will result in some nutrient loss these vacuum fried veggie crisps really do appear to offer similar benefits to consuming the same veggies prepared more conventionally.
The following picture is taken from a 2006 British Heart Foundation campaign. Thankfully it definitely is not applicable to Giving Tree Crisps.
If you are interested in some of the PubMed studies I looked at to understand vacuum frying, go here.
Of course, do tell me if you try them :-)