The snack attack

I love to snack. I’ve written before about some of my favorite snacks, like those tasty trays of smoked salmon (I’m salivating just typing about it). But other snacks I have come to enjoy haven’t gotten their own Taste Bud column for whatever reason, which is why I want to shout them out now.

One of my favorite snacks since childhood has been peanut butter. My mother was of the choosy variety, meaning that I grew up on Jif, never Skippy. But in recent years I discovered that peanut butter is crammed with sugar. It’s ridiculous to think sugar would even be an ingredient, but it is. And so I decided to switch to Simple Truth organic peanut butter. Why? Because the ingredients are: organic peanuts and sea salt. That’s it.

What’s in Jif? Glad you asked: “Roasted Peanuts and Sugar, Contains 2% Or Less Of: Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed And Soybean), Mono And Diglycerides, Salt.”

Rapeseed?

The downside here is that the organic peanut butter is, well, really oily. In fact, it kind of oozes. But on the advice of a friend, I started keeping it in the fridge. It keeps the consistency like the peanut butter you remember as a kid, and with no sugar. Or rapeseed. I like it best with Cheez-It crackers. (My dog loves this snack too.)

Know what else I love to snack on? Crispy Jalapeños by Fresh Gourmet. My girlfriend Cynthia found these recently at Costco, and she bought a bag of them the size of all outdoors, which means I’ve had more than my share. They’re just what they sound like: dried pieces of jalapeño pepper with a sort of breading-style coating. They’re salty, spicy and full of flavor, and they’re kind of amazing.

You can eat them straight from the bag, or use them on a grilled-cheese sandwich. Sprinkle them in your tacos if you want, or top a burger. Heck, they’d probably be great in some tomato soup. I just eat them by the handful. What I find fun is that, since they’re made from fresh jalapeños, the flavor profiles and heat levels vary a bit from chip to chip. You might sail along with several relatively mild peppers in a row and then hit one with a big kick. Keeps your taste buds on their toes.

Another spicy treat I’ve been binging is Sabra’s Supremely Spicy Hummus. I love hummus of any kind, and it’s a fairly healthful snack, but when you add spice, it just ramps up the deliciousness. It’s the usual blend of chickpeas and tahini, but topped with a dollop of some sneaky-hot salsa made with red bell peppers and chili peppers. It’s great with plantain chips or pretzels if you don’t have pita handy. Heck, I even eat it with the aforementioned Cheez-Its if nothing else is available. And if you are committed to healthfulness, I guess you could try it with carrots or celery.

But the latest thing I found that intrigues me is an alternative to my beloved Lay’s Flamin’ Hot potato chips (possibly my favorite snack ever) in the form of Spudz BeGEEzus Spicy BBQ chips. I ran across these recently at Holsopple Brewery in Lyndon — I’ve been a fan of the cheese and onion flavor of this locally-owned snack company, but I’d never seen the hot barbecue version.

When I saw the fiery, red words “Sooo hot!” on the package, I had to find out for sure. I will say this: They aren’t as hot as they claim to be. And yet, they’re hot enough that I can’t wait to get more. If you’re a fan of Grippo’s barbecue chips, you’ll love these because the flavor profile is similar, and there is more heat.

Like with the Grippo’s chips, the Spudz chips are thick, with a soft layer of flavor over them that gets on your fingers and stays there until you lick it off (hey, that’s part of the snacking fun). But it’s a great addition to the smoky, slightly sweet, salty experience to add some chili pepper heat, even if it’s a tad restrained.

Yeah, now I’m even hungrier than when I started this.