The approaching Independence Day holiday put us in a motherhood-and-apple-pie sort of mood. So we figured it was a good time for The Spokesman-Review’s reader food panel - many of whom are mothers, or at least fathers - to test some frozen apple pies.
In particular, we were curious about the pie from Brown’s Sugarless Bakery in Seattle. The box promised reduced fat (12 grams in a standard 4.5-ounce slice), and no refined sugars (Brown’s is sweetened with fruit juice concentrate, to the tune of 15 grams per slice).
As freezer-case comparisons, we picked Sara Lee’s regular apple pie (17 fat grams, 26 grams sugar per slice) and a reduced-fat, no-sugar-added offering from Mrs. Smith’s (8 fat grams, 6 grams sugar per slice).
It was no contest. The flaky-crusted, flavorfully filled Brown’s blew away both the ordinary Lee, and the rather unpleasant Smith’s.
And while some panelists balked at Brown’s price tag - a hefty $7.24 - on a per-ounce basis, it was barely more expensive than the Smith’s (16 cents to 15 cents), and not all that much more than the Lee (10.5 cents).
To round out our all-American menu, we turned to our country’s favorite condiment: si, salsa.
Specifically, in the spirit of free enterprise, we tested local supermarket deli salsas: plain, medium-heat ones from Rosauers and Safeway, and, for variety’s sake, a black bean and corn concoction from Fred Meyer.
Fred Meyer was the panel’s favorite (and by far the best buy), although the fairly spiceless stuff was more salad than salsa. Among the true tomato salsas, Rosauers - er, La Rosauers, according to the label - got a slim nod over the thicker but blander Safeway product.
For our money, we’d still choose the jarred Safeway Select Southwest Salsa - which has heat, flavor, and some corn and beans to boot - over any of them.
And after all, isn’t freedom of choice what this great country is all about?
Brown’s Sugarless Bakery Apple Pie
Price: $7.24 for 46 ounces (10 slices).
Nutrition: 310 calories (35 percent fat calories); 130 milligrams sodium per slice.
Comments: “This crust is very good - almost homemade, actually better than some people’s! I might even buy this one. Yum!” - Sandi Kessler
“Tastes like homemade! Great flaky crust, perfectly spiced tart apples. More, bring more!” - Karen Buck
Sara Lee Homestyle Apple Pie
Price: $3.89 for 37 ounces (8 slices).
Nutrition: 330 calories (45 percent fat calories); 310 milligrams sodium per slice.
Comments: “Nice, flaky crust, firm apples, right spices, pretty good.” - Helen Span
“More sweet than apple, crummy hard crust, not much flavoring. A whole lotta people don’t like Sara Lee.” - Jim McGinty
Mrs. Smith’s Reduced Fat, No Sugar Added Apple Pie
Price: $3.89 for 26 ounces (6 slices).
Nutrition: 210 calories (33 percent fat calories); 290 milligrams sodium per slice.
Comments: “Sweet cinnamon. Small apple chunks make it easier to eat, unfortunately you have to chisel through the crust. The NutraSweet leaves a chalky aftertaste.” - Beth Kowal
“Apples wrapped in cinnamon glue - no thank you!” - Beverly Smick
Fred Meyer Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Price: $1.99 per pound.
Nutrition: No information available.
Comments: “This is great stuff! Nice chunks of veggies - black beans and corn are a nice touch. Nice spices, but not hot. You could pour a jar of this on a baked potato for a great, nonfat meal” - Sandy Davidson.
“Who needs a chip? This stuff is so thick it’s like a salad. Very good flavor … I like the cumin and black bean combo.” - Jan Robison
Rosauers Fresh Salsa, Medium
Price: $2.99 per pound.
Nutrition: No information available.
Comments: “Very fresh! Lots of chunks, has some heat. You won’t mistake this for a mushy canned version. Could use more cilantro and more garlic.” - Madilyn Hutchison Foco
“I like a little sauce with my salsa, but it’s definitely good at the level of spice.” - Meagan Coffey
Safeway Deli Salsa, Medium
Price: $2.49 per pound.
Nutrition: 5 calories (no fat); 70 milligrams sodium in 2 tablespoons.
Comments: “Yummy - salty-tarty lime! Heat just right. Mushy, maybe, but it does stick nicely to the chips. Actually - great. Pass some more!” - Kathy Kelly
“Heavy on tomatoes, spices OK, runny.” - Bob Bates
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