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We Tried It: Justin's New Snack Packs


Nut butters are among the best snacks you can have. I'm not ashamed to admit I keep stacks of nut butter packets at my desk so I can get a quick bite when I've hit an afternoon slump. They're rich in protein and unsaturated fats. They're also high in filling fiber, and if you pick an all-natural one (or better yet—make your own nut butter), you can control the added sugars and sodium for a really delectable, healthy treat. Pair them with fruit and veggie slices for an even better treat-worthy snack.

We've been a fan of Justin's for quite some time. A few years ago, we crowned their then-brand-new Natural Maple Almond Butter Squeeze Packs one of the best new foods. Since then, they've launched a variety of new products with their all-natural nut butters. My favorite, of course, was their launch of Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. (I may or may not treat myself to a pack every time I venture over to Whole Foods.)

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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However, vying for another special snacking place in my heart, they just launched their new line of Snack Packs at Target. We recently tried the new varieties—Chocolate Hazelnut Butter with Pretzels; Classic Almond Butter with Pretzels; Maple Almond Butter with Pretzels—and here is our verdict.

Overall, they're great for convenience and ease of use. They'd make great road-trip or carry-on snacks so you can stave off hunger. They're also no-mess, so they're perfect for your desk or keeping in your bag when you're hiking, shopping, or just out and about. With only 200-210 calories per pack, they're ideal for people who need a filling snack quickly. The three nut butters are the ones you've come to know and love from their squeezable packets and jars, so they have a delicious balance of salty-sweet nuttiness.

The one downside: Like many good all-natural butters, the nut butters in these packets separate a bit. That makes them really difficult to scoop with a pretzel, so make sure you give them a stir with a knife if you have one handy. If you don't, they're still totally dippable. You just might lose a pretzel rod or two.

Keep Reading:


6 Justin's Products That Are Definitely Worth Buying on Your Next Market Run

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Whatever kind of relationship you may have with nut butters, if you haven't tried Justin's yet, you are seriously missing out. Made with as minimal ingredients as possible, Justin's nut butters are both wholesome and delicious at the same time. And if for some reason you still aren't crazy about nut butters, Justin's also offers a variety of other products including squeeze packs, peanut butter cups, and more. Below are six of the best Justin's products (in my humble opinion).


O Organics White Tortilla Chips

I recently brought O Organics White Tortilla Chips to a party. They were a HIT. Gone in minutes.

Was it the fact they are over 95% organic?

Was it because they are lightly fried to a perfect crispness?

Was it thanks to their perfect level of saltiness?

Or was it simply a good ol’ case of the munchies?

We will never know. But does it matter?


Meet Justin, the Namesake and Founder of Justin&rsquos Nut Butter

Nut butter fans out there know Justin’s as one of the best. With unique flavor combinations—like maple-almond, chocolate-hazelnut, and honey-peanut𠅊nd a thick, smooth texture, Justin’s nut butters are one of a kind. While the founder, Justin Gold, has believed in the power of nut butter since even before he started his business, he saw the most success after launching the first nut butter squeeze packs, which are just as easy to squirt onto a piece of toast as they are to suck directly from the packet during a commute. I spoke with Gold on the phone to learn how he creates his nut butter flavors, his go-to green smoothie, and the future of nuts.

Extra Crispy: What did you have for breakfast today?
Justin Gold: You’re going to think I’m kidding, but it’s totally true. I actually have this for breakfast almost every day: It’s a green nut butter smoothie.

Yum! What’s in that?
Where do I start—there are a few key ingredients, and the first one is a good blender. I use a Blendtec, which is kind of similar to a Vitamix. So, I add kale—probably three to four leaves and I de-stem it, a little bit of frozen spinach, about half a frozen banana—I keep bananas peeled in the freezer, so I’ll take half a banana and cut that in half again, and put that in the blender. Then, a scoop of vanilla Vega protein, then—this is gonna sound crazy but it’s true—I do a scoop of wheatgrass powder, then a small scoop of hemp hearts, another key ingredient: a small scoop of chia seeds, and then I do two tablespoons of almond butter, then I add a little bit of soy milk, a little bit of water, a little bit of ice. Then, blend, baby!

I have this like every morning. I usually wake up early, get my workout in, and then I have a green smoothie right after. It’s like having a protein salad first thing in the morning, and it keeps me full and energized until lunch. Maybe on the weekends I’ll have pancakes with my kids.

I bet pancakes with nut butter is a great combo too. So, what would you say is your favorite way to eat nut butter for breakfast?
I have two favorite ways. If I’m feeding my kids, I’ll put nut butter on a waffle for them. Instead of syrup I’ll use maple almond butter or honey peanut butter, and that kind of covers up the dry waffle. I’ll also put it on a piece of fruit, like a banana or an apple. Or literally just right out of the jar. But the reason why dads get fat is because we always finish our kids’ food. Normally I’m eating a waffle because my kids didn’t finish it.

I𠆝 love to learn a bit more about Justin’s. Why did you decide to launch a nut butter company?
I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. I went to a small college, studied Environmental Policy. I really wanted to be an environmental lawyer. And then my senior year of college I was interning at an environmental law firm, and I really just became disillusioned with what being a lawyer was. So I dropped out of the LSAT course, didn’t go to law school, graduated from this Environmental Policy program. Then I moved to Colorado and started waiting tables. I moved to Boulder to be near the university, because I knew I wanted to go back to school someday. And it’s close to the mountains. So I’m living in Colorado, waiting tables, working in restaurants.

I’m vegetarian, so I was eating a ton of peanut butter and almond butter for protein. I would walk to the grocery store and see a whole shelf of different preserves, jams, jellies. But then I𠆝 look at the nut butter section, which was tiny. There were literally just two types of peanut butter, smooth or crunchy. It didn’t make any sense. And then I thought, Why is it that when I ate a handful of almonds it tastes amazing, but when I bought the one brand of almond butter that was available it tasted kind of gross? You could just grind your own nut butters at the store, so I thought, How hard could this be? So I just started experimenting and making my own. I would keep a journal of what I added, I would try honey, fresh banana, dry banana I𠆝 add strawberry jelly, dehydrated fruit. All these different concoctions𠅌innamon, chocolate, maple syrup. I𠆝 put them in all these jars and I𠆝 put them in the cupboards. I was living with a bunch of roomates at the time and they𠆝 always steal my nut butters, so literally I had to write “Justin’s” on the jars so they knew it wasn’t for them to eat. My roomates just loved them, and they𠆝 always ask for more “Justin’s.” And I thought this could really be a fun business.

I didn’t know anything about starting or running a business, but what I did know was how to use a library. And Boulder has a business school, so I went to their library and I started to research how to write a business plan. As I was working on the plan, I wondered if there were any natural food companies in Boulder that I could ask for help from. My mind was blown that there are a lot of natural food companies here, from Celestial Seasonings, to Horizon Organic Dairy, to Izze Soda to Rudy’s Organic Bread. So I was able to find a lot of smart professions who helped me learn how to grow and scale the company.

I started with the peanut butter and almond butter. We debuted at the farmer’s market and I was going to stores. I was still really struggling when I𠆝 been in business for about four years. I went on a mountain bike ride. I was on the ride and eating an energy gel, and I thought to myself, This gel is great, but I don’t want sugar right now, I want protein. I thought, Why isn’t anyone putting peanut butter or almond butter into a squeeze pack? And literally no one was doing it. I thought, This is such a silly idea, clearly it can’t be done.

So then I started calling around, and it turns out there are basically three companies that make squeeze packs for everyone—mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing, jelly𠅎verything. I asked if they could make me squeeze packs of peanut butter and almond butter and all three of them said they couldn’t help me. None of them would make it because of allergies, a fear of cross-contamination. Once I heard that, I was like holy shit, once I get my own squeeze pack machine, I won’t have any competition. So I found a 20-year-old machine that makes squeeze packs. We started making squeeze packs, and then we started to get people’s attention, because we were making something new and interesting. It gave people an opportunity to travel with it, or have a trial size, or even have portion control. That’s when things really took off for us. But also we were super-lucky with the timing, we basically made almond butter famous because no one was making it or giving it the credit it deserves.

That’s so interesting. Even though you were making these great nut butters, what really set you over the edge as a company were these unique extra products.
It’s a blessing and a curse, because now there’s all this expectation that I have to create something that’s really special, so now we’re trying all these new things to see what people connect with. It’s fun, but you want to make sure you create things that are purposeful, that solve a problem.

Your flavors are all unique too, and you mentioned writing ideas down in a notebook when you first started. So, how do you come up with your flavor combinations now?
When I first started, it was really all about the farmer’s market. And when I was there I must’ve had 12 different flavors to try. And someone would come up and want to try them all. And then they would say, 𠇍o you have plain peanut butter?” They loved all the flavors, but wanted something they could have every day. What I learned from the farmer’s market was that our top flavors were the simplest ones, honey, maple, and classic.

Well I eat the maple almond butter straight from the jar with a spoon, so I get it.
It used to be my favorite until we created maple cashew. They’re much more rich and buttery, and the maple interacts different with the almond than with the cashew. Almonds can be a little bitter so the maple balances that, but with the cashew it really enhances their flavor. Yet for peanut, I really don’t think the maple works. Peanuts are a little musty in flavor and when you add the maple it just doesn’t work as well.

I want to create products that people are going to use every day. So I want to find things that are really sensory yet really simple. Nothing too sweet or too salty. So, for me, it’s about trying to find that middle ground—I don’t want to eat really complex food. I think people just want to eat foods they recognize. I think what people love about nut butter is that there aren’t a whole lot of ingredients there, and the ones that are there, people know how to pronounce them and maybe where they come from. I really like that.

What’s next for Justin’s? Are there any new products that you’re excited about?
So, “the future of nuts,” which is what we’re calling it right now, revolves around three categories. One is nut butters. I think we’re always going to explore new nuts, whether it’s differents seeds, legumes, or nuts. The next area is around confection—the way I look at it, the world doesn’t need new candy it needs better candy. When we create a candy product, we have really high rules: It has to be 100 percent organic, come from conflict-free chocolate, and it has to have a protein component from nut butter. And then the third avenue, which I think is really endless, is around snacking. So we’re looking at snack mixes, different bar and bite concepts, and of course they’re all going to have this healthy nut butter component.

This interview has been edited and condensed for space and clarity.


Brami Lupini Bean Keto Hummus, Garlic & Rosemary

Net carbs: 0 grams

If you're looking for a zero net carb keto snack, Brami has you covered with its lupini bean-based hummus. Lupini beans are known to be virtually starch-free as the majority of lupini beans' carbohydrates are fiber. That's how Brami's hummus has 50% of the carbs of traditional garbanzo bean-based hummus.

We love that these single-serve keto hummus cups are shelf-stable, so you can store them in your pantry or take them on the go for when you need a keto snack to tide you over until your next meal. Besides the Garlic Rosemary flavor, Brami's hummus also comes in Calabrian pepper, Mediterranean olive, and original.


RXBAR Kids

The Cool Mom Eats staff recently tried these nutritious RXBAR protein bars for kids and we love them. In fact, Stacie’s kids are kind of obsessed. Each bar is made with two egg whites, 1 date, and nuts, giving them a total of 7 grams of protein. Plus, they have no added sugar, no gluten, no dairy, and no soy. Just three to four clean ingredients. Did I mention that we love the taste too?


Make-Ahead Meal-Replacement Shake

Shutterstock

"I'll use unsweetened almond milk, egg whites, collagen protein powder, Greek yogurt, frozen high-fiber fruit (blueberries and raspberries), sunflower seed butter, ground flaxseeds, and chia seeds. I put everything in the blender and into the refrigerator the night before (except for the frozen fruit, which I add in the morning) and blend quickly in the morning before I leave for work. This is one of my favorite breakfasts because it is so easy and takes minimal time to prepare. The combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber keeps me full and focused all morning long."


Healthy road trip snack ideas

This is my favorite part – sharing all the best road trip snacks — real food options for a tasty and healthy adventure!

Mix and match the basics

Road trip snacks can be kept ultra-simple with a few basics to mix and match – making sure that you have a source of fat and/or protein to pair with any carbs (including fruits and veggies).

Fruits

Some fruits are best kept whole until eaten (like apples and bananas), and others are more convenient to peel, trim, and chop in advance. But either way, rinse and dry them ahead of time.

These fruits are refreshing and a nutrient-rich sweet treat while sitting in the car:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Strawberries
  4. Blueberries
  5. Blackberries
  6. Raspberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Oranges
  10. Kiwi
  11. Melon
  12. Dried, unsweetened fruit

Veggies

Washing, drying, and chopping these raw veggies ahead is the way to go if they’ll be kept cold and enjoyed within a few days:

  1. Carrot sticks
  2. Sliced peppers
  3. Jicama
  4. Cherry tomatoes
  5. Snap peas
  6. Raw green beans
  7. Broccoli
  8. Cauliflower florets
  9. Radish
  10. Asparagus (yes, raw!)
  11. Celery
  12. Cucumber

Healthy fats

Fruits and veggies are great, but pairing them with these healthy fats is ideal for long-term sustenance:

  1. Avocado (carefully halved just before eating)
  2. Cheese (sliced, cubed)
  3. Toasted coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  4. Yogurt – full-fat, unsweetened (add your own) — makes an easy dip, too
  5. Whole pitted olives
  6. All-natural salami (free of nitrates/nitrites, antibiotics, and hormones)

Quality meats and proteins

These quality protein options are easy to transport, help control blood sugar, and are satiating:

  1. All-natural pepperoni (nitrate/nitrite-, antibiotic-, hormone-free)
  2. Summer sausage
  3. Deli meat (free of nitrates/nitrites, antibiotics, and hormones)
  4. Canned wild salmon
  5. Canned sardines or herring
  6. Canned tuna
  7. Canned organic chicken
  8. Beef jerky (all-natural)
  9. Turkey jerky
  10. Salmon jerky (EPIC)
  11. Smoked salmon
  12. Hard boiled eggs

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are the ultimate road trip snack by themselves or in a mixture with dried fruits. These snack options conveniently offer both healthy fats and proteins:

  1. Raw walnuts
  2. Raw almonds
  3. Raw cashews
  4. Raw Brazil nuts
  5. Raw pecans
  6. Macadamia nuts
  7. Pistachios
  8. Pumpkin seeds
  9. Sunflower seeds
  10. Pine nuts

Easy snacks to make ahead

A little time preparing healthy snacks in advance means easy eating on the road. These are some of our favorite make-ahead road trip foods:

Mason Jar Snacks and Meals

In my opinion, mason jars are undervalued. Jar salads, overnight oats, and parfaits are perfect for travel because the storage container also becomes the serving container, they are easy to pack, and they stay fresh for a few days when properly prepared and packed.

Healthy packaged snacks to buy

Full disclosure, even with the best of intentions, sometimes we all run out of time or energy to prepare all our own food in advance. Here’s a list of healthy snacks to buy — they can be found in most grocery stores and even convenience stores. Try:

  1. Raw nuts
  2. Dry roasted nuts
  3. Trail mix (avoid added sugars, unhealthy oils — like canola, soybean, and corn — and food coloring)
  4. Plantain chips (Inka, Barnana) chips
  5. Jerky and meat bars (Epic, Wild Zora)
  6. Nut and seed crackers (Mary’s, Hu)
  7. Yogurt drinks (Siggi’s)
  8. Hard boiled eggs (Vital Farms)
  9. Salami, cheese, olive packs
  10. Olive packs
  11. Dark chocolate
  12. Whole fruit
  13. Veggie packs
  14. Hummus
  15. Applesauce pouches
  16. Chia seed pouches (MamaChia)
  17. Smoothie pouches (Noka)
  18. Whole food energy bars (Rx,Kion, Thunder)
  19. Nut or seed butter packets (Rx, Justin’s) (seaweed)

Drinks

Not only do you need to eat on the road, but you need to stay hydrated. 95% of the time, our family drinks water, but occasionally, an alternative is nice.

Avoid soda, juice, and energy drinks. Instead, opt for these beverages on the road:

  1. Homemade green smoothies and herbal tea
  2. Coffee
  3. Coconut water
  4. Mineral water
  5. Lemon water with a sprinkle of sea salt

Remember your leftovers!

Before we jump on the road, we take a look in our fridge for any leftovers that can be easily eaten on the trip. Consider:

  1. Leftover sliced or chopped chicken, or turkey
  2. Leftover sliced steak
  3. Leftover sliced pork tenderloin (or chops)
  4. Leftover Roasted Root Vegetables
  5. Leftover baked potatoes

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Tasty and Healthy Lunchbox Snacks


House Foods Go Umami Bars: These are so brand-spanking new that they may be hard to find, but they’re worth hunting down. Tofu and shirataki noodle maker House Foods has come up with a portable tofu snack that provides 5 grams of plant protein for just 60 calories. Now before you go all, “Ewww, tofu bars,” these are baked, non-GMO tofu, which has a — pardon the expression — meatier texture and flavor than those water-packed white blobs. The bars, which do need to be refrigerated, come in three flavors: Savory, Hickory Smoke, and Orange Teriyaki.

Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers: Yes, we know that Stonyfield’s YoKids Squeezers come in a bunch of flavors, but we’re a little in love with the lemonade ones, especially after they’ve been tossed in the freezer. It’s also a great way to keep them safe in your kid’s lunchbox. Freeze them overnight and by lunchtime, they’ll be perfect. But take our advice — when you get the box of Squeezers home, toss the entire box in the freezer, and you’ll have the perfect 60-calorie frozen yogurt snack. The lemonade flavor ones are paired with blueberry in each 8-pack.

Seasnax Chomperz: We discovered these on a post-gym visit to a natural foods store, and we were thrilled to see that you could eat the entire 1-ounce bag for 80 calories. Chomperz are seaweed curls wrapped in rice, and they come in original, onion, barbecue, and jalapeno. Don’t go turning up your nose at the notion of seaweed — these little triangles are super tasty. We tried the jalapeno and liked the little kick of heat along with the crunch.

Vega Protein+ Snack Bars: Another newbie, these bars from Vega offer up plant-based protein in a 200-calorie bar that is just as tasty as a candy bar, only without the junk. The bars come in Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Caramel, the latter of which is a good choice for peanut-free classrooms.

Justin’s Snack Packs: The nut butter maker’s Snack Pack product line just got bigger with the addition of Justin’s Peanut Butter and Banana Chip Snack Packs. It comes in two flavors: Classic Peanut Butter + Banana Chips and Honey Peanut Butter + Banana Chips. If your school or your kid can’t do peanut butter, Justin’s also has Maple Almond Butter + Pretzels, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter + Pretzels, Classic Almond Butter + Pretzels, and Honey Almond Butter + Pretzels.
Go Raw Watermelon Seeds: Move over pumpkin seeds, there’s a new seedy snack in town and it’s something you usually discard — watermelon seeds. The only two ingredients listed are organic sprouted watermelon seeds and Celtic sea salt. These don’t look like those large black watermelon seeds you’ll find in your melon — instead, these seeds are sprouted and the shells removed, leaving a seed that looks a little like an off-white pumpkin seed. And like most seeds, watermelon seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. One ounce of watermelon seeds has 160 calories, 11 grams of fat (most of it polyunsaturated) and 10 grams of protein. In addition, watermelon seeds are high in magnesium, iron, zinc and copper.
What are your go-to healthy lunchbox snacks? Gail

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!