There's nothing more fun about doing food reviews than when I get to nom-nom a metric ton of carbs, except this time I get to do it guilt-free. The Great Low Carb Bread Company is a small operation based in North Hollywood and they specialize in helping people restrict their carbohydrate intake while not going batcrap insane. It's January, a popular month for cutting back on the amount of processed doughy white flour goodness that we shove into our faces as we desperately go seeking replacement options for said doughy white flour goodness. Welp, look no further, dear readers. Great Low Carb Bread Company has a little bit of everything: bread, bagels, granola, muffins, brownies, hamburger and hotdog buns, pizza crust, and more. They sent me a sampler box of some goodies to photograph and review and they have even offered to send one of our lucky readers a free sampler of low carb products. So, be sure you stick around to the very end of the post for details on how to enter!
When my package arrived I was instructed to keep everything frozen except the granola, so into the freezer they went until I was ready to try each one.
The first thing I grabbed was the bag of multigrain bagels. Being able to eat bagels on the regular while trying to maintain a healthy macro split made me sit up and pay attention. I was so excited when my package arrived that I could barely wait until the next morning to try one out for breakfast. Good thing they were frozen or I would have slammed one into my face the second they came out of the box. I would not recommend doing this while the bagels are still frozen or you will most likely be picking your teeth up off the floor. I'm no lawyer, but I don't think a lack of carbohydrate self control will win you a dime.
Here's what they look like out of the package and after allowing them to thaw for a bit on the counter. You can see the little bits of grain sprinkled throughout from the almond flour, flax seed meal and oat fiber listed in the ingredients. At first glance, they get a pass as regular ole carbo-loaded bagels, but these puppies only have 2 net carbs and 120 calories a pop.
The bagels do not come pre-sliced, so after halving them I found an open crumb with wide air holes. It had a warm unbleached coloring on the inside and the flecks of grain continued throughout the inside. When I poked it with my finger I found it to be a little stiffer than a regular bagel.
I decided to start the test drive by eating these the simplest way you can eat a bagel - lightly toasted with a little butter (I used Smart Balance). The bagel was somewhat chewy and I didn't notice a distinct flavor in the bread itself, but it did actually taste like bread, and that is something that most low carb products lack. The texture was pretty convincing. I finished one half with just the Smart Balance and then added a little peanut butter to the other. That was a good idea. The bagel was still slightly warm and the peanut butter got a little melty and softened up the toasted bagel to perfection.
The next morning I made more of a typical low carb breakfast and ate each half (buttered and toasted again) open face with a thin slice of deli turkey, a fried egg, and a little shredded cheese. This was delicious! The bagels filled in that carbo gap that is missing in most totally low carb breakfasts. The added protein covered up any lingering yeah-this-is-low-carb-bread flavors and this was a tasty and satisfying meal. Had me fooled for sure, I felt like I was eating a big fat doughy bagel with 6,000 carbs.
I enjoyed it so much that the next morning, and several mornings after, I ate pretty much the same thing. Sometimes open face, sometimes sandwich style. I bet these would also be delicious smeared with some cream cheese and fresh fruit - yum yum!
Would I buy it again? Absolutely. I looked forward to my bagel sandwich each morning and was sad when the bag was empty. I felt like I was indulging in a higher carb breakfast when in reality I was only adding 2 net carbs and 120 cals to my intake for the day.
Next I tried the Everything Bread at 60 calories and only 1 net carb per slice. The bag contains about 16 slices, and each slice is a bit smaller than a traditional commercial loaf bread - maybe by ⅓ or so, if I were to toss a guess out there.
Here's a coupla slices after allowing them to thaw a bit on my counter. The bread has a tight crumb and the crust is covered in the traditional "Everything" mixture of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and onion and garlic pieces.
The first night we ate them toasted and buttered alongside a chicken zucchini noodle ("zoodle") stir fry. When tasting the bread by itself I found it to be very sturdy and I liked the flavoring on the crust, but felt that the inside, like the bagel, needed a little something more. A hit of extra salt maybe, I'm not sure. When eaten with the stir fry, however, it again made a nice transport vehicle and as the stir fry juices soaked into the bread it was a nice flavor combination with the grainy seedy goodness sprinkled on the crust.
Another night we were planning to have a simple dinner of pulled chicken that had been slow cooking all day, drizzled with barbecue sauce and served alongside some roasted vegetables. I pulled a few more slices out of the freezer, toasted them under the broiler, and topped them with the barbecue chicken. It was a big success and even my picky husband loved it. The toasted slices are really sturdy, which made it easy to just pick up the whole thing and take a bite without the chicken toppling back down onto the plate. We gave each other high fives at only adding a couple of net carbs to an otherwise very low carb meal.
Would I buy it again? Yes. I think these work better as a dinner bread or side dish bread mainly because of the size. I think the texture works best when toasted and don't see this being used as a sandwich bread in my house, but I love the idea of being able to have bread with weekday dinners again without the extra carbo load (and subsequent carbo crash).
The Maple Paleo Granola comes in a 4 ounce bag and has 2 net carbs and 160 calories per ¼ cup serving.
Here's a clearer version of the nutrition label. Glancing at the ingredient list you can see that it is missing the typical oats and honey that are found in most granola, but that's expected in a low carb variety. What I liked was seeing three of my favorite nuts - almonds, pecans, and walnuts - right up there at the top of the list!
Why did I put the granola into a mini cast iron skillet? Two reasons. One, my husband gave me the aforementioned skillet for Christmas for the specific purpose of using it in food photos, and two, this IS a food blog after all, so aren't I expected to do impractical and borderline stupid things with food? I mean, I still feel a little inadequate here. I feel like I should have wrapped it up in some parchment paper and baker's twine to really give it that "food blogger" feel.
Anyway, back to the granola. The bag was full of big hearty hunks and had a robust nutty flavor. There are big slices of almonds, generous hunks of walnuts, and chopped pecans. It was sweetened just the tiniest bit, just enough to not give the nuts a candied flavor, but I felt that the maple flavor could have been a lot stronger. I really had to search for it. This stuff is great as a nut-a-licious low carb granola, but I didn't see it as truly a maple granola.
Would I buy it again? I wouldn't re-buy this particular flavor, but browsing through Great Low Carb's website I am intrigued by some of the other flavors like the soft cereal coconut granola and cinnamon!
The chocolate chip muffin took a bit longer to thaw than the breads, probably due to the fact that it's denser and thicker. Each muffin has only 50 calories which I thought was impressive for its size!
Here's a clearer version of the nutrition label. There's a whopping 10 grams of fiber per muffin which helps lower the total net carbs and again this product is sweetened using Stevia.
The size of the muffin is somewhere between a mini cupcake and a full-sized muffin. I thought it was a decent size for something sweet to have after a meal and for only 50 calories it's a pretty generous portion.
Cracking this puppy open I noticed that the crumb was dense and pretty crumbly, but not necessarily dry. Using egg whites and water in baked goods are notorious for causing dryness but when I sank my teeth into the muffin I found it to have a pleasant texture. Definitely fall-aparty and not like a typical muffin, but still enjoyable. There was a really nice flavor as well and I'm gonna guess that comes from the use of peanut flour and oil - I got some subtle nutty notes in there somewhere. I'm happy to have any actual flavor in a low carb baked item since they are notorious for being quite bland. I could eat these muffins plain without feeling like I need to dress them up with butter or other spreads (although that would be tasty!)
The sweetness was just enough, not overly cloying. The chocolate chips were only found on the top - none inside. I would have liked a few of more of 'em for an extra chocolatey kick, but I'm gonna guess that the crumb of the muffin may not be able to support the heavy chips without them just falling to the bottom. Just a guess. Overall, I really liked this.
Would I buy it again? Sure. It's a great low-calorie AND low carb snack that totally satisfies the need to have a lil' somethin' sweet after a meal.
Nowww we're talkin' - a chocolate brownie for only 55 calories and 3 net carbs. This one thawed out very quickly on my counter. I took it out of the freezer before I started making lunch and by the time I was finished eating it was ready to be devoured.
It's a nice sized little chunk of brownie and when I touched it to bring it out of the package, bits of soft fudgy chocolate stuck to my fingers. I couldn't wait to take a bite.
Ohh this had me at the first bite. It was so moist and fudgy I really couldn't believe that it's low carb and low calorie - it is really, REALLY good considering its nutritional profile. It has a strong chocolate flavor that is just the right balance of sweetness and allows the natural bitterness of the cocoa to come through. As I chewed, the velvety chocolate melted away in my mouth. No dryness or chalkiness and no aftertastes that I could detect. Seriously, it was delectable.
I shared this brownie with my husband who is much pickier and more opinionated than I am when it comes to food. For real, if he were to write reviews for this blog I guarantee you 90% of them would consist of some version of, "No sir, I don't like it." When I'm really raving about something and he backs me up with a similarly positive response, I know I've really found something special. He LOVED this brownie.
Would I buy it again? YES YES YES! I just wish there were bulk options for buying a whole pan!
My overall impressions were that Great Low Carb has got a really good thing going here and I really hope to see them get widespread distribution very soon. For now, you can order directly from their website or you can click here for a list of other online retailers as well as a few local stores in SoCal that carry the products. I'm kinda already planning my next order - I'm missing my egg and turkey bagel sandwich in the mornings!
GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY OMG IT'S A GIVEAWAY!
The folks at Great Low Carb are offering a prize pack of 1 loaf of bread, 1 bag of bagels, and 1 bag of granola and you get to pick the flavors! This giveaway ends January 30th at 11:59pm EST. Here's how to enter:
Required Entry: Comment on this blog post and tell me which flavors of bread, bagels, and granola that you want if you win! (flavors here)
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Winners will be contacted via email so make sure you leave a valid email address with your blog comment! Open to our U.S. readers only.
Disclosure: Great Low Carb Bread company sent me some products to review for the creation of this post. I do not accept free product or compensation in return for a fully positive review - all opinions are my own. If it sucks, I'll tell y'all!