I’ve been looking for diabetic and keto diet compatible snacks, especially at prices that are affordable, and thought that the local Asian market might have some. They did! I’ll start buying them and reviewing them in the coming months. Subscribe to get updates.
Today’s snacks are salty, so if you have any dietary restrictions on salt, you can’t eat these.
Kotashima Dried Anchovy, 0g Carbs
First up is the dried anchovy by Kotashima. I expected this to be crunchy and fishy, but not salty. No such luck. It was firm and salty… and delicious.
Most people either love or hate the anchovy. I’m a lover, though I find the canned European style fish to be too salty. The dried, Asian style one is not quite so salty. There are also some Japanese and Korean style fish that aren’t salty at all. I think Kotashima, despite the Japanese name, is a Chinese or Taiwanese focused company.
This pack contains “2 servings”. It’s not true. It’s more like 4 servings.
The fish has NO CARBS, and a lot of protein.
It tastes salty, with a strong fish umami flavor. The head and guts are still in, so there’s a little bit of bitterness — and that’s part of the dried sardine aesthetic.
This gets a big thumbs up!
Dried Bean Curd Mix, by Hao Bao Shi, Hujifood
These are pressed/dried tofu squares seasoned with chilis, Chinese-tasting spices, oil, and a little sugar and a bit more salt. They aren’t dry, but more like extra firm tofu, and moist. It’s a little bit like jerky, but not as dry, and made of tofu.
The texture is not jerky, and more like a cross between a Slim Jim and a hot dog.
This is a mixed pack of four different flavors: Pickled Pepper, Spicy, 5 Spice, and BBQ (identified by a shish kebab). The flavors are slightly different, but more same than different. They all taste like salt and funky tofu, with a lot of umami.
They also have that aromatic flavor that some people describe as “stale”. The “spicy” one has a little bit of Sichuan peppercorn, aka Chinese prickly ash, and has that specific sensation.
The bag says one serving is 100g, which is almost half the bag. Trust me on this, you won’t eat more than four or five at a time. But, if you consume 100g, it has only 8g of carbs!
So a more realistic number is 2g or so after eating three or four.
So there you go, two potential keto snacks. They are both acquired tastes, but if you are into trying out snacks that give you a different taste sensation (and you’re bored of all the almond flour) try these salty-savory options.
Low Carb Asian Snack – Fried Fish with Peanuts – A Great Snack!
I had what may be the best tasting packaged snack ever. It’s a one-two punch of umami and sweetness followed by a mild heat, and mild pungency and bitterness of onion.
The numbers are pretty good. There are around 2, not 2.7 servings in the bag. Total carbs for 30 grams of snack? 5 grams of carbs. 170 calories, 9g protein, and 13g of fat.
The entire bag has less than 15 grams of carbs.
The big pouch contains several smaller pouches.
To eat this, you tear open a small pouch, which is slightly smaller than the peanuts they give on an airplane, and eat half, or all, of the pouch.
The photo on the cover shows fish, but the little pouches are mostly peanuts. You get some fish, but not as many as in the photo. (The search for fish snacks continues!)
The dried chile and onions reminded me of the dried vegetable pouches in some nicer ramen kits.
The flavors were fantastic. The peanuts were fresh, and the dried vegetables tasted exactly like what you’d think. You get the flavors in a sequence, first with salt and umami, and then the peanuts’ sweetness, and then the chile’s heat and onion’s pungent and bitter flavors. It’s an awesome taste explosion, and kind of addictive.
As with most Asian and Chinese snacks, it contains MSG. These are low-carb, but they weren’t developed for the American “eating clean” market.
Chicharron (Pork Cracklings), Keto Snack
But it’s not healthy, imnsho.
It’s low in carbs, but very high in fat, and high in cholesterol. Keto heads will probably disagree, but I don’t think there’s much point in inducing ketosis and then consuming lots of fat.
It’s also very high in sodium.
As far as flavor goes, I’ve really liked this snack for the past 30 years or so. At one time, in college, I was one of the only people buying these at the student store. I know, because I’d buy one from the rack, then return the next day, and the quantity wouldn’t have changed. Repeat four times before I would notice someone else had bought one.
Here are the numbers. The label shows the total with the included sauce packet.
Fat 6g, carbs 1g, protein 8g. This is for a small 15g serving.
Triple it for the bagfull.
Without the sauce packet, just use the numbers for regular chicharron with the fat attached. This is for Guerrero’s chicharron.
Fat 6g, carbs 0g, protein 7g. This is for a 14g serving.
Sodium is still 360mg, which, while not as high as with the sauce, is still quite high.
One workaround for the sodium is to use the ingredient chicharron, rather than the snack bag. The ingredient is blander and harder. You can heat these up to make them crisper.
Pork Rinds or Cracklings?
I think there are at least four different kinds of chicharron.
Pork rinds are the most familiar – they are almost fluffy, and don’t have any “hard parts”.
Cracklings are also fairly common, and it’s skin with the skin farther down, and some fat attached.
There’s chicharron with skin and meat attached. You find this at some Mexican and Central American markets.
Then there’s the kind in large sheets, that’s got the fat removed, but is also not always crunchy. This is meant to be cooked.
There’s the range of Filipino and Chinese chicharron, but they are mostly like “pork rinds”, but include other animal parts like the maw (stomach), and include fish parts.
Colombian chicharron is a dish of pork, pork fat, and the skin fried up. It’s served hot and oily.
Chinese roast pork is a little like that chicharron, too.
Crisp Broad Bean Snacks, Low Carb or Not?
I came across some confusing information about the Crisp Broad Bean (Fava Bean) snack. One pack from Tong Hsing Foods said it had 5g of carbs per 50g serving. The other, Nice Choice from Hurng Fur Foods, said it had 14g per 30g serving.
I reviewed the Tong Sing beans before, and was blown away that they were only 10% carbs.
In contrast, the Nice Choice brand is 47% carbs. That’s nearly half carbs!
I don’t think both these labels can be correct, can they?
The Nice Choice beans had a strong umami flavor. The ingredients didn’t list MSG, but MSG is a salt, and salt was an ingredient. These beans were slightly sweeter than the Tong Hsing, but not by much.
The Tong Hsing beans also had an umami flavor, but was offset by a stronger garlicky flavor.
Both beans had a similar, hard crunchy texture. Both came with the skins attached, for extra crunch.
So I don’t think there’s a discernable sugar difference between these beans.
Looking at Macros
Here’s what 30 grams of beans looks like.
According to Nice Choice, this has 150 calories, 6g of fat, 90mg sodium, 14g carbs, of which 3g are fiber, and 8g of protein.
According to Tong Hsing, this has 55 calories, 3g of fat, 400mg sodium, 3g of carbs, 0.6g of fiber, and 4g of protein. (I recalculated their nutrition facts, which were based on a 50g serving.)
They don’t seem to taste that different. Both are roughly equally salty, but one claims to be four times as laden with sodium.
Also, add up the macro numbers:
Nice Choice: 6 + 14 + 8 = 28g
Tong Hsing: 3 + 3 + 4 = 10g
What are the other 20g in the Tong Hsing product? Water? It’s not 2/3 water.
Let’s compare this to some other products.
Roasted Golden Chickpeas: 30g serving, 120 calories, 1.5g fat, 290mg sodium, 21g carbs, 5g protein. 1.5 + 21 + 5 = 26.5g.
Wasabi Peas: 30g serving, 79 calories, 3.3g fat, 209mg sodium, 12g carbs, 1g protein. 3.3 + 12 + 1 = 16.3g.
Hmmm… I wonder if the wasabi weighs a lot. Maybe this has an error.
I’m not going to execute a caloriemeter burn test, where I ignite some beans and measure how much energy is released, but I may do so in the future. Let’s just say my first attempt didn’t go so well.
I have no conclusions to make here. I’m just pretty disappointed that this new-found snack may not really be low-carb. I’ll grant that the overall profile is nicer than these competitors. The carbs are pretty low for a snack food, and it has fiber and no sugars.
Can anyone give me some advice about further testing?
Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds) and Edamame (Soybean) Snacks for Keto?
I went to the Dollar Tree and found a couple more snacks that might be compatible with keto: Hot and Spicy Pepitas (Squash Seeds with Chile) and Dry Roasted Edamame.
The pepitas were good. The bag was “bolsa gigante”, but not really, at only 63.8g of product. It was 2 servings, but you eat the whole bag.
They tell you the nutritional information for the whole bag!
Woo hoo! 7 grams of carbs. 32g of fat (they must fry this), and 18g of protein. Unfortunately, that fat = 360 calories, so it’s not going to help your low calorie diet. It helped blow my day away.
It also tastes good.
The second candidate: soy snacks. I was looking, specifically, for soy nuts. Nobody sells them. So this was second best. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the expiration date, and it was too old to eat. Normally, I’d just eat them, but they looked like grubs had gotten at the skins and seeds.
That’s just a warning: check the dates on bean-like snacks. If moths or other bugs got at the food, the eggs will eventually hatch, and the little worms will eat the snacks.
I’m pretty sure it’s safe to eat the snacks with the worms or pupae in there, but it just gave me an icky feeling.
The numbers aren’t that great. It’s 8g for 30g of food. That’s around 25% carbs, and 4g of it are sugars.
Compare that to the pumpkin seeds, at 7g for 60g of food. That’s just over 10%. The soybeans are more than 2X as carb-y.
This is not as bad as the crisp broad bean snack fiasco, when some mislabling misled me to think they were only 10% carbs, when, in fact, they were more like 50% carbs.
The only thing about soybeans and broad beans (fava or lima beans) as a snack are that they also contain fiber, so you might not suffer a blood glucose (BG) spike. You can probably consume them as a workout snack, as well, using them for slow-release energy.
Being as I’m still obese, I don’t really need that slow-release energy, because I’m carrying 70 pounds of high-fat slow-release energy on my body.
Eating Too Many Peanuts for Keto
Roasting my own peanuts has been a great way to eat tastier peanuts, and save money, but I finally started tracking my own consumption, and it was five ounces of nuts yesterday. I know I’ve eaten more in the past.
1 ounce has 4.6g carbs, and 2.2g net carbs. That’s not bad, but multiply it by 5 and you have 11g net carbs, or roughly the same as 1/2 of a slice of bread. So, it’s a good idea to keep track and not go overboard.
Here’s what different amounts of peanuts look like. 1 ounce is a few mouthfuls. If I fill the Chinese rice bowl up to the top with peanuts, it’s 4 ounces. The same 4 ounces almost covers the bottom of a frying pan.
My current recipe and technique is simple. Low heat, covered, get the nuts up to temperature. Then shake it every minute or so, to roll the nuts. They’ll get browned in parts.
You want the heat low so it cooks through, and develops a golden color. Scorching it a little also helps develop flavor.
When they look done, pour them into a bowl, then add a half teaspoon of olive oil, or any kind of oil, and mix. Sprinkle on whatever spices or flavorings you want.
Let it cool for 15 minutes or so, and the nuts will harden and also soak up the olive oil.
A different way to season it is to use a slurry of spices, salt, and water. You add that to the roasting peanuts, in the pan, and shake until dry. Let it cool in the pan.
I prefer the oil method for the added flavors from the oil.