Not So Sensible Portions: A Closer Look at Veggie Straws

veggie straws

There’s a new snack in town.

Have you seen them?  To me, it seems like Veggie Straws from Sensible Portions are every where.  For sure, the company is doing some clever promotions.  They recently conducted a contest with NYU Tisch Film students to create a viral commercial for Veggie Straws.   Here’s one of the student films…

A sensible solution to eating your vegetables? I don’t think so. Nice ad, but these veggie straws are a far cry from a real vegetable.

Sensible Portions has been reaching out to media in a big way.  I agreed to accept free products to review (more about that later), and I’ve seen lots of coverage raving about the snacks.  In fact, the sweet barbecue flavored Potato Straws were just honored as one of the best low-calorie snacks of 2011 by Shape magazine.

“Enjoy the smoky-sweet flavor of barbecue chips for 30% less fat.  One staffer said:  These are so good, I felt like I was being bad by eating them.”

Hence my problem with these  so-called “healthy” snacks.   For starters, why does this Shape staffer feel “bad” when eating real barbecue chips, and why does she feel like she’s getting a free pass by eating these “better-for-you” barbecue straws (or so it seems by her comment: they taste so good that they have to be bad, but they’re not, so I can eat even more?)

These Sensible Portions chips are trying so hard to be good.  The package label includes a long list of boastful claims:  All natural ingredients, 30% less fat than the leading potato chip, 0g trans fat, no preservatives, cholesterol-free, non-GMO and kosher oil.  The Sensible Portions web site touts “next generation in healthy foods,” but I couldn’t find  nutrition and ingredient information any where on the site (which was a big red flag for me).  It was only until I received the product samples could I really tell what these snacks were all about.   And I got to taste them.

That’s where my disappointment comes in.  You would think these snacks were simply dehydrated vegetables the way  the package looks and how glowing the praise has been. Not so.  These fry-shaped chips really have very little to do with real vegetables.  The “Garden Veggie Straws” are a puffed up, extruded mixture of potato flour, sunflower oil and corn starch with some tomato puree, spinach powder, salt, sugar and turmeric.  Do they have the nutrients of  vegetables?  Hardly.  0% vitamin A, 0% calcium, 2% vitamin C, 2% iron, 1 g fiber. And I thought they tasted awful.

So why compare yourself to vegetables?  The clever commercials are misleading. Just be a chip.

And are they really such a better chip?  Heck, if I wanted a chip, I’d have a chip that tasted good. The label claims 30% less fat than the leading potato chip  (7 grams in Veggie Straws vs. 10 grams in leading potato chip).  But you could buy baked potato chips and only get 3 grams of fat!  The Sensible Portions sweet barbecue Potato Straws contain 130 calories and 7 grams of fat per 1-oz. bag, while the same amount of barbecue Baked Lay’s contains 120 calories and 3 grams of fat.  So this “30% less fat” really depends on what chip you typically buy.

To me, this is the “health halo” hard at work. Studies show that people end up eating even more of a low-fat snack because they think they’re being good. And they’re apt to enjoy it even less. When you’re eating a potato chip, you know what it is. And that tends to make people eat more in moderation. With all of these “healthy cues” on a product (even if undeserving), people tend to let their guard down. So people may end up eating twice as many of these Sensible Portion snacks because they’re so “healthy.”

How sensible is that?

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  • Brandon

    I like these posts. But I would disagree with “When you’re eating a potato chip, you know what it is. And that tends to make people eat more in moderation.” Chips are the kind of food that are hard to put down, and they aren’t filling, and they are easy to mindlessly eat, so I don’t think its easy to eat them in moderation. A lot of kids I work with tell me when they open up a bag of hot cheetos or taqi’s they eat the whole bag.

  • Janet Helm

    I hear you about mindlessly eating…and it’s hard to stop once your hand is in a big bag of chips. But you don’t think that’s the same case with these so-called healthy chips? Studies repeatedly show that people will eat more if a snack has a low-fat label. They’ll end up eating twice the calories compared to a regular snack. The real point of my post is that these are not really healthy chips. They’re not at all close to a vegetable like they want you to think…and if you want a lower fat chip, buy baked potato chips. And you’re only really saving about 20 calories with this Veggie Straws. I just think you’re going to make up for it by eating more of these Thanks for your visit.

  • Totally agree! If you want a chip, eat a chip! Eat one serving and move on with your life. Same goes with other “bad” foods. I try to educate people that if you’re eating healthy and exercising regularly, enjoying an occasional treat can be apart of your diet. Still, it seems as though the concept of enjoying foods in moderation is a difficult one. And so our work as dietitians continue……:)

  • Just be a chip, love it Janet. I refuse to eat anything that doesn’t taste great, I think that’s sensible. I think I know the Shape Mag list you were referring to and let’s just say I didn’t find many of those healthy snacks to be very healthy. Then again, I like real veggies (and real potato chips) and that probably wouldn’t sell.

  • “Do they have the nutrients of vegetables? Hardly.”

    I agree with you. No processed food can equal the nutrients found in fresh or slightly cooked vegetables, though they claim of having veggies natural ingredients.

    Whatever they say, these are junk foods and junk foods offer less health benefits.


  • Fantastic post! These healthy imposer snacks are really starting to drive me nuts. The only way to get a serving of vegetables is to actually eat REAL vegetables. Of course there are always creative and innovative ways to add and incorporate them into foods, that does not involve completely rearranging them into an unrecognizable man-made substance, such as Veggie Straws.

  • Sharon B.

    I agree that they’re trying to make the product look “good.” I’m looking for a good recipe (will probably attempt my own*) using rice as a binder(?), and extruded blended veggies. I’ll use my dehydrator instead of baking.

    *Look out! Mad scientist at work!

  • Swami Nathan

    Good points.

    Bought this for my kid at Toys r us and shocked to find that these are mostly potato

  • Alee

    I liked what you had to say in your post, except for I want to defend this brand & their “Veggie Straws. I honestly love them! I checked out the nutrition facts & was well aware that they are not what I would consider healthy. I am not a chip person, I think they are actually gross and tend to have a hard time enjoying them. YET these straws are super yummy, plus I love their shape. For some reason the straw shape is much more enjoyable for me then the flat circular chip shape.

    In my own opinion these are awesome (although I would prefer they don’t advertise to be healthy…), so I would suggest them if someone were to ask me for something yummy.

  • Jason

    Thank you! I was doing the same – trying to find ingredients on their website, but since I couldn’t find any, that told me enough right there. So, to find out the real ingredients from you definitely validates my concern – they were hiding the crummy ingredients from us! Great how these processed food manufacturers can act like they’re all healthy when they’re not even close.

  • Sensible Portions Lover

    The reason I like these so much is because while they’re not much better than typical chips, the fact remains that you get many more pieces per serving due to their individual light weight. And they are delicious. Try weighing a portion of regular chips and a portion of any of these products (especially the straws) and see the difference as to how many pieces you get PER SERVING. Serving size goes by weight.

  • Ashley

    Ok your not really proving your point in some way I have bought these chips and i dont even eat as much as it says on the bag its just to much so no not everyone sees you can eat more and eats more. its called will power ppl dont be fatty’s and eat all the chips eat a little with lunch and you will be good its better then eating those other chips on the market

  • Still a Mom

    I remember a simple rule an older friend shared with me: Sugarless = artificial sweetener, Fat free = sugar, No artificial flavors added = salt, Sodium free = sugar and when it says all four, it is going to taste like cardboard! The danger is not in a snack, but when a snack replace real food. These are being added to lunches for children and called a vegetable. That is where the danger truly is!

  • Courtney

    I thought these were pretty good, but definitely have a weird taste. They came with a sandwich I got at a cafe. I’d rather have potato chips. These don’t have any extra health benefits – just marketing to those people who want to eat healthy, but are too stupid to do research. They see veggie straws and think they are something special. Try buying kale chips instead – yummy and at least a ton of vitamins!

  • Patrick Casey

    You’re crazy man! They are delicious! And 68 piecesz in a single serving! That’s incredible! I much prefer these to chips!

  • Mangomutt

    My mom bought us these chips because she said they were healthy and better for us. I’ll tell her they are just the same thing. But, I have to disagree with you in the taste, me & my sisters actually love eating these chips. There actually pretty tasty! I love eating them with hot sause or something because there pretty plain.

  • Tonia


    • James_Jim

      Her comment is exactly what I got in diabetes nutrition re-education. Basically, when a processed food producer subtracts one or more so-called unhealthy ingredients, you end up much larger amounts of other so-called unhealthy ingredients to make up for it – most of the time with a less healthy net effect.

      The number of people on low/no sodium, low/no fat, low/no cholesterol, low/no sugar, low/no gluten, low/no diets is astoundingly high, especially since none of them are nutritionists or have any particular medical reason for eliminating a specific item. The latest fad-craze producing pronouncement by some talk or blog host, sometimes with some financial interest in generating the fad, is the only reason.

      “Feel good about yourself and your choices” sells real well and marketing professionals at major processed food companies are grandmasters at selling it in spite of the realities of what you are buying, eating, and whether it is actually good for you.

  • Julius Haynes

    I have tried veggie straws albeit not the brand you’re discussing. I actually like them. I am not eating them to replace vegetables in my daily diet, that would be ludicrous but I do eat them to replace the completely unhealthy chips and snacks that line the grocery store shelves. No processed product is going to replace natural products, they can only serve as an alternative to poisons that we currently place in our bodies.

  • Dino

    The packaging is different now. So is the nutrition. I think they have new flavor of chips as well! Does anyone know where I can buy these in Oregon state? I looked at .My local Costco no longer sells them! The prices to buy these online is too much for me as well. Overall they are pretty healthy chips to give my son to bring to school.

  • Paul

    yummy! we can eat this with moderation right? i dont think there’s no wrong with that as long you know your limits..Thanks for posting!

    zerona san antonio tx

  • Gleanna CreepyTurtle Tompkins

    My grandpa has this habit of shopping at BJ’s (bulk store like Costco or Sam’s Club) and he brought home this giant case of these things the other day. I’m sitting here trying these for the first time and I must say, the Zesty Ranch ones actually taste pretty good. I’m not really a big chip person but I could eat these on occasion. I was right, however, to be skeptical as to how “healthy” they are.

  • Cynthia Clark

    Hey clueless-they’re a snack, not to be confused with an actual vegetable. If you thought so then that’s on you. I did not get that from the commercial nor would I take any such claim to heart. Give people a little bit of credit here.

    • Janet

      I’m clueless? I don’t think so. I’m pointing out that these products should not be marketed as a substitute for vegetables. They’re trying to make you believe that you can count these toward your daily vegetable servings. That’s where I have a problem.

  • Drew Steele

    It’s a snack plain and simple. They taste good, are as healthy for you as Lays Baked Regular potato chip, and are a snack. Oh they are a snack and not a meal (although many would eat them as a meal). If you are on a diet don’t forget they are a snack.

  • Carly Jones

    Totally agree with this. These are nasty and have nothing to do with vegetables and health.

    • pickles4lyfe

      well shit

  • Chipster

    I tried the Straws this week, thought they tasted okay, not greasy like tater chips, but they are way too hard and crunchy – they scratched the inside of my mouth and made a sore spot. My dogs like them.

    • pickles4lyfe

      Its harmful for dogss

  • Vectoriousl

    I honestly don’t like them. I didn’t buy the veggie straws but I did buy the veggie crisp and they were disgusting. They were the sea salt flavor not a special flavor and they came in a cylinder container like Pringles. That’s where I first went wrong. I was really in the mood for veggie chips and so I said I’ll try them. Disgusting. Salty. And tasted, looked, and gross as Pringles. Never again. Sucks to find out the company that owns this brand also owns the terra brand. An actual good natural food brand.

    • pickles4lyfe

      veggie chips and veggie straws are different.. VERY DIFFERENT THINGS!!!
      Get the facts straight

      • Vectoriousl

        Obviously they are processed differently but still have the same basic ingredients and additives so my facts are clear thanks. They are just not worth purchasing again in any form.

  • Kat

    No processed snacks, such as chips, are allowed in our house, unless they are organic. This is the only processed snack that I let my son have a few times a week. He is happy that he can eat chips. And I am glad I can give him a break and it has no GMOs.

  • lor

    These arent a replacement for veggies , just a smarter choice than eating potato chips. Health benefits? Not really, other than the fact that one can get more satisfaction out of the serving size per calorie amount (good if you are watching calories and still feel the need for a potato snack).
    Are there better healthier snack options out there? Absolutely. But i enjoy these when craving potato chips and I actually like the taste better. It’s your duty as a consumer to care about what you put into your body. You do the research . If you are lazy enough to think that everything labeled as healthy is actually good for you ..then that is on you.

  • Evie

    I used to consume 2-3 bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in a sitting. I could just sit there and eat and eat and eat and eat mindlessly without every taking a second look. It took A LOT for me to let go of them, and Veggie Chips helped. No they’re not vegetables, but they’re not Kale Chips either – Which..for someone like me, I can’t just make the leap from Flamin’ Hots to Kale Chips! I’m trying to eat a little better, but I like chips and this is a decent alternative with the “Per Serving” ratio…

  • jason jason

    ok but just know you are only fooling yourself if you think its healthier.

  • DevonTexas

    It’s like when the cigarette suppliers caem out with “light” brands, touting that they were less nicotine than “regular” cigs but most people smoked more to make up for the missing nicotine.

    • Allen F Butcher

      When it came to cigarettes, “Light” and “Ultra Light” meant more than less nicotine. They actually did have less tar in the smoke that you actually inhaled(mostly because they perforated the filter to allow more air in per inhale), than the “Full flavor” of the same brand. Technically, this did make for a “healthier” cigarette. They will still kill you, just a little slower. This is why the government mandated the removal of the “Light” and “Ultra-light” labels from cigarettes.
      Food companies’ labeling standard are different than tobacco, though. They can make the serving size smaller and claim they are healthier, or say “Less fat, etc. per serving.” Of course it’s less fat(or whatever) per serving. You made the serving size smaller. It’s like those 100 calorie snacks that every snack food manufacturer makes. They aren’t any better for you, its just smaller.

  • James_Jim

    Not as healthy as a Baked Lays chip. I know people who buy big bags of these, have never read the nutrition labels, and eat them continuously during the day because they are “vegetables.” A 130 calorie is not a small part of daily intake. Four servings is the size of a Big Mac.

    • Joshua DeLapp

      The fact that people don’t read the labels isn’t isn’t the fault of the product, James_Jim. You could do the same thing with a Baked Lays chip.

      Also there’s an argument to be made regarding service size. There are 15 chips per serving for regular Baked Lays; there are 38 per serving for the straws. If you’re looking for something that you can snack on idly, to try and combat ongoing munchies, you’re going to get more “distance” out of the straws.

  • pickles4lyfe


  • Tecumseh Newberry

    The grammar struggle is real.

  • Civil DK

    As with ANY and EVERY THING we eat, eat all you want, stop worrying about it, ACCEPT ‘when you over eat’. Stop pandering, catering and criticizing what ‘others’ enjoy just cause you don’t enjoy it. I’ll eat ‘every’ brand of chip I read on this topic. I won’t care till i’m sick on the salt or my hands are beyond gross from reaching in the bag for crumbs. Pass the 150% extra fat dip please.

  • David Berry

    This type of article drives me a little crazy. First off, I ,like most people, are fully aware that we are not substituting our vegetable intake with this snack. So why insult our intelligence by saying so. I originally searched the topic,” are veggie straws better then regular chips”. That is pretty self explanatory. Are they better? Yes, and like everything, in moderation. More on what drives me a little crazy about this article. Why so negative? I can answer that. This tone of writing has become dominant in American today. Did it originate here, no, I thing we imported it from Europe. But now that is is here, I call in a good ol’ dose of American Guilt. Simply put, most people who write these articles think that it is uncool to to actually approve of anything. So basically, the tone of everything is, “if you must” or “you pathetic creature” indulge but those of use from on high are looking down our noses at you. I think I will stick to my live and let live attitude. Thanks for the insight in this article. I did glean a few tidbits of useful information so credit must be given where credit is due. Thanks.

    • Ok, David. I think you’re a bit harsh. First, I approve of a lot of things…and truly believe that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation. My beef, is why should they compare themselves to a vegetable. If you look at the video, that’s exactly what they’re trying to imply. Sure, I think people are smarter than that…my concern is with the company even TRYING to align so closely to vegetables. And if you read my entire post (before getting so angry) you would know that these snacks are not necessarily better than other chips. It depends on what type of potato chips. I agree, it’s not worth wringing your hands over it…and enjoy them if you like them. My wish is that companies would stop trying to make these products appear healthier than they really are.

      • Sheila Penny

        I disagree, there are an astounding number of people who are not smart enough to know this.

  • Lee

    I personally love the straws as a snack. I’ve only just bought the Veggie and the Apple Cinnamon flavors and much prefer these to potato chips which I no longer buy. I think the Baked Lays Potato Chips are horrible. If you do a little research, the process of frying potatoes into chips produces a chemical which is a carcinogenic. If I find that the Straws containing potato flour are also fried, I’ll no longer buy them either. It isn’t worth the risk to me with so many other choices out there.

  • Maria Reis

    A coworker gave me a bag. I took one look at the ingredients and gave it back. No thanks!

  • prayingmantistimetraveler

    I don’t know one person who would think these were a vegetable. They are a delicious snack.

  • ToddHodge

    Just came across this post and I’m glad it was written. I totally agree; I picked up some of these Veggie straws, on a road trip, because the vegetables on the bag, along with a lot of boasting “30% less fat than regular chips” had me thinking I could get a chip-like snack that was more healthy than a regular bag of chips. I tasted them and they do taste terrible. When I finally read the ingredient list, I could see why: tomato paste, check, spinach powder, check, potato starch, check. Yup. I could agree: that’s exactly what I tasted. I had a hankering for chips, but never would I willingly want to snack on crispy tomato paste instead. Hardly healthy.

  • ToddHodge

    Just came across this post and I’m glad it was written. I totally agree; I picked up some of these Veggie straws, on a road trip, because the vegetables on the bag, along with a lot of boasting “30% less fat than regular chips” had me thinking I could get a chip-like snack that was more healthy than a regular bag of chips. I tasted them and they do taste terrible. When I finally read the ingredient list, I could see why: tomato paste, check, spinach powder, check, potato starch, check. Yup. I could agree: that’s exactly what I tasted. I had a hankering for chips, but never would I willingly want to snack on crispy tomato paste instead. Hardly healthy.

  • Raquel Frame

    I have a friend with Dementia who exclusively eats cheese and veggie straws. I take her to a restuarant daily to insure she gets her real veggies

  • R. Grande

    I ate these regularly until recently. Had no big problem with the ingredients and thought they were really good. Then we got a bag that tasted a little “off”. Too salty, not the same quality of crunch, not the same feeling when eating a lot of them. I bought them 3 more times, and each time it got a bit worse. Now they bloat my stomach like a balloon until the next day, make me feel not right, my system dislikes them more every time I eat them. My husband also loved them. Not as bad for him but he doesn’t like the way he feels after he eats them either anymore. Something changed with these chips a few months ago and we’re done with them as of today. I searched out this blog because I wanted to put my experience out there. Maybe it’s just us, but our systems can’t easily tolerate these morsels anymore.

    • Sheila Penny

      My bestie gave her son these. After he ate them he told her that his tongue hurt and his throat hurt. He took a nap and then when he woke up he threw up. It seems weird because they don’t have any of the things in them that people will typically say are common allergens. Still, fake food and your body recognizes that, or rather doesn’t recognize it and therefore has no idea what to do with. My theory? If you aren’t hungry enough for a piece of fruit, a nut or a vegetable, you probably aren’t hungry enough.

  • THX1136

    I don’t eat these because I think they are “healthy” for me. Indeed from a nutritional aspect they are not. I mainly eat them as I’m cutting back on carbs. 38 pieces and 15 gms of carbs beats what I was eating – Multi-grain Wheat Thins which are 14 pieces and 22 gms of carbs. Plus I get, at least psychologically, more to eat physically. Nothing very logical about my choice, but it gives me a “salty” snack with less carbs than the alternatives I prefer.

  • Milord Cutter

    Everyone I know considers every sized bag of chips to be single serving.

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