No, I don’t mean cake pops and no, I don’t mean rice cakes – although they are technically the latter. Made from a multi-grain combination of rice, corn, and wheat, these crisp, puffy discs have become my snack salvation.
I first encountered the Coco Lite brand Blueberry Cinnamon Pop Cake while perusing the aisles in the Duane Reade down the street from my office. I avoid keeping snacks at my desk because naturally, when you’re sitting anywhere for 8 hours at a time, it’s hard not to repeatedly put food in your mouth if it’s within arm’s reach.
With that being said, I saw an intriguing, lone package of these peculiar pop cakes and had to give them a try. With no sugar, no fat, and only 16 calories per (roughly) six inches of puffed grain, all the Quaker’s 80-cal rice cakes and even Suzie’s delicious, low-cal, but undersized thin cakes were quickly blown out of the water.
The pop cake was the clear champion.
For more than two weeks, I experimented with different toppings. While the snack is extremely light, it’s also very mild in flavor. I prefer using the pop cakes as a vehicle, rather than a solo bite.
I tried a drizzle of honey and a few crushed peanuts, and apple slices topped with ground cinnamon and calorie-free sweetener. Pumpkin butter and thin sliced banana worked, too.
But after that one package I purchased, the Coco Lite Pop Cakes never returned.
It took a little sleuthing (think Nancy Drew, but with an apron and a shopping cart rather than a trench coat and a magnifying glass), but I finally found the elusive Coco Lite Pop Cakes in whole wheat and the original multi-grain flavor at a Whole Foods Market. A few days after that, I turned up Kim’s Magic Pop, in sweet Blueberry and Strawberry flavors, at the Garden of Eden in Brooklyn Heights. Virtually identical in nutrition to the Coco Lite, all the pop cake brands I’ve discovered boast 15-20 calories per cake, no sugar, no fat, and a proud vegan label.
A Magic Pop Cake, or a Coco Lite Pop Cake, won’t fill you up. But as a vehicle for other, filling things, it’s a great alternative. We waste a lot of calories, sodium, sugar and fat on products meant to be vehicles. If you’re snacking on healthy salsa, why spoil it with a greasy, high-calorie tortilla chip? And yet we all know how satisfying that crunch can be.
I stocked up on Pop Cakes this week, and played around in the LWB kitchen, finding different uses for this fun snack. In fact, I even developed a three-course meal based on the pop cake.
To start, I prepared a light Caesar salad, using fresh torn romaine, grated parmesan, a fat-free caesar dressing, and pop cakes as an alternative to garlic croutons. To recreate this dish, roast a few whole cloves of garlic in the oven at 400 degrees, for 10 minutes, or until the garlic is soft, spreadable, and the bitterness is entirely gone. Break a Multigrain or Whole Wheat Pop Cakes in the microwave for 1 minute, or until the top of the cake is beginning to brown. They’ll be extra crispy, and hold up to a pat of garlic.
As an entree, I love the Pop Cake as a vegan alternative to the pizza crust. Spread on a generous tablespoon of your favorite low-cal marinara sauce, and adorn with your choice of toppings. If you have Daiya Soy Cheese, now’s the perfect time to use it. Tonight, I made a Veggie Planet-inspired “pizza,” topping my Whole Wheat Pop Cake with Caramelized Red Onion, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Basil. If you’re not worried about keeping it vegan, top with a little fat-free crumbled feta.
When the foundation for your dessert is only 16 calories, there’s no reason to deny yourself a sweet indulgence. I topped a Kim’s Magic Pop Blueberry Pop Cake with plain, non-fat yogurt mixed with cinnamon and honey. A few blueberries on top, and it was almost like a 30 calorie Blueberry Cobbler.
A Little Tip: Pop Cakes get soggy, fast, so pick your toppings wisely and don’t prepare ahead of time. Save a soggy pop cake by tossing it in an oven at 350 for 5 minutes or so.
Peanut butter is excellent on pop cakes, because it doesn’t make them soggy. Reduced fat, whipped cream cheese and strawberry jam with fresh sliced strawberries is another flavor combination I’m dying to try – especially on the Strawberry flavored Pop Cakes I found online.
Pop Cakes come in a huge variety of flavors, including onion, carrot, and cheese. I’m looking forward to scoping out more brands, and discovering new ways, to utilize this fun little bite.
Until next time,