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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Simply Balanced Gluten Free Blueberry Nut & Fruit Clusters

I think this is the first gluten-free product we've reviewed here on WGAAF—at least, it's the first product being marketed as a gluten-free snack option. I guess there's not a whole lot of wheat gluten in products like habanero salsa or sparkling grapefruit juice, but these clusters are snacks that might be assumed glutenful unless otherwise noted on the packaging.

So I guess this is the part of the blog post where I tell you that I'm "gluten-sensitive." It's true. Not gluten-intolerant personally, although I've known a few folks with celiac disease and Crohn's disease throughout the years, and I know vicariously that both of those conditions can be highly difficult, life-altering, and even debilitating. My sympathies if you or someone close to you suffers from either of those maladies.

"Gluten sensitive" means if I eat gluten, I feel it in my digestive system. It can be uncomfortable and make me sluggish, but it won't cause any major complications. My wife is the same way. We avoid gluten when it's practical to do so, but as you can see by the many pizza reviews on this blog, for example, we often throw caution to the wind and "bite the gluten bullet," so to speak.

All that to say that I'm no stranger to the world of gluten-free foods. Just check out our other blog. I know it can be extremely difficult to find gluten-free options, and I know that when they are there, they tend to come at a premium. Be prepared to shell out more cash if you want to go gluten-free.

This product is no different. Three dollars for three ounces of food is a bit steep. But Target knows that if you're gluten-free out of necessity, you'll go ahead and pay whatever you have to. Celiac sufferers gotta live, too. But are they worth it for the rest of us?

Their texture is surprisingly hard. The nuts are firm and somewhat crunchy, but there's also a tackiness to them that makes them just slightly difficult to chew. They're slightly sweet and there is, in fact, a detectable blueberry essence about them. They're also salty and nutty—in fact, I'd say the dominant flavor is that of almonds and cashews. They do fall apart and crumble if you attempt to bite them in half, although I was pretty pleased with the truly bite-sized squares—significantly smaller than other products labeled "bite-sized."

The flavor grew on me by the end of the bag. They're convenient and if they can just find a way to bring the price down by a buck or so...

I give these clusters 7 out of 10 stars.

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