The other day I saw a commercial for Haribo gummy bears, one of my favorite treats from childhood. Hearing children’s voices declare things like, “The red one tastes more gooder to me cause it tastes like berries!” provoked pure nostalgia. It made me think about all the other 90s snacks that I annihilated as a child.
Unfortunately, I can’t snack on most of those goodies anymore. Over the last few years, though, I’ve mastered the art of feeding my cravings with gluten-free alternatives to these 1990s kid classics.
Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookie Alternatives
Girl Scout cookies are timeless, but since I was a Girl Scout in the 90s, for me these cookies are inextricably linked to that time. Since my time slinging cookies, the Girl Scout cookie folks have adapted to changing diets. A few years ago my younger sister tried to sell me some GF cookies to benefit her troop. I was all in until I learned the GF Girl Scout cookies don’t come in the traditional flavors. The new ones, Trios and Toffee-tastic, just don’t hit the sweet spot.
No. When I want Girl Scout cookies, I want classics like Thin Mints — luckily Goodie Girl cookies has the solution. An all-GF cookie company, Goodie Girl makes delicious renditions of a number of childhood favorites, but their Mint Slims are a perfect replica of the Girl Scout version, crunchy cookie with a bite of mint and that smooth chocolate exterior. Bonus, these recently became easy to find — my local Starbucks carries Mint Slims snack packs.
Healthier Cheez-It Alternatives
When you’re a kid, you believe Cheez-Its are healthy. It’s just cheese and crackers, right? Wrong. Packed with sodium and high in fat, Cheez-Its are an unfortunate guilty pleasure, heavy on the guilty. With that in mind, whether you want to eliminate gluten, want a paleo-style snack replacement, or need to cut back on salt, it’s time to rethink the Cheez-It.
There are a few mass-market GF versions, take the Lance-brand cheddar crackers for instance.
However, on the nutrition front, this GF cracker option has more fat and sodium than their mainstream competition. Why? Well, how do you replace the flavor and texture you get from gluten? With salt and fat!
That’s why Cheez-Its are one of the snacks that I recommend making at home.
Make Your Own GF Cheese-ISH Crackers
This grain-free, cheese-free cracker recipe imitates the flavors of a traditional Cheez-It using nutrient-dense cashew meal, and a combination nutritional yeast, turmeric, and cayenne pepper.
While on the surface they might not sound much like a cheesy snack, neither do Cheez-Its when you really think about it. It’s all about the crucial salty-savory-crunchy combination. Plus, these healthier versions take under half an hour from prep to finish — most nights when cravings strike, I can’t get my shoes on and go to the store in that amount of time.
Healthy Versions of 90s Ice Creams
Finally, with summer almost here, I’ve got ice cream on the brain and while you can usually find a dairy-free ice cream alternative in my freezer, I typically skip the novelties because they either aren’t gluten-free or aren’t very good. Plus, when I want a classic ice cream novelty my brain goes straight for the classics, like Strawberry Shortcake Good Humor bars or Choco Tacos, which were a mainstay in my college’s cafeteria.
Gluten-Free Choco Taco Recipe
Now, I’m not sure anyone can do justice to Strawberry Shortcake besides the folks at Good Humor (and if it doesn’t come from the ice cream truck, why bother?), but when it comes to Choco Tacos, I’m a big fan of the DIY approach. Basically, if you can make pancakes or waffles, you can make a Choco Taco.
Prep Time: 30 to 40 minutes
- GF chocolate waffle
- Ice cream
- Fudge or sundae shell topping
- Chopped nuts
Instructions: To start, just add your favorite GF flour blend to this chocolate waffle recipe — bonus points for using aquafaba — and give the final product a good smush. You want the exterior waffle shell to be nice and flat so it has the same tender texture as the traditional shell. Chill the shells but don’t freeze them just yet because you want to fill them while they’re still pliable.
From there, grab your favorite ice cream — dairy or non-dairy is up to you — and fill up your tacos. I like to add a layer of fudge or sundae shell topping to the inside of the shell first and then layer ice cream onto one half. Then fold it up and add more chocolate or shell topping to the top and sprinkle with chopped nuts. If you’ve got one of those handy taco holders, you can use those to prop your creations up while they freeze or, if you’re prepping these in bulk (and why wouldn’t you?) wrap them in tin foil and stick them in the freezer. They’ll be ready to eat before you know it.
When it comes to picking a snack, I’m not just looking for something to fill me up. As with all my favorite foods, I also want to remember good times I’ve had around the table in the past. So while these may not be the “real thing,” these gluten-free alternatives to 90s snacks come close enough. They taste like childhood, but tweaked to meet the nutritional needs I have today.