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Our annual guide to the best supermarket snacks, treats, and pantry staples is back. These are our categories, nutritional requirements, and more.

April 16, 2018

2018 Cooking Light Taste Test Awards

This year, we will feature five key categories of healthful food innovation: Grab & Go Breakfast, Desk Drawer Snacks, Pack-Your-Kids' Lunch, End-of-Day Treats and Health Drinks. From grab-and-go snacks to foods you can confidentially pack in your child’s lunchbox, these foods should highlight the delicious possibility of healthy eating. The products do not need to have been recently released to qualify.

For each of the five categories, we’ve listed several foods we see as a natural fit. However, these are not the only options. We will gladly help you find the best category for your entry. Please email us at 2018tastetestawards@gmail.com with “Cooking Light Food Awards: Category” in the subject line. A member of our editorial team will promptly reply and help you select the most appropriate category for your item(s).

Your taste test award entry may not have applicable nutrition guidelines listed below. Not every possible category is covered. If you meet other requirements and believe your item would meet Cooking Light’s general guidelines, you may still submit. If you have any questions about nutrition guidelines, please email us at 2018tastetestawards@gmail.com with “Cooking Light Food Awards: Nutrition” in the subject. We will promptly reply.

Cooking Light Taste Test Awards Rules

In order to be eligible and tested by our team of Cooking Light editors and staff, each product must meet the requirements listed below.

Products that do not meet the nutrition guidelines and other eligibility criteria established by our nutritional editors and registered dietitians will not be considered.

Any product submitted for the awards must be available in major U.S. retail locations, or available for online ordering by September 2018.

You must be able to submit 3 to 5 samples of each product you submit for the taste test by May 2018.

You must be able to submit final product packaging for photography by July 2018.

To submit a product, email 2018tastetestawards@gmail.com. Send a separate email for each product you wish to submit. Please put the name of the product as the email’s subject line. The body of the email should include a high-res promotional image, a nutritional panel, along with the date a product will be available, a link to purchasing it online, and the MSRP.

A separate email must be submitted for separate flavors of each product.

Please email submissions and nutrition panels  by May 4, 2018. (Note: The original deadline of April 27 has been extended.)

If you have questions, email 2018tastetestawards@gmail.comwith “Cooking Light Food Awards” in the subject line. A member of our editorial team will answer you promptly.

Categories

Desk Drawer Snacks

Possible entries: Snack bars, nuts, trail mixes, jerky or dried meat sticks, chips, crackers, popcorn, dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits and vegetables

Restrictions: These foods should not require refrigeration or special preparation. No trans fats or artificial sweeteners.

Applicable nutrition guidelines:

  • Snacks: 180 calories (≤ 2.5 grams sat fat, ≤ 240 mg sodium)
  • Cookies: 120-150 calories each (≤ 3 grams sat fat, < 18 grams sugar)
  • Bar Cookies/Brownies/Dessert Squares: 240 calories each (≤5 grams sat fat, < 24 grams sugar)

 Grab & Go Breakfast

Possible entries: Frozen sandwiches, individual oatmeal cups, microwavable muffins, yogurt, granola cups, smoothies, snack boxes, frozen breakfast burritos

Restrictions: These should not require a lot of preparation or cooking. Microwave is OK; oven is not. No trans fats or artificial sweeteners.

Applicable nutrition guidelines:

  • Beverages: 210 calories per cup
  • Smoothies: 240 calories per serving (≤ 2.5 grams sat fat, ≤ 360 mg sodium, < 30 grams sugar)
  • Breakfast entrees: 420 calories (≤ 7 grams sat fat, ≤ 720 mg sodium)

Pack-Your-Kids' Lunch

Possible entries: Yogurt, vegetable-dip packs, crackers, popcorn, roll-ups, string cheese, nut butter (or alternatives), juice boxes, pretzels, breads or wraps

Restrictions: Must be age appropriate and kid-friendly (no difficult-to-open packages). Must not need special storage or preparation (no refrigeration required, but ice packs OK; no microwave required). No trans fats or artificial sweeteners.

Applicable nutrition guidelines:

  • Snacks: 180 calories (≤ 2.5 grams sat fat, ≤ 240 mg sodium)
  • Dips: 180 calories (≤ 2.5 grams sat fat, ≤ 300 mg sodium)
  • Cookies: 120-150 calories each (≤ 3 grams sat fat, < 18 grams sugar)

End-of-Day Treats

Possible entries: Ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice pops, frozen desserts, cookies, brownies, dessert squares, chocolate, chips, crackers, popcorn, nut mixes

Restrictions: No trans fats or artificial sweeteners.

Applicable nutrition guidelines:

  • Snacks: 180 calories (≤ 2.5 grams sat fat, ≤ 240 mg sodium)
  • Cookies: 120-150 calories each (≤ 3 grams sat fat, < 18 grams sugar)
  • Bar Cookies/Brownies/Dessert Squares: 240 calories each (≤5 grams sat fat, < 24 grams sugar) 
  • Desserts: 360 calories per serving (≤ 6.5 grams sat fat, < 30 grams sugar)

Healthy Drinks

Possible entries: Kombucha, probiotic drinks, protein drinks, juices, smoothies, sparkling water, flavored water, coconut water, soda alternatives

Restrictions: No trans fats or artificial sweeteners.

Applicable nutrition guidelines:

  • Beverages: 210 calories per cup
  • Smoothies: 240 calories per serving (≤ 2.5 grams sat fat, ≤ 360 mg sodium, < 30 grams sugar)

 

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