Archive for the ‘ Food ’ Category

FIBER ONE® PROTEIN CEREAL

I enjoy eating cereal for breakfast, especially on busy mornings. Cereal with extra protein? Well, that’s just an added bonus! I was excited to try the Fiber One Protein Cereal. I haven’t tried any Fiber One products before, so this was my first experience! And it was…lackluster.

I received two boxes of the cereal free through BzzAgent.com, Maple Brown Sugar and Cranberry Almond. These are labeled as “granola cereals,” so I was expecting something a little closer to the granola I make at home (oats, nuts, dried fruits) but they seem much more like crisped rice cereal with a few other bits mixed in. I tried the Cranberry Almond first. Not enough cranberries, not enough almonds. It had a strange artificial flavor and was way, way, WAY too sweet. Both these varieties have more sugar than many popular sugary kid’s cereals with marshmallows! The Maple Brown Sugar variety was a bit tastier, but even sweeter, as you might imagine.

The good news? Both cereals stayed very crispy in milk up until the end of the bowl! I also felt full all morning after eating the cereal.

I understand that it’s difficult to make a product tasty, good for you, and that holds up on the shelves, but I’d rather spend a little extra time making my own granola, or just having a bowl of oatmeal with some nuts sprinkled in than fill up on sugar and (practically nutritionally devoid) crisped rice. This one’s a no-go for me!

Disclaimer: I received these product for free for testing purposes through BzzAgent.com, but my opinions are my own!

Kroger Private Selection Upside Down Cakes

Instant gratification – it’s so American. When I joined the Private Selection Upside Down Cakes campaign through BzzAgent.com, I didn’t have to wait for a BzzKit to arrive – I was able to load a coupon for a free PS Upside Down Cake onto my Kroger card instantly! And speaking of instant gratification, these cakes are the next best thing to homemade desserts – 12 minutes in the oven (or 3 in the microwave!) and you have a warm, melty confection fit to serve company!

I had a hard time choosing a flavor when I went to pick up my free cake. There are three available: German Chocolate Fudge, Double Chocolate Molten, and Amber Honey Apple Spice. Part of my decision was made for me when there were none of the Apple variety in stock.  I decided to try the German Chocolate since that’s not something I have very often (or ever.) As a side note, these cakes are available in the bakery section, not the frozen foods like I expected.

My husband was actually more excited to try the cake than I was, which is pretty crazy because I have the sweet tooth in this house. He preheated the oven and took the cake out of the wrapper. All he had to do was put the cake on a baking sheet, warm it for a bit, and then flip it onto a plate. It all came out in one fell swoop, thanks to a sheet of parchment on the bottom of the “pan.” So easy!

There was a good amount of the coconut/nut frosting although it didn’t drip down the sides much like in the pictures. The cake was very dense and moist (thanks to a a number of delicious-but-terrible-for-you ingredients like real butter, cream, and sugar) and a small slice goes a long way. Seriously though, do yourself a favor and skip reading the nutritional values. You are better off in denial. That said, the ingredient list only includes things you would use in your own kitchen, so I can appreciate that.

The cake isn’t as good leftover as it is the first night, but that’s to be expected. It also isn’t as good cold, obviously. The only real problem I had with this product was the price. $10 seems a little steep – for $10 I want something I couldn’t do myself, like a well-decorated bakery cake or ice cream cake, not something that is “like homemade.” If this cake were closer to the $7-8 range, I might purchase it for a special occasion.

If you’re interested in purchasing one of these Private Selection Upside Down Cakes, they are available at your local Kroger store. You might be able to find a digital coupon online, as I have been told they exist, but at the time of writing this I don’t see them available.

Kroger “Good for You”

I’ve blogged before about Kroger products, so you guys know that I am usually a big fan of the high-quality, low-cost foods they offer. This time, the BzzAgent campaign I’m in is about their Greek yogurts and CARBmaster line. I was generously sent a $10 Kroger gift card as well as some coupons to try these products. Now, I don’t eat artificial sweeteners or buy them for my family, so the only product in the line I was interested in trying was the Greek yogurt.

We go through a lot of yogurt in my house, as it’s my son’s go-to breakfast of choice (for the first course, anyway.) My husband also eats a lot of yogurt as a snack, and prefers one with less sugar than most national brands contain. I only started eating yogurt a few years ago, but I use it a lot in cooking and occasionally eat it straight from the container.

Kroger’s Greek yogurt line has an impressive number of flavor options. I always choose Greek yogurt for cooking, so I like to have a few containers of the unflavored and unsweetened kind for making tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce, great on Mediterranean food or just about anything else!), roasted garlic cream sauce, or peanut butter fruit dip (just peanut butter and yogurt with a bit of honey – although flavored yogurts are good for that too.) I also like to have a few vanilla Greek yogurts on hand for making “ice cream” with bananas. (Blend frozen ripe bananas with yogurt – it’s just like soft serve!) The Kroger Greek yogurts work fine for all these purposes, but the yogurt  isn’t usually the star of these recipes anyway.

As far as straight eating goes, I think we’ve tried all the flavors by now. My favorite is the Lemon Creme, but the Black Cherry and Blackberry Yumberry have been favorites too. I do have one complaint about the yogurt, though – it has a very chalky texture and aftertaste. I’m not sure if that’s the Stevia (these yogurts are sweetened with both sugar and Stevia) or something else, but my husband really dislikes it, and my son doesn’t care at all.

MorningStar Farms

Years ago, my husband used to work at a now-defunct ‘Net Cafe (remember when those existed?) that served a great black bean burger. After we moved away, there was a veggie-burger-shaped-hole in my heart (or stomach) that had to be filled! I came across MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean burgers in the grocery, and they immediately became a staple in our house. I have been buying them at least monthly for the past ten years or so, so I was happy to be chosen for the BzzAgent MorningStar Farms campaign. As part of the campaign, I received a coupon for a free MorningStar Farms frozen product, as well as some discount coupons. I really wanted to branch out and try another variety (I’ve been intrigued by the Mushroom Lover’s burger), but I just couldn’t stray from my beloved black bean burgers.

For the record, we are not vegetarians, though I do try to serve one or two meatless dinners per week, for cost and health reasons. My go-to Black Bean Burger preparation is baked patties served with tomato and avocado on a bun, but they are also delicious sliced up as a wrap and with guacamole (though what isn’t delicious with guacamole?!) I like to serve them with sweet potato fries on the side. Once I served them on garlic bread – the health benefits go out the window, but they are really tasty. Speaking of health benefits, did you know these burgers have 73% less fat than ground beef, and are only 120 calories each?

So how do they taste, anyway? A lot of people hear “veggie burger” and think “flavorless soy patty,” but the black bean burgers have a nice kick of spice – not so much that my toddler won’t eat it, though. I like to amp it up a bit with pepper jack cheese sometimes. You can see real chunks of tomato, corn, and of course, black beans. The texture is not really similar to a ground beef burger, but more of a crispy exterior with a soft interior. They are a good size to fit on a bun, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to that! A quick peek at the Spicy Black Bean Burgers website offers several tasty options, like Roasted Vegetable-Black Bean Burger Panzanella Salad.

Post Alpha-Bits Cereal

After joining this BzzCampaign, I received in the mail a free full-size box of Post Alpha-Bits cereal as well as some coupons. Super WHY! is my son’s favorite TV show, so he was thrilled to see Whyatt on the front of the cereal box. Then he realized there was food in the box, and forgot all about what was on it.

Cold cereal is a favorite snack in our house (and often one of two or three courses in my son’s breakfast – he can never have just one thing.) I tend to stay away from the super-sugary breakfast cereals (though I admit a weak spot for Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and usually purchase Cinnamon Life or Honey Nut Cheerios. I remember eating Alpha-Bits as a kid when my mom bought it on occasion, and I guess I sort of lumped it in with the sugary frosted cereal category in my head. I never really considered purchasing it for my family. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Alpha-Bits have less sugar than the cereals I usually buy, and a similar amount of whole grains.

And of course they are delicious! They stay crunchy in milk longer than the average cereal, and are not too sweet. Everyone in our house enjoyed them. My son is starting to learn to read and liked putting the letters together and asking me what they spelled. Some of them are a bit hard to recognize, although I suppose that’s to be expected when you’re making letters out of food.

Now here’s the problem – they don’t seem to be sold in any grocery store in my area, only at Target. I wonder why? I would probably buy them on occasion if they were found where I usually shop, but I don’ t find myself at Target very often, and when I do, I’m almost never purchasing food.

Private Selection Holiday

Two reviews in one day! Woohoo! (Ok, well, a review and a half, but who’s counting?)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of Private Selection products in general. I usually find that they are at least comparable in quality to name brand items, with a much better price. And in fact, I’d like to start this post off by mentioning two PS products I enjoyed this holiday season that were not part of this bzzCampaign – their premium hot cocoa mixes, and the spiral sliced glazed ham. The cocoa mixes come in four flavors – double chocolate, mint, caramel sea salt, and cherry cordial -and they are all delicious. I recommend the variety pack, though if I had to pick a favorite, I’d go with mint. I will be drinking a lot more of this winter staple in the next few months. As for the ham, I enjoyed it at my Mom’s house on Thanksgiving. It was juicy and delicious, and didn’t feel cheap or fatty like a lot of hams do. My Mom commented that it was one of the best hams she’s prepared, and was even better than the Honeyglazed she usually gets.

On to the bzzCampaign.

As a part of this campaign, I received a bag of Costa Rican Tarrazu coffee and a box of Water Crackers in the mail, as well as coupons for a free jar of olives, a free package of sliced deli cheese, and a free jar of pasta sauce. I also got a coupon for $0.75 off three greek yogurt containers. The coffee was okay. It was a little darker than what I usually get and was pre-ground (I usually grind my own) but I do regularly buy and enjoy other PS coffee flavors. They have a very good selection. I don’t eat olives, but my husband does, so I picked up a jar of garlic-stuffed olives (mostly for my own amusement.) I can’t comment on them in detail, but he mentioned that they were generally good, but the garlic was a little powerful. I saw him use them in an omelet with picked green tomatoes this morning. The crackers were fine. That’s all you can really ask for from a cracker that’s meant to play second fiddle to whatever topping you’re using as an appetizer, so I guess it served its purpose. I had some at a Christmas party with a variety of toppings and it went well with all of them.

I picked up the Herb and Garlic cheese slices. I was hoping to try the Buffalo Monterrey Jack, but my store didn’t carry that variety. The cheese was good, but the herb flavor might have been just a smidge overpowering. I used it on some turkey burgers to help kick the flavor up a bit, and it was excellent. I also picked up the Roasted Garlic pasta sauce variety (can you tell I like garlic? So much so that I want everyone else to eat it, too!) but oddly enough, I found that it tasted and smelled kind of vinegary, even though that’s not listed as an ingredient. It is a thinner pasta sauce, so if you like your sauce chunky (like I do) you may find it a bit lacking.

I also picked up some of the yogurt while I was in the store – and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they package it the way they do, with the fruit partitioned off they way they do with crunchy toppings. It makes sense with crunchy things that you don’t want to get soggy, but it’s just annoying when you have to scrape the fruit into your yogurt, and then stir it in. Why not just put it on the bottom like everyone else? The flavor was fine, I tried Cranberry-Pomegranate and it was not too sweet or tart, but I just can’t get past that mind-boggling packaging.

All in all, I was mostly impressed with the offerings and will definitely be buying some of them again in the future.

Perdue Oven Ready Roasters

Well, sorry for the broken image link above, hoping they’ll fix that in the near future.

This was my most disappointing bzzCampaign yet. I was PSYCHED to try the Perdue Oven Ready Roasters, having seen them in the store and thinking that it was a good idea. But after that first sighting – nothing. Over the last two months, I’ve checked three different grocery stores, usually visiting the grocery twice a week or more, and have yet to see any of the Oven Ready products since. The coupon I received from bzzAgent for a hefty discount (I believe it was nearly $11?) expired with 2012, so maybe I’ll pick one up in the future (assuming they still exist) if they’re on sale. I don’t know if the cooler space was just crowded out by turkeys for Thanksgiving, hams for Christmas, and 40 pound bags of shrimp for New Year’s, or what. I even checked Perdue’s official webpage, which assured me that the products are sold at two of the stores I shop at, but had no luck.

I was really excited to try this product, because I do love roasting chickens at home, but I hate the mess associated with it. I usually roast a whole bird (salt, pepper, a little thyme, searingly high heat – gives a lovely crispy skin and super juicy meat.)  I boil the carcass with whatever veggies and herbs I have on hand to make my own stock. I shred the leftover meat and use it in barbecue chicken sandwiches (hubby’s fave) or pot pies. (Side note – did you know you can shred chicken with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer? This CHANGED MY LIFE.) And then I try to leave the house so I don’t have to deal with that messy roasting pan. That’s not the only annoyance, either – rinsing and drying the chicken? Finding something to do with the gizzards and stuff? I really wanted to try this product, which seems to take at least half of the problems out of roasting a whole bird. Oh well. Maybe someday.