Monday, February 27, 2017

Degustabox - February

Another month, another box full of goodies from Degustabox, so I can tell you all about it.

The interesting thing about this month's box was that either I was very familiar with the foods, or I'd never heard of them. There weren't any where I had heard of them vaguely, but hadn't yet tried.

So here we go:

Popchips Ridges

I've tried a bunch of the different flavors of regular Popchips. If you're not familiar, they're like potato chips but they're baked and puffy, so they seem more substantial than regular thin potato chips. Still great for dipping, though. These new ones have ridges. Yum.

Grace Foods Coconut Chips

Oh dear. Coconut. Not my thing. I gave these away to someone who was totally thrilled with them. So that's good. If you're a fan of coconut, you might want to look this up. If you're me, it's good to have friends.

Walkers Shortbreads
I totally adore shortbread cookies and these are the real deal. They're traditional shortbreads, with just butter, flour, sugar, and salt, so there's no preservatives, colors, artificial flavors, or anything else to detract from cookie goodness. Shortbread cookies also make a great crust for cheesecakes, if you've got extra cookies.

Nando's Peri-Peri hot sauce

I have a bottle of this in the fridge. It's pretty hot. So I'm more likely to use it sparingly than to slather it on something. But along with the heat, it's got good flavor, which I think is important. Besides putting it (sparingly) on tacos, it's good as part of a marinade or a sauce. Or added to chili. Or soup. Or whatever.

Slendier pasta
This is konjac pasta, which is gluten-free, high in fiber, and very low in calories. I have a ridiculous amount of pasta in my pantry, so I decided to pass it along to someone who is avoiding gluten. If you're gluten-free and/or looking for something lower in calories, this might be a good alternative to traditional wheat pastas.

Ricola losenges
Great for when you have a sore throat or when you're in that pre-cold, tickly throat stage. This has a bunch of different herbs along with ginseng. It's a unique flavor, but I happen to like it. This sort of thing is nice to have on hand, just in case ... because once you're starting to feel cruddy, you don't want to be running to the store, right?

PR Bars
Vitamins, carbs, whey, soy protein. Gluten free. This bar is supposed to be balanced to give you fuel and "keep you performance ready." I don't eat a whole lot of bars like this since I work from home and there's usually something more meal-like at hand, so I passed it along to someone else to sample. It sounded good, and they're not crazy expensive, so if you're not happy with your current energy/snack bars, look for these.

Jones Soda
Ooooh. Orange and cream. Jones Sodas have some interesting flavors and they use cane sugar rather than corn syrup. I've bought this before and I have to say it's pretty good.

Green & Black's dark chocolate with sea salt
I've bought a lot of Green & Black's chocolates over the years, and they've always been good. I've also baked with some of them. Anyway, this is a dark chocolate with sea salt, so it's got a little crunch and then the saltiness that makes the chocolate seem sweeter for just a moment. This is the kind of chocolate bar that lasts me several days, in little indulgent pieces. So good.

So there you have it. The current box. I get these boxes from Degustabox at no cost to me, just so I can describe them to you. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

UrbanTrend Reverso Measuring Cup and Funnel

I have a pretty large collection of measuring cups and spoons, and I use all of them. I like the idea that I can just toss a dirty cup or spoon in the sink or dishwasher and grab a clean one for the next recipe. I don't have to stop what I'm doing to wash and dry the same cup and spoon over and over.

So, when the nice folks at UrbanTrend offered me their measuring cup with a rather quirky design, I said sure, I'll check it out.

Measuring cups have been around for a while, and the vast majority of them are very similar to all of the rest. A cup with a handle, a spout, and graduated measurements.

This one is different.

The Reverso name should be a hint. There's an integrated funnel that snaps into the bottom of the cup. The funnel has the measurement markings, so it needs to be there for measuring, but it snaps in and out easily.

It's an interesting idea. It takes a few seconds to remember where you need to look for the measurements, but it's not difficult. The one downside, is that the funnel needs to be attached to the cup when you're measuring. The upside is that you get two tools in one, and they store neatly together.

If you check out the UrbanTrend website, there are a couple different versions of the Reverso, including on that has measuring spoons that also snap into the bottom, as well as a mini version.

Who's it for: People who need a measuring cup and funnel.

Pros: Two tools in one.

Cons: If you're washing in the dishwasher, the funnel area gets filled with water, so you'll need to drain that.

Wishes: I think I'd like it better if the measurements were on the cup rather than the funnel.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bai Beverages

I quit drinking the usual sodas quite a while ago, and now they just taste cloyingly sweet to me. Once in a while I indulge in root beer, but it's more of a treat than a beverage. When I'm thirsty, I usually just drink water.

But when the folks at Bai Beverages contacted me and asked if I wanted samples, I figured I'd give it a shot, particularly since they said that their sodas (Black, Bai base, Superteas, Cocofusion and Bubbles all had "5 calories, 1 gram of sugar and no artificial sweeteners."

Well, okay then. I figured that they wouldn't be super-sweet, so I said, sure, I'll take a few, but skip the Cocofusion (it's coconut-based) and the Superteas (I'm not that crazy about canned tea).

They hooked me up with plenty of the other flavors. I've been drinking one pretty much every day, as a little treat. So far, I think I like the canned fruit-flavored sodas the best, but the Black are kind of fun, too. There's a cola-flavored drink, a gingery one, and a cream soda type. The fruity bottled ones are nice, too. Fruity flavor, refreshing, but not like dessert in a bottle.

I have to say that I'm glad that these sorts of drinks have appeared on the market, for the times when I don't want to make my own flavored fizzy water. These are sooooo convenient. And tasty.

Who's it for: People who want non-sweet sodas.

Pros: Low calorie.

Cons: If you drink a lot of soda, I suspect these could to be an expensive habit.

Wishes: Root beer, please!

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fiona's Granola (and more)

Every month, Sprouts (a grocery store chain, in case they're not in your neighborhood) invites a bunch of bloggers to tour local food-related businesses. It's fun, I get to see some blogger friends, and it's educational, too.

And sometimes I find out about products that I didn't know about, either during the tour or something tucked into our goodie bag.

This time around, we met at the facility that makes and packages Fiona's granolas. The company is called Fiona's Natural Foods, but right now, it's mostly granola, along with some trail mix and oatmeal.

We got a tour of the whole facility - it's kind of a neat setup. There are a bunch of different food companies in a building that used to be a postal sorting facility. They're all relatively small companies, and they share a meeting space, the have a communal warehouse area, and they all have use of the docks for shipping and receiving.

We didn't get to go into the other company's space, we peeked in a few windows. We did get the see how Fiona's makes their granola. There wasn't anything running as far as production, but they showed us how the granola gets packaged.

And then we had snacks, including (you guessed it) granola and yogurt and add-ins. It was pretty tasty. And then we got our granola samples to go. Or, actually, full-size bags. I picked a few that sounded good, but once I got home I realized that a few of them had coconut in them. Oopsie. But that's okay, I like sharing.

One of the features of the granola is that it's particularly high in protein, thanks to the use of plant protein. For example, the almond cinnamon (one of my favorites) has both pea protein and lentil flour, along with the almonds.

At first I was going to make a recipe using the granola. I considered making some kind of fruit crisp with a granola topping, but I've done that before and didn't feel like I needed to do it again. I thought about using it in coffee cake, but I had a chocolate cake that needed to be eaten. Then I decided to use some granola to coat French toast. It was good, but the photos were ... well, hideous is a good description. Don't look too closely at the granola photo up top. Ha!

I really wanted to come up with a recipe, because that's what I do. But then ... I realized that granola is pretty much a perfect product without muddling around with it. There's no reason to try to wedge it into a recipe. I mean, if you want to sprinkle it on top of some yogurt, that's good enough, right?

So anyway, I sampled the ones that didn't have coconut (read the labels!) and I have to say it's pretty darned good. The granola is all sweetened with coconut sugar, but that doesn't taste like coconut, so that's perfectly fine with me. There are larger and smaller pieces, and it's appealingly crunchy without being tooth-breaking. It's a really good snack. If you're a granola fan and you haven't tried this brand yet, give it a try.

The oatmeal also sounded interesting since it has both rolled oats and steel cut oats. But since it had large flakes of coconut in it, I decided to pass it along to someone else who appreciated it more. They have another flavor that doesn't have coconut. I might give that one a try if I see it at Sprouts.

Also ... it has about the best packaging I've seen in a long time. There's an easy pull-tab that opens the bag on the back side - and it pulls neatly without tearing. Then it reseals. Easy peasy. I don't know why more companies don't have packaging like this.

So there ya go. Granola. Crunch crunch yum.

Thanks to Sprouts for sponsoring the event and to Fiona's Natural Products for hosting.