Saturday, November 26, 2016

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Halo Top Ice Cream: Low sugar and low calorie

It seems too good to be true... an ice cream that is high in protein, low in calories and sugar.  I was skeptical when I first heard about it.  I went to the Halo Top website and clicked on where to buy.  All the Whole Foods Markets near me carry it.  I took a trip to Whole Foods and was excited to see it was in stock.  They had four flavors in pints: vanilla bean, birthday cake, lemon cake and strawberry.  I picked up the birthday cake and strawberry flavors.

Halo Top
A review of the label lists that the ice cream is all natural, no artificial sweeteners, no corn syrup, vegetarian friendly and no synthetic growth hormones. The birthday cake flavor's nutrition information is listed below.  To sweeten their ice cream, Halo Top uses stevia (plant based sweetener) and sugar alcohol.  The sugar alcohol used in Halo Top is erythritol and their website says that it does not cause bloating or impact blood glucose.

Halo Top Nutritional Facts

Halo Top
The verdict: Go grab some of this delicious ice cream! The birthday cake flavor tastes just like the regular birthday cake ice cream that you know and love.  The texture is creamy and honestly I cannot even tell that it is low calorie and low in sugar.  The strawberry flavor was a little sweeter tasting than the birthday cake.  Halo Top was so good that I went back to Whole Foods to purchase some more.  The other Whole Foods near me had the chocolate flavor, lemon cake and strawberry.  I guess the flavors vary at different locations. Overall, I am impressed that Halo Top was able to make a healthier ice cream without sacrificing taste.  

Halo Top

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Amy's Gluten Free Vegetarian Chili Mac

Wait...what? A gluten free vegetarian chili mac!? I was excited to find this new product from Amy's. I found this at my local Publix. 

Amy's Chili Mac

The rice pasta has a chewy rather than tender texture. The soy crumbles are tiny. The star of this dish is the cheesy chili Mac flavor. 

Amy's Chili Mac

Overall, I was not completely satisfied with the chili mac. It did not wow me and it may be a while before I purchase again.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Morning Star Farms Hickory BBQ Riblets (meatless)

I was browsing the Morning Star Farms section in Publix.  I found these Hickory BBQ Riblets that I have seen at Publix before, but never tried.  I was hesitant to try them because even when I was younger (much younger) and ate meat, I did not care for ribs.  

Morning Star Farms Hickory BBQ Riblets
These meatless riblets are packed with 16 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.  They come in two individually wrapped packs and the portion is a good size as well.  The preferred way to prepare the riblets is to microwave them.  Again, this is yet another easy to prepare and protein packed meatless meal.
Morning Star Farms Hickory BBQ Riblets
The riblets smelled wonderful as they heated in the microwave.  Overall, the texture is very "meaty," dense and somewhat resembles ribs.  Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the texture, but the bbq sauce was tasty.  I am not sure if my dislike for these is because I was never really a rib eater in the first place. Try them for yourself and see what you think. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Gardein Barbecue Wings (meatless)

I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some Sweet and Tangy Barbecue (meatless) Wings by Gardein. Just four of these meatless wings will give you 14g of protein and 120 calories per serving.  The prep time is quick at around 6 minutes.  

Gardein meatless Barbecue Wings

These browned up nicely in the skillet.  I thawed and then added the sauce at the end which was more than enough to cover all of the meatless wings.  Upon tasting the barbecue sauce it had a similar flavor to Wendy's barbecue sauce.  The sauce had the right amount of sweet, tangy and a little smokey.  The chewy, tender texture of the meatless wings was what I would expect to get in a quality meatless substitute. 

Overall, I will purchase this product again because of the flavor and short prep time.  Gardein has a variety of meatless products.  Go check them out and try one today!

Gardein meatless Barbecue Wings

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

Are you looking for a dessert to bring to a potluck or holiday party? Well, you certainly can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. I decided to make a trifle because of the visual appeal it has. You can pick up a trifle bowl in the home goods section of most stores. I purchased my bowl from Target some years ago.
This dessert takes time to prepare. First you need to bake the brownies and then prepare the pudding... all while creating the peanut butter fluff. Make sure the chocolate pudding is completely cooled before layering. Patience is key and taking extra time to evenly layer this dessert is very important. Be careful not to run out of filling - save some for the second layer.
Peanut butter chocolate trifle
I used Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate Brownies, but I was not happy with their chewiness when combined to make this dessert. I have made similar trifles before that called for chocolate cake. Maybe this would have been better with cake instead of brownies.
This dessert says it serves 15 and I would say that's a fair estimate considering how rich it is. You can find the recipe here. Looking for another trifle idea? Check out my Death by Chocolate Trifle post for the chocolate lover in your life.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Amazing Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Stop what you're doing and try this absolutely amazing recipe!
First let's discuss quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and its benefits. Quinoa is an ancient grain like crop with edible seeds. Think of it as a rice substitute that is gluten free and has fiber, protein, iron and potassium. Once cooked quinoa is tender, fluffy little bead like seeds that seem to take on the flavor of whatever you cook them with. I have used it in cold and hot recipes. You can find quinoa in the rice section of your local grocery store and its usually located near the top shelf. There are a few brands which offer flavored quinoa, so be sure to get regular, non-flavored quinoa. I suggest Ancient Harvest.
I tried this Quinoa Enchilada Casserole and it is the best recipe I have tried in a long time.  It was so easy to make and I feel that kids would love this too. Even if you are not a vegetarian I encourage you to consider trying this for your "meatless Monday." Upon first bite I could taste that tanginess of the green chilies and cheddar. The quinoa has a creamy texture and absorbed the flavor of the enchilada sauce. I used less chili powder than required, but next time I will use the full amount. This dish isn't heavy, but rather light yet filling. It's a mesh of flavors and textures. Creamy, melty, tangy, delicious and filling. You have to try this meatless casserole.
You will find the recipe here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Too easy peach cobbler

This is my go to recipe for great tasting peach cobbler. This cobbler is a classic recipe that has been around for a long time. I first tried this recipe over 15 years ago. I suggest doubling the recipe if you are serving more than 4 people. Only a few budget friendly items go into making this yummy peach cobbler.

You can find the recipe here.

Ready for the oven


Delicious Banana Bread Recipe

Sometimes it's tricky finding the right banana bread recipe. This recipe is the best that I have tired. It is moist, flavorful, no nuts (I don't like nuts in banana bread) and easy to make.  Remember not to mix in your dry ingredients into the wet! Instead fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just enough until evenly combined. Mixing those ingredients in will produce a dry banana bread. I can't wait to make this again.
I used Flour's Famous Banana Bread Recipe which you will find here.

Look at how gorgeous the banana bread turned out.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Quick and easy olive cheese bread

I decided to try a recipe I saw on an episode of The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond made an olive cheese bread that looked delicious, quick and easy.

olive and cheese mixture

Green and black olives, green onion, cheese, butter and mayo make up this recipe. I substituted the mayo and used greek yogurt instead. The recipe calls for two green onions, but I used four. The mixture may look like a lot, but I used every bit of it. Prep time was around 10 minutes. I cooked the bread at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

The taste: Savory, crunchy, salty goodness! The French bread cooked up perfectly and the saltiness of the olives was just right. The Monterrey Jack cheese was gooey and delicious. This olive cheese bread is a very rich and filling. I had leftovers and reheated them in the oven for olive cheese bread round two at dinner! You can even make and freeze these as well.
You will find the recipe with Ree's step by step instructions here.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Baked Stacked Eggplant by Cedar Lane Natural Foods

The product: I stopped by my local Publix to pick up some more vegetarian frozen lunches. The Baked Stacked Eggplant frozen meal by Cedar Lane Natural Foods caught my eye. The eggplant layered with pesto and four cheeses sounded tasty and it is all natural with only 230 calories. 

The taste test: I find that often times frozen layered eggplant entrees do not cook evenly in when microwaved. The baked stacked eggplant cooked well in the microwave with no problems.  The large slices of lightly breaded eggplant tasted fresh. The creamy four cheese mixture and fire roasted tomatoes added sweetness which complemented the saltiness of pesto. The pesto adds a unique touch to this product. 
Baked Stacked Eggplant
The verdict: With only 230 calories Cedar Lane Natural Foods really went above and beyond with this great tasting product! The Baked Stacked Eggplant tasted surprisingly fresh for a frozen meal. Cedar Lane Natural Foods has a variety of breakfast, lunch, gluten free and vegetarian products and I look forward to trying them.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Salad with Grilled Vegetables

The product: I picked up this pre-made salad at Whole Foods. It's a salad that includes that includes feta cheese, garbanzo beans, kalamata olives, grilled vegetables (grilled eggplant, yellow squash, red and green bell peppers, onion) and a lemon wedge. The dressing that is included with the salad is a balsamic vinaigrette.  
Salad with grilled vegetables from Whole Foods
The taste test: This is a large salad and I had it for dinner. There was an adequate amount of dressing and the salad was very fresh. There's a lot of tartness going on with the feta cheese and the kalamata olives.  The balsamic vinaigrette had an unexpected sweetness. The grilled vegetables sort of take a back seat to the other ingredients, but add texture. 

The verdict:  This is a nice change of pace from the usual salad. Overall, it was very tasty.   

Monday, March 17, 2014

Amy's Gluten Free Baked Ziti Bowl

The product: This bowl is part of Amy's gluten free line and is dairy free as well.  The pasta is actually rice pasta hence the gluten free label. The dairy free cheese is a soy cheese combination. The tomato sauce is made from organic tomatoes and peas are included as well. I purchased the bowl from Whole Foods and I to have at lunch following day. 

Amy's Gluten Free Baked Ziti Bowl
The taste test: Initially I was hesitant to try this product. I assumed that it was going to be dry. I was completely 100% wrong on this one. Upon the first bite the pasta is tender and flavorful. The organic tomato sauce was not too tangy or acidic and Amy's gives a generous portion of it. I could taste each layer of the ingredients from the pasta, peas, sauce and the soy cheese.  The portion was a nice size for lunch.

The verdict: After trying Amy's pasta bowl it made me want to run out and buy rice noodles to make my own baked ziti.  Overall, it has great flavor a great taste and I can't wait to go purchase more Amy's Baked Ziti Bowls. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tandoor Chef's Masala Dosa frozen entree

The product:  I grabbed Tandoor Chef's Masala Dosa on a quick trip to Whole Foods.  I love Indian food with its many vegetarian options.  There were four individually wrapped masala dosa in the box with two packs of chutney that required 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave.  The product is not microwave friendly and the preferred method of cooking is a griddle.  I do not have a griddle so I went with option #2 my oven.  The product took an extra 4 minutes in the oven.  It cooked up crispy on the outside and was easy to plate.
The taste test: The outer shell was airy and crisp.  The potato, rice and onion filling was hearty, rich and nicely spiced.   The chutney mix of coconut and spices and complimented the masala dosa. 
Tandoor Chef's Masla Dosa
The verdict:  I enjoyed Tandoor Chef's Masala Dosa.  Unfortunately, due to the griddle and/or oven cooking methods this is not something I could take for lunch at the office.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Amy's Quinoa & Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard

The product:  Upon finding this in the frozen section at Whole Foods I had high hopes. I'm no stranger to Quinoa.  I have been eating a lot of butternut squash lately considering the cooler weather. Throw in some black beans and Swiss chard and I was sold!

The taste test: I tried this product at lunch today. It heated up nicely in the microwave. It was not fragrant, but within the first bite I knew I needed to pick up a few more. The quinoa, butternut squash and chard were tender. The black beans complimented the dish. 

Amy's Quinoa & Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard
The verdict:  Amy's hit one out of the park with this simple yet tasty light and lean meal.  Time to go pick up some more of these.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Amy's Roasted Polenta with Swiss Chard

The product:  I came across it at Whole Foods.  Could it be?  Roasted polenta and swiss chard as a frozen entrée?  How could this possibly taste good?  The polenta is made with organic cornmeal and is described as being topped with a vegetable stew that includes mushrooms, organic squash and tomatoes.  The swiss chard is slow-roasted.  

The taste test:  I am no stranger to Amy's products and this is one of the latest that Amy's has added to the vegetarian frozen products line.  The roasted polenta was perfectly creamy, smooth and sweet.  The topping of vegetable stew tasted mostly of tomatoes, but complimented the polenta well.  The swiss chard had a surprisingly fresh taste for a frozen entrée.   
Amy's Roasted Polenta with Swiss Chard
The verdict:  I enjoyed this meal and will purchase it again.  It is filling, not too heavy and the chard tasted fresh.  As an added bonus this is one of Amy's Light and Lean products and contains only....wait for it...140 calories!

Le Provencal grilled veggie sandwich by Whole Foods

The product: As part of the rotating sandwich line up at Whole Foods the Le Provencal sandwich ranks among one of my favorites.  Grilled vegetables, Brie cheese and sundried tomato pesto on ciabatta bread make up the Le Provencal sandwich.
The taste test: The sundried tomato pesto is sweet and the Brie has a creamy texture that blends well.  The grilled vegetables which give the sandwich its slight crunch include eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, onions and red and green peppers.  The vegetables are seasoned with olive oil, spices, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard and this combination of flavors works incredibly well.
Le Provencal veggie sandwich by Whole Foods
The verdict:  Whole Foods' Le Provencal grilled veggie sandwich is absolutely delicious.  At first the sandwich may seem simple, but the layers of flavor prove otherwise.  It is highly recommended!    

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Amy's Vegetable Parmesan Bowl review

The product: I happened across a new bowl from Amy's in the frozen section of Whole Foods.  I purchased the Vegetable Parmesan Bowl for lunch at work the next day.  It is described as a ratatouille of vegetables and organic brown rice.  The bowl is gluten free.

The taste test: The eggplant, onions and mushrooms seemed to be cooked to a mushy texture.  The broccoli and green beans stood out as far as what I tasted the most. The tomato sauce was tangy, but the cheese was lacking.  The portion was a good size for lunch.

The verdict: I will purchase Amy's Vegetable Parmesan Bowl again.  When compared to other Amy's Bowls I feel the vegetable parmesan ranks on the low end as far as taste.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tofurky BBQ Chick'n Pockets

The product: I purchased the Tofurky Pockets from Whole Foods. Tofurky kept it simple - Tofurky and barbeque sauce wrapped in whole grain pocket. The suggested cook time is 1 minute 45 second to 2 minutes in the microwave which is similar to non-vegetarian pockets. 
The taste test: At first these Tofurky BBQ Chick'n Pockets sounded tasty, but I feel something is missing. The whole grain pocket was dry and chewy. The Tofurky was good and the texture was chunky as to imitate chunks of barbeque chicken.  The sauce was sweet, smoky, fragrant and overall had a nice tangy barbeque flavor. 
The verdict: I feel that the Tofurky Pocket needs more sauce, less Tofurky chunks, an additional ingredient such as red onions and the whole grain wrap needs work.  Overall, it is a good idea, but there is room for improvement.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Whole Foods Buffalo Garlic Tofu

The salad bar at Whole Foods is a revolving bar of various vegetarian items.  Buffalo Garlic Tofu is one of many tofu dishes that are often featured. This garlicky flavored tofu is potent enough to keep the vampires away and the Spanish onions amplify the flavor. If you love garlic, onions and tofu try some next time you visit your local Whole Foods. 

Want to make your own Buffalo Garlic Tofu?  You can find the Whole Foods recipe here: Buffalo Garlic Tofu Recipe

Buffalo Garlic Tofu, Black Bean and Corn Salad
and Pasta Salad with Feta from Whole Foods