Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Kellogg's Limited Edition Mini Wheats - Pumpkin Spice

With fall upon us it brings all things pumpkin. In true pumpkin lover fashion, this year I decided to pick up a box of the Kellogg's Limited Edition Mini Wheats - Pumpkin Spice. Admittedly, frosted mini wheats are not my favorite cereal but this pumpkin rendition isn't half bad.

Opening the box you're awarded with a classic pumpkin spice aroma. It's nothing artificial but a classic pumpkin spice (think of pumpkin spice seasoning in a jar). The cereal is your classic frosted shredded mini wheat, but instead of the frosting being the signature "vanilla" frosting it's a pumpkin spice-esque flavored frosting. Admittedly, it's not really strong ... to my taste buds, the shredded wheat flavor sort of overpowers the pumpkin flavor. But if you really pay attention, you can find the pumpkin spice flavor because it's undoubtedly there.

It's not a sweet pumpkin spice, it's not overly sugary, processed ... it's your classic pumpkin spice flavoring over a shredded wheat biscuit that provides a touch of sweetness. If you're one who likes overly sweet pumpkin flavored desserts - this probably wouldn't be your forte. But if you enjoy a pumpkin flavored dessert that's not overwhelming in sweetness or spice, this might be very well up your alley.

Personally, I prefer having these dry without any milk. I also prefer to eat these frosting side down so I can taste the pumpkin flavor immediately without searching for it through the clump of shredded wheat.

A serving, 25 biscuits (55g), is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Applebee's Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken

Going on another dinner date to Applebee's with my boyfriend, I opted to try the Applebee's Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken after my last encounter with their under 600 calorie menu left me in search of water and lots of it. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this meal.

The menus describes the dish as "Cedar grilled chicken garnished with Granny Smith apple relish. Topped with lemon olive oil vinaigrette over a blend of cranberries, rice, honey-glazed pecans & quinoa." When the dish was plated before me I thought it looked appetizing. Once I started to eat it, it really did pack a punch in the filling category.

There were no complaints, the chicken was grilled perfectly, the granny smith apple relish balanced the flavors giving a little crunch and tartness and the quinoa side dish was absolutely scrumptious (so much so that I want to make a variation at home). The quinoa had pecans and cranberries mixed into it, which was a nice twist to throw a twist in the quinoa texture. The vinaigrette tied everything together and was just a complete and balanced meal.

It wasn't overly salty, it wasn't overwhelming and I liked the fact that it was just a great little meal to have out without all the fuss about "what do I eat?" Now I know a dish I enjoy and will order whenever I venture back to Applebee's.

A meal is 570 calories or 15 points plus values.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Emily Bites Bubble Up Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

 With the fall (and truly winter in my area) weather upon us, all I have been wanting to eat are homey cozy meals. I'd been in a pot pie mood (seemingly after cooking a homemade turkey pie I had in the freezer) so I decided to give Emily Bites Bubble Up Chicken Pot Pie Casserole a shot. I had been wanting to make the dish for some time and since I had most of the ingredients on hand I added it to my menu for the week.

Out of all of the bubble up casseroles on the Emily Bites website, I will say this is hands down my favorite one (the pizza casserole being my 2nd favorite). This particular recipe is homey, cozy, delicious, comforting, filling and an overall crowd pleaser.

In classic Shannon fashion, I opted to omit the olive oil and instead of sauteing my carrots to soften them, I used frozen peas and diced carrots I picked up at the local grocery store. I figured it'd make putting the dish together a lot easier since I was trying to get dinner prepped and into the oven in a shorter amount of time. They cooked up perfectly while the dish was in the oven without the need to saute. The chicken I used was chicken breast I had cooked in the crock pot. I will say, in the two instances I've made this, I find cutting the chicken into chunks is a lot better than using shredded. On my second attempt making this, my chicken was too hot when I was cutting it up and most if shredded. The shredded chicken absorbs more of the gravy which leaves the end result a little drier.

I personally find the dish to be filling enough that one slice is all I need. There's no need for a small side salad or even a piece of fruit to go along with the meal. So far, all that have tried it have really enjoyed it as well.

A serving, 1/6th of the recipe, is 318 calories or 8 points plus values.

Amy's Light & Lean Spaghetti Italiano

I've always had an interest in Amy's frozen dinners so one day after finding them on sale at my local Target, I decided to pick up the Amy's Light & Lean Spaghetti Italiano. I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination but I do enjoy meatless meals every once in a while. Now, I'd say if you're venturing into meatless possibilities ... definitely give this particular dish a try.

The meal comes packaged encased in a plastic casing, which makes for easy microwave heating (or if you want to be fancy, you can opt for the oven method). With the addition of the bowl once done, you can remove the plastic sleeve and have your lunch/dinner already plated up for you. Now you're probably wondering what exactly the dish consists of. Well, the website lists the dish as "Organic semolina spaghetti, meatless meatballs made of of lentils, quinoa and tofu, topped with a sauce of simmered organic vegetables, roasted garlic and seasonings and a side of broccoli florets."

Admittedly, eating the meatball, I wasn't aware that it was made from tofu (I found this out after the fact). I've never actually had tofu before this dish and I was pleasantly surprised. The meatballs were soft, moist and had a meat like (but not spot-on) texture to them. The pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauce was flavorful. The only thing that took a little getting used to was the addition of the diced zucchini and broccoli running throughout the dish. I've never had broccoli with sauce so it took a bite or two before my taste buds and I were on the same page.

I quite enjoyed it and will undoubtedly repurchase in the future. You certainly get a good bang for your buck food wise vs. calorie wise. It doesn't taste like cardboard and a serving should leave you relatively satisfied.  Another positive note was the fact the sodium wasn't sky-high as it normally is with other prepared frozen meals. Two thumbs up, Amy's!

A serving, 1 bowl, is 240 calories or 6 points plus values.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Oreo Thins

Oreo's have forever been one of my all time favorite packaged cookies - more specifically the classic original chocolate cookie, vanilla cream Oreo's have been my number one stunner. So, needless to say when I saw Oreo's came out with a thinner version of their cookies I was on board. Deciding to give it a whirl, I picked up a package of the classic Oreo Thins.

The cookies themselves are truly your classic Oreo ... just thinner. The cookie itself is crispy, chocolatey and just perfect. It's paired along the classic vanilla cream providing a thinner, delicious Oreo exploration. Truthfully ... these are hands down one of my all time new favorite Oreo's. I think I really like these more than the classic Oreo's which have forever had a piece of my heart. Even my mother, who isn't the biggest Oreo fan, prefers the Thins over the original any day of the week.

The crispiness of the cookie, and the fact that you can have 4 (compared to the normal 2) even though these are smaller is a win-win. I've only heard great things about the other two varieties that are available: golden and mint ... so I'll probably dabble in those sooner than later to see what all the fuss is about.
A serving, 4 cookies, is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Applebee's Napa Chicken & Portabellos

Opting to go out to dinner with my boyfriend one night, we found ourselves at a local Applebee's. Scanning the menu well before we went, I had two options in mind but ultimately decided I'd try the Applebee's Napa Chicken & Portabellos after our server recommended it.

According to the menu the dish is "A grilled chicken breast topped with portobello mushrooms and onions smothered in a rich red wine sauce and our Parmesan cheese blend. Served over sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, red onions and crispy red potatoes."

When the meal came out it looked aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, that's where it stopped. My vegetables were overcooked (minus the onions on top of the chicken which were barely cooked). Aside from that the entire dish was so incredibly salty it was almost too much to handle. Not wanting to complain I picked around my dish and ate what I could handle, leaving back some of the charred salty vegetables and the overwhelming amount of white onion. 

The crispy red potatoes were probably my favorite part of the whole dish. Needless to say if I were to ever consider ordering this again, I'd ask beforehand if there was a way for them to monitor the sodium level in the dish (maybe limiting the sauce/seasoning they use to cook everything) ... if not, I'd steer clear and do myself a favor and pass on re-ordering this.

A serving is 490 calories or 12 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Chickenless Crispy Tenders

Every once in a while I like to step out of the norm and try something different. I usually find myself getting adventurous when it comes to meat alternatives. I've stumbled upon some decent meat alternative foods at Trader Joe's, so when I spotted the Trader Joe's Chickenless Crispy Tenders I decided to pick up a bag to stash in the freezer.

One day I had salad in the refrigerator for lunch, but nothing to go with it ... so I brought my bag of chickenless tenders to work and heated up 2 servings in the toaster oven. The tenders themselves aren't very large, but they are satisfying. Even cooking them in a toaster oven, they crisped up perfectly. Each tender provided a nice crunch, while the inside was soft and moist.

I opted to have them alongside a garden salad and in true I'm a toddler fashion - I ate them dipping the tenders into ketchup. They were honestly really good, satisfying and I enjoyed how crispy they were. They didn't have that meat substitute texture/taste/etc. It honestly tasted like a frozen, processed chicken finger. The only noticeable difference was that the tenders themselves are thinner than average chicken tenders and the coating looks "healthier" if you will.

A serving, 4 tenders, is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Emily Bites Cheesy Potluck Potatoes

Lately I've been getting into a food rut so I decided to step out of the box and try a new side dish. Turns out I've enjoyed it so much, it's been almost a weekly staple I've made to go alongside the various proteins I make for meals during the week.

On my weekend trip through the grocery store I picked up the ingredients needed to make Emily Bites Cheesy Potluck Potatoes and popped my frozen hash brown potatoes in the refrigerator to thaw once I returned home. When I got around to making the dish, while mixing all the ingredients together, I wasn't sure how it'd turn out. Thankfully the end result muted any potential doubt in my mind.

The recipe takes absolutely no time to whip together, perhaps just a little preparation work which means setting a bag of frozen hash browns potatoes in the refrigerator to defrost. After that it's pretty much a matter of dump, stir, bake.  I will admit, I have omitted the onion from the recipe simply because my boyfriend has an allergy - but either way, it's been absolutely delicious. The potatoes bake up wonderfully - the outside creates a nice crust, while the inner layer stays gooey and cheesy. So far all that have tried it (I have made this recipe 4-times since giving it a go) have really enjoyed it and look forward to it. 

If you're concerned with the use of the fat free cream of chicken soup - have no worries, the soup does not create any chicken-esque flavoring. I've enjoyed this as a side dish alongside steak, chicken and one of my absolute favorite ways to have this is included with my breakfast. A little scrambled eggbeaters over the top with a side of bacon/sausage make it a home run.

A serving, 1/8th of the recipe, is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Tempura Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce

After eyeing the Trader Joe's Tempura Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce for months on end, I finally decided to pick up a bag. I popped it in my freezer, deciding to make it for a quick and easy lunch one weekend afternoon. That day rolled around and I pulled the bag out of the freezer, popped the chicken onto a non-stick baking sheet and popped the sweet and sour sauce in a bowl of water.

I baked the chicken per the packaging directions, shaking the chicken around halfway through and topped with the defrosted sauce when done. The tray cooked up nice and evenly. Meanwhile the sauce completely defrosted in some warm water and adhered to the chicken nicely once tossed together. There was extra sauce which pooled into the bottom of the dish, so if whomever is having a dish can add a little extra sauce to his/her liking.

The tempura chicken itself was very good. White meat chicken, nicely battered, moderately crispy. The smaller pieces were crunchier (those are my favorite) while the larger pieces were crispy on the outside, but airy and soft on the inside. It reminded me a lot of the chicken fingers you can get at a local Chinese restaurant. The sauce is your classic sweet and sour which provided absolutely no fuss.

Overall I found it to be quite enjoyable. The only thing that was disappointing was when plating it up - 3 ounces looks like absolutely nothing on a plate (it was roughly 5-6 smaller pieces of chicken). Of course if you bulked it up with vegetables, it might carry you over into your next meal. But if you're in the mood for Chinese and don't want to order take out - this was a pretty delicious option.

A serving, 3 ounces, is 210 calories or 6 points plus values.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Quaker Chewy Girl Scouts Caramel Coconut Granola Bars

Girl Scout cookies are one of my weaknesses. Those green suits, the smiling faces and the promise of a delicious cookies usually makes me cave. This past year I was good and didn't purchase a box of my favorite cookie: Samoas/Caramel deLites. So, I guess because of that when I spotted the Quaker Chewy Girl Scouts Caramel Coconut Granola Bars at my local Target I had to buy a box.

Typically I'm not much of a granola bar fan because what you get usually isn't worth the calories/points. But for an alternative to my favorite cookie, I figured why not?

The bars, as imagined, are small but they do make up in size with flavor. They really do remind me of Samoas/Caramel deLites. The only difference is the texture (they're not as chewy) and there is no presence of coconut flakes in these bars. Other than those two tidbits these are pretty well in comparison. The bars are light, soft, and slightly chewy, while providing caramel and chocolate chip bits. They have a coconut flavor to them, but it's not as bold as it is with the Girl Scout cookies. They do pack quite a sugar kick so it'll satisfy that craving for something sweet. The only downside they're not generally satisfying (on their own).

If you're not a samoas fan there's a Thin Mint variety that's available, which I have heard is fabulous.

A serving, 1 bar, is 100 calories or 3 points plus values.

Hostess Banana Twinkies

I am a banana dessert lover ... if it has banana in it (flavoring or actual banana) I am compelled to try it. Case in point: Hostess Banana Twinkies. I have seen these from time to time and one day on a quick trip through Wal-Mart I decided to pick up a box to give a whirl.

Coinciding with the whole minion craze, the Twinkies are individually wrapped (which is better for portion control) and have little minions on each of the wrapper. Based on sight alone, these look exactly like your average Twinkie and no one would know they were banana if you didn't tell them (the package isn't labeled as such).

Taste wise, it's your classic sponge cake, whereas instead of the regular vanilla cream in your average Twinkie, the cream in these are banana flavored. It's artificial but it's not a grotesque banana flavor. It's smooth, mild and actually quite enjoyable. Truthfully, I'm not the biggest fan of Twinkies ... but I quite enjoyed these, as did everyone that also gave them a try (my boyfriend, my mother, my niece and nephew - who exceptionally loved them). Overall they were quite the win in my opinion.

A serving, 2 cakes, is 270 calories or 7 points plus values or you can have 1 cake for 4 points plus values.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Protein Packed Flapjack and Waffle Mix

Pancakes and waffles are one of those foods that I feel is a cult favorite. They're versatile and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner (no judgement zone!). So when I heard about Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Protein Packed Flapjack and Waffle Mix I made sure to venture to my local Target in search of the hidden gem. When they're not on sale, a box of mix averages around $5 - which is pricey, but it's a lot cheaper than buying a box with online retailers such as Amazon.

Admittedly, I enjoy pancakes or waffles but if I don't have them with an equally packed protein side I find my hunger creeps back a lot faster than it should. Partly because waffles or pancakes are more carbohydrate than protein and the balance doesn't always set well in my system. Kodiak cakes have a whopping 14 grams of protein in it. This of course can be increased if you choose to incorporate your mix with egg whites, skim milk, etc.

My first attempt at making pancakes was a complete and utter fail. Why? I used banana in the mix (as I normally do with regular pancake mix). This unfortunately made the batter way too wet and the pancakes wouldn't form while cooking and turned to complete mush when it was time to flip. I posed a question on Instagram I was so frustrated and the folks who run the Kodiak instagram reached out and advised bananas make the mix too wet so they suggest cutting back on the amount of liquid if you really want to use banana - or just use banana to bake with the mix.

My second attempt, I opted to go with water as my base liquid and I added a few fresh blueberries to the mix. This turned out to be successful and the pancakes formed perfectly and cooked up to perfection. I ate them for breakfast served with some sliced banana and some Walden Farms blueberry pancake syrup.

Outside of banana pancakes being out of the running, I do quite enjoy this mix. I find a serving when paired alongside a small protein (breakfast sausage) it's more than enough to keep me satisfied until lunch time. The pancakes are light in texture and I don't notice any real difference between these and your average run of the mill pancake mix. They're quite good and I can't wait to experiment with what I can whip up using this mix in either pancake, waffle or baked goods form.

A serving, 1/2 cup dry mix, is 190 calories or 5 points plus values.

Oreo's Brownie Batter

There was so much hype around the release of the new Oreo Brownie Batter cookies that when I spotted them at my local Wal-Mart I popped a package in my cart without even batting an eyelash. Truth be told, Oreo's are one of my all time favorite cookies (the original being my favorite of them all). Since I typically don't buy the original Oreo's I find myself sampling the limited edition flavors since for some reason I can handle those in portion sizes.

I had these bad boys tucked away in the closet (out of sight out of mind). I decided to open them up one day and I have to say ... I'm not really impressed. Opening the package and giving the cookies a whiff, they have that brownie batter scent (which truly, is just a chocolate smell). Taking a bite of the cookie they really weren't wowing. They taste simply like a chocolate Oreo cookie - chocolate cookie shell, chocolate cookie creme. There may be a hint of brownie batter in the background ... but calling a spade a spade these are merely a chocolate Oreo cookie. Now I've never had the chocolate Oreo's they sell in stores so I can't compare the two against each other in a flavor showdown - but I'd assume they're different flavor categories. That assumption merely going on the fact I have tried the peanut butter Oreo and the Reese peanut butter cup Oreo's.

Overall I'd say these are alright ... but they're certainly not something that I'd undoubtedly repurchase. Truth be told, I'd probably skip on them if they were out for consumption at anyone's house. They're a bit of a miss for me...
A serving is 2 cookies, 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cup Cakes

I wasn't aware that Hostess came out with a line of limited edition cakes for the fall season until a noon-time browsing session through Target had me stumble upon the Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cup Cakes. Before I even looked at the nutrition label, I popped the box in my cart and off I went.

Hostess has always been a manufacturer of snack cakes I've enjoyed in my childhood (and adulthood). But with this launch, all I can say is these cupcakes spoke to the pumpkin lover in me. Opening the box I noticed a clear difference between these and your classic Hostess cupcakes. These particular cupcakes are packaged in the plastic wrapping, but there is no cardboard piece beneath the cupcakes as there are with other varieties. I also noticed that the cupcakes are darker than the original which would make sense considering it's pumpkin spice. But one of the clear giveaways was that each of the cupcakes seem to be baked unevenly. Almost like they were scooped into baking containers at an angle and popped into an oven to be quick-cooked and baked off at an angle.

Cupcake angle aside, these are pretty good. The cupcakes are a smooth pumpkin spice flavor, which was smooth and flavorful. They're lightly frosted with a cream cheese-like flavored frosting, which along with the cream filling give the cupcake a decent amount of sweetness. The frosting is then decorated with fall sprinkles. Overall, they're pretty good and were a nice snack to have on hand when in the mood for something sweet but in a portion controlled option.

If you're interested, there is also a limited edition Candy Corn variety available for the holiday season.

A serving, 1 cake, is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fiber One Limited Edition Pumpkin Bar

Let me take a moment to introduce you to my newest little friend from the Fiber One brand .... Fiber One Limited Edition Pumpkin Bar. I buy Fiber One products once in a while, but I don't eat them often because the added fiber can reek havoc on my stomach. But when I saw these pumpkin bars ... I knew I had to try them, and I am so glad that I did.

Before I really get into it I will say this: if you're a pumpkin fan, go to your local Target/Wal-Mart (or if you really enjoy them your local Costco) and pick up a box before they are gone for good.  The bars are truly perfection. They're soft and moist (seemingly moister than your average Fiber One bar). They are a true pumpkin flavor without being crazily artificial, there's a subtle sweetness to it with what appear to be white chocolate chips scattered here and there. They add a nice contrast in texture and the drizzle over the top is perfection.

Seemingly one of my favorite pumpkin desserts to date ... which sadly are only available for a limited time. The pumpkin lover in me wishes these would be available year round, because, yes, they are THAT good.

A serving, 1 bar, is 90 calories or 2 points plus values.

Dunkin Donuts Iced Pumpkin Macchiato

I used to not be much of a Dunkin Donuts girl. That is until my boyfriend introduced me to the dark side (that being the Chips Ahoy iced coffee - which sadly they no longer carry). Seeing all the hype online about Dunkin's offering macchiato's ... I decided to give it a try. So, on my way back to work on my lunch break I decided to pick up a large Dunkin Donuts Iced Pumpkin Macchiato.

The iced macchiato is a layered beverage which includes brewed espresso, milk (your choice of whole or skim), ice and pumpkin swirl flavoring. Personally I find the pumpkin swirl to be sweet enough that a large only needed 1 packet of sugar substitute (equal/splenda). The milk is actually flavored with the pumpkin swirl and the espresso is then layered in over the ice and milk to create that gradient effect.

Of course the moment I was given my beverage, I made sure to swirl it all together using my straw to incorporate all the flavors together. I'm not one for a bold shot of espresso without milk or sweetener involved. The macchiato itself is very good. It's got the classic boldness from the espresso, the sweet pumpkin flavor and I found the two extremes in flavors really balance themselves out.

The only cringe worthy part was the price tag. In my area, a large (after meal tax) was $4.27. Granted, it's still cheaper than going to Starbucks (which a venti would actually be smaller than Dunks version - you'd have to stretch for a trenta to compete). But in comparison to the 2 large iced I can get for 80 cents more ... I think my iced pumpkin macchiato days are going to be treated as treats and not an on the regular purchase.

According to the Dunkin Donuts website, a large beverage (made with skim milk) is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Chobani Greek Yogurt Flip - Pumpkin Harvest Crisp

With the change of the seasons upon us this only means one thing ... pumpkin everything! One of those items happens to be one of my favorite snacks: pumpkin yogurts. I'm a hands down pumpkin fanatic, so when I spotted the Chobani Greek Yogurt Flip - Pumpkin Harvest Crisp at my local Target, I made sure to pick one up ... and I am so glad I did.

The yogurt itself is a smooth pumpkin flavored Greek yogurt that isn't tart or overpowering. The Greek yogurt flavor doesn't overpower the pumpkin flavoring either. I'd have to go out on a limb and say this is one of the best pumpkin flavored Greek yogurts I have tried. One of the best parts is the toppings that come alongside the yogurt. It's a nice combination of pie crust, pumpkin seeds and pecans. Once added into the yogurt it really transforms it into a wonderful dessert/snack. The pie crust really seals the deal, while the pumpkin seeds and pecans give nice crunch and a nuttiness to the yogurt.

Overall I think this is one of the best Chobani Flips I have tried to date. I wouldn't be mad if they made this part of their permanent collection ... because lets face it, I'd eat pumpkin yogurt all year long.

A serving, 1 container, is 210 calories or 6 points plus values.

Coffee Mate - Chocolate Chip Cookie Creamer

I have seen the Coffee Mate Chocolate Chip Cookie Creamer at my local grocery store for months. I had refused to purchase it because I had a container of creamer I was working on finishing. Then while on a whim grocery store run I decided to pick up a bottle to try, solely because my local Dunkin Donuts are running out of their Chips Ahoy coffee syrup ... and I was looking for a suitable replacement.

Unfortunately, I didn't find a direct replacement but it is an okay substitute to have in your morning/afternoon/evening coffee if you're in the mood for something sweet. The creamer itself resembles chocolate milk. It's got a chocolate flavor to it, which for me when mixed in my coffee, comes across more like chocolate creamer than chocolate chip cookie. One thing I noticed is that it has a rich creamer flavor to it (more so than in the other creamers I tend to purchase). The creaminess to it is a slight drawback since I'm not the biggest creamer fan (granted, I only use a tablespoon at a time).

Truthfully, Dunkin Donuts set my taste buds on a high standing pedestal and in comparison to that, this doesn't even come close to meeting the mark. It's a decent creamer, but it's certainly not what I had in mind when I purchased it.

A serving, 1 tbsp, is 35 calories or 1 points plus value.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Quest Protein Powder - Peanut Butter Flavor

I've heard rave reviews about Quest protein powder and since I was in the market for a new protein powder I decided to give Quest a shot. I submitted an order online and received a container of Quest Protein Powder - Peanut Butter Flavor. Out of all the flavored protein powders Quest provides, I think I have heard the most about the peanut butter so it definitely peaked my interest so I decided it was time to give it a try.

I ordered my powder from Vitacost and received it within 2-days. Finishing up my existing protein powder I waited a few days before I cracked into this baby ... and I have to say, I'm VERY impressed with this product!  A serving is a pretty substantial scoop of protein powder.  The powder itself is finely milled and reminds me a lot of powdered peanut butter (PB2). 

I added a scoop of protein to my nutribullet, 4 ice cubes, a banana, 1/2 cup cashew milk and 2/3 cup water. I let it blend and it came together perfectly. The peanut butter flavored protein is smooth, creamy, airy (not really frothy but it's got a lightness to it when blended), undoubtedly peanut buttery (it reminds me a lot of the flavor of PB2), and has no aftertaste or chalky taste. It's undoubtedly one of the best protein powders I have tried on the market. A smoothie keeps me satisfied because there's a whopping 23 grams of protein in a serving. Granted, there's not much fiber in the mix (1 gram), which would keep you satisfied longer, but if that's a concern you can always add a scoop of fiber supplement or bulk the smoothie up with other additives to keep you going.

Overall, I'm quite a fan of this and would strongly recommend it, especially if you're in the market for a good tasting protein powder that isn't chalky or unsatisfying. I'm looking forward to experimenting with this ... of course, it's perfect in a smoothie, but I think it'd be a great way to skyrocket the protein in a bowl of oatmeal or even adding the powder into pancake batter to bulk up the protein intake. The possibilities are endless.

A serving, 1 scoop, is 110 calories or 2 points plus values.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lean Cuisine Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

I'm not usually one to have a frozen dinner for lunch, particularly mac & cheese (because I have a picky palate).  But after hearing how great the Lean Cuisine Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese was I decided to pick some up after finally finding them at a local Target.

According to the box the meal is made with organic pasta, no GMO ingredients and no preservatives. Granted, the sodium level is a little high - but I feel if it suits your lifestyle and you're getting in water a little extra sodium at one meal isn't going to hurt you.

All that aside, I have to say, this is one of the best frozen mac & cheeses I have tried to date. I enjoy the reduced guilt mac & cheese from Trader Joe's - but I find this one is a lot creamier in consistency. The pasta in this isn't your normal run of the mill elbow macaroni, this is a cavatappi pasta (corkscrew). The shape of the pasta certainly helps the cheesey goodness stick to the noodle. The creaminess of the dish certainly make it delicious - it'd be great with a little broccoli added to it to bulk it up, or even alongside some grilled protein. Admittedly the shape of the container it is does make it seem like you're getting gypped for the calorie intake but it's satisfying so it's well worth it.

I think the thing I like the most, outside of it being tasty, is that it has 14 grams of protein in it! That's pretty good considering it's a frozen meal. I did pair this alongside a turkey burger - but I've also had it for a 'lighter lunch" with a greek yogurt on the side. Either way, it's been satisfying and I'd undoubtedly repurchase again.

A serving, 1 container, is 260 calories or 7 points plus values.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Harvestland Florentine Chicken Burgers

At my local wholesale club I picked up a package of the Harvestland Florentine Chicken Burgers. I've tried Harvestland products in the past and have been satisfied with them so far, so I figured I'd give these pre-cooked chicken burgers a shot.

The burgers are advertised as gluten free, antibiotic free, no animal by-products and the chickens are served an all vegetarian diet.

Since the chicken burgers are pre-cooked it makes reheating a breeze. Popping them onto a frying pan I brought them up to temperature and served as I would any normal hamburger. Topped with mustard, ketchup and some fresh lettuce and tomato I was good to go. The burgers are substantial that they're satisfying and are firm when you bite into them. I sometimes find with pre-cooked burgers the consistency can be off ... but these are along the lines of frozen hamburg patties where they stay firm in texture.

Flavor wise I wouldn't say they're overly strong. They're mild, taste like a chicken burger but there isn't any real or even strong spinach or cheese flavor that I found. In my eyes it's a way to get a little protein and (a small amount of) vegetable into your diet without really noticing it. They really aren't bad and I found I enjoy them as a convenience meal - for the days where I need something quick, but don't want to spend much time in the kitchen.

Each burger is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dunkin Donuts Reese's Peanut Butter Square Donut

One day browsing through Facebook I stumbled upon a post from Reese's stating they had merged with Dunkin Donuts and created a Dunkin Donuts Reese's Peanut Butter Square Donut. Immediately, my mind was set on a mission. Truthfully ... I don't like Dunkin Donuts donuts (I prefer a few local smaller chain donut shops and a local grocery stores donuts - they're just tastier). But for Reese's I was inclined to give it a go.

I figured out the points for it and one afternoon I popped into the Dunkin Donuts near my work and picked one up. Do note these are pricier than the regular donuts available at DD's - these are $1.50/ea (which does help in only purchasing one). I brought my donut and iced coffee back to work to enjoy while I got back into the swing of things at my desk.

The first bite, I was like "okay..." but that's because it was just dough and the chocolate frosting on top - very reminiscent of your classic chocolate frosted. Now, the second bite is where all the magic happened. The second bite contained some of the pipped peanut butter filling. All I can say is: heaven. It's a heavenly experience. It's as if a chocolate frosted donut had a baby which was an airy peanut butter cream. Fantastic! It merges two perfect worlds (donuts and peanut butter cups) into one and it's done spectacularly.

As a Reese fan I can say this is reminiscent of Reese's but just in a completely different version of the classic - it's of course, in donut form. The peanut butter cream is light and airy, which also isn't adversely sweet. The combination is fabulous - almost so fabulous I need to forget how good it was since I live in an area where there is a Dunkin's on every corner!

Each donut is 370 calories or 10 points plus values.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Yoplait Greek 100 Calories - Orange Creme

I'm a pretty avid Yoplait and Dannon Greek yogurt fan, pretty much if I see a new flavor, I'm going to give it a try. One of the flavors that's been out for a while, but I haven't been able to find anywhere has been the Yoplait Greek 100 Calories - Orange Creme.

I have seen this shown on numerous Instagram postings for months and I finally found the allusive yogurt at a local Wal-Mart. Sadly, not all retailers carry this flavor ... and sadly I only purchased one container while at the store. Note to self: buy more when you find this again.

Granted, with that statement you can pretty much sum up the fact that I completely LOVE this yogurt! It tastes just like an orange creme popsicle. It's got that cool orange flavor, while having a creamy vanilla base which in my mind tastes along the lines of the ice cream in a orange cream popsicle. It's definitely a dessert like yogurt, that I'd enjoy as an after lunch or dinner "dessert". It's refreshing, delicious and a complete win for me. I need to venture my way back to my local Wal-Mart to get a couple of these to stash away in the refrigerator when I want something dessert-like.

A serving, 1 container, is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fruit Dips - Just Ripe Banana

I have seen the Fruit Dips - Just Ripe Banana over and over again at my local grocery store but had yet to pick them up until I was in the mood for something along the lines of ice cream. I'm a banana dessert junkie so I decided I just had to give these a shot. Particularly after my coworker turned me onto frozen banana slices topped with nutella (sorry for that tidbit).

The box describes the frozen dessert as a "premium frozen fruit bars dipped in rich chocolate coating." They're smaller in size, but big enough to be satisfying and satisfy that sweet tooth. The bar itself is made of mashed up frozen bananas which are frozen to a stick. It's then coated in a thin layer of chocolate which help bring fourth the banana flavor and natural sweetness of the fruit. It's the right amount of sweetness to be a suitable dessert and satisfying enough when you want something cold to cool you down. I found it to be quite enjoyable - more so than the chocolate covered frozen bananas they sell in the grocery store and at local fairs.

These are sold in a number of different flavors. Just to name a few: strawberry, coconut, and they're also sold with a Greek yogurt topping instead of the chocolate.

A serving, 1 pop, is 92 calories or 2 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Popcorn in a Pickle

Popcorn is one of those snacks that can truly be transformed into anything depending on your mood. Salty, savory, sweet, plain, etc. ... the world is essentially your oyster when you're in a popcorn mood. Needless to say when I spotted the Trader Joe's Popcorn in a Pickle I had to pick up a bag for curiosities sake.

I am a pickle and popcorn fan ... so to have the two merge into one world, it felt like an experience one should engage in. After all I have had pickle flavored potato chips in the past, so, why not venture into pickle flavored popcorn? Upon opening the bag I admit, I was surprised as how much like an open jar of pickles it smelled like. That vinegary, briny sourness just punches your nostrils and really does kind of leave you confused, worried and possibly even scared.

First bite ... holy moly! It taste like a pickle! Mind boggling is all I can say. My taste buds were completely confused because it's a different texture, but the flavor is all there. The more you eat, the tarter it tends to get. My face was puckering, my jaw was getting tense. I only had about 3/4 of a cup before I decided to tap out. Just due to the tartness of it, I don't think this is something that one could easily be binge on. It's more of a have a snack, enjoy it and put it away for later. This isn't like the Baconesque popcorn that I basically have to hide from myself and put myself on time out when I continue to go back for more.

Sharing this with my mother (who absolutely loved it) one of the first things I said to her was, "I'm pretty sure this is a stereotypical pregnant woman's dream come true."

A serving, 2 cups, is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Taco Bell Cantina Chicken Power Bowl

One afternoon en route to our destination, my boyfriend said he wanted Taco Bell.  Immediately I thought "darn..." because I truly wasn't in the mood for a taco because I wanted something that would be satisfying (i.e. I didn't want to be hungry a couple hours later). Glancing over their menu it dawned on me that they had power bowl menu's which I had believed to be lower in calories/points (I wasn't able to check at the time of drive-thru so I winged my order and got it how I thought I'd like it).

I ended up ordering the Taco Bell Cantina Chicken Power Bowl (the entree is also sold topped with steak, while it can also be purchased as a burrito). The good thing about these salads is that they're made to order. You can remove items from the meal or add them based on your likes or dislikes (one of those additions can be extra lettuce).

According to the website: "Experience how High Protein meets BIG Flavor! 100% marinated and fire-grilled white meat chicken, crisp romaine lettuce, guacamole made from real Hass avocados, pico de gallo prepared fresh daily, flavorful avocado ranch dressing, real cheddar cheese, and cool reduced-fat sour cream, all served on a bed of premium Latin rice and slow-simmered black beans. Also available in Steak or Veggie."

I personally found the power bowl to be quite satisfying. It was flavorful and far from boring. I enjoy taco salads at home but sometimes I don't think to put beans and rice in it - so it was definitely a delicious addition. Even though I ordered my salad without dressing the container was put into the bag. I did give it a little sample (dipped my fork into it) and it's quite delicious. Personally, for my taste buds it'd be a little too rich to drizzle over the bowl ... but I found just with everything combined there wasn't a need for the salad dressing.

Each bowl, as served is 490 calories or 13 points plus values.

Whereas, each bowl without sour cream, cheese and avocado ranch dressing (as I purchased it) is 380 calories or 10 points plus values.

You can calculate any of Taco Bells items to your liking by adding/subtracting toppings from any of their menu items using the following calculator: http://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/calculator

Monday, August 24, 2015

Trader Joe's Meatless Breakfast Patties

Every once in a while I like to try meatless products to switch things up a bit. I'm not anti-meat, but sometimes things get boring and need a little exciting different things thrown in the mix. With that, I opted to pick up a box of the Trader Joe's Meatless Breakfast Patties one afternoon and popped them in my freezer. I pulled them out the other day to have prepared for breakfasts for a few days.

For not being made of meat I have to say these breakfast patties are really quite good. Size comparison they're about roughly the same size as Morningstar Farms breakfast patties, whereas in comparison to your average round pork breakfast patty these are roughly larger than those. You can choose to heat these in a pan on the stove top or heat them in the microwave (cooking time varies based on the amount of patties cooking at once).  I personally opted for the microwave option because I was trying to move the food preparation process along a little faster.

Taste wise, these have the classic flavor notes of regular sausage patties. They're not greasy tasting or fatty flavored - they're just spiced quite well. Cutting into them, they appear to have the same texture as regular sausage. Flavor wise they're pretty tasty (spice wise), not bad at all. They are a little softer in texture (if you're comparing it to regular sausage) but they're no where near mushy. The outside has a decent crust on it, which leaves the insides relatively moist.

A single patty offers a gracious 7 grams of protein, which is pretty spectacular in my book.

A serving, 1 patty, is 80 calories or 2 points plus values.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Juice - Watermelon

When spring and summer rolls around my absolute favorite fruit is hands down watermelon. It's refreshing, sweet, juicy and can be served in a number of ways always keeping things interesting. Needless to say when I spotted the Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Juice Watermelon I was intrigued off the bat and had to pick up a bottle.

I've tried a cold pressed juice in the past from Trader Joe's and wasn't impressed, but I figured how on earth could we screw up watermelon? Thankfully, that thought process was correct. This watermelon pressed juice is quite delicious. It's refreshing, while it's not very sweet. There's a bit of tartness to it (in part to the lemon added to the drink), but also due to using some of the less sweet parts of the watermelon (the white on the rind which is included when making this juice). There's that familiar bitterness associated with it that one gets when biting into the white on a watermelon rind. It's not offensive or overwhelming, it's just there lingering in the background.

Like all cold pressed juices, if you let this sit in the refrigerator untouched, the sediment part of it settles at the bottom of the container. But once you shake it up, everything happily merges together. According to the bottle a serving contains approximately 2 pounds of watermelon and 1/4 lemon.  Overall I quite enjoyed it and would repurchase again if I was in the mood for a watermelon flavored juice.

A serving, 1 bottle, is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Dannon Evolution Fresh Pineapple Passion Fruit Greek Yogurt

Checking out the yogurt selection at a local grocery store, I spotted a new line of yogurt and picked up the Dannon Evolution Fresh Pineapple Passion Fruit Greek Yogurt. The yogurt is advertised to be a healthier option having no added flavors, artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives. I figured the pineapple passion fruit would be more suitable to my taste buds.

The yogurt itself is decent ... I wouldn't venture out to say it's one of the best yogurts I have had, because it's not, but it's not terrible. Overall, it's mildly sweet while the yogurt itself is on the tarter side. Consistency wise, it's pretty thick but it does have a bit of looseness to it. The fruit on the bottom is a unique texture .. it reminds me a lot of pureed fruit.  It's thicker while also having a gelatin vibe to it. I didn't think it screamed pineapple passion, it was rather lackluster and on the boring side.

I wouldn't say run out and buy it immediately. But if you're in the market for a healthier alternative to yogurt, why not give it a shot? It's not bad, it just wasn't my ideal type of Greek yogurt.

A serving is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Yoplait Greek 100 Calories Whips! Coconut Macaroon

This has to be one of the most exciting yogurt finds I have stumbled across in a while. When the Greek Whips line launched I was quick to try a few of the flavors available ... but let me introduce you to one of the newest (and my favorite): Yoplait Greek 100 Calories Whips! Coconut Macaroon.

The Yoplait Whips are a Greek yogurt which is whipped, which leaves the yogurt with a very light and airy consistency. The consistency is more along the lines of freshly made whipped cream. Flavor wise it's definitely a healthier rendition of a coconut macaroon. The coconut flavor is there on center stage, but it's not overwhelming nor is it artificial tasting. The smoothness and creaminess of the yogurt give it that macaroon vibe.

Even though these have a few grams of protein less (9g) than your average Greek yogurt (12g), I still think these are a perfect little snack to have on hand from time to time. It definitely switches things up and can give your yogurt game a little twist. Plus it's a new texture to confuse your palette with.

A serving is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hillshire Snacking Grilled Chicken Bites - Honey Mustard

Browsing the aisles of my local grocery store I stumbled upon some packaged protein snacks that caught my attention. What really caught my attention was the variety of flavors available in the line. With that I opted to try the Hillshire Snacking Grilled Chicken Bites - Honey Mustard.

I found these little gems stocked in the area where the Lunchables and other "kid friendly" meals/snacks would be. These are packaged similar to the Lunchables protein packs where there's a little spot for the container of dipping sauce and the chicken is served in the tray alongside it. One of the bonuses with these is that they can be consumed either cold or warmed in the microwave for 15 seconds.

One might be thinking if you wanted protein why not cook a piece of chicken and take it with you? Sure, that was one of my thoughts but ideally sometimes one needs a grab and go type of snack and protein is one of those staple items that is guaranteed to curb my appetite. I brought this to work with me, stashed it in the refrigerator and one day where I was feeling snacky I took it out, popped it in the microwave (I removed the sauce first) and found it was satisfying.

The chicken isn't the best chicken I've ever had, but it's decent for what you're getting. It's smooth, white meat chicken - perhaps slightly processed feeling, but far better than deli ham/turkey cubes. The honey mustard sauce was a perfect addition to the chicken, providing flavor without being overwhelming. The sauce container is smaller, but it was truly was more than enough for the 3 ounces of chicken in the container. I was able to get a good dip of each piece of chicken without running out of sauce before I ran out of chicken. Overall, I found it to be pretty satisfactory for a grab-and-go type of deal.

The flavor varieties my store carried were as follows: honey mustard, teriyaki, mango habanero and spicy chipolte BBQ.

A serving, 1 package, is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

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Yoplait Greek 100 Calories - Honey

Back in the day when I first started getting into Greek yogurt, I'd try to ease the way into the transition with honey flavored yogurt. Of course not all Greek yogurts are the same ... but thru the course of time, I've found my new all-time favorite honey Greek yogurt. Let me introduce you to Yoplait Greek 100 Calories Honey.

The yogurt itself is moderately thick in consistency, while having a pretty straight forward honey flavor. It's not overly sweet, not boldly artificial, but just right. The yogurt isn't tart (which is appreciated) and has a nice sweetness to it. I enjoyed it alongside some fresh fruit which paired perfectly.  This would be perfect straight out of the container, made into a parfait, or even served topped with some cereal (as a substitute to milk). Overall, I really enjoyed it and I'm glad to have found a honey flavored Greek yogurt that isn't an assault on my taste buds.

A serving is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trader Joe's Super Green Powder

Jumping on the green juice bandwagon I decided to pick up a container of the Trader Joe's Super Green Powder in an attempt give myself a little bit more of an antioxidant boost. I get in my share of fruits and vegetables daily, but I figured a little added boost wouldn't hurt.

The bottle says that a single scoop contains at least 8000 ORAC units (for example, a 3.5 oz serving of cherries has about 670 ORAC units and a 3.5 oz serving of broccoli has about 900 ORAC units). Quite a boost comparatively speaking. The container states to add a scoop to 1 cup of water, skim milk or juice. It can even be stirred or mixed in a blender for smoother consistency. It's also suggested to use the mix once daily to receive the health benefits.

On my first try I opted to go with 1 scoop into 1 cup of water. Immediately my water was transformed into a dark (but see thru) shade of green. It smelled faintly of berries, but not overwhelmingly so (say, in comparison to a Crystal Light packet). Upon first sip, I was surprised with how bland it tasted. It really tasted like nothing ... kind of like when someone adds a flavor packet of Kool-Aid into water (without any sugar added). It tastes like something, but tastes like nothing at the same time because there's no added sweetness.

Just because of that this isn't a supplement I'd suggest drinking plain in a glass of water or milk (unless you're into that flavor profile). I'd suggest mixing this into a smoothie for a little added boost that you're sneaking in. This way you're at least getting the nutrients without perhaps chugging a flavor profile you're not exceptionally excited about.
A serving, 1 scoop (10g), is 50 calories or 1 points plus values.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wendy's BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

One evening en route to our destination, my boyfriend and I popped into Wendy's to pick up dinner. Not really in the mood for a hamburger, I opted to try the Wendy's BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad (Half Size Portion) (note: the salad is also sold in a full size as well).

The salad itself consists of a bed of garden salad, sliced grilled chicken, apple wood smoked bacon, BBQ chicken salad blend, sweet BBQ glaze and a side of barbecue ranch dressing. Looking at the salad one can see a blend of mixed greens, tomatoes, shredded cheese, bacon, grilled chicken, two separate sauces (one light brown, one darker brown) and sprinkled corn kernels throughout the salad. I have ordered this salad twice and have found that depending on your location the chicken may come on the salad cold whereas other locations serve it hot. Personally, I don't really care for cold chicken ... so if you're a picky eater, I'd request they heat the chicken up for you if possible (in my opinion the salad with heated chicken tasted better).

Serving wise, the half salad was good for a lighter meal - maybe something you pair alongside some fruit, etc. Whereas the full-size salad I found to be plenty satisfying and filling enough to be a main course at dinner time. Personally, I don't find the need to use the barbecue ranch dressing because there's plenty of sauce on the salad itself ... but it's good to have a packet on the side just in case you need a little extra.

Overall I really enjoyed this salad and will continue to purchase it whenever at Wendy's and in the mood for something outside of the norm.

A half size salad is 320 calories or 8 points plus values (this includes the dressing). If you decide to go without the dressing, you can subtract the 100 calories off your stats (or your 3 points plus values) making the salad WITHOUT dressing 5 points plus values.

Whereas a full size salad is 600 calories or 16 points plus values (this includes the dressing). If you decide to go without the dressing, you can subtract the 190 calories off your stats (or your 5 points plus values), making the salad WITHOUT dressing 11 points plus values.

Detox/Cleansing Water

I whipped up a pitcher of "cleansing water" to have on hand in the refrigerator. I've seen so many people talk about the benefits of drinking water which has been infused with cucumber, lemon and mint but had never given it a shot. I was a little concerned with what it would taste like, particularly because not all infused water flavors are for everyone.

Although with this particular mixture, I found it to be very refreshing. The flavors were noticeable but they were light and crisp. There was an underlying lemon, mint and cucumber flavor without either one overpowering the other. The mixture does give the water a little bit of a tinge in shade (it's still clear, but it's a little 'murky' from the flavors flavors and pulp infusing with the water).

All you do is add sliced lemon, cucumber and mint leaves to a container, fill it with water and allow it to infuse in the refrigerator overnight.

The concoction is one of the best waters to be drinking because the added items aid in digestion and cleansing. For instance:

* Cucumber is good for re-hydration and works as an anti-inflammatory.
* Mint adds sweetness without sugar and aids in digestion.
* Lemon helps cleanse the body, aids in digestion and works on boosting the immune system.

Certainly there are health benefits to adding the items to your water but it also gives a guilt-free flavor additive to your beverage without any artificial sweeteners/dyes/ etc.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trader Joe's Grilled Chicken Strips

Every once in a while I like to have a convenience food on hand to make my meal prepping for lunches a little easier. Last time I went to the store I made sure to pick up a package of the Trader Joe's Grilled Chicken Strips. The chicken is fully cooked chicken breast, which is cut into strips and is plain ole chicken - no extravagant flavors present.
Since the chicken is already cooked, all that it requires is a couple minutes in the microwave and it's ready to serve up. What I like to do is open the package and weigh out my serving. I put the individual servings in the fridge and microwave what I need for a particular meal before I'm going to eat it. It just makes things easier to prep and divide servings.
I'm a picky eater when it comes to chicken and this is real white meat chicken breast, which pairs perfectly with whatever you decide to pair it with. I typically go with a salad or a grilled chicken salad wrap. Since it's plain it'll adapt to whatever flavors you add to it.
A serving, 3 ounces, is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Dannon Light & Fit Greek Chocolate on Top - Banana

When I first heard Dannon launched a brand of Light & Fit Greek yogurt with chocolate on top I made it a priority to track them down. Dannon Light & Fit is my #1 favorite brand of Greek yogurt. So when I finally spotted the Dannon Light & Fit Greek Chocolate on Top - Banana at a local grocery store, I didn't even think twice before adding it into my grocery cart.

The yogurt is your classic, thick banana flavored Greek yogurt, which has a layer of runny chocolate over the top. Initially in my mind I thought the chocolate would be more along the lines of a ganache or even like a slightly thicker version of chocolate (like a sundae sauce).

Upon first bite, I really wasn't impressed and upon second bite I wasn't a huge fan. The chocolate completely overwhelms the flavor of the yogurt. The chocolate syrup reminds me of sugar free chocolate syrup that you'd mix with milk. The chocolate is bitter, not sweet and overpowering. I really couldn't taste the flavor of the yogurt at all when eating it together. I truly didn't enjoy it, which is saddening since I typically am a huge fan of anything Dannon pulls out of their magic hat.

Each serving is 100 calories or 3 points plus values.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pillsbury Strawberry Banana Muffins

Being the coffee lover I am, I tend to order more of the "adventurous" flavored coffees at my local coffee spot. One of my absolute favorites is the strawberry banana coffee - which is a mixture of strawberry flavored coffee and banana coffee (flavored beans, not syrups). Chatting with my boyfriend one afternoon, he had mentioned that he'd love to try a strawberry banana muffin ... and that's when the light bulb over my head lit up.

I have made banana breads with roasted strawberries in them, so I imagined it wouldn't be too difficult to make some. It just happened that I was buying ripe bananas to make a banana bread to give to my dad for his birthday. Since I had extra bananas I looked for a muffin recipe online and stumbled upon one from Pillsbury ... and that's when the Strawberry Banana Muffins came to life (and a double batch at that!).

Whipping the batter up was a breeze, baking was a breeze and consuming was a breeze. I made enough to send some home with my boyfriend, to share with family and to bring some in to share with my coworkers. They had the classic chewiness that comes with muffins, but it had that banana bread flare. The fresh strawberries running throughout the batter was a nice twist. Overall these muffins were a total hit and everyone that had one (or two, or three) enjoyed them immensely.

Each muffin is 210 calories or 6 points plus values.

You can find the recipe here on the Pillsbury website.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lemon Twist Oreo's

One evening at a local grocery store, I stumbled across Lemon Twist Oreo's. I was on the fence as to if I wanted to try them because I had tried the Lemon Golden Oreo's and completely loved them ... but I was more concerned about the chocolate cookies hell mixing with a lemon cream center.

Let me say this ... don't let contemplating mixing lemon and chocolate together stop you because this isn't a horrendous experience!

Fortunately any concern I had was short lived because these are quite good. I'd coin these as the chocolate daddy to the lemon Oreo. There is certainly a lemon flavor to these, but it's very light and rather refreshing. The chocolate cookie itself helps cut back at the lemony zip making it a unique and refreshing flavor category. The lemon pop isn't as in-your-face as it is with the Golden Lemon Oreo's, but these certainly stand on their own.

Overall, I'd say these are pretty fabulous and worth the shot.

A serving, 2 cookies, is 140 calories or 4 points plus values.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fiber One Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

I feel like my area was the last one to get in the Fiber One Strawberry Cheesecake Bars. Typically I'm a fan of Fiber One products, but I eat their products very sparingly because the added fiber in their products can give me a world of a tummy ache. But low and behold after spotting them at Target I picked up a box (these also come in Salted Caramel).

The cheesecake bars themselves are the same size as all other Fiber One products. There's not much else to say about these other than the fact they do really taste like cheesecake. They have that crumbly crust, soft gooeyish enter with a nice jelly consistency strawberry jam running down the top of it. They're mildly sweet, but certainly not sweet enough to overwhelm the taste buds.  A few folks have said putting them in the refrigerator only intensifies the cheesecake experience.

Overall, these are quite good. They do give you that cheesecake vibe without the absorbent amount of calories/points your average cheesecake brings to the table. So, that alone is a win in my book.
A serving is 150 calories or 4 points plus values.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dunkin Donuts Chips Ahoy Iced Coffee

I am a huge coffee fan ... but I am also a little bit of a coffee snob. I have a favorite local coffee shop that makes coffee from flavored beans. That is until my boyfriend turned me onto Dunkin Donuts Chips Ahoy Iced Coffee.
Initially I was hesitant because I don't really enjoy sugary syrups in my coffee (for instance, if I do get syrup in coffee it's sugar free). But I have to say, this particular coffee has completely turned my coffee world upside down. The coffee is sweetened with a syrup, but there's chocolate syrup that is squirted into the bottom of the cup - which upon first sip REALLY gives you the illusion of biting into a chocolate chip cookie.
The coffee is sweet, chocolatey, and reminiscent of a cookie. Utterly delicious and so worth the splurge in calories/points plus values. I find the flavor lasts through the entire coffee. Although I also found it can be fast lived if you don't stir it up a bit and end up drinking up the syrup and chocolate sauce before really digging into the coffee itself (considering the layers can seperate a bit). Overall this is a complete home run, game changing coffee.

A large ice coffee (without any milk or added sugar) is 200 calories or 5 points plus values. I typically order my iced coffee with a little bit of skim milk so I call the whole coffee 5 points plus values.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Trader Joe's This "Fig Walks Into a Bar" Cereal Bars

Every once in a while I'm in the mood for a cereal bar. Typically I don't purchase them because I don't find them to be satisfying enough of a snack, but on one trip I decided to pick up a box of the Trader Joe's This "Fig Walks Into a Bar" Cereal Bars. I had run out of my Nature Box fig bars and decided to try something different.

These fig bars are your traditional cereal bar, smaller in size, but they offer a soft, slightly crumbly crust surrounding the soft and gooey fig center. They're really along the lines of a Fig Newton if they were laid 2-3 back to back. In comparison to a fig newton they're definitely a lot softer. Some of the packages after opening it was found that the fig center had sweat a bit, making the cereal bar crust a little softer and appeared to be wetter. Nothing detrimental or nothing that took away from the product.

Taste wise they taste just like a fig flavored cereal bar. There's nothing surprising about them. They're a good product and a decent snack to have to switch things up and make them interesting from time to time.

A serving, 1 bar, is 120 calories or 3 points plus values.

Longhorn's Balsamic Raspberry Seared Chicken

I don't eat out very often, but when I do I make sure to check the restaurants website to see if any nutrition information is available. One afternoon I went to a local Longhorn with my father to celebrate Father's Day. Before I left the house I had decided I was going to order the Longhorn Balsamic Raspberry Seared Chicken.

The menu described the meal as "fresh chicken breasts topped with white wine butter, balsamic-raspberry drizzle and goat cheese crumbles. Served with choice of fresh green beans or broccoli." As for my side, I opted for my side of broccoli plain (with no butter on it). I am not too sure if there is a difference between the lunch time menu and the dinner, I couldn't find any different nutrition facts online.

The dish itself was quite delicious! The balsamic glaze paired perfectly with the raspberry and goat cheese. The raspberries were a little too much for my palette to accept, so I picked them off and discarded them. It wasn't that they were gross, but it was just the texture of the berries (they got softer because they were on top and around the hot chicken). The chicken was moist, the glaze was flavorful without being overwhelming and the goat cheese provided a very rich and creamy layer to the dish. The creaminess helped offset some of the "zippiness" from the balsamic glaze and even the raspberries alike.

I found it to be very satisfying and I would ultimately order it again next time I'm at a Longhorn.

The dish is 540 calories or 13 points plus values.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chips Ahoy! Limited Edition Chocolate Banana

While at the grocery store I spotted a new cookie and decided to give it a try. The fact that it had banana in it, is truly what sold me ... so I welcomed a package of Chips Ahoy! Limited Edition Chocolate Banana cookies into my grocery cart with open arms.

Unfortunately the cookies didn't merely live up to the expectation built up in my head. I was expecting a strong robust banana flavor which was only intensified by the chocolate chips. But ... they were really a huge fail for me. The cookies themselves are along the lines of rather artificial banana flavor mixed in with your average Chips Ahoy! cookie. These are a crunchy cookie, like the standard Chips Ahoy! not the chewy variety. I truly wasn't a fan .. I had one cookie out of the whole package before "forcing" them upon my guests to try/eat/sample/take home.

Sadly these were a fail ... I guess if I really want a potentially delicious chocolate chip banana cookie I may have to just get adventurous in the kitchen.

A serving, 2 cookies, is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Weight Watchers Chicken Burgers

I feel like it's been ages since Weight Watchers launched frozen chicken products in local grocery stores. I remember when they first launched I was excited to give them a try. I've since purchased a few packages of the Weight Watchers Chicken Burgers (note: these are now sold in resealable plastic zipper top bags). One afternoon I pulled the box out of the freezer and cooked the chicken burgers up as part of a quick "meal prep" to have some cooked protein on hand.
The packaging used to be in big bulky boxes, with an inner package containing the frozen chicken burgers/chicken strips. But I've seen slimmer packaging (like plastic bag containers) in the local grocery stores these days, which definitely makes storing a lot easier and less spacious.
The burgers are formed and ready to be cooked. I chose to cook them on top of the stove, seasoning one side with some hamburger seasoning. They cooked up easily and were quite satisfying. The chicken remained moist without drying out and were flavorful.  Adding a little ketchup, mustard, onion, lettuce and tomato to a sandwich I definitely didn't miss the beef. These were one of the better frozen chicken burgers I have tried out on the market. The best part is these are readily available in my area to be purchased, unlike some other brands.
Each chicken burger is 140 calories or 3 points plus values.