Saturday, June 27, 2015

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I decided to pick up a Trader Joe's Cinnamon Coffee Cake after an early afternoon trip to the store. The woman covering the sample section of the store had mentioned they were sampling the cake this morning and that it was delicious. She mentioned that it was made with sour cream, which intrigued me because sour cream in desserts typically makes them exceptionally moist.
Bringing the cake home and cutting it up, I was a little surprised with how crunchy/hard the outside of the cake was. It was caked in sugar, which after baking formed a somewhat hard/crunchy crust all along the exterior and top of the cake due to the sugar carmelizing. The texture of the coffee cake itself was moist ... which actually was my favorite part (admittedly I threw out some of my exterior of my cake because I liked the center the best). It is sweet, somewhat overly if you get a big bite of the crunchy/crumbled sugar over the cake.  Considering I'm a huge cinnamon lover I didn't find it to be cinnamony enough for me.
Overall, I found the coffee cake to be rather mediocre and kind of boring. I had a moment of "This isn't even worth it..." during eating it.  After the one piece I had, I did not go back for seconds and ended up offering it out to guests to have with coffee when they came over to visit.

A serving, 1/8th is 200 calories or 5 points plus values.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

High Brew Coffee Cold Brew Coffee - Salted Caramel

Cold brew coffee has become quite the rage. I've tried a few in the past but haven't tried any of the cold brews that are ready to drink (meaning they have some amount of sugar/milk in them). I spotted the High Brew Coffee Cold Brew Coffee - Salted Caramel at my local Target and decided to pick up a can to give a try.

I popped the can in the refrigerator and decided to have it alongside my breakfast one morning ... and I have to say, I was really impressed. It's a bolder coffee flavor, but it's not bitter/acidic (which is typically what cold brew is known for). It's smooth, slightly sweet and has a mild creaminess to it. The salted caramel flavor is in the background, but it's more of a subtle caramel then say a bold salted caramel.

Overall it was quite an enjoyable glass of iced coffee. I liked that the flavors all balanced well against one another, without any singular flavor category cancelling another out or being overwhelming. That reason alone, I tend to steer away from prepackaged coffee beverages (that already have sugar and cream/milk in them) because they can either be too sweet or too overly creamy. This was a perfect balance.

A serving, 1 can, is 60 calories or 2 points plus values.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trader Joe's Cilantro Salad Dressing

I have been in quite the salad rut as of late so I picked up a bottle of Trader Joe's Cilantro Salad Dressing in hopes it would transform my salad life. Truthfully, I'm not the biggest cilantro fan but I'll try (almost) anything once and since I was a fan of the Bolthouse Farms Avocado Cilantro dressing I figured this couldn't be so bad.

The consistency of the dressing is thinner, but it does have a little body to it. I found a serving is more than enough to cover a decent size salad without feeling gypped or let down. Flavor-wise, it's definitely cilantro flavored salad dressing, but it's not offensive or overwhelming on the palette. I enjoyed it on top of a salad, served alongside steak tips and a baked potato.

Some folks have stated they like to use this as a marinade. If I was to go that route, I'd certainly have to add some additional flavors to it (since I am particularly picky about my meats seasonings).

According to the Trader Joe's website: "This crisp, cool dressing begins with a reduced fat mayonnaise base, and gets both its bright color and vibrant flavor from loads of fresh cilantro. We include crumbled Cotija cheese, pasilla peppers and finely chopped pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to round out the flavor profile. It's tangy and a little sweet, an apt accompaniment to a garden salad, and an excellent addition to wraps, sandwiches, fish tacos or even a baked (or grilled) potato."

A serving, 2 tablespoons, is 45 calories or 1 points plus values.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wendy's Lunch: Chili topped Baked Potato

Typically, I'm not one to go out to eat at a fast food restaurant ... unless I'm picking up a pizza. But lately I've been going to sporting events on the weekends and dinners have been on the fly. Trying to opt for "healthier options" while at fast food joints can sometimes be tasking but I try to keep a few staple meals for common fast food chains. One of my favorite fast food chains happens to be Wendy's (I find they have a lot more options), due to that one of my favorites happens to be a plain baked potato with a small chili.

I order my baked potato plain with nothing on it (I add a little salt and pepper to it) and a small chili with no cheese. For my Weight Watchers folks - a baked potato is 7 points plus values and a small chili is 4 points plus values. If you wanted to save a few calories/points plus values you could easily order a side salad in place of the potato.

Then to avoid eating a plain potato with nothing on it ... I empty the container of chili over the potato and am left with a really delicious meal which is both satisfying and filling. Delicious, simple and quite a classic staple.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley

For lunches and dinners I have been trying to steer in the direction of brown rice more than your average white rice. In all honesty, brown rice can get boring, so I decided to pick up a package of Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley to change things up a bit and I have to say ... I really do enjoy it.

Sure, the mixture isn't all technically rice but it does the job by switching things up. The mixture of a blend of long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon radish seeds. It's certainly a different texture of rice, but it's nothing crazy. The barley maintains a bit of a bite (which also seems to be the texture attention getter) but I feel it blends nicely with the other two grains. I found the first bite was odd ... but after that you get used to the feel of the barley and the radish seeds and it doesn't phase you any longer.

I've made this a weekly staple in my meal prep routine, opting to cook a cup of raw rice in my rice pot. I simply follow the directions on the bag (1 cup rice to 2 1/2 cups of water - although I do omit the butter and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper) and it comes out perfectly every time. The presence of two additional grains does give it a whole new vibe. I personally haven't gotten too adventurous with it, outside of eating it as a side to my meals ... but I suppose you could even make a salad out of it (by using this instead of quinoa) or using this in place of quinoa in any healthier alternative tex-mex dish.

A serving, 1/4 cup dry - roughly 2/3 cups cooked, is 160 calories or 4 points plus values.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tera's Hunger Control - Satiety Blend - Organic Protein With Fiber and Oat Bran

One afternoon on a waltz through Whole Foods, I noticed some pre-portioned travel friendly packages of Tera's protein powders. One in particular grabbed my attention so I picked up a package of the Tera's Hunger Control - Satiety Blend - Organic Protein with Fiber and Oat  Bran. Since I am a bit of a protein powder snob I decided paying a little more upfront to get a  "sample size" would be cost beneficial in the long run than buying a full container of it (just in case I didn't like it).
I've heard rave reviews on some of the Tera's protein powders in the past but hadn't quite jumped on the band wagon because I didn't want to shell over $30 out for a container of protein powder to perhaps not be a fan. The fact that the package stated hunger control sold me because there are time where I feel as though I cannot satisfy my hunger. So any thing with added protein and fiber is the way to go.
The protein powder itself is a dark chocolate flavor, which when blended with a bit of frozen fruit, cashew milk and a handful of spinach is actually pretty tasty. The chocolate is rich and flavorful - definitely a show stopper. The flavor is enjoyable and doesn't have any chalky aftertaste that can sometime be present with protein powders.  Satiety wise, I did feel it was filling and satisfying. It curbed my appetite until dinner time so it did the trick.
As with any protein powder I'd suggest picking up an individual serving before shelling out for a full container of it just to make sure it suits your taste buds. Secondly, I found this protein powder to vary in pricing on nearly every website I've checked ... so shop wisely friends!
A serving, 1 oz, is 100 calories or 2 points plus values.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Trader Joe's Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeño Dip

Since I’m such a fan of the jalapeno Greek yogurt dip, I decided to pick up a container of the Trader Joe's Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeño Dip. I could tell through the packaging alone it was going to be a lot different from the other dip (outside of just the flavor profile).

The dip itself is pretty good. It is relatively thick with big chunks of artichoke running through it. It has a bit of a Greek yogurt/cream cheese flavor. Personally, I find it to be a little plain, good, but I also felt there was an absence of jalapeño flavor especially since I am in love with the Jalapeño Greek yogurt dip (which is spicy - see review here). It's got a little bit of saltiness to it, but I wasn't picking up on any true zip of flavors with the dip itself.

This particular dip I didn’t feel was really a vegetable dip. Perhaps celery would be the extent of the vegetables for this dip. I found it to be most enjoyable with some sort of a cracker. I had some everything flavored naan crackers that I used with this and enjoyed it.  Since the consistency is thicker, it’s more along the lines of a cream cheese like dip/spread for crackers.

According to the Trader Joe's website:

"Trader Joe’s Artichoke Jalapeño Dip has two creamy elements at its base: a lighter, Neufchâtel cream cheese and plain Greek yogurt. Blended together, these two create a rich, thick, creamy, tangy canvas—the ideal “blank slate” upon which to create a satisfying dip.

This one includes the eponymous artichokes and jalapeño peppers, as well as Jack cheese and a bit of garlic. It has a bit of a kick but isn’t spicy, so it’s good for all kinds of dipping. It’s delicious right out of the fridge, and takes on an entirely different taste and texture when heated briefly. Spread it on sandwiches or replace your baked potato’s sour cream with a dollop of this. Taste it. That’ll surely seal the deal."

A serving, 2 tbsp, is 60 calories or 2 points plus values.

Trader Joe's Irish Bangers

Right before St. Patrick's day my local Trader Joe's had spruced up and brought in some extra products in preparation for the impending holiday. One of the products on display in the "butcher shop" was the Trader Joe's Irish Bangers. Since St. Patrick's Day only comes once a year, I try to make sure to pick up some traditional Irish bangers to have so I grabbed a pack to give a whirl.
According to Trader Joe's website: "Our Bangers (available only for the season) are pork sausages made from pigs raised in the U.S. that are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. They’re seasoned with traditional spices, and include Rusk—a sort of twice-baked crouton that adds texture to the meat. These are not fully cooked, so they’ll need to be browned well on all sides until hot all the way through—about 10-12 minutes. $4.49 for a 16 oz package."
I cooked them up per the directions in a frying pan and found they came out pretty well. The only complaint I had was that the casings were just slightly tough, but it didn't make the sausage overly chewy/rubbery. Flavor wise, they had a unique flavor to them. Nothing outlandish or crazy, but just something different about them. I was so intrigued by the flavor that I googled and found Rusk is made from sourdough bread. Once I figured this out it was undoubtedly the flavor my taste buds were picking up on.
The sausages rendered some fat, but they weren't overly fatty and unsettling once eaten. They were paired perfectly against some mashed potatoes and some sauteed asparagus (although, admittedly, peas would have been a better option).
A serving, 1 link, is 170 calories or 5 points plus values.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Trader Joe's All Natural Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs

With the spring and summer months amongst us, I'm always on the hunt for a decent replacement to a hot dog.  I do enjoy an occasional old fashioned hot dog ... but since there really is no real nutritional value from it, they're very few and far between. But with the summer months amongst us, sometimes you just want a hot dog off the grill. So I figured it was better time than never to try out the Trader Joe's All Natural Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs.

The first thing I noticed was that these particular hot dogs are more closely along the lines of your average hot dog. They're plump and they're in the same color family. These aren't a "natural casing hot dog" so don't expect a nice crunch when you bite into them. They do have a little bite to them, but it's more along the lines of a skinless hot dog bite. You can tell they're they're certainly not a pork hot dog, although I find they taste much better than beef or turkey hot dogs. They're smooth in texture and quite good for a knock at the original.
Better yet there are no nitrates or nitrites added so they're far better for you, let alone the fact the fat and calories are slashed across the board.  Overall, these chicken hot dogs aren't bad. With a little ketchup, mustard and relish and a side of baked beans you're pretty much one in the crowd.

A serving, 1 hot dog, is 60 calories or 2 points plus values.