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.