Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bridgford Original Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky

I remember as a kid my mother would make beef jerky for my brother in our dehydrator but I never gave it a try. I think the idea of eating dried meat just weirded me out. As I got into adulthood and began following Weight Watchers I'd heard from the grape vine that it was a great snack substitute that offered a substantial amount of protein.  A savory sort of snack that would take a little time to eat but would pack enough of a protein punch that it wouldn't leave you looking for something else.

I had tried various beef jerky brands but either it was too dry, smelled funny, reminded me of dog treats (I know....I know...) or I just didn't like the flavor. That is until my fiancé and I went on vacation to Tennessee last year and his friend told him he should try out the Brigford Original Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky. I was skeptical at first and didn't have any of the first bag - but when he opted to pick up another bag during the week, I decided to give it a try.

Truthfully I was quite surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. The jerky is softer in texture, it's chewy, some pieces are slightly tougher than others but for the most part it's a palatable texture.  Flavor wise - it's your classic Sweet Baby Rays barbecue sauce flavor. Smokey, sweet. Together it's a home run. I was glad to find it sold at my local Wal-Mart so now I can pick up a bag to have on hand whenever I am in the mood for a different snack.

There are a few other flavors available - teriyaki, sweet n spicy, honey barbecue and honey chipotle.

A serving, 1 ounce, is 90 calories or 2 smartpoints.

Monday, January 23, 2017

evol. Scramble Cups - Chicken Apple Sausage, Egg White with Potato & Cheese

When the new evol products launched I got an email from Hungry Girl giving a heads up on the products availability on Target shelves. Needless to say, when I spotted them I opted to pick up a couple - one of the cups I picked up was the evol. Scramble Cups - Chicken Apple Sausage, Egg White with Potato and Cheese. I brought it to work and popped it in the freezer to have on hand in case I needed a suitable option at work.

That opportunity rolled around one afternoon when I needed something to eat. The packaging describes the dish as a chicken apple sausage scramble with egg white, potato and cheese. I figured it'd be a suitable breakfast alternative. I popped the cup in the microwave, following the directions on the label and it was done in no time.

Peering into the cup, it's a little disappointing (meaning you can make something a little heartier on your own) but for a convenience food it's not bad. It's a mixture of egg whites, potatoes, cheese, sausage crumbles and chives. One thing I noticed when I took it out of the microwave was that it had a very strong chive/onion smell. That smell transformed into a very strong chive/onion flavor as well ... it's almost overwhelmingly so. I felt like the potato, cheese and egg whites were at the forefront, but the chicken apple sausage really had to be sought after. I added some hot sauce and a little ketchup to it and found it to be not so bad but I wouldn't stretch to say I'd definitely pick it up again. It was okay, but not delicious or worth my buck to re-stock the freezer.

A serving (1 container) is 160 calories or 4 points plus values OR 5 smart points.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lean Cuisine Sweet Sriracha Braised Beef

I'm not one who is big on frozen dinners, but when I spotted the new Lean Cuisine Marketplace Sweet Sriracha Braised Beef dinner at my local grocery store I decided to pick it up. What sold me off the bat was the use of sriracha and the fact that the meal was lower in points/calories.

One afternoon I was absolutely starving ... so I decided to pop the frozen dinner into the microwave. When it was done, I was quite honestly surprised with how skimpy the meal was. There was maybe half a container of vegetables and a few pieces of beef here and there. Certainly nothing that would be satisfying and filling for a quick little lunch break in the office.

Flavor wise, it wasn't terrible. It had a little bit of spice to it, but not anything that'd burn your taste buds. The sweetness to it diminished some of the chili flavoring that sriracha tends to give off. It reminded me more of a teriyaki flavoring than anything else (for comparison purposes). The beef wasn't terrible - no pieces were chewy or hard. The vegetables were a tad on the overcooked side, but weren't completely mushy. Overall it was okay ... but rather lackluster. It wasn't satisfying enough for me to run out to the grocery store and pick up a few more to have on hand. But like with all items ... you win some, you lose some.

A serving, 1 package, is 170 calories or 6 smart points - or for those following PP: 4 points plus values.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

I've become completely obsessed with oatmeal. I had been eating my banana oatmeal (which I make in a bowl with the same ingredients) for well over a year and I had hit a wall and just had enough.  After having different breakfasts that just weren't satisfying me the way my oatmeal did ... I decided to take my simple oatmeal recipe (with the elimination of almond milk) and make them into pancakes.  Same stuff, different form - i.e. reverse psychology on my own mind. It's legitimately the same thing, it's just in a pancake form and I add a little fruit and sugar free maple syrup over them.

So far it's been a winner. I've been eating these for a few months now and I absolutely love them. The recipe is really simple to throw together. I actually incorporate these into my meal prep every week.  I whip up 3 batches and store them in ziploc bags and take them out as I need them every morning. A quick 2 minutes in the microwave makes them perfect.

They're not a light and airy pancake. They're dense, filling and pack a substance punch.

Makes 2 servings of pancakes
For Weight Watcher members: 5 smartpoints/points plus per serving

1 cup quick cook oatmeal
¾ c egg whites
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp vanilla  (adjust to your liking)
2 packets stevia (or whatever sweetener you prefer)
1 tbsp cinnamon (adjust to your liking)

Mash banana in bowl, add in all other ingredients and mix until combined.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, over medium-high heat. Use a measuring cup (I prefer 1/4c) and evenly distribute the pancake drops onto the pan, smooth out gently with the bottom of the measuring cup.  Fry the pancakes for roughly 4-5 minutes. Bubbles will not form as in traditional pancake mix. Flip once the bottom is browned and firm enough to flip, then cook evenly on the other side. 


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream

After introducing myself to Halo Top - I knew I wanted to try more flavors. Initially my grocery store only had some of their "basic" flavors - so I was intrigued and surprised to see my local grocery store was carrying the Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream. I had heard rave reviews about it online ... and since birthday cake is one of my favorite grocery store ice cream flavors, I had to give it a try.

I noticed when opening the container, the ice cream wasn't as dark in color as the others I had tried. Flavor wise it was quite good - spot on birthday cake. It had all the vanilla cake flavoring without actually putting chunks of cake into the ice cream. The only additive is little bits of sprinkles which are mixed throughout the ice cream. It adds a nice texture difference between the ice cream and the sprinkles.

The one major difference I found in this particular is cream is it had an airy quality to it. It wasn't anywhere near as creamy as the vanilla bean or the strawberry. It almost has a drier texture to it - which is really odd for ice cream. It's not bad, it's just not the consistency I'm "used to" with ice cream. After I had my serving, a few people suggested I let this one sit out at room temperature about 10 minutes to allow it to warm up a bit which they stated gives it that creamy effect. But I guess I don't have enough patience for that because the next time I had it, I ate it straight out of the freezer.

I'd certainly pick this one up again if I was in the mood for birthday cake ice cream, but it's not one of my favorites so far. I'd stick with the vanilla bean, strawberry and the (spoiler alert:) oatmeal cookie.

A serving is 1/2 cup which is 70 calories or 2 smartpoints. 1 cup is 5 smartpoints, 1 1/2 cups is 7 smart points and the whole pint is 10 smartpoints. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Halo Top Strawberry Ice Cream

I recall seeing Halo Top posted all over social media – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube … but I couldn’t get my hands on it for the longest time because no retailer in my area sold it. I had heard wind that Whole Foods sold it – but my local Whole Foods is 20 minutes in a complete opposite direction of anywhere I normally frequent so it seemed like such a drag to go out of my way for a product I may not even find (since I’ve heard how it’s difficult to find because people scoop it up quickly).

If you’re not familiar, Halo Top is a low-calorie, high protein, low sugar ice cream – which is marketed as tasting just like regular ice cream, just without the guilt. One thing I do want to point out is: unlike other companies marketing schemes, Halo Top prints the calories for the entire pint on the front of their labels along with the flavor of the ice cream. No sneaky marketing tactic which makes you think an entire pint is 100 calories, etc.

Low and behold I was shocked to find my local grocery store had brought the ice cream in – so I opted to spend the $4.99 and give it a whirl. There weren’t many flavors available so I opted to go with the Halo Top Strawberry Ice Cream.  It was a toss up between strawberry, chocolate, chocolate mocha chip and vanilla bean. I love vanilla ice cream, but I opted to go with the strawberry for a different flavor (I’m not a big chocolate ice cream fan so that was a no-go).

Upon the first scoop I was completely blown away. The flavor, the creaminess and the amazingly delicious taste. I’ve tried other healthier alternatives to ice cream and this one blew all of them out of the water. The strawberry was a true strawberry flavor, not chemically altered.  The ice cream was amazingly creamy which was surprising considering other brands I’ve tried; they’ve all had an icy quality to them. No iciness to this beauty, just creamy, high quality ice cream flavoring.  Some say to let the ice cream sit out at room temperature to soften up a bit – but I found this to be perfection straight out of the freezer. I don’t quite know how they do it, and I won’t question it much – but I’ve been sold, hook line and sinker since.

A serving, ½ cup is 70 calories or 2 smart points. 1 cup is 5 smart points, 1 ½ cups is 7 smart points and the entire pint is 10 smartpoints.