Archive for ‘Review’

April 1, 2019

Spring has Sprung and it’s Time to Think About Shrubs

Spring has sprung, or at least begun to sneak into our afternoons, and it’s time to think about shrubs. When warm weather begins, I spend a lot of time thinking about the trimming, digging, and planting that need to be done. I don’t manage to get to the part where I get out in the yard to do something about it though. When we have a perfect sunny, warm afternoon, I find myself too busy sitting outside having a drink with a friend. Luckily, there’s more than one kind of shrub. One is on my to-do list. The other can be in my drink. I love a happy coincidence! I can think about shrubs, enjoy the outdoors, and relax all at the same time.

It seems like every restaurant in my neighborhood has a new list of specialty cocktails for each season. I love reading these lists. The names are clever. The pairings of gin, tequila, and rum with fresh fruit, citrus juice, and fresh herbs sound sooooo refreshing. Of course, I order one. Then I take a drink. More than 90% of the time my enjoyment ends there. Most of these cocktails are too sweet for me.

I don’t object to desserts, but I don’t like sweet drinks – tea, lemonade, soda, flavored water, and coffee drinks do not appeal. I don’t like the way they taste. They don’t refresh and they leave me thirsty. That’s not to say a slight drizzle of honey won’t improve a drink. It might. But the standard is simple syrup…and plenty of it.

Shrubs appeal to me because of the tang of vinegar. If you must use sweet, at least balance it with acid. A few years ago when vinegar bars became popular, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the trend in my city. That never happened. But a more subtle inclusion of vinegar sometimes appears on a cocktail menu in the form of a shrub.
shrub
A shrub is a syrup made of vinegar, botanicals, and yes, sugar. Historically, it was a way of preserving fruit. Taste-wise, it is meant to fall on the acidic side. If you want an even more tangy shrub, you can easily make one at home.

Most shrubs are made using apple cider, white wine, or red wine vinegar, but you can also use balsamic. A blend of balsamic vinegar and sweet cherries sounds delicious to me. Some recipes I’ve seen cut the balsamic with apple cider vinegar. Red wine vinegar would be worth a try as well. I’m describing a shrub that feels more like fall.

How about something lighter for spring? Pineapple, white wine vinegar, and rosemary might fit the bill. And you don’t have to make it at home. You can buy it in a bottle from Pink House Alchemy.

If I’m ordering, I’m going to have to include a bottle of cardamom syrup as well. It’s too intriguing to pass up. And to continue with this digression, I keep wanting to create a sassafras tea granita. Sounds like I’m heading for a spring porch party!

Anyway, you can make a shrub at home by cooking fruit, vinegar, and sugar together or by letting the fruit and sugar macerate, adding the vinegar and letting it sit for a few days on the counter or in the refrigerator before straining.

Tomato based shrubs can be used to make bloody mary-like drink. A blueberry shrub can be used for a daiquiri-like drink. And no alcohol is required for a refreshing shrub beverage. A little seltzer will do the trick.

It seems like it’s time for me to grab some fresh fruit and a few bottles of vinegar and do some flavor experiments. Until I get them right, I’ve learned that I can order those fancy named specialty cocktails without the simple syrup. I don’t know why I never thought to request that before, but I tried it the other night and enjoyed my drink much more.

Sitting in the sun smelling fresh cut grass and sipping on refreshing tangy drinks with a small group of friends sounds heavenly. I may have to do it several days in a row. We only get a few weeks between too cold and too hot and humid. We have to make the most of them! Cheers!

https://www.pinkhousealchemy.com/shrubs/pineapple-rosemary-shrub

https://qz.com/quartzy/1380589/the-delicious-ways-that-we-drink-vinegar-around-the-world/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/spring-is-for-renewal-even-in-the-kitchen/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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September 25, 2018

I Dropped An FBomb, So I’ve Ordered Another One

Last Friday, I dropped an FBomb…apparently. I was in my hometown to celebrate my cousin’s 98th birthday. I stopped into my favorite restaurant to grab a bite and there on the counter sat a box of FBomb Salted Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter. I’m a fan of everything the name includes – salt, chocolate, macadamia nuts, and fbombs. I bought one to try later.
FBomb
The next morning after sorting through bags of trash mixed with recycling, financial records, and family photos in my cousin’s house, I was hungry. There’s no food in her house other than leaking canned goods I need to don a hazmat suit to clean up. No problem – I had an FBomb in my car. Except I didn’t.

I couldn’t find it anywhere. I looked in my purse, briefcase, ashtray, cup holder, and console. I looked beside the seats, under the seats, and in the trunk. I found a plastic spoon, a coupon, and a toy car, but no FBomb. I can only conclude that I dropped it on the way from the restaurant to my car. It’s possible. It wasn’t in a bag. Due to this unfortunate circumstance, I can’t tell you whether the flavor is good or the texture pleasant. I’ll just tell you what I know.

The packaging is attractive. I like the logo, black background, and contrasting bright colors. I noticed the product immediately. Once I read the ingredients and saw that it was a single serving, I was ready to purchase.

If you have an aversion to the word fat, this is not the snack for you. It is full of fat, including 4 grams of saturated fat. Although it contains cane syrup, it only has 1 gram of added sugar and it’s low in sodium. This is the kind of snack that can fill you up without relying on carbs. It’s also the kind of snack that’s great when you’re traveling and gluten-free.
back
Some research indicates that macadamia and other nuts are good for your heart and can help lower the risk of coronary artery disease in those with elevated cholesterol. They are also a source of thiamin and manganese. Nuts and nut butters also contain beneficial fiber.

All FBomb Nut Butters contain macadamia nuts. One flavor combines macadamias with coconut. One has pecans and sea salt, and the fourth just has sea salt. I’ve ordered a sample pack that contains all four flavors. That will give me a chance to sample every flavor before I buy in bulk. I threw in a second sample pack to use for stocking stuffers.

That pretty much sums up what I know about FBombs other than how to drop them. If you’ve tried this product, was it good? We’d love to hear what you think.

https://www.dropanfbomb.com/collections/nut-butters

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635

https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1009507-9-healthiest-nuts-that-may-live-longer/?slide=7

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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August 28, 2017

Is It Safe to Graze on These Snacks?

If you must be gluten-free to be healthy, you always have to ask: Is it safe to graze on this? In order to answer that question, I always start with the label. I recently purchased a Graze Dark Chocolate Cherry Tart snack. I was in a hurry, so I saved the label reading for later.
graze
I liked the natural looking package and I absolutely LOVE dried cherries, almonds, and chocolate. These are ingredients that can easily be gluten free and that I often use when I prepare dessert. The only noted allergens on the label are soybeans and tree nuts. Buying this didn’t seem like too big a risk.

When I got home and had time to read the label, I saw that the chocolate buttons include something called “cocoa mass”. I didn’t know exactly what cocoa mass was, but I recognized that it needed to be further investigated. I visited the Graze website.

After visiting the site, I still don’t know what cocoa mass is, but I found this statement located next to the list of ingredients:
“allergens
Graze is not suitable for people with allergies. All of our food is packed in the same place, so cross-contamination between any of our ingredients is possible. Our snacks may contain traces of gluten, eggs, peanuts, soya, milk, nuts, celery, mustard, fish and sesame.”

This statement appears next to the list of ingredients for each and every product on the website. It’s interesting to note that there’s not enough of some of these allergens to require a notation on the label, but there’s enough for the company to feel it necessary to note their possible presence in the product. I appreciate the fact that they’ve done so in a clear, visible manner.

Where does that leave you?

It’s always safest to err on the side of caution when you encounter an unknown ingredient. I also avoid products that say they are processed on the same equipment as wheat, rye, and barley or may contain trace amounts of these ingredients. If a label does not list any gluten containing ingredients, questionable items, or cross contamination possibilities, I trust that it’s okay to consume even though it may not be labeled gluten-free.
 
While I like the Graze story of 7 friends who quit their jobs to create better snacks, I cannot recommend these snacks to anyone who is gluten-free. On the other hand, if you’re not limited by the allergens, eat up!

Choose from mixes full of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, superfoods, veggies, and protein. The flavor combinations sound interesting and the packages are easy to carry. Graze has a subscription service, so you can have them delivered right to your door.

If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it’s not safe to graze on these snacks, but you don’t have to miss out on enjoying dried cherries, almonds and chocolate!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

https://www.graze.com/us/shop/dark-chocolate-cherry-tart?format=multipack#tab-ingredient-tab

August 8, 2017

Snacks from Down Under

If you have a toddler, you may think I’m writing about snacks from down under the table. I get it. I just kept my one-year-old grandson for a week. I’m pretty sure there could be food under the food on my kitchen floor. I feel like I keep finding more every time I sweep. But, that’s not the food I’m referring to. Today, I tried Majans Bhuja Snacks from Australia.
snack bag mix
I’m not sure why I picked up the bag. Curiosity, I suppose. Well, curiosity and the fact that I’m always looking for snacks to carry along on a road trip or airplane. This one boasts no preservatives, no artificial colors or flavors, a low glycemic index, 5 grams of protein per serving, non-GMO ingredients, and it’s certified gluten-free.

I took a quick look at the ingredients before putting the bag in my basket. The noodles and chips in the mix are made from yellow peas, chick peas, sunflower or canola oil plus rice, potato, tapioca, salt, sesame & cumin. Scattered throughout the noodles and chips are green peas, peanuts, and sultanas seasoned with salt, fennel, chili, turmeric, paprika, and cane sugar. There’s also a little maltodextrin thrown in.

The serving size is about 1/2 cup and has 140 calories. There are 8 total grams of fat. One gram is saturated. There are no trans fats. Each serving contains 170 mg of sodium, 16 total carbs, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 2 grams of sugars. There are 5 grams of protein.

Reading the label for the original flavor, I’m pleased with the amount of sodium and I like it that the noodles and chips rely on peas more than grains for their substance. I could do without the maltodextrin, but I’m happy that there’s less sugar included than any other ingredient.
snack mix
I like the spice blend used in this mix. It has a bit of heat that I find a pleasant alternative to mixes that rely on sugar for flavor. The crackers and noodles feel a bit dense which makes them seem a little less manufactured than a Cheeto or Veggie Straw. I’m ambivalent about the peas. I feel this way about wasabi peas as well. In general, I prefer raw nuts or seeds to dehydrated peas. The occasional sweetness of the sultanas is a great balance for the heat.
For the Americans reading this, a sultana is similar to a raisin in that it is a dried white grape, but sultanas tend to be plumper, sweeter and juicier than other raisins. Turkey is a major producer of sultanas.

The price for this snack is reasonable for a gluten-free snack. I paid $2.65 for a 7 oz bag that will provide 7 servings.

Where does that leave us? The price is reasonable, the spice blend is pleasant, and the bag contains crunch. I suppose the pertinent question is whether I will buy it again. I might.

I can’t see making this mix a regular item on my shopping or travel lists. It doesn’t have an addictive level of crunch or salt that will make me crave it. On the other hand, it isn’t too sweet or too greasy and I like the spiciness. That means I will be likely to grab the occasional bag when I see it on the shelf.

I’m giving it a solid 6 for composition and a 10 for price. That’s not bad for a snack from down under.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

http://majans.com/products/us/bhuja-snacks/