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Fab Find: Stone & Skillet Muffins

10 Jan

 

DSC01207I stumbled across Stone & Skillet English muffins at Russo’s Market in Watertown…they are the best English muffins I’ve ever had, by far! They are made in Medford, MA, just north of Boston.  Initially, they were made one at a time in a cast iron skillet.  Crispy on the outside, incredibly soft on the inside, there’s nothing better than a little jam on one of these muffins. Yes, your fingers will get oily, but these English muffins are worth the mess!

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Mission: Trying All the KIND Bars

9 Aug

Finally, I’ve discovered my favorite protein snack – KIND nut bars! The wrapper has a clear window so you can see exactly what’s inside, matching their clever motto, “Ingredients you can see and pronounce.”  When I discovered that my workplace subsidizes healthy snacks, I made it my mission to try every flavor of Kind bar that could be found in the cafeteria. Actually, it pretty soon became an obsession. I went from buying one or two bars at a time to stockpiling Kind bars to last me for the next two weeks.

IMAG2506Above: Blueberry Pecan

I ended up trying 16 kinds of Kind bars – that’s not nearly all the flavours out there, but after about 10 weeks of trips to the cafeteria, I seemed to have exhausted the workplace selection. It turns out that not all Kind Bars are created equal. Some are more delicious than others, but at the expense of higher sugar content. If you’re looking for more protein, you might prefer some flavours over others. Like a true geek, I’ve ranked the Kind bars using bar charts so you can pick the best for yourself. (Yes I know, I’m so clever).

This chart shows bars arranged from the highest protein content to the lowest, with sugar shown in the green bars. If you’re looking for the most protein, the Almond Walnut Macadamia bar is the way to go. This was actually one of my favorite bars. It’s not too sweet, with big pieces of macadamia nuts and almonds, and a good amount of honey.protein

 

Below: Close-up of Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt – This is a perfect alternative to a chocolate bar. It’s chocolatey and very nutty, with a hint of sea salt.IMAG2512

This chart shows arranges Kind bars from lowest sugar content to the highest.

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Below: Almond Cashew with Flax – there are whole flax seeds here, which unfortunately, often go undigested in your body. Waving the word “flax” around is just a marketing ploy here. (You’re better off buying some ground flaxseed and putting it in your breakfast.)

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Perhaps most importantly, here are Kind bars arranged from most to least delicious.  For a given deliciousness rating, it’s easy to pick out the bar with the most protein and less sugar. From the set of most delicious bars (Deliciousness rating of 5), the Almond Walnut Macadamia bar is pretty good. The Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond tastes like a mouthful of chocolate-covered almonds – yum! The Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew however, while it’s my favourite bar taste-wise, packs 14g of sugar, the highest of the bunch I tried. It also had the least amount of protein (4g). It’s still better than chowing down on a Snickers bar of course (27 grams of sugar in a regular size bar), but it’s definitely not a particularly healthy snack. The Almond Cashew with Flax ranks below average on the Protein and Sugar charts, and it’s low on the Deliciousness chart, so why bother? Pick something else to nosh on. The Cashew and Ginger Spice bar, while low in sugar, tastes like a mouthful of ginger.

deliciousThe Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate bar tastes like a Snickers bar, but waaaay better. The Madagascar Vanilla Almond is great if you’re looking for something less sweet. It’s also a great one to take along if you’re traveling, because it’s less sticky than others, and it has no chocolate that can melt everywhere. Peanut Butter and Strawberry tastes just like a PB & J, the Almond and Apricot tastes like a Chinese bakery bun, with lots of coconut, and Apple Cinnamon Pecan is like an apple cobbler in bar form.

Below: Almond Walnut Macadamia bar IMAG2469

How do Kind bars compare to other brand? I also tried a thinkThin Crunch bar – the Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts tastes like a sinful treat thought it has only 6g of sugar. However, it’s less nutty than Kind bars – soy crisps come first on the ingredients list, and I would describe this as a soy crisp-peanut-almond bar coated in caramel.

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It’s been a couple months since my mission began, and I’m still addicted. It’s hard not to have a Kind bar a day. Actually, every wrapper is printed on the back with “A study by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center indicates that eating 2 KIND bars a day helps prevent weight gain.” That’s a lot of nut bars per day – I’m not there yet!

Salsa Standoff

7 Jul

Trader JoesMy guy and I eat Mexican food fairly often – quesadillas are easy to make at home, and anything with cheese is delicious. That’s why finding a great salsa is so important.

Trader Joe’s Spicy Smoky Peach Salsa – The first ingredient is tomato puree – take that as a warning sign. It tastes just like tomato sauce, not salsa. Were there peaches in this? Hard to tell. 1/5

Stonewall Kitchen Peach Mango Salsa (medium) – large chunks (an inch long) of sweet peaches and mango balanced the spiciness of the rest of the salsa.  Like most Stonewall Kitchen products, this salsa is slightly pricier than its competitors.  3.5/5

Hedgies Mild Salsa – I bought this at the Farmer’s Market, eager to support local businesses. This salsa is perfectly mild, just like the label says. A good balance of tomato, green peppers, and onion but not particularly memorable. It’s good as a topping on grilled chicken and other hot dishes, but it’s not exactly the refreshing salsa I’d normally put on Mexican food. 3/5 Hedgie's

Archer Farms Pineapple Salsa – claims to be mild, but it’s spicy enough to be medium. There are small cubes of what might be pineapple. In fact, jalapeño peppers are listed ahead of pineapples on the ingredients list. Good balance with tomato flavour. 3.5/5

Paino Organics Number 9 Salsa (mild) – A very hearty salsa, so-named because it has at least nine different veggies. There are tons of tomatoes, onion, and four types of peppers. A good blend of spices makes this salsa stand out. 4/5

Desert PepperDesert Pepper Peach Mango Salsa (medium hot) – Great on chips, burritos, and other TexMex dishes. Not too spicy. Chunky, with good-sized chunks of tomatoes and peaches. However, this salsa loses one point because the peaches are canned, and the salsa’s sweetness comes from the syrup, not from the peaches themselves. 4/5

Drew’s Organic Salsa (mild) – Thick and chunky, just as the label claims. The ingredients are diced up just enough so that the texture is consistently thick, and not interrupted by large vegetable chunks. Not too spicy, with a lot of tomato and onion flavour, and a hint of cumin.  4/5

The Final Word: Lots of great salsa choices, but I’m still looking for one that will be amazing enough to give it a perfect 5.

June Whiskey Tasting

29 Jun

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Disclaimer: I don’t enjoy straight whiskey. However, my guy does, and he has a much better ability to discern the different flavours in whiskey than I can. I’ve found that the better a whiskey is, the more it burns my throat. Because we were bored at home on a Friday night, we decided to do a whiskey tasting. Separately, we rated each whiskey on a scale of 1 through 5, before checking the price of each bottle. And now, so you can sip vicariously through us, the results are below. You’ll see that we have wildly different comments on the smell and taste of each. I sipped mine over rocks, while he had his neat. Whiskies are listed in the order that we tasted them. Continue reading

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