Category: product reviews

Wegman’s BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad Kit

I was at Wegman’s the other day and decided to pick up this BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad Kit.  I love a good salad bar, but I am so lazy when it comes to making salads myself at home.  I thought this kit would help bridge the gap.  🙂

The kit comes with Romaine lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, green onion, and carrots; it also includes a package of tortilla chips, a package of bacon bits, a packet of BBQ sauce, and a packet of ranch dressing.





  • The vegetables were all cut up in tiny pieces, which made it easy to mix with the dressing.
  • The salad has a lot of textures with the crisp vegetables, crunchy tortilla chips, and creamy dressing.
  • It comes with bacon bits!
  • At $2.99, I felt like this was a good value.  The kit made 2 entree sized salads once I added protein (see Con) and a slice of bread.


  • The kit does not contain any significant source of protein.  I added a few slices of turkey to make this an entree.
  • The toppings were wrapped in packages that were mixed in with the vegetables, so I had to use my hand to fish them out.
  • The salads are fresh which is great, but that also means the “Use By” date was just 2 days after purchase.

Bottom Line:  I would buy it again to use as a meal on a busy weeknight.  And it kind of inspired me to try to make my own version.

Carmela’s Ravioli

My Mom had a special request for her birthday last week: Butternut Squash Ravioli.  You know what I really wanted to do was take out the flour, egg, and a rolling pin and make them from scratch.  In fact, I think that would have been a really fun family project.  (Can you hear my family groaning??)  For so many reasons, that just wasn’t realistic this year.  So we went with the second best option, ravioli made by Carmela’s Pasta Shop.

Those of you in the central CT area may be familiar with this store – they have a fantastic selection of fresh pastas and other Italian foods.  We chose two different type of ravioli: Butternut Squash, and Sausage and Spinach.  We served the Butternut Squash ravioli with a simple butter, sage, and cheese sauce, garnished with fresh parsley.  We served the Sausage and Spinach ravioli with a more traditional tomato sauce.

Both types of ravioli were excellent – it was difficult to choose a favorite, but my nod is to the Butterut Squash ravioli for being slightly more unique.  My Mom was very pleased with our ravioli dinner, and I highly recommend you take a trip to Carmela’s if you live in the area!



Kayem Lean Franks

I am not going to lie, one of the best parts about being a food blogger is getting free samples of new products.  The generous folks at Kayem sent me two packages of the their new ‘Lean Franks’.  My family planned a BBQ, complete with the hot dogs, homemade baked beans, and salad.  All I had to do was bring the hot dogs, and they did the rest!

The hot dogs are made from skinless chicken and compared to most other hot dogs on the shelf, they are low in both calories (80 per dog) and saturated fat (1.5g).  But they still grilled up quite nicely, and had the distinctive smoked flavor you expect in a hot dog.  We all enjoyed them, and would have them again.  Of course, there are lots of great things you can grill, but if you’re craving a hot dog I would give these a try.


al fresco Buffalo Chicken Sausage

At a gathering I attended last week, we talked about how you decide what food to bring to a party.  One woman brings food she loves like kettlecorn, so she can enjoy a small amount and not be faced with the whole bag at home.  Others go for a favorite family recipe, or perhaps a dish that meets certain dietary restrictions.

I guess people take a risk when they invite me over because unless a host is super specific, I am likely to bring a brand new recipe or product.  Luckily, most times this works out OK.

I brought a package of  al fresco Buffalo Chicken Sausages to a party last week, and they went over well.  Not only did they taste good (and spicy!) but they also have a decent ingredient list with chicken and spices in a natural pork casing.  They are pre-cooked, so no one needs to slave over the grill for very long.  If you want something new for your grill this weekend, look for these in the meat case at your grocery store.



Disclaimer: I purchased this product at retail price with my own funds.  I was not compensated in any way for this product review.

Trader Joe’s Baby Beets

Sometimes when I go to Trader Joe’s I race in to grab a pound or two of whole wheat pizza dough, a package of veggie burgers, and a few 19 cent bananas. But sometimes I get to wander up and down the aisles, looking for new and useful food products. Last week, I spotted these baby beets. Now, roasting your own beets isn’t really difficult, but it raises the temperature of my house about 10 degrees which is great in January but not so much in June.

There are no other ingredients in the package, just steamed beets. And the beets are left whole, which makes them more appealing to me than their canned counterparts. This is the very best kind of convenience food, all vegetable.

You could just eat them right out of the package and I wouldn’t judge. Or you could slice them on a salad of Romaine and feta. Or you could toss them on a pizza. How you use these beets is up to you….

Uncle Sam’s Strawberry Cereal

One of the sponsors of Fitbloggin’ was Attune Foods. They’re the people that make Uncle Sam’s cereal and other products. Attune was very generous, and not only provided a great breakfast one morning, but also gave us coupons for free cereal so we could enjoy it back home.

I knew I liked the original Uncle Sam’s cereal, so I decided to try their Strawberry Cereal with my coupon. There’s no question that this is a sweetened cereal which I would consider a treat, but it still has plenty of fiber and some healthy fats. I added in some sliced banana and skim milk, and dove in. The cereal actually didn’t taste as sweet as I expected, and this variety still had the crunchy texture that I love. It was certainly delicious as a traditional bowl of cereal, but I think it might even be better as a topping for plain yogurt. I see a parfait ahead! Thanks attune…

Coach’s Oats

For regular readers, it would be easy to predict that my very first product review from Fitbloggin would be oats! When I was first handed a sample of Coach’s Oats, I assumed it was a package of flavored instant oatmeal, but I was totally wrong. Coach’s Oats have the texture of steel cut oats, but only require about 5 minutes of cooking time. The grain is toasted first, and then cut up into small pieces before it is packaged. There are no artificial ingredients, the only difference is the processing and these oats are still a whole grain. I made up a batch of the sample using water as directed, and as promised they were ready in 5 minutes.

Of course, I would never actually eat plain oats for breakfast, so then I topped my bowl with cinnamon, banana slices, and peanut butter. Much better!

These oats have the firm texture of steel cut, and a flavor that is slightly more nutty than sweet. This is a great product if you prefer steel cut oats but don’t have the time to cook them. While I really enjoyed my bowl, I have to admit that I like the creamier texture and sweeter flavor of rolled oats. Thanks to Coach’s Oats for letting my try these, and I appreciate any company that works to make whole grains more convenient.

Rice Select Jasmati Rice

I received this sample of Jasmati Rice quite some time ago. I generally prefer to use brown rice for it’s firm texture and nutty taste, plus it’s a whole grain. But brown rice isn’t traditionally used for Indian dishes, so when I made the Red Bean Curry I also cooked up my rice sample. As the name implies, it’s a hybrid of jasmine and basmati rice.

Maybe I’ve been eating brown rice too long, but I forgot just how good white rice can be! It was soft and fluffy, and perfect for soaking up leftover curry sauce. While I will still choose whole grains the majority of the time, I really did enjoy this rice. And there’s nothing wrong with that once in a while, so I think I’ll be stocking this in my pantry.

Trader Joe’s Cumin and Chili Chickpeas

It’s crunch time folks, and I’ll be breaking out a lot of convenience foods. I needed a quick dinner (and lunch for the following day) so I pulled out these Cumin and Chili Chickpeas along with a package of pre-cooked brown rice. The chickpeas required 90 seconds in the microwave, and the rice required 60 seconds.

While the microwave was going, I put together a speedy salad of Romaine and cucumbers. Less than 10 minutes after I walked in the door, dinner was served with a glass of seltzer. (By the way, my new water glasses are simply recycled jars of Teddie Peanut Butter. I feel very green.)

Here are the chickpeas close up. They are spiced very well, but for some reason I expected more sauce. This isn’t like a package of curry. I really enjoyed the chickpeas, but they might have been better served on the salad itself or scooped up with a cracker. The dish itself was a little dry, but it was still a fast sort-of-home-cooked meal. The chickpeas are vegan and gluten free, and they better not be sold out because I need to go buy another bag.

Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax

A year ago, I came home to find Nature’s Pride bread on my doorstep, and they surprised me again last week. This time, they sent a loaf of Hearty Wheat with Flax. This bread has plenty of whole grains and fiber, and the flax is a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

I used the bread for a classic PB&J one day, and really liked it! Some people complain that whole wheat bread can be tough and plain, but this version is nice and soft, and the flax provides some texture. I used the bread another day to make French Toast which turned out well, topped with chopped apples microwaved for 1 minute with cinnamon. Of course, I can’t finish a fresh loaf of bread on my own, so I put the rest in the freezer. The next time I have visitors, I know they’ll like a piece of toast. While I think it’s a lot of fun to make my own bread, this is a good store bought option. Thanks for letting me try it, Nature’s Pride!