Category: product reviews

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!

McDonald’s Oatmeal

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I really love my oats. My idea of a perfect morning includes a warm bowl of stove top oats, eaten while sitting in my pajamas and watching the Today show. But that’s not realistic these days!

A few weeks ago, I did a review of Starbucks oatmeal, which I thought was pretty good. It’s a convenient option for mornings when I am not prepared and need to eat breakfast on the go. Blog reader Nanc sent me a coupon to try the oatmeal at McDonald’s, so that I could compare (and get a free breakfast in the process!)

So I stepped into McDonald’s recently and asked for the oats, without brown sugar please. The staff seemed confused; initially they thought they were out of the oats, and then someone found them. I guess customers don’t order the oats very often? But soon after I was given a bowl filled with hot oats topped with apples and dried fruit.

While the Starbucks oats might be considered a little dry, the McDonald’s version might be considered a little too soupy. Without brown sugar, it wasn’t very sweet of course, but the apples and dried fruit did lend a slightly sweet flavor and a nice texture. Overall, I enjoyed it and would order it again if I found myself in a McDonald’s. And the oatmeal is available all day, not just at breakfast, so it could be an option while traveling. The nutrition label is right on the container, although the calculation includes the brown sugar which can be omitted as I requested.

This oatmeal was heavily criticized by Mark Bittman for having several artificial ingredients, and a unnecessarily high calorie count due to the addition of cream and added sugar. He also makes the point that it is much cheaper and healthier to make a bowl of oats at home, but you probably already knew that! This article offers a rebuttal to Bittman’s arguments. While the oats may have a calorie count similar to an Egg McMuffin, they have less fat and saturated fat. And even if there are artificial ingredients, the oats do contain whole grains with fiber.

I’d like to add another point. While oats are a familiar food for me, that may not be the case for many McDonald’s customers. Maybe some people will be introduced to oats via the fast food version, and then be more likely to try them in other settings. Maybe some people will like the oatmeal so much that they purchase oats at the grocery store to cook at home. While I still have many concerns about fast food, the frequency at which it is consumed, and the portion sizes which are sold, the McDonald’s oatmeal may not be all bad.

Feel free to weigh in with a comment!

Tostitos Artisan Chips

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was sent two complimentary bags of Tostitos Artisan chips. As luck would have it, I was hosting my book club the following night, and they were happy to help me give these a try. To accompany the chips, I threw together a quick dip of black beans, avocado, lemon juice, cumin, and chili powder. Let’s talk about taste first. The first thing that came to mind was “Doritos for Grownups”. (To be fair, a book club member pointed out that we are not too old to eat actual Doritos. I just hate having orange fingers.) But I think the black bean and garlic seasoning powder made the chips seem more artificial. The texture though was good and crunchy, and the leftover chips held up well for a few days.

The artisan chips boast natural ingredients and nine whole grains. While there are several different whole grains in these chips, they are still not a health food. I appreciate the fact that Tostidos is trying to improve the quality of the ingredients used and the overall nutritional value, but these are still a snack type food, not something you’d eat on a daily basis to get your whole grains. The group overall liked the chips, but weren’t ready to run out and buy a bag, unless there was an occasion or they were on sale. Oh, and by the way, we discussed ‘For the Thrill of It’ by Simon Baatz, an interesting book. Thanks to Tostidos for letting us try these out!

Lemon Plum

It’s been a while since I’ve tried any new fruits or vegetables, and I am sure there’s a lot that I haven’t tasted. I was at Russo’s Market and spotted this lemon plum. It’s not a local fruit of course, but comes from Chile. It is the size of an average plum, with yellow flesh. It tastes similar to a plum, perhaps just a little more tart. But this lemon plum was a nice treat, and makes me look forward to fresh fruit in the season ahead!

Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti

I admit that I’ve had this coupon for a free package of Buitoni pasta for a long time. I am not sure why I waited. I love pasta, and this version from Buitoni is stuffed with a mixture of Portobello and cremini mushrooms, garlic, and two types of cheese. I boiled the pasta for just five minutes, and tossed it with some grated Parmesan. It was a quick and elegant dinner.

Fresh pasta is always nice, but it’s the filling that really makes this pasta great. It has a rich mushroom flavor which you don’t want to cover up with tomato sauce. In fact, you’ll want to savor each bite! The pasta is a bit expensive without a coupon, but perhaps I could figure out how to whip up a similar filling on my own. Thanks to Buitoni for a great dinner and the inspiration to try my hand at mushroom pasta.

I was provided this product with a coupon from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. I was not compensated in any other manner to write this product review.