Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's All About Perspective

I’ve always been overwhelmed by all of the contradictions an eating disorder brings on its victim. You’re doing it to be healthy and “fit,” when in reality you’ve never been farther from fit in your life. You’re “strengthening your heart” with all that exercise, when the truth is you could drop dead any second from a heart attack at 20, 19...16, 15 years old. You’re hungry but you’re “full.” You can’t stop thinking about food and yet you’re sick of obsessing over it. You just need to rest but you can’t stop going.

And, perhaps necessarily, recovery is all about shifting perspectives. I can remember the day I “gave up”--the day I started sobbing to my mom that I didn’t want to get on the exercise bike and begged for a babysitter to keep me off it. (And I am forever grateful to my wonderful dad, who stayed home from work that day and who I think understands the most of my family.) That’s exactly what I felt like I was doing: Giving up.

And you know what she said to me? “I’m proud of you for fighting back.”

And I can look at it now in retrospect and see it that way, but at the time I was so consumed by my ED that I felt like I had failed and the world was crumbling at my feet. Perspective shift number one.

Then I moved to North Carolina and for a while I was happy. Happy because my weight stayed exactly the same, with very little variation. I was happiest when it stayed lower. I had a routine of eating and exercise that kept me static, trapped in if you froze your toilet water in the middle of flushing.

Sorry to be so graphic. But I think it’s an apt comparison, because I thought I was so content, when really I was still giving in to filthy ED. And eventually my body decided it wanted to gain weight anyway, thank you very much, and I found myself in an obsessive downward spiral that would have gotten me nowhere. It was in the middle of this despair that I found YourEatopia and MinnieMaud and finally asked myself why I was doing this. Why, if I’m going to gain weight anyway, why am I exercising my little butt off and prolonging it? I’m not really happy. I was tired. My body was tired. But again, those were things I didn’t know until I stopped getting up at 5:30 every morning to go to the fitness center. Change of perspective number two.

And now I’m waiting for number three, because I seem to have hit a block when it comes to really embracing recovery. I’m hitting minimums. I eat around 3,200-3,500 calories per day. But I still “save up” for the night, when I love to break out the ice cream and cookies and peanut butter and all that good stuff. So, in a way, I’m still on a restriction/reactive eating cycle. I’m still nervous to eat more during the day because I’m convinced I’ll still feel the need to eat a ton at night, out of habit. And I know it’s just the ED talking and that if I eat more during the day I very well might not want to perpetually snack at night. And that even if I do, then my body needs it and I have merely entered into the “extreme hunger” phase of recovery. I’m just having trouble embracing the “more-is-better” philosophy when it comes to calories, because ED has beaten it into my brain that you. Cannot. Go. Over.

Part of this mentality stems from the fact that I’m going to the beach on Saturday, and I really want to totally let loose there. So the ED part of my brain says to gain as little weight as possible until then so I can not care while I’m there. And that’s a very slippery slope, because it’s basically the same thought pattern that got me in trouble this time last year, which was that losing a little bit of weight before vacation was OK because I’d gain it all back at the beach. And we all know how that turned out.

So I’m trying not to be so uptight. I started eating a “pre-breakfast” to spread my calories out more, which has been OK. I had a mini-bagel one day; this morning I had a peanut butter sandwich. I still have mental stuff to work on. At this point, though, I just want it to be Saturday! I’m hoping that this vacation can be what I’m waiting for to finally “let go.”

Because that’s really what ED is about: Control. You think you have it until you find out you don’t. That it does. And at that point recovery becomes about taking control by losing control. Just another one of ED’s contradictions.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Clif Bar Carrot Cake

I know I’m not the biggest fan of the original Clif bar, but occasionally I just get an urge for an oaty, molasses-ish bar. I really can’t explain it, it’s like something takes over my body and before I know it I’ve grabbed a Clif bar...or three, like I did on our last day in the Grand Tetons, at the Jenny Lake general store.

One of the three was Carrot Cake. I felt justified picking this one up because I’d never seen them before going out west.

It traveled around in my backpack all day, during the six-hour drive back to Salt Lake City, so it got a little smooshed. But it still smells like carrot cake, with the cinnamon/spice aroma. And the big chunk of carrot readily visible helps.

The one thing that always gets me about Clif bars--and I both love it and sometimes find it annoying--it the sticky, molasses-like texture. This one is similarly gooey, while still maintaining an oaty and slightly crispy texture underneath. The crisps try to be sneaky and hide, but they’re still discernible among the other components. This is a very easy bar to eat, though it is a little sticky to handle.

This bar is pretty accurate when it comes to tasting like carrot cake. It has all the right spices, and there are extra-gooey spots that have an especially powerful flavor. That said, I have to add that overall, it’s a relatively mild carrot cake. The oats kind of dull the taste, but they work better with this flavor than some of the others, particularly peanut butter or chocolate. Maybe because oats and carrot cake seem like a natural match to me (I find it similar to oatmeal raisin cookies).

Taste: 8--sporadic spot-on carrot cake patches, but overall the oaty taste makes it mild.
Texture: 9--it’s gooey but not too sticky, with an oaty crisp.
Health: 8--it has a ton of carbs, since it’s primarily an energy bar. But it also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, and it’s mostly organic like most of Clif’s products. GoodGuide gives it an 8.
Eat Again? Sure.

Monday, July 29, 2013

High Road Peanut Butter Brittle (An Ice Cream Review)

I’m a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to peanut butter and ice cream, because while I love both peanut butter and ice cream and could probably live entirely off of either one if I needed to, I’m not a lover of peanut butter ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always delicious. But for me, ice cream should be super sweet and sugary, and that’s just not something that peanut butter should be.

BUT, I do the occasional peanut butter ice cream and I usually end up enjoying it immensely. Plus I love caramel in my ice cream. So was I going to resist when I saw High Road Peanut Butter Brittle at Whole Foods?

NO!!! And let me tell you why, in High Road’s words: “First, we blended all-natural peanut butter with our sweet cream ice cream mix. Then, after spinning the ice cream, we fold in handfuls of our own handmade peanut brittle, and finish by folding in an incredible peanut butter caramel.”

Yeah. Three of my favorite things: peanut butter, caramel, and sweet cream. Oh, and I like peanut brittle, too. In fact I had Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Brittle a long time ago and liking it. The addition of peanut butter here just sounds heavenly.

I do believe I see a streak of peanut butter-caramel swirl there, plus the base is tinted an appetizing tan color. And those dots are peanut brittle lurking just under the surface. Let me say, first off, this is one funky base. It’s primarily sweet cream, but the peanut butter is there too...just not very strong. I think this is the first time that peanut butter has taken a backseat to anything, because peanut butter is...well, it’s a pretty strong flavor. (That’s why it goes with everything!) So the pure sweetness of this on first bite really threw me for a loop.

Once you start hitting some swirl, the peanut butter gets stronger. But again, it’s not the obvious star player. Sometimes the swirl comes off as sticky and mostly caramel, but then there will be a chunk that’s almost like a classic peanut butter swirl. It has its moments, but (in my pint at least) it wasn’t nearly as thick and decadent as the swirls found in Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s. I would have liked to see a lot more of it, because it really was delightful.

Then there’s the final component: the peanut brittle. I remember the peanut brittle in B&J’s version having a ton of sugary, peanutty flavor. But here...I don’t know. Maybe it’s been too long since I ate peanut brittle, but this wasn’t what I was expecting. Maybe larger pieces? More sweetness? More peanut? More crunch? These are basically individual candies peanuts. Which is a shame because what I love about peanut brittle is the stuff around the peanuts. I’m not actually a huge fan of peanuts themselves (back to being a hypocrite, I guess).

Now don’t think I didn’t enjoy this ice cream...because I most definitely did! Once again High Road impressed me with the quality of the base. While not as dense as some premium ice cream, it is super creamy (especially after sitting out a bit). And, while both French Toast and Vanilla Fleur de Sel were both soft and spoonable straight out of the freezer, this one is firmer and slower to melt. Those extra calories have to go somewhere, I guess.

So. It’s good. It really is. But it could be better. I would have liked a stronger peanut butter infusion, and a little less sweet cream. (I know, right, who wants less sweetness?) It’s just a bit of a shock to have such a funky base. But it certainly kept me interested, and adequately peanut-butter-fueled, so I’d say go ahead and try it. It’s a cool new twist on peanut butter (and peanut brittle).

Why Yes There was a Purpose to that Cinnamon Sludge

Right peeps, today I’ve mostly just been feeling bloated and jiggly, so I’m going to focus on yesterday and the Part 2 post I promised you last night.

So I’m sure you spent all night tossing and turning wondering what I did with my cinnamon gunk. Answer? Well there are two.

  1. I ate the semi-baked stuff. It was actually delicious, like a muffin on the outsides but still liquidy and dough (sludge, I guess) on the inside. And it tasted remarkably like cinnamon buns.
  2. I put the frozen “dough” into some homemade caramel cinnamon ice cream!

Yes, I finally got out the ice cream maker for the first time since I moved! I was feeling guilty about taking it with me and not even using it, so now that I made this ice cream all I have to feel guilty about is the fact that I already had ten other kinds of ice cream in the freezer. (Not even exaggerating. But in my defense, only seven of them are unopened and the rest are less than half full. And most of them are pints so it’s not like I have a bunch of half-gallons in there.)

Wait. Back to my ice cream. The two main ingredients:

Half and half and coffee creamer. It seems like ever since I discovered you can make ice cream with coffee creamer, I’ve been seeing all these crazy flavors from International Delight, and the Cinnabon one really got my imagination going...but it only seems to come in giant quarts. And I know I can only take so much cinnamon ice cream before I’ve had my fill for the next few months, because really what I love in ice cream is chocolate, cake, and caramel. So I didn’t want some gargantuan thing of coffee creamer just to have most of it go bad.

Anyway, I would’ve waited to make my own ice cream until I tamed the beast in my freezer, EXCEPT I chose to shop at Walmart on a day when it was very well-stocked and found a pint (i.e., smaller container) of not Cinnabon but Cold Stone Creamery Churro Caramel. They also have some other Cold Stone flavors, but for some reason I was dying to experiment with cinnamon and, let’s face it, there are tons and tons of cookie and brownie flavors in the ice cream aisle already. But those are definitely flavors I might try in the future.

OK, enough rambling. The recipe is dead simple, you could do it in your sleep. You need:

  • 2 cups half and half (actually, I subbed this instead of using heavy whipping cream, which is quite pricey but might be worth investing in)
  • 1 cup coffee creamer
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (which I just realized I accidentally omitted...this makes the third time I’ve discovered a recipe error while blogging)

As with last night’s goop, no process. Just throw it all in and mix it up. Funny, I thought the creamer might be caramel colored, but it’s white. No doubt from the smell though, boy is it pungent! And it has a bite to it, too (I ate some that spilled while I was measuring).

Pour it in the ice cream maker and fire it up!

After about 25 minutes I started adding the cinnamon “dough” (you can see a bit of it on the bottom, above). I took it out of the freezer immediately before adding it, and I used a spoon to sort of break/spoon it in chunk sizes into the ice cream. It started “melting” fairly quickly and it was a rush to get it all in before the churning totally incorporated it into the ice it was it turned into more of streaks than actual chunks.

But it was still really good! I let it set in the freezer for more than an hour before attacking it (I only ate a pint, for the record), and it still had a very soft-serve-like consistency. So it was hard to tell what the texture would really be...that’s what the second pint is for! But it definitely left something to be desired in the way of creaminess, so maybe I shouldn’t have used the half and half. Or maybe I shouldn’t have forgotten the salt. Whatever, despite the texture issues it was really good. I can’t accurately describe that caramel-churro flavor, it’s really something you need to experience for yourself...but I will say there was definitely cinnamon and definitely caramel, and the little streaks of re-frozen cinnamon goop looked cool. And I have half the pint of coffee creamer left to try out one more batch!

Now, for a parting note, maybe somebody can help me out with the math here. I’ve always read (and found) that the volume of liquid that goes into the ice cream maker is the same as what comes out. So 3 cups of coffee creamer and half and half should equal 6 half-cup servings of ice cream, or a pint and a half. Yet I seem to have ended up with two VERY full pints (I had to squish the lids down) and that’s not counting the coating that built up on the sides and bottom of the ice cream maker bowl that I didn’t feel like scraping off. Oh, and the few spoonfuls that went into my mouth during transfer. One of the advantages of living by yourself is you can double dip with any utensil into any food (or multiple foods) and it doesn’t matter. (For example I lick off my peanut butter knife and then use it to spread butter on the bread.)

But back to the two pints thing...not that I’m complaining, but what gives??

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cravings and Cinnamon Sludge

Ever since discovering YourEatopia, I’ve been obsessively reading the forums and blogs, trying to prepare myself for every eventuality. I have some idea of what most people go through. And I keep reading all over the place about people getting insane cravings for one specific food. But up until now I had yet to experience it.

Then last night I woke up around 2:30 a.m. thinking about food. And then out of nowhere pancakes. And then even more out of nowhere IHOP, and before I know it I’m looking up IHOP’s menu on my iPad in bed at 2:30...who does that?? But I wanted red velvet pancakes soooo bad. But, it was 2:30 in the morning, what the heck could I do about it then? I had to content myself with a midnight snack from my own (seemingly insufficient at the time) kitchen--which was enough to put me back to sleep nearly until lunchtime. At which point, of course, I headed out the door to IHOP and got myself some red velvet pancakes.

With cream cheese icing and whipped cream. Yep, icing and whipped cream for breakfast. And powdered sugar, ohhh I love powdered sugar.... I am definitely getting these again, I don’t care WHAT time of day (as long as they’re open), I’ll have them for dinner after work if I have to. And I am totally dragging my family to IHOP when we go to the beach next week.

Apart from that...well, I killed some time at the Dollar Tree and found these gems:

Remember my Cookie Dough Bites? And the Cinnamon Bun and Cookies & Cream ones? Well, I was thrilled not only to find the Cookies & Cream ones for the first time down here (not counting Walgreens’ version), but also, from left to right: Fudge Brownie, Mint Chocolate Chip, [Cookies & Cream], and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites!! Ahhh so excited to try them all!

I also treated myself to a new camera for the beach trip, because 1) mine doesn’t zoom very far and it’s old; 2) if I use my phone the battery dies after three or four hours; and 3) I don’t feel like lugging my iPad everywhere, especially down to the beach and shopping and mini golfing and all that. So I got this fancy pink one with wifi that can upload photos remotely (but Google keeps blocking my attempts to log in to it just me or are they getting as controlling as Apple?).

And then I tested out my new camera by making cinnamon roll dough. Well, sort of. It didn’t really turn out like dough, but that’s OK because I wasn’t intending to use it to make cinnamon rolls. I just needed something cinnamony. You’ll see why in Part 2...whenever I can get that up. Probably sometime tomorrow. Anywho...

I came across this recipe for “healthy” cinnamon rolls and, since I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen, decided to just throw something together based on it. Again, not intending to actually make cinnamon rolls. So let’s call this cinnamon sludge.

  • 1/6 cup applesauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons liquid eggs (easier than trying halve an egg!)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 truvia packets
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

If you read the original you’ll notice it calls for coconut flour...well, let’s just say coconut flour is not the same as white flour. Mainly, it absorbs A LOT more water. So I ended up with a just-mixed-not-yet-set pudding-type consistency. Not something you could roll out into dough. But again, THAT’S OK!

Oh, you want to know the process? Just dump it all in and mix it up. That’s the way I bake.

Or...not bake. I split the “sludge” in half and stuck half in the freezer and baked the other half in my toaster oven at 400 degrees. I thought it was done after 9 certainly looked done on the surface...

Then I stuck my finger in it and discovered it was still liquid (albeit hot liquid now) inside. So back in it went for another 10 minutes....

And again it looks done, but it’s still a little sticky in the middle. So I gave up. It’s good enough now. Honestly, it was good enough licking out the bowl that I’d eat it plain as a liquid. Umm, which might not be a good thing because raw liquid eggs are still raw eggs. I think.

So anyway, we shall see which half better fits my purpose...but that’s for tomorrow. I’ll leave you in suspense until then. :)

Addendum to Yesterday's Randomness + Homemade Cheese Pockets

Sorry, I meant to come back later yesterday after my slightly depressing and obsessive post. Because I had an epiphany (well, maybe a mini epiphany, anyway). See, I was feeling down about myself and just all around flabby and worried about how much my body was changing. Yes, I know that’s ED screaming in my ear but as of now I can’t always tune it out. Like that song on the radio you hate, so you change the station right away, but then it’s stuck in your head for the next few days anyway.

But then I went down to the pool yesterday afternoon. I almost didn’t, because it would require me to put on my bathing suit, and I was afraid to. But I did, still fit! I don’t know what I was expecting; I’m not sure it would have been humanly possible for me to grow out of it in a week. Still, it was heartening. And upon closer examination (I know you’re not supposed to but I couldn’t help myself), I realized I don’t look a whole lot different. It’s mainly my thighs (which still bug me to no end, but I’m trying to ignore them) and...well, I was trying to figure how far “along” I am, if you know what I’m saying. :)

But the point is, I’m not a walking puffball. I did not balloon up out of nowhere just from quitting exercise. I have eaten at least 3,500 calories all week with nothing but 30 minutes of walking (plus shopping, which should totally count as physical activity). I can’t say what will happen in the next week, but for now this is extremely reassuring.

So to celebrate, I went to Walmart. OK no, I actually went to Walmart before I went to the pool, after the guys at the Chevy dealership “fixed” my car. Which, by the way, isn’t fixed. As soon as I hit 45 it starts whining and vibrating and, while the vibrating stops somewhere around 60...let’s just say my radio is louder than usual.

But back to Walmart. I bought wonton wrappers. And used them to make a totally American dinner in my new toaster oven: cheese pockets! They are waaayy simple and quick to make, and end up sort of like Pizza Rolls sans sauce.

So basically you lay the wrapper out and put cheese in them...

...wet the edges and press them together (the water “glues” them together and seals them shut)...

...and then bake them at 425 for about 6 minutes. I was going to leave them in for 10, but I yanked them out when they started exploding. I guess I didn’t quite seal my edges well enough.

But they were still good. The only problem is I’ll be eating wonton wrappers for the rest of the month because there must be 60 or 70 in the package. Hmm...anyone have any good wonton recipes out there?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

High Road Vanilla Fleur de Sel (An Ice Cream Review)

There are times when my naïveté leads me to buy a pint of ice cream, thinking it’s one thing, when in fact it’s something else. This happens to be the case with one of my most recent purchases from Whole Foods, High Road Vanilla Fleur de Sel. This time, I grabbed it thinking of caramel, because fleur de sel (sea salt) is a common ingredient in caramel (and, in fact, the base of Talenti’s famous Sea Salt Caramel gelato--so blame Talenti, they’ve corrupted me). And the picture on the front of the pint looked like brown sugar, which I could eat by the spoonful by itself. So I went for it.

On the inside it just looks like an innocent vanilla bean. I love when you can see the black specks, because that usually means it’s going to be good.

Now. Without reading the description, aside from knowing that it’s bourbon vanilla ice cream, my first impression was that it’s vanilla bean, or anyway something more than just vanilla. In fact I’m going to settle on French vanilla. I don’t drink, so I can’t attest to the bourbon part...but that could very well be the funky vibe I get at the very beginning of a bite. That’s gone, though, within seconds, and this becomes a very interesting, complex vanilla.

Farther down the pint and I don’t see the caramel I was expecting, so I go back to the description on the pint, particularly the part that states: “Here, we take two of our favorites - real Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla and Fleur de Sel - and make a French-style vanilla ice cream that’s anything but plain.”

Doh. Well, no wonder it tastes like French vanilla.

My brain just magically inserted caramel into this ice cream when there is none. In my defense, though, I do still feel slightly cheated because of that brown sugar on the packaging.

Having made that discovery, I focused more on the ice cream itself than what I had presume missing from the ice cream, and...I know it’s just vanilla and I’ve always been a mix-in fiend, but it’s good. Salty? Hmm, perhaps not so much.... But there are several layers of vanilla unfolding here; it’s something to be savored slowly as you let the flavor sink in. When I was a kid I used to LOVE French vanilla ice cream, and I still’s just that when I was a kid my ice cream exposure didn’t include Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs, etc. and all the wild flavors out there.

Like its sibling French Toast, this ice cream has a bit of grit to it. There, I thought it might be from the cinnamon. Here, I could pretend it’s from the vanilla bean specks, but I think it’s really just their ice cream. But it works here, especially since it’s also really creamy. And, a lot like gelato, it’s ready to eat and soft straight from the freezer. It’s also not as dense as those premium brands, but I really don’t mind. I love the smooth ease with which my spoon carves out a dent.

It’s been a long time since I just had vanilla cream, sans chunks or swirls or what have you. The closest I’ve come is Talenti’s Argentine Caramel or Haagen-Dazs’ Dulce de Leche, but those had plenty of caramel flavor to keep me busy. There are times when it’s actually beneficial to judge a book by its (perhaps misleading) cover, and this was one of them. I now have a new appreciation for “plain” old vanilla.

Randomness from the Racing Mind

So, I meant to update sooner, but stuff got in the way...OK, that’s a lie, I just got too lazy. Seems to be a side effect of this whole “recovery” thing, I have absolutely no motivation to do anything. Go figure, I had more energy when I was using it all up!

[[[Starvation actually causes hyperactivity, it’s been shown in rats. Apparently during our hunter-gatherer days, anorexics were needed because their hyperactivity in times of starvation helped bring food to the community and therefore saved lives. They were then force-fed by the people after the famine was over, because they’d be needed again the next time. And that, or so I’ve read, is the reason for the genetic mutation that predisposes some of us to eating disorders.]]]

Anyway. I’ve been trying not to let this whole no-exercise, stuff-your-face thing bother me. But it’s only working to some extent. There are some things that bother me, and there are some things that bother ED, and surprisingly enough most of them are actually really easy to distinguish from each other. For example, the fact that my abs are soft and my stomach sticks out and my thighs are reeeeally close to touching. I try not to let those bother me because I know they’re not my thoughts, and I need to get rid of them if I’m ever going to be free.

Then there are the things that bother me, namely my symptoms--or lack thereof. I have no edema (swelling). No extreme hunger, in fact my appetite seems to have taken a nosedive. And I sweat less at night than I did before I stopped exercising. So since edema = repair, I'm afraid my body isn't repairing itself. And since night sweats = high metabolism, I'm worried that mine isn't revving up like it's supposed to. And the whole appetite thing...well, that just makes it harder to eat! And much less fun, because food is so much more enjoyable when you're hungry and not forcing it down your throat.

Either way, I can't wait to head for the beach next weekend so I can hopefully get a mental break for a while. Although that does raise whole new anxieties about wearing a bathing suit with my new belly, haha. And seeing family members I haven't seen since leaving home, when I will probably look so different than when they last saw me (I really have no idea what I'll look like in a week's time). I know that they're my family and they won't care, but it still feels awkward...I don't know. No use obsessing now, right?

All right, it appears my car is done getting fixed, so I'll stop here. And hope that it doesn't moan when I go beyond 10 mph anymore. (It's been hating these speed-limit-70 freeways around here.) OK, I'll be back later with more (hopefully positive) thoughts....

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Jay Bar Fudge Brownie

Today’s review is another protein bar I’ve never seen before going to Yellowstone: the Jay Bar. Apparently Jay Robb is a bodybuilder who is now committed to eating natural and helping people get in better shape with a 3-step plan.

I didn’t know all that at the time, of course, but Fudge Brownie looked good. And you know I can’t stay away from something I’ve never seen before. (The Peanut Butter and Cashew-Coconut looked good too, but I decided to keep it to a dull roar.)

This bar surprised me, because I was expecting a chocolate coating. But I guess brownies don’t have coating, so maybe it’s going for authentic. It’s really shiny and smells especially fudgy—not just chocolate, but deep and dark like, well, fudge.

Another surprise awaits: it’s crispy! All right, I know you can see the crisps in the pictures, but for some reason I just wasn’t expecting them. My mind doesn’t connect “brownie” with “crispy,” except in the sense that if you burn them, they’re crispy. Which in general is not a good thing. But here, once you get used to it, you can appreciate the way it breaks up the otherwise gummy texture. That’s gummy as in soft and chewy, not a tough mass, although it does get stuck in your teeth and is definitely not a brownie-ish texture. I should add that by the end my mouth was a little tired, so I wouldn’t recommend big bites. On the plus side, it’s not too sticky despite having no coating.

The taste is hard to describe; it’s certainly chocolate-like, but in a fake way. It doesn’t taste like chocolate, but it reminds me of chocolate. It’s a bit like a Tootsie Roll. Only easier to chew and crispy. OK, I’m doing a terrible job of describing this bar. It’s pretty good, but some people will be disappointed. A chocolate coating would have brought out a more realistic chocolate flavor.

So Jay obviously has good motives, but I probably wouldn’t buy this bar again. Just not enough chocolate for me. I love the texture and everything else, but the overall ensemble just doesn’t wow me. Still, it might be worth a try if you like Tootsie Rolls.

Taste: 7--sort of like a Tootsie Roll in that it’s chocolate flavored, but not chocolate.
Texture: 8--gummy but not overwhelming in smaller bites; the crisps help break up the texture.
Health: 7--it comes in at 14 grams of protein, but has 23 grams of carbs and a good deal of fat. Still, there’s a lot of fiber, and it also contains calcium and iron.
Eat Again? Nah.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blue Bell Dessert Trio (An Ice Cream Review)

My very first experience with Blue Bell Creamery was pretty freaking awesome.  I thought I’d never find anything to rival their Krazy Kookie Dough, just based on the fact that 1) I love cake batter ice cream more than ANYTHING, and 2) I love cookie dough and lord knows it was full of cookie dough. And it seemed like I was right, when their Rockslide Brownie just didn’t hold its own weight. But it turns out I was so, so wrong.

Enter the challenger. Dessert Trio: “Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream with Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pecan Brownies and Chocolate-Coated Cake with a Swirl of Chocolate Sauce.” I’ve been on the lookout for this flavor since I moved here, but I only saw it for the first time last night at Kroger. My freezer was already full, but who cares??

Even just looking through that little “window” on top, you can tell it’s going to be chocolatey. Doesn’t even look like vanilla ice cream, does it?

OH. MY. GOD. That chocolate swirl is just ridiculous. It’s very deep and dark, as first giving a little resistance to my scoop but quickly turning to liquid at room temperature. It’s so gooey and profuse that there’s basically no part of the ice cream where it isn’t. You can’t avoid it, not that you’d want to. This is the first I’ve had of their chocolate sauce, and I want more!

The cake and brownies were hard to tell apart at first, until I could be sure I’d had at least one of each. The main difference is texture: the cake pieces are fluffier, whereas the brownies are dense and chewy. The cake adds a nice cocoa flavor (not that we need more chocolate); the brownies are more on the fudgey side, and to be honest only one or two had obvious pecans and even then they were really only a small sliver. Which is fine with me, I’ve never really liked nuts in ice cream. Again, these two mix-ins (mainly the cake, though) were crazily packed into the half-gallon. I must have gotten at least 20 in the four (yes, four) servings I had.

The cookies seemed less present, although they may have just been harder to spot than the dark brown cake and brownies. I think there were two that I noticed in my bowl. They taste a bit like cookie dough but without the grit, and the chocolate chips really stand out--milk chocolate against the deepness and fudge going on everywhere else. It’s like chocolate being a break from perfect.

I can’t really comment on the base, because...well, could you separate it from all that madness? I think if it had been chocolate this ice cream might have been over the top, so I’m glad they went with vanilla, but really, with everything else going on you don’t even notice the base. It’s just there as a vehicle for the crazy amounts of mix-ins.

So, I thought Krazy Kookie Dough would be my all-time favorite forever and always, but it doesn’t even come close to this. It’s definitely a repeat buy, assuming I can find it again. And believe me, all my digits are crossed. Legs too. I need my arms to type, but if there is a way to cross my brain as well I will find it. It’s that good. Now go buy a tub before I find them all and snatch them up!

** I want to share what a big accomplishment this half gallon is for me...up until now, I
’ve been afraid to buy any ice cream at more than 150 calories/serving in a size larger than a pint. (This one has 210, for the record.) I long ago admitted that I have a problem with portion control, and also being afraid of gaining weight meant an imposed limit (however seemingly arbitrary). So I stepped outside my comfort zone with this purchase, and as you can see I
’m very glad I did. **

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Talenti Mediterranean Mint (A Gelato Review)

You would not believe what I went through for this pint of gelato.

OK, my dad went through it too…so he deserves a HUGE thank you for driving me to a Walmart in Salt Lake City, waiting while I agonized over the ice cream choices, waiting in a long line, switching over to the express checkout, waiting while the lady in front of us paid in PENNIES (so the poor cashier had to count them all out…and again after the customer got the amount wrong…twice), and watching the guy who was behind us in the other line (and the guys behind him) leave the store before we finally got to the register.

You can only imagine my distress as my precious Mediterranean Mint from Talenti melted away in that line.

Just kidding, it wasn’t that bad.

See? No obvious meltage visible from the top. Well, it is getting a little light around the edges…

No, it’s not that radioactive green. Must be the lighting. But you wouldn’t believe the incredibly minty smell coming off this pint. You don’t even have to be near it to catch a whiff. And it’s going to sound weird, but I feel like I can smell the chocolate flakes, too, because this thing smells like a super-minty thin mint.

That’s how it tastes, too. If you’re worried it’s going to be like ingesting a tube of mint toothpaste, don’t be; this is not a harsh mint like toothpaste or chewing gum. It’s actually super sweet. Somehow it manages to give off a mild vibe, yet I still can’t call this “mild,” because it’s still potent.

The base is, as always from Talenti, creamy and rich. My plastic spoon cut easily through the gelato. It would have been ready to eat straight from the freezer, but the extra time spent in the checkout line warmed it enough that by the middle of the pint, I was spooning liquid.

The chocolate chunks are what really round this flavor off. Without them, it would be a little overwhelming and boring. For some reason I find that mint goes best with dark chocolate, and the folks at Talenti seem to agree. These chunks are bittersweet, rather than milk chocolate, and big enough to provide a good crunch. Mine weren’t frozen (that would be asking for a miracle), but I’d imagine that coming right from the freezer they would be harder. They have a bit of give to them, and if you let the ice cream melt in your mouth and then let the chocolate sit for a few moments, they become creamy, like little slices of heaven. I wish I could have savored more of them like this, but I didn’t want to risk having to drink the remainder of my gelato.

Although I’m not much of a mint person when it comes to frozen desserts (or desserts in general for that matter), this stuff really hit the spot. It might not have the in-your-face awesomeness of Sea Salt Caramel, but it stands out in its own, more conservative way. It’s as good as any mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever tasted.