Friday, March 30, 2012

Dole Shakers: Mixed Berry Smoothie

I have to admit that I'm the first one to say I don't especially like smoothies. I like the idea of smoothies, but basically it stops there. Of course, as I also feel the need to say for around the four millionth time, I am currently stuck with soft foods only. And since I need to eat/drink things other than just ice cream (oh, don't I wish that could be a full diet!), I have to keep looking for new things. Hence...

The Dole Shakers in Mixed Berry. The Shakers are cool in that you don't need to pull out a blender. (Very helpful if you don't own a blender to start with.) You simply add the juice of your choice--the label suggests apple, orange, or don't-listen-to-us-use-whatever-the-hell-you-want. All right, I made that last part up; they used the far less witty "or your favorite juice." But let's actually follow the instructions in "real time" and disregard my need to ignore authority (AKA I do not feel like repeating myself).

So, first you open the cap. Then you're supposed to shake or break up the contents before adding the juice. Inside the container you will find frozen yogurt pellets and red chunks that I assume are the fruit...that, or the yogurt has Ebola Zaire. Either way, it's not pretty to look at (not that this matters).

Now that things have been loosened up, in comes the juice. I used orange juice because it was what I had on hand. You are supposed to add enough juice to reach the handy-dandy little window in the cup (helpfully shown below).

Next up is the "vigorous shaking for 30-45 seconds."


All right, maybe that was a little harsh, but I am grumpy and the above instructions were an epic fail. You see, despite the pre-juice-addition break up, it took more than five full minutes of vigorous shaking to get things fully mixed. (Yes, I did time it.) A decent aerobic workout undoubtedly, but hardly what the instructions indicated. To be fair, I am willing to admit that maybe my smoothie had partially defrosted on the way home from the supermarket and thus turned into something a little more solid than intended upon being re-frozen at home. Entirely possible. But the recommended 30 to 45 seconds just didn't begin to cut it, and I suspect they wouldn't have in any case.

Eventually, after the aforementioned workout, it did thicken up/mix properly and was ready to be put into a glass for your viewing pleasure:

Looks kinda like pink faux-marble, doesn't it? Like that stuff they make bathroom countertops in Florida retirement communities out of, only in liquid form. In any case, the smell was pleasant--just like strawberry yogurt. And regardless of my complaints on the mixing time, I do have to give it points for being pretty darn close to the thickness of a real juice shop smoothie. It was a just a little thinner than a professionally made one...but that was a selling point for me, as I prefer a thinner smoothie anyway.

So how did it taste?

Well, I liked the tangy zing of the yogurt. What I wasn't loving was the berries. Maybe OJ wasn't the best choice to use for a mixed berry smoothie, but it was all I had on hand. (And the label did suggest it, so...) The OJ quickly became the strongest flavor and drowned out the berries until they were merely an aftertaste. Still okay, mind -- but not what I was expecting.

Honestly, this smoothie was better than what I was expecting, and I think that with a different juice it could have actually tasted like berries. I may retry it using a cranberry or cranberry juice blend just to test that theory. (If anyone out there has tried that, what did you think?)

Not bad overall. Just expect to do a lot more shaking than the label tells you.


Albertsons Supermarket


100 calories for the contents alone; 190 calories for the contents plus 6.5 oz of orange juice.

Made on equipment shared with products containing eggs, wheat & soy.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ben & Jerry's Rocky Road-ish (Limited Batch)

Sometimes I wonder if the Universe just likes to screw with me. Why must I be tortured with a flavor like this and have it be only a limited edition? I only have an apartment-sized freezer; there is only so much pint hoarding I can do. (Or, wait...maybe I could rent freezer space from my scary redneck neighbors. I'm sure there must be a little space in between the severed human heads or whatever it is they store in there...well, it's something to consider.) In any event, I am getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about the ice cream before I run off begging. Long-time readers will know what had sent me over the edge in a moment.

Rocky Road-ish is a toasted marshmallow ice cream, with a toasted marshmallow swirl and fudge covered almonds. (Insert fan girl screaming here.) Hey, my love of marshmallow is legendary! If marshmallow is placed in a product, I will go to the ends of the earth to hunt it down. So, as you might have guessed, that combination makes this flavor like my ultimate wet dream. It's like the frozen version of Julian McMahon showing up at my door wearing only a smile. (Ben & Jerry's was the only ice cream he was ever seen eating on Nip/Tuck.) Even though the character of Dr. Troy was a Cherry Garcia man, Julian is welcome to come and partake of my...okay, enough! This review is running off track, even for me. Just give me a minute and some fresh batteries and I will be right back...

*looks around sheepishly...*

Well, I feel better, where was I? Yeah, the ice cream. In what has become the least embarrassing admission in this review--once again, because of dental work recently done, crunchy/hard foods are off the menu--I could not actually partake in the fudge-covered almonds myself. I can tell you that in classic Ben & Jerry chunk form, they were pretty sizable. (Look people, I am already taking the high road by not making any jokes using the words; hard, mouth, nuts or sizable!) They range from pea-sized to what looked like half of an almond. I outsourced the tasting and was told that the fudge is chocolaty and sweet with that slight grainy texture, and the almonds themselves were very crunchy and fresh.

As for the parts I did try: My first suggestion is to do yourself a favor and leave this pint out of the freezer for five or ten minutes (or maybe do a super fast microwave) before eating. Having eaten more pints of this than I am going to admit to, I can tell you that this flavor is 100X more awesome when slightly melty. Once the texture gets soft, the pint almost becomes like the richest, creamiest soft-serve you have ever had. The flavor of the base is indeed toasty (um, duh! the word is in the flavor description twice for a reason). It reminded me of marshmallows just browned over a fire. It's more about the burnt sugar notes, but it is not overly strong or sweet.

The marshmallow swirl: In the past, I have said I would like to die in a vat of the caramel used in Americone Dream. Well, now I would like to revise that statement and die in a vat of the marshmallow swirl instead. If the ice cream tasted like marshmallows toasted on in open fire, the swirl is all about marshmallows just out of the bag. It's sweeter, and there is a nice mellow (mallow?) vanilla note wafting through. But what just cements it for me is that it is like liquid marshmallow. (Dare I to dream?) I know, from top view, it looks as if the swirl is merely a weird darker patch of ice cream--but as you dig into the pint, everything changes. Think of rich, flowing rivers of marshmallow, instead of, say, the sticky gooeyiness of marshmallow fluff or the spongy cloud of one from a freshly opened bag.

Here's the most important thing: This flavor really MUST MUST MUST go from being a limited edition to a full-time flavor...because my life may truly be meaningless otherwise. (Well, that is just kinda sad...)

Be sure to check out what other bloggers said:
The Impulsive Buy
On Second Scoop
And a blog that is new to me that I am really enjoying:
Ben & Jerry's Fanatic

Albertsons Supermarket


250 Calories per 1/2 cup serving

Contains nuts & tree nuts, kosher, awesome


Monday, March 26, 2012

Dreyers/Edys Fruit Bars: Mango

I should probably admit up front that I have nothing but love for practically the entire line of Dreyers/Edy's Fruit Bars. They are additively refreshing and they are almost always my bedtime snack of choice.

Mango is the newest bar to join the family. Much like the strawberry, blueberry-açaí and the elusive (but irresistible) peach bar, the mango is made up of what I believe is frozen puree--rather than the flavors which are more like simple frozen juice (like the grape bar, etc).

The flavor of this bar is like that of a perfectly ripe mango. Sweet, with that vaguely pine-like flavor and none of that "green" taste that under-ripe fruit can have. The bar finishes with that slightly apricot/peachy aftertaste that seems to be found less when eating an actual ripe mango on its own, and more from products made with mango. I am not sure how much sense that last made--but it tastes good either way. I know a lot of people like to sprinkle a mixture of salt and chili powder on fresh mangos, and I don't see why that couldn't also be done to the bars. I personally don't really like mango that way, so I didn't experiment with it.

The texture of the bar starts melting in your mouth instantly. I know that must sound redundant, but the texture is velvety smooth to the point it reminds me of a chunk-free frozen smoothie. Unlike the juice bars, or even a kids style ice pop that stays reasonably solid as you eat it, these bars go just shy of actual liquid in your mouth. Again, it is one of the best treats on a hot day (or night).

I am even going to so far as to say this flavor is second only to the pineapple, it's just that good!


Albertsons Supermarket


80 calories per bar

Fat free, kosher, gluten free, does not contain nuts.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie Gum


If there is a flavor of gum you don't see all that much of, it is apple- and that is normally a good thing, because when you do find it, it tends to be sour apple flavored. And as much as I love an actual Granny Smith, I am not a huge fan of fake sour apple. What greatly adds to this gum's appeal (get it?--a PEEL?--yeah, I really haven't blogged in a while...) is that is a warm, sweet apple flavor. (And yes, I see that there are green apples pictured on the packaging.)

I mean, who doesn't like apple pie?

The stick has a mellow cinnamon halo that sits in back of the almost floral taste of the sweetened apple flavor. Extra even managed to get a taste that could almost be called "buttery" in there...almost. I know that all sounds weird taken separately, but as a whole it is actually pretty tasty.

My only real complaint is that the flavor fades fast. As in, under five minutes. This I do not understand, as Wrigley's produces other gums whose flavors lasts far beyond my desire to chew them, and yet this one practically sits in your mouth apologizing for coming (and going) so fast. Kind of reminds me of some dates I had back in the day. But never mind.

My only other issue--and it's a small one--is also for some odd reason the gum seems a bit tougher than most of the other Extra flavors. I was willing to blame poor storage/weird shipping, etc. on the first batch. But I am on pack number three, and they were all purchased from different retail outlets--in three different states, no less--so that leads me to think it's the gum itself. (Obviously, it is not so tough that the texture is keeping me away.)

A nice flavor for those times when you aren't in the mood for mint.

Be sure to check out these other reviews from:
The Impulsive Buy


Gum Alert

Publix Supermarket


5 Calories per stick

Contains phenylalanine


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

JELL-O Strawberry Sundae Pudding

So here I am again, poised over the old laptop with a pudding cup in my hand. The last one was kind of like a Gigi Scooby Snack. I did not have to be asked twice to scarf that puppy. But this one...

Part of it is that, honestly, I am not a huge fan of most things strawberry. But that's only part of it. The other part is that the top layer is color that I could see my eleven-year-old nephew loving simply because it resembles nothing in nature. Still I do like sundaes, and this flavor is supposed to have a bottom layer that tastes like strawberry ice cream, with the top layer like strawberry ice cream topping.

It's the top layer that is a lurid shade of pink most often found in lower budget nail polishes...and what I imagine it would look like if Barbie could bleed. This cup, much like on the S'more cup, also features different textures in the different layers. In this case the top layer is very fluid--like ice cream topping can be. It's very smooth, and texture-wise I liked it.

Flavorwise, it has that super-exaggerated strawberry flavor that kids seem to love. I got through it, but it reminded me of kids' vitamins (I did in fact have strawberry-shaped vitamins as a child, and this made me think of them. So if nothing else it gets a nostalgia point.)

The bottom layer is a paler (and less terrifying) pink shade that does in fact resemble strawberry ice cream. The texture was super thick and smooth. Also, the flavor was much, much closer to real strawberry. I know it is supposed to be like strawberry ice cream, but it reminded me more of strawberry yogurt, though without the yogurty tang. On its own it was actually pretty tasty.

So what happens when you mix the two layers? Like a speech I twice got from my parents, sometimes people (or foods in this case) can still love each other, but they just can't live together anymore. Seriously, I could see kids knocking each other down to get to these cups. Me...not so much. I couldn't get over that super strong first layer. I think it completely overpowers the "ice cream" layer. Which is too bad, because I ended up loving the texture of that layer, and I even got to like the flavor the more I ate. It's just together...well, as I said, not so much.

Granted, this flavor really is geared more towards kids, and maybe I am just too old of a cranky cat lady to appreciate it. But I will be sticking with the S'mores.

Be sure to check our Marvo's reviews at:
The Impulsive Buy

Sample From Company

110 Calories per cup


Monday, March 19, 2012

JELL-O S'more Pudding Snack

I may have said this a million times or two, but there will never be enough products with marshmallow in this world for me. I love everything about them. I love them "raw" (a.k.a just out of the bag), I love them roasted, and I especially love them burned to a post-eruption lava like crisp.

When the kind folks at JELL-O offered to let me try a pudding with marshmallow, I just about erupted myself. And just in case the FTC is reading this--while yes, I did get this pudding for free, I am not so shallow as to allow myself to be bribed by things with free marshmallows in them. It takes slightly more than that buy my allegiance. (Note to people who may want to bribe me: I only said SLIGHTLY more than that.) So why do I have the feeling that now the FTC is going to sic their own version of Men in Black on me? Anyway, on to the review...

The JELL-O S'more pudding cup consists of two layers. The bottom portion is a chocolate flavored with graham cracker, and the top is marshmallow flavored. The two layers are also differently textured.

The marshmallow layer: OH EM GEE! First, I love that they made this layer with the "mousse" texture, à la the Temptations line. Yes, I love that entire line...and having a marshmallow version only makes it better. The flavor is close to that of a toasted marshmallow. It seemed a little malty to me (but I liked that). Here's what's kinda odd, though: even though the graham crackers are in the chocolate layer, you can actually taste them more in the marshmallow layer. Go figure, huh? But it was still a very nice flavor, so that's not a complaint. As far as I am concerned, I could skip the chocolate and just have an entire cup (or vat) of this.

But there is still that chocolate graham layer waiting below for me, like a sea of dense, dark water--you know that sounds kind of scary--like a bad Shark Week trailer--oh, wait! Let's run with that! Maybe we can somehow work in a cross-promo with the Discovery Channel, where I talk about sharks while reviewing the pudding by eating it off of...oops, duh, I meant eating it with, yes with, Mike Rowe. Silly readers, how dare you think I had my mind in the gutter! Granted, I am mayor of the gutter, but I hardly see where that matters. We are supposed to be talking about pudding here, right? And sadly, it is Mike Rowe-free pudding. What did you say? Okay, fine, have it your way, I will get back to work on this review. Sheesh.

So, before my mind took its perv detour, we were starting to talk about the chocolate layer. And so we shall.

Unlike its best friend the marshmallow layer, which is mousse textured, the chocolate layer is the classic smooth and creamy style of pudding. On its own the chocolate seems to be not quite as infused with graham cracker flavor as the marshmallow layer, but you can tell it's there. I actually think it works better that the chocolate is the stronger flavor in this layer. It keeps things from being too sweet, and I like the contrast in textures. That said, I do think it would have been even better to have a layer of actual graham cracker crumbs in the cup. That would have been pretty tasty.

Now that I have talked about the layers separate, how are they together?

I have no idea how this is even possible, but the layers together reminded me more of a rum ball then of a S'more. I doubt kids would ever pick that up, but it may be an extra selling point for the grown ups (and right now the JELL-O people are probably wondering why the hell they ever let me near a sample). It's a delicious combo either way. And again, I would love to see the marshmallow layer get its own dedicated cup.

Also check out reviews by:
The Impulsive Buy
Foodette Reviews

Sample From Company

110 Calories per cup


I'm BAAAAAACK!!! and programming notes.

First, a million thank you's to everyone.

To those of you who helped with the burial of my father -- you will never know how much it was appreciated and how much it helped. To those of you who sent well wishes, again I will never be able to say thank you enough. And to those of you who were patient with me...again, thank you.

Some day I might go into why it has taken me so long to get back in the saddle. But I can't take another depressing post right now, and I am sure you guys probably feel the same.

My current plan for the new schedule is going to be new reviews on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I may start picking up the slack and doing more, but I at least wanted to have some sort of plan.

Also for the next few months, other than some reviews that I had started months ago and have just recently done my best to finish, there is going to be a ton of soft food. I had to have emergency oral surgery last month, and I am still on soft foods only for a few more months. I had actually planned to do all of this great stuff when I was New York City in mid February. Instead, I spent the entire trip sick in bed. And that's not even to mention I have pretty much every pack of gum released in the last six months, and I can't touch it. SOOO unfair! I figured, however, that soft food items still leaves us a pretty wide arena, so it should be interesting.

I am also going to work on the enormous backlog of comments and emails. And I will be tweeting and re-tweeting other bloggers' great reviews.

Something new I that am starting--completely unrelated to food--is a nail art blog. Nail art is one of my favorite things. I am still learning all the terms, but hey- there will be pretty pictures! I will tweet when it goes live, but it is called Gigi Nails It.

Again, thank you and it's good to be back.