Posts Tagged ‘Organic’

Sea20 Energy Drink

2 comments Written on October 15th, 2012 by
Categories: Drinks
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Product: Sea2O Organic Energy Drink (don’t forget to disable the audio)
Purchased at: Big Lots (University Place)
40 cents (20% off the normal 50 cents)

Truth be told, writing reviews for beverages is always a challenge for me. Beverages can be easily divided into broad categories: alcoholic/non-alcoholic, fizzy/flat, sweet/neutral and of course, delicious/disgusting – which in turn provides little challenge for a review. At any given time, I generally have a collection of cans and bottles gathering dust on our shelves because they have nothing noticeable or extraordinary about them (I’ve since curbed my “buying-drinks-specifically-for-Clearance-Cuisine” habit). In fact, today’s product was purchased at least six months ago, but it’s still good. Still good.

When I buy a product for the site, I always try to pick things that err on the side of ridiculous, whether it’s a quirky ingredient, stupid slogan and/or mascot or a terrible Flash-based website that’s straight from the 90s. In this case, today’s feature drew me in because: the word “SEA” in the name (the sea is delicious, no?) and the concept of a non-caffeine based energy drink. After flipping the can around, I learned it also has ~organic seaweed extract~ which sealed the deal for me.

Sea2O is based locally in Bellevue, WA but I found the drink locally at Big Lots, a stark change from its suggested retail locations like Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market. The can used the word “Organic” probably around twenty times, but I lost count by the time opened the can. While I have no qualms about organic ingredients, once enough is fine for me thx.

The drink is very similar to the Capri Sun pouch drinks I grew up drinking as a kid, probably due to the sweetener (agave nectar). Though it’s touted as an energy drink, I’m of the mindset that anything you add enough sugar to, whether it be table sugar, HFCS, agave and what have you, can become energized (new marketing idea: pixi sticks as energy powder). For those asking if the drink was salty or fishy, I’m happy to confirm that there’s no seaweed taste or essence, since seaweed extract is added as opposed to the nori you’re used to wrapping around your sushi.

That said, I’ll stick to my artificially sweetened, caffeine saturated energy drinks.

Bake With Me! (Sorry, Not the Latest Stoner Comedy)

No Comments » Written on August 26th, 2011 by
Categories: Food
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Product: Arrowhead Mills Bake With Me Organic Sugar Cookie Mix
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (Lakewood)
Price: $1.99

There’s no better way to kill time bond with a loved than a lazy Sunday afternoon than baking your own sugar cookies. What’s even better is when the mix is all made up for you and you only have to add an egg (or if you prefer, an egg substitute) and some butter. While I’ve glanced over many boxed sugar cookies mixes in the past, this one caught my eye because it includes a cookie cutter. And not just any cookie cutter. It’s a duck.

A fun afternoon to spend with your child/significant other.

Oh, plus the mix is organic and has whole wheat and stuff so you won’t feel as guilty as you bite the heads off your newly baked duck cookies.

I’ve included some of the instructions from the back of the box below for your enjoyment:

“Let’s make sugar cookies! and Create Fun Duck Shaped Cookies!”

  1. “Let’s preheat the oven so the cookies bake properly and butter the pan so they won’t get stuck! Preheat oven to 350? F. Have your child lightly butter an 11×15 cookie sheet using some melted butter & pastry brush.” (We used a Silpat cause that’s how we roll).
  2. “We mix the ingredients according to the directions so that we can make the cookie dough taste yummy. Let your child (in this case, Ben) beat the eggs & melted butter in a large bowl. Add the Cookie Mix. Mix with an electric mixer on low until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough slightly to form a small ball. Use immediately or chill for up to 24 hours.” (We used some of that pasteurized egg product courtesy of Costco so we got to eat all the uncooked dough we wanted. We probably would have eaten the raw dough with a real egg anyway).
  3. “Isn’t it exciting to roll out the dough and cut it with our new cookie cutter?” (Actually it was a pain in the ass to remove all the dough scraps from around the duck shapes we cut out. Additionally, we used regular evil corporation flour to roll out the dough instead of the Arrowhead Mills Organic Pastry Flour the box instructed. Our cookies were corrupted from the start.)
  4. “These fresh baked cookies taste delicious! I love spending time making fun desserts with you!” (Ben & I went through a trial separation following the baking of the cookies and he got full custody of them).

There was also a little booklet including some “games” (maze and coloring page) and an offer for a free apron if we sent in a bunch of UPCs and shipping costs. Sadly, we had to decline.

Enjoy the following photos documenting the process.

Mom Made Foods Chicken Munchies: No My Mother Did Not Make These

No Comments » Written on July 18th, 2011 by
Categories: Food
Tags: , , , ,

Product: Mom Made Foods: Chicken Munchie
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (Lakewood)
Price: $1.99

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a product intended for mothers, although our last mother-related product is targeted towards expecting mothers instead of mothers with kids who are capable of cramming food into their faces. Or maybe this product is targeted towards adult children, man babies, or bachelors looking to get that homemade flavor. All of those market segments should be completely capable of operating a microwave/toaster oven and piling a Hot Pocket-like food product in their food hole. Anyway, I’m not really a mom or a parent of any kind so I’m not particularly interested in that aspect of the product. Instead I want to know how this product appeals to the silent but powerful “adult child, man baby, and bachelor” demographic.

Since we (me?) are not interested in its appeal to children, let’s talk about its adult appeal. The packaging shows a good-sized golden brown turnover loaded with chicken, rice and cheese. It’s really tasty to look at but as we all know, food products never look like the packaging. Which is fine. I’m used to freezer food looking like dog barf. I even chastised Freezer Burns for razzing a product based on its packaging. To be honest, I expect very little from food packaging photography. It’s a photograph of a product made by professional cooks in a gourmet test kitchen with the expressed purpose of being pretty.  What I do expect is for the product in the photo to contain the same amount of ingredients as whatever is in what I purchased. I don’t care if they use photography magic as long as everything I’m about to buy is in the photo in the appropriate quantities. Additives like motor oil, marbles and hair spray do not bother me even though I’m a “food photography purist” simply because I understand the challenges of working in a production environment on a deadline for massive paychecks.

Now that I have that rant out of the way, the actual product looks nothing like the box. Instead of a meal-sized calzone loaded with gooey chicken and beans, you get a snack-sized rectangle. This thing is genuinely small, but I should have realized it would be when the box contents said “5 oz” and each serving was only 220 calories (upon further review, a chicken Hot Pocket with Broccoli Cheddar has 290 Calories). It was a little disappointing to say the least, but hey, since there are two, I can review both recommended food prep techniques!

Microwave Radiation is the Best Radiation

Most folks who are going to eat a toaster pastry loaded with savory filling are going to turn to the microwave for some near instant gratification. It’s how lazy people don’t starve and why “lunch hours” are only thirty-minutes long. (If I was a boss, I would rename it the “Lunch Half Hour,” or the “lunchtime microwave scramble time extravaganza.”) Anyways, the box recommends that these should be microwaved for a minute to a minute and a half so that’s what I did. (I ignored the “toast for a crispier crust” statement since the result wouldn’t be any better than cooking this guy in the toaster oven).

After my excruciatingly long minute was up I pulled my two and a half inch square of whole wheat and chicken filling out of the oven, which for some reason or another reached a temperature of 5,742,623 degrees Fahrenheit in the microwave. After allowing it to cool for a few minutes I sat down and took a big old man baby bite out of my pastry and found that it was simultaneously mealy, grainy, and dry. The filling wasn’t beany, cheesy or tasty. I’d actually go out on a limb and say it was bland, dry, and hardly worth  my time. The crust, like most microwaved crusts was basically rubbery and mealy crap. Perhaps all of the moisture in the filling ended up in the crust leaving a dessert like center surrounded by a swampy exterior. I’d highly recommend not microwaving these.

Toasty The Toaster Oven

I generally ignore toaster oven instructions because I’ve had horrible luck with them. Instead I cook in my ovens using the old eyeball method, thermometer method, and finger method simply because they’re the most reliable methods I’ve found to date. I mean the instructions are fine for getting in the ball park but I can usually find a more optimal cooking temperature and time for most products. Today I set the pastry up for 325 and watched it for ~ 20 minutes before yanking it out. The crust took on a nice and healthy toasting which was a pretty good indicator to pull my “munchie” out of the oven. I’m sure it would have browned a little more if I left it in the oven a little longer, but the microwaved guy left me hungry and the 20 minute wait was getting to be unbearable.

The crust had a decent break in my mouth but it was still mealy. This is probably due to frozen whole whole wheat and its inability to reheat well. I found the filling to be much moister but it was still bland. The beans tasted like rice, the rice tasted like rice, the chicken tasted like rice. It was all very homogeneous tasting with no flavor variation between the various chunks. I would also like to point out that there was very little filling in the pastry. There’s definitely a high breading to filling ratio with the bread overwhelming the filling with every bite. If I wanted toast with goo on it, I’d have gotten myself some toast and slathered it in cheese.

At $1.99, these are not an adequate replacement for the bachelor’s staple of Hot Pockets and beer. They’re really not much healthier than Hot Pockets and beer either. At least not my favorite, Chicken with Broccoli and Cheddar which weighs in at 290 calories. If you eat two of these guys in attempt to feel more full you’ll actually do much worse than a proper Hot Pocket in EVERY department. But then again, I’m the kind of person who is typically satisfied with one Hot Pocket (all of this sodium is going to kill me one of these days).

If you see these in your local grocery, or even your outlet store, I would pass on them. They’re not particularly filling, nor are they particularly tasty. Heck, they’re not even that healthy unless you believe being organic makes up for containing 22% of your daily saturated fat intake per microscopic square. I hate to say it but these just aren’t improvement over the status quo.

Don’t believe me? Check out a variety pack for yourself.


Organic Jammy Sammy

5 comments Written on April 18th, 2011 by
Categories: Food
Tags: , , ,

Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (Lakewood)
Price: 69 cents for the whole box

Marisa’s Take: Apparently, limey Jamie Oliver isn’t the only one promoting a food revolution with America’s kids. While Revolution Foods (the makers of Jammy Sammies) isn’t doing crazy stuff like pouring sand into school buses and naming children stupid things like “Petal Blossom” and “Buddy Bear”, they are aiming to provide snacks school lunches to kids that are a bit more nutritious than pizza and Little Debbie snack cakes (no offense, Debbie).

While they’re more like a Nutrigrain bar that an actual sandwich, Organic Jammy Sammy snack size sandwich bars are everything a Whole Foods shoppin’ mom would want for their kid: organic, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, whole grain, wheat free and colored with things like “red cabbage extract”. Since we live an hour from the nearest Whole Foods and I feel awkward every time I shop there, we were lucky enough to snag a box of these at Grocery Outlet for 69 cents.

Revolution Foods even has marketed this snack to the pickiest of kids. In addition to all the fancy-schmancy non-artificial ingredients (things like “red cabbage extract” instead of the standard coloring), they were even mindful enough to cut off the crusts, lest any child complain. The problem is so serious, we’ve developed entire product line to combat the issue.

As someone who grew up eating the aforementioned Nutrigrain bars, these little buggers are a fair contender. They’re square, smaller and don’t that that dreaded extra crust so there’s more fruit filling per square inch. While blueberry isn’t my favorite flavor in the world, the moist innards combined well with the oaty outside (I’d take a chance on trying the apple or strawberry ones). Since the bars use agave nectar instead of corn syrup, they’re still quite sweet. However, since they were cheap and they’re manageable enough for children’s hands (as well as mine) they’re a decent snack that’s easy to stash for snack time and won’t make you feel too terribly guilty when you eat it either.

Fits perfectly in my small childlike hands.

Ben’s Take: The old business model for marketing kids food products has generally been to go straight for the child. They haven’t figured out conventional marketing techniques and will believe that eating a hyper sweetened cereal with a colorful cartoon animal/pirate/vampire on the box and millions spent on animators will make breakfast more fun. The Nest Collective is taking a slightly different approach by branding their products as healthy and doesn’t seem to believe in fortifying foods with ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS to make parents think that their products are ok to feed your kids on a daily basis.

Instead they’re attempting to produce a more healthy product by using organic ingredients (though true value of “organic” practices is still being debated in the scientific community). Almost everything in the ingredients list is certified organic, save for the baking soda, natural flavor, red cabbage extract, water and the sea salt which I guess can’t be helped though organic sea salt would be really is really awesome. I mean, how the heck would you track all of the inputs that go into ocean water? Ah, but I digress.

Now I’m really not up for a debate on the utility of avoiding HFCS or eating organic food, and instead get a comparison between the Jammy Sammy and my childhood staple, the Nutrigrain bar. Both bars are extremely similar in every respect, but just different enough that if I were ranking the two products, I would rank the Jammy Sammy as the “better” of the two. The first thing I noticed when eating my Jammy Sammy was that it was much  more dense, and chewy than it’s Nutrigrain counterpart. I also noticed that there was more blueberry “aroma” in every Sammy Jammy bite though the overall bar didn’t taste quite as sweet. This might have been due to the way the filling is spread in the Sammy Jammy since their Calorie and sugar contents are virtually the same (10 calorie difference, 0g sugar difference). Finally the most important part, the Sammy Jammy seemed to be less prone to crushing in the bottom of my messenger bag. Whenever I try transporting a Nutrigrain bar I end up with a Mylar package filled with gooey mix of fruit and cereal blended together. With the Sammy Jammy it hardly took any damage, though my test was hardly scientific. The Jammy Sammy also seems to hold up better to biting and doesn’t want to fall apart every time you take a bite out of it (though the shape lends itself to ~ three bites max.)

Overall, the Jammy Sammy is a better bar. It’s small (perceived) size may lead to the product being less healthy overall because I found that I wanted to eat a second one, because one bar just wasn’t enough to finish a carton of Clover Organic UHT milk. It takes two bars per 16oz carton of milk to satisfy my man sized hunger, but maybe if I were a kid I might be content with just one bar and a school issued 8oz carton of milk. Just maybe.