Monday, May 26, 2008

Probar testing

I conscripted HS to help me test the new Probar flavors that I recently received as a freebie (thanks, guys!). HS is a big fan of Probar, but I don't believe I'd ever eaten one until our test. Here are some testing notes.

Overall: Probars are tasty and satisfying. I had 1.25 Probars for breakfast (1/4 bar of each of 5 flavors), and that kept me full and alert, with no blood sugar weirdness, for several hours, including an hour-long workout. Since that was about 500 calories, though, it makes sense. Probar is marketed as a meal replacement bar rather than a snack bar. Unless I'm going on a long flight, though, I prefer to eat meals that are in non-bar format. I generally have half a Larabar or Gnu bar before a workout, so I'm not ravenous when I finish. That amount of calories (just under 100) is about right for me in that situation. I wish that Probars came in an optional smaller size, to better match my caloric requirements. However, aside from being yummy, the Probar ingredient list is beyond reproach, containing lots of fiber and nutrients.

Favorites: I've listed them below, with my most favorite first.
Maple Pecan: The clear winner. I'm a sucker for maple flavor and this bar has it in abundance.
Sesame Goji: Goji berries are not very strongly flavored, but they are antioxidant powerhouses. The predominant flavor is sesame, so if you like that, you'll like this bar.
Cherry Pretzel: One of my favorite flavor pairings is cherries and chocolate. This bar has dark chocolate chips in addition to pretzels, so points for that. The cherry flavor was not strong enough for my liking, though. I think Probar should add some almond extract to complement the cherries.
Cocoa Pistachio: The dark chocolate in this bar is unsweetened (according to the label), so it's gorgeously intense. The pistachios looked green and fresh, but their flavor was just not strong enough for me. Pistachio ice cream is one of my favorite flavors, and I don't know what they do to amp up the flavor in the ice cream. But whatever that is, this bar would benefit from it.
Kettle Corn: I'm not a big fan of kettle corn (popcorn coated with a sugary, buttery hard shell) to begin with. I don't like the sweet varieties of popcorn much. This bar did taste like kettle corn, but the taste seemed artifical to me. This is probably the only bar I wouldn't try again.

If you've sampled these bars, let me know what you thought too!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

That's how I roll

It was a rainy, quiet Sunday here. I made one of my favorite recipes, whole wheat seed-y rolls, and took a nap while they were rising. This is a good recipe for people who are intimidated by yeast. The rolls contain yeast, but they are pretty much foolproof. I've never had them turn out badly. They're yummy with their sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and hint of garlic flavor, and just the right size for a veggie burger. I'll send the recipe to anyone who wants it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Get happy

Things that have rocked my week so far:

1. Manzana Chili Verde from Veganomicon. It's a white/green chili hybrid, containing unusual ingredients like apples, potatoes, tomatillos, and white beans. I was a bit dubious about how all this would taste as a savory chili, but it is damn good. The flavors are complex and the amount of heat is just right.

2. My new Envirosax bag, purchased at Greater Goods. I've accumulated way too many bags from stopping at the market a block from my place on my way home. I'm coming from work so I don't think to carry a shopping bag with me. Enter Envirosax. The beauty is that it folds up small enough to easily fit in my (quite small) purse, so I always have it with me,

And it unfolds to a huge, sturdy shopping bag:

3. My hemp hoodie, made by Livity and purchased at the newly opened Capitol Hemp store. It's perfect for the chilly, rainy days we've had this week.

4. Finding that Probar did not forget about me, and made good on their promise several months ago to include me in a testing group for new Probar flavors. I received a package of 5 new flavors and will review them next week, since HS (one of Probar's biggest fans) has begged to be part of the review process.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I've come across two rather mind-boggling articles on Yahoo recently:

1. Substituting chicken, fish, or vegetables for red meat can help combat climate change.

What the article says: It's not very clearly written, but I think the point is that it's better to eat non-red-meat foods than to eat locally grown red meat. The energy used to grow or to raise food is responsible for 83% of the resources used to get food on your plate, while the transportation part is only responsible for 11% of the resources.

Why it works my nerves: Learning about the environmental impact of eating meat was one of the reasons that I converted to vegetarianism...19 years ago now. This is not exactly news. Also, chicken is hardly the anti-red meat if we're talking about resources used to produce food. Vegetables, fruits, and grains are, of course, the best choice for resource-efficient food production. I wish the article had stated this instead of suggesting substituting meat for meat. Also, the article degrades the movement to buy food locally, saying the benefits to buying local are overblown. Maybe they are, if you don't care about supporting small farmers, but supporting Big Agriculture and some of its evil machinations is troubling to say the least.

2. Better weight loss through chemicals.

What the article says: Four ideas for 100-calorie snacks.

Why it works my nerves: Apart from the extremely annoying cutesy tone, this article gets to me because these snacks are mostly processed to the nth degree. Fat-free cool whip is not food and therefore not a snack. Peruse the ingredient list if you will:

I will admit that the last "snack," broccoli nachos, has 2 out of three components that are actually food (broccoli and the corn chips which are processed but with a lighter touch). But who knows what's in the broccoli's cheese sauce.

Hey, Hungry Girl, if you want a 100 calorie snack, how about an apple? Or 2 cups of carrot sticks or strawberries? Or a small handful of almonds? Oh, never mind, I guess you're too busy trying to make cupcakes containing ingredients such as diet hot cocoa mix and "jet-puffed marshmallow creme." No wonder you're hungry.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Be realistic. Demand the impossible.

In honor of May Day, the above is a slogan from the May 68 uprising. When I was in Paris in March, there were all kinds of great new books about Mai 68 as the 40th anniversary approached. One that I purchased for HS had very thick cardboard pages and was in a block shape with sand pasted to the cover, so it looked like a paving stone.

This week, I've been enjoying a yellow split pea soup with Indian spices and spiced yogurt as a garnish. The yogurt is simply plain yogurt mixed with turmeric (which has all kinds of good medicinal properties), cumin, paprika, cayenne, and salt. What I like about this is that savory yogurt is much more unexpected than sweet yogurt. I like challenging my tastebuds with familiar foods used in unexpected ways. For example:
--salty, briny preserved lemons
--peaches in a chunky salsa with black beans
--chickpea flour used in sweet baked goods
--breakfast muffins with quinoa and black beans
--a few squares of dark chocolate added to bean-based chili

So, in the spirit of rebellion, how have you used familiar foods unconventionally?