Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Odds and ends - Product reviews

I figured I’d do a little round-up of frozen treats I’ve enjoyed lately. First, there’s the vanilla “ice cream” by Nada Moo, made with coconut milk (it happens to be vegan and gluten-free, too). There’s a warning that it contains tree nuts, but it appears to refer only to coconuts, which aren’t actually nuts. That being said, other flavors include pecans, and I’m not sure if they’re made in the same factory or not… I also tried the chocolate flavor, but I have to say I did not like that one – it felt like there was too much water in the mixture, perhaps, as the ice cream was hard and somewhat bland. The vanilla, on the other hand, was creamy and tasty and very satisfying!

Another new-to-me frozen dessert is Coconut Bliss in Salted Caramel and Chocolate. Coconut Bliss brand has consistently been one of my favorites, but this flavor is just awesome. There are dark chocolate shavings, plus a soft caramel swirl that’s just the right amount of salty to contrast with the sweetness of the coconut milk ice cream. There are no allergen warnings on the package, and the product is vegan/pareve, soy-free, gluten-free, organic and fair trade – and although those things are all nice, just the taste sold me.

We also went to Trader Joe’s for the first time, as we now have one in town. I tried their non-dairy frozen dessert (made with coconut milk) in strawberry flavor, and was pleasantly surprised! It tasted like real strawberries, and was creamy like ice cream, so all in all, it was a great discovery. (The only allergen warning is coconut.) While we were there, we also picked up more of their famous house-brand products, all of which were hits: pork dumplings, maple leaf sandwich cookies, Fruity O’s (fruit-loop style cereal made with natural food coloring), crumpets, blueberry juice (unsweetened, so I found it best mixed with lemonade), aioli garlic mustard sauce and red velvet chocolate cupcakes (not very red, definitely not lactose-free, but delicious). Plus non-pareils, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and vanilla meringues, though those are more treats than real food… And there was so much more stuff that looked good! We rarely buy premade food, but these items were both good and inexpensive, so hopefully we’ll go back and stock up every once in a while (particularly when we have less time to spend in the kitchen later this summer).

While at our regular HEB store, I also tried two new products. First, a marshmallow cereal by Bear River Valley, which is basically a healthier version of Lucky Charms. It still has sugar, obviously, but all the colors and flavors in the marshmallows are natural, the cereal is made with whole grain oats, and there are no artificial preservatives, hydrogenated oils or HFCS. I’m really enjoying them! I also tried a new kind of jam, made by Zena, and it’s – get this – baobab jelly! It’s got the consistency of chestnut paste, and a faint aftertaste of citrus. It actually tastes surprisingly familiar, or perhaps I should say less exotic than I expected, and I loved it on a croissant. They also make have flavors like mango, papaya, lime, hibiscus, coconut and pineapple. The company is based in Senegal and employs 90% women, giving back 1% of profits to non-profit organizations that support the education of young children. I need to eat breakfast with jam more often – it seems that I pair it more with croissants than toast, and I rarely have croissants, but I love them so!

And while we’re at it, a quick round-up of our outings so far this year: I talked about our outings to the Tower of the Americas and the Asian Festival (January and February). In March, we went to Corpus Christi, where my favorite part of the trip was walking along the beach on Mustang Island. We went to Fredericksburg the week after, to see wildflowers, bluebonnets in particular, and to eat great burgers. Then in May, there was our trip to New Orleans, which I loved. We didn’t actually do anything in June or July, because I have to admit I’m getting tired and unmotivated. I’m sure we’ll get back in the swing of things in the fall, perhaps picking something easy and baby-friendly from this list of 52 things every San Antonian must do – I think I’ll enjoy crossing items off that one!

No comments: