Monday, July 12, 2010


A food blogger walks into a bar...and reviews it! Bahahahaha.....alright, all done.

Reviews, anyone?

Let's start with Odwalla! They were recently on sale at Whole Foods, and, um, I had fun. What can I say, I see those yellow-and-red sale tags and all but jump for joy! Yes, this is what grocery shopping does to me. Totally normal.
This kind of reminded me of a cross between a Nutrigrain bar and a Fig Newton. Had that dense, datey feel with that vague berryness in NGs. I found it pretty boring, unfortunately. The whole berries were nice, it had a decent texture, but...meh. Not bad, just nothing special.

Another letdown. I made my brother try some too, for a second opinion. He took two bites and looked at me with a "why do you do these things to me" expression. I wasn't exactly excited. This would actually be a great, cookie-like treat if the first and most prevalent flavor is dates. It's one thing to sell a date bar and advertise it as such, quite another to name something "chocolate chip peanut", one of the best combos ever, only for those flavors to be the least obvious. The few chocolate chips thrown in helped, but not enough. 

Now this is one tasty bar. The banana nut flavors are spot on and it tastes like a particularly good and chewy piece of banana bread. I loved every bite - even more so than the Larabar version! Yum!

Speaking of Lara...
Ok, I will start out by saying that I do NOT like coconut. Why, you ask, did I buy this? Well, I've found that in Larabars I actually can appreciate the flavor, and I figured with chocolate thrown in, how bad can it be! (The coconut cream pie is one of my favorite flavors!) But this was...sad. It was neither chocolatey nor coconutty, just some vague middle ground between the two that was lacking in any distinct flavor at all. Maybe I just got a bad one? Oh well. 

This is the Lara I know and love. Very cinnamony and the dates added a light, fruity flavor. Plus the added texture of the nuts, this is a great bar! Came just in time too; couldn't have made it through the last 2.5 hours of my shift without it!

Clif bars are another favorite of mine to take to work. After 3 hours of nonstop movement, I definitely feel the need for some protein.

*Sigh* Let down again. This had a really weirdy soapy(??) taste to it that I could not get over! It wasn't very peanutty or toffee-y, just sweet and blah. But it gets points for looking pretty.

This I liked very, very much! It wasn't too sweet and those 3 fruits came out really well and meshed well too, to my relief and surprise. Most of the Clifs are waaaay too heavy on the brown rice syrup even for my sweet teeth, but this was really well balanced.

As was this guy:
This is probably my fave Clif so far. Just like a gooey peanut butter treat with crunchy chopped peanuts - perfect. I definitely recommend this to peanut butter lovers!

I know, this is a LOT of bars! They've been filling my camera since the road trip and I'm just now getting around to all of 'em, oof! I would like to throw out my personal opinion (although I probably already have) on bars: I don't like using them as meal replacements, and unless cirsumstances are unusual, won't eat more than 1 a day. I have always had problems with hypoglycemia and for me, they are a great and easy way to raise my blood sugar quickly when I need it (you do NOT want to be around hungry Gillian. It aint pretty.) I also discovered that when working in the coffee house when I usually get about 3 minutes to chomp something down during a 5 or 6 hour shift while making coffee and generally running around, there is nothing quite as easy to eat as these. That said, I do prefer to snack (and eat meals) on whole "real" foods, mostly because I find them more filling and my body functions better with them. I am not defending myself or anything here, I just wanted it to be known that I do not live off 4 Larabars a day, nor do I recommend it. I like Michael Pollan's saying a lot" "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much." Word.

As for real food, there's been aplenty of that going on as well:
Supercharge Me cookies. I'm determined to maintain a constant supply. They make the best pre-yoga snack. Ever.
Oh, and they are super DUPER if you add cardamom and nutmeg along with the cinnamon. Trust me.

Fresh bread! Nothing like it. 
WAAH I miss my little Italian bakery on the way home to the apartment!!!
Sorry. Random nostalgic moment done.

Fage, raw oats, blueberries, peach and cinnamon. Happiness in a bowl.

Cream of wheat with blueberries cooked in, swirled with applesauce. Yes, I love the taste...but look how pretty!

As for that preview? Pasta Alla Norma! My aunt & uncle were in town last week and I decided it was the perfect occasion to attempt to recreate one of my favorite dishes from my cooking class this past semester. I'll  admit, it wasn't as good...although I have a feeling that fact that I was in Italy made it a little better...but it was still a delicious plate of pasta!
1. Buy fresh pasta. It makes a difference. And start your water boiling now - it takes freakin forever to get there.
2. Start your sauce: heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan with some chopped garlic and half a chopped onion (or one small). When the onion becomes translucent, add in 3 cans diced tomatoes, give it a stir, cover and let it cook. Just keep an eye on it and cook it low; if I don't burn it, I promise you won't!
3. Get a big ole eggplant (or 3ish small ones) and cut it into rounds, pretty thin. Dust both sides of all of them with some flour - this will keep the oil from completely saturating the eggplant when it goes in the pan and leaving them crispy.
4. Heat up some more olive oil in a pan and start throwing the eggplants in. I gave them about half a monute or so, flipped them over, then put them on paper towels to drain and blotted the tops lightly with another towel. [Fyi, I didn't actually make these in my class - I worked on a different dish that day - so I was going with what I remembered seeing others do. Worked for me!]
5. Your water has GOT to be boiling by now, right? Good. Throw in the pasta and check it in 3 minutes - fresh cooks faster than dried. No one likes soggy pasta! Al dente just tastes better and will hold up the dish better.
To plate, toss the pasta in your wonderfully fresh-tasting tomato sauce. Top with the eggplants rounds, then with some basil, then with some parmesan or grana padano. 
Mangia bene!


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