Category Archives: product review

Food, Inc., Corporate Farming, Online Farmer’s Markets, and Backyard Produce- An Exercise in American Consumerism

Last weekend- remember  when I went on a pilgrimage to Charlotte and lost my mind at Trader Joe’s? Remember when I mentioned that I didn’t buy very much produce, but that the reason would be explained in the future?

Well, the reason is about to be revealed- but first, let me give a little back story.

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

I don’t know how clearly I can state this- I am a cheapskate. I hate paying more money than is absolutely necessary. It’s not just because I hate spending money- it’s because I don’t have a lot of money to spend. There’s never been a point in my life when I haven’t been on a very restrictive budget.

One of the biggest problems with the Western food industry is that it is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive to eat whole foods than it is to eat processed foods, from potato chips to factory farmed “Idaho Potatoes”. I’ve spent the past three years actively trying to resolve my budget issues with a healthy balance of organically produced food and cheaper options. Up until about four months ago, I thought I’d finally struck the perfect balance.

That was before I saw this:

food, inc

If you are able, rent/buy this film. It’s on netflix instant right now- when you are done reading this entry, WATCH IT*. As one of my friend’s recently said, Food, Inc. should be broadcast on CNN 24/7. EVERYONE needs to see this film.” I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told to watch Food, Inc. who’ve told me that they’ve held off on watching it because they don’t want to feel guilty about or grossed out by their eating habits (i.e.- they will feel guilty about eating meat). I understand this dilemma. But here’s the thing- the movie does not seek to shame anyone. It is not very visually graphic. It doesn’t promote vegetarianism, or any specific diet. It puts the food industry into colors so vivid that you can’t help but wonder why we’ve become so complacent in our food choices.

Here’s the truth- if you didn’t buy your food directly from a farmer, you probably have absolutely no idea where it came from and you CERTAINLY don’t know what’s in it. I’m not just talking about the center aisles of your grocery store- you know, “foods” that come in boxes, or that arrive to your store frozen. I’m talking about the “healthy” fruits and vegetables, the dairy products, and every piece of “fresh” meat and fish homogenously wrapped in plastic for your enjoyment. There is a deliberate veil between food manufacturers and food consumers, and when you start looking behind the curtain you’ll be repulsed by what you see. It’s not just about the literal ingredients of your food- this film exposes all of the unseen costs of producing the food you eat, from distorted food laws and travel costs, to the horrific exploitation of ALL food industry workers. We’re not just talking about exploitation in other countries- the things happening to our American brothers and sisters (hell, our NORTH CAROLINA brothers and sisters) will make your head spin.

And we support them. Every time we go to the grocery store or a restaurant, we support corporations which deliberately try to mislead us. Every time you buy fruits and vegetables produced in far-reaching parts of the globe (which is more than often the case), you are directly furthering deep set afflictions between farmers, workers, governments, and the international oil industry. It is important that, as consumers, we make ourselves aware of the real decisions we’re making, and change our actions in order to affect a balanced economy and work-force.

The balance I struck in my personal eating/buying habits was not where it should be. I was perfectly happy purchasing food that wasn’t produced in an ethical fashion simply because it made my wallet feel less pain. However, the source of pain I feel now has much less to do with money and more to do with the power of my individual dollar. It is much more important for me, as a tax-paying American consumer,  to buy foods which do not support unhealthy corporate farming, which are organically produced, and (whenever possible) support my local economy. In my opinion, this is the most important decision I can make as a consumer. I know how easy it is to say, “I can’t afford to do this” or “I can’t afford to do that”. And it’s true- there are millions of Americans who simply can not afford to make the necessary changes to their lifestyles. BUT I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. And I have to lead by example.

Anyway, one of last week’s groupons was $18 for delivery of one box of local and organic produce from Backyard Produce, a North Carolina online farmer’s market. I have read extensively about online farmer’s markets, and was already well aware of Backyard Produce- but, to be frank, I’ve always thought fruit  and vegetable delivery was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Though this groupon deal was a steal, the typical price of a medium box of produce is $23.49, not including the $12 annual packaging fee. However, after critically looking at my produce buying habits, I decided it would be worth it to try out Backyard Produce with this groupon.

Here’s how it works:

You choose from three different sizes- small, medium, and large. Each package size equates to a certain number of points- 20, 40, or 60. You then use the points to choose from their weekly selection of food options. The options rotate every week, and are subject to availability- while not all selections are locally produced, they are organic, fresh, and arrive to your front door the following Wednesday in refrigerated boxes to ensure freshness.

Sign-up is really simple, and you have up until Sunday night to decide which fruits and veggies you want in that week’s delivery. I made my choices, sent in my order, and waited with bated breath until Wednesday.

Yesterday, after a very stressful day, I was pleased to see this waiting on my front porch:

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I gave very specific directions on how to reach my apartment (which can be a little confusing), and I was super pleased to see that the delivery person had no trouble figuring it out.

As promised, the produce was protected by refrigeration insulation:

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Just in case you were wondering, the annual $12 packaging fee helps them reduce the amount of packaging they use. Every week, they pick up your packaging from the previous delivery and reuse it. Great system.

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Let’s see what I ordered, eh?

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Granny Smith apples, organic WA – 2 count- 4 points

Baby Carrots, organic CA – 1lb- 5 points

Navel Oranges, organic FL – 3 count- 5 points

Tommy Atkins Mango, organic Ecuador – 2 count- 3 points each  (6 points total)

Salad Mix, Cottle Farm NC organic – 1/2 pound- 4 points

Kiwifruit, organic Chile – 2 count- 3 points

Bibb Lettuce, Green Haven Farms hydroponic NC – 1 head- 7 points

TOTAL POINTS USED: 34

As you can see, I only used 34 of my 40 points, leaving 6 points for a future delivery. I was extremely pleased with the quality of my items- bruise free, chilled, and clean. The mangos are nice and large (which is not always the case with mangos), and everything smells great.

At this point I can’t decide if it will be worth it to use Backyard Produce in the future. I still think it’s a little too expensive- but is it really?

I mean, I spend a lot of money on produce every week. In fact, I’m probably spending more than $23.49, not including the gas to/from the grocery store/farmer’s market. Though I’ll keep going to these spots for the rest of my items (and any incidental vegetation I might want), it is really awesome to have fresh, local, organic produce arrive at my door and ready for the week without having to judge by sale prices. I can change up my order every week, depending upon my weekly meal plan. Hmm.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my Backyard Produce experience thus far. This particular company only services the North Carolina Triad, Triangle, and Charlotte area. However, there are online farmer’s market delivery services all over the country- I’ve heard about them in urban centers, and in other parts of America. At the very least, they are worth a try-the convenience factor is unbeatable, and the price might be in your ballpark.

*And yes, that was an inadvertent plug for netflix. I love netflix- and so should you.

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Filed under farmers market, food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, product review, shopping

SAY CHEESE- Jessamyn’s New Favorite Thing of The Week!

STOP- before we go any further, I need to ramble about a product which has slowly but surely taken over my life. It is perfect in every way, and while it’s not a food, it definitely falls into the category of great skin care (a recurring theme recently- check out my Stages of Beauty product review and my Six Tips for Jealousy Inducing Skin).

Anyway, I don’t think anyone likes having dry lips. I HATE it- my friend Whitney and I have always joked that we should buy stock in blistex– we’re both completely obsessed with having satin-smooth lips. I usually try to have at least three tubes/pots in my possession at all time- one on my night stand, one in my wallet, and one in my backpack. Because my name is Jessamyn, I manage to lose my lip balm at a rate of one/week, so I end up spending way too much money on this particular product. In fact, because of the loss equation, I tend to only buy really cheap tubes- blistex or chapstick, mostly. I mean, I don’t mind losing a $0.99 tube of blistex, but I get PISSED if I lose my $2.99 tube of Burts Bees. However, as a token of appreciation for my work on 1776, one of my new favorite people was nice enough to buy me a truly awesome gift to feed my lip fetish:

body shop mango lip butter

I don’t usually shop at the Body Shop– I tend to think it’s a bit overpriced. However, this lip butter is enough to make me a regular customer. Butter is the only proper descriptive word- it’s literally like rubbing dairy fresh beurre on your pecker. The mango odor is very realistic- none of that sticky, sweet fake mango flavor that cosmetic companies usually favor. And it’s long lasting- I can involuntarily lick my lips multiple times and my lips won’t get patchy. While it’s DEFINITELY not cheap ($8.00), if you can afford to splurge this should definitely make your short list. Personally, if anyone ever gives me a gift card (HINT HINT) this is a Body Shop product I would not hesitate to buy again.

Ok, I didn’t mean to ramble about skin care products AGAIN, but what can I say? I’m obsessed.

Anyway, there was a four-way tie for this week’s New Favorite Thing. The tie was so intense that I will need to write separate product reviews for the other three items because they were all just that tasty and handy. Major emphasis on the ‘handiness’ because since my schedule is so hectic, I need foods which can move at my pace.

Anyway, anyway, ANYWAY: What’s my new favorite thing of the week?

annies parm pasta

Ok, I love macaroni and cheese. If you were spontaneously quizzed about my food preferences, this is probably the factoid that will jump to mind immediately. However, though my love of homemade baked macaroni and cheese is well documented, I have to admit something- I freaking HATE boxed macaroni. I mean, I’ll eat it. What kind of stereotypical fat kid would I be if I turned down boxed mac and cheese?Smile Forget about stereotypical fat kid: what kind of former college student and four year dormitory resident would I be if I didn’t admit to (over)indulging in easy mac from time to time? But, as an adult, I would never buy boxed mac and cheese voluntarily.

For one thing, it’s SO bad for you- I mean, regular mac and cheese isn’t traditionally healthy either, but if you’re going to fall into a cheese coma, shouldn’t it be from freshly grated cheese and not questionable cheese ‘powder’?

Also, it…doesn’t taste good. Yeah, I loved to eat it poolside with hotdogs after an afternoon of hanging out by the pool with my childhood friends. But I’m an adult now. And as an adult, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I don’t like it. I’m not judging anyone who always stocks up on Kraft mac and cheese when it’s 10/$10 at your local supermarket, but I have developed a serious aversion to these products.

Therefore, I’ve been a bit skeptical of Annie’s Organic boxed pastas. I’ve heard good things, but would I be able to shift my way of thinking to accommodate Annie’s?

First of all, you should check out the Annie’s philosophies. Their list of core values is really awesome:

  • Annie’s is real, authentic, and trusted by consumers.  As a company we strive to build upon this legacy with every decision we make.
  • Annie’s only makes products that taste great; they delight our consumers.
  • Annie’s uses only simple natural and organic ingredients, no icky additives or pesky preservatives.
  • Annie’s sources only from places and people we trust, with high emphasis on quality, as well as agricultural and environmental sustainability.  We believe in transparency.
  • Annie’s is a socially responsible company, and through our actions and programs, we spread awareness and act as a positive role model for consumers and other businesses to do the same.
  • Annie’s and its valued employees treat consumers, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and each other, with the same high degree of respect, fairness, & honesty that we expect of others.

How does this fit into their food? Well, unlike other boxed pastas, you can recognize every ingredient on the ingredient list– In fact, check this out:

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC WHEAT PEACE PASTA, ORGANIC VALLEY ® ORGANIC PARMESAN CHEESE (ORGANIC CULTURED PASTEURIZED MILK, SALT, NON-ANIMAL ENZYMES), ORGANIC WHEY, ORGANIC VALLEY ® ORGANIC CHEDDAR CHEESE (ORGANIC CULTURED PASTEURIZED MILK, SALT, NON-ANIMAL ENZYMES), SALT, ORGANIC CORN STARCH, ORGANIC CREAM, ORGANIC GARLIC, NATURAL SODIUM PHOSPHATE, ORGANIC ONION, YEAST EXTRACT, ORGANIC WHITE PEPPER.

This week Annie’s box pastas are on sale at Whole Foods, and I decided to give it a  try. I went to the grocery store after a fairly intense exercise session, so I was pretty famished by the time I lugged all my (reusable!) bags home. I ate my pasta with a Lightlife Smartdog (my fave) and a GIGANTIC serving of steamed baby bok choy and peppers. For the record, both the baby bok choy and the smart dog were DELISH. But the star of my dinner plate was the Annie’s Peace Pasta and Parmesan. Seriously, if I didn’t know it came out of a box, I would have thought it was homemade. The sauce was really delicious- it says the addition of butter is optional, but I threw in some earth balance to thicken it up and it was a great addition. Also, I’m generally a little put off by pasta with funny shapes- you know, spongebob squarepants, and the like. However, the little peace signs are absolutely adorable and they actually help the sauce stick to the noodle. Excellent idea, Annie’s.

All in all, this dinner hit the spot and Annie’s Peace Pasta and Parmesan deserves a fair share of the credit. I can’t wait for summer pool parties, where I will definitely have to introduce all my friends to the beauty of Annie’s boxed pasta. Oh, and smartdogs. We will definitely be eating smartdogs. Smile

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Skincare for Dummies: Jessamyn’s Stages of Beauty Product Review

Before I can review this product, I need to explain something to you.

I am very sensitive about my skin. During my adolescence, I faced quite a bit of humiliation because of its natural dryness. In fact, becoming ‘ashy’ is something most people of color are constantly trying to prevent. Even now, as I approach my mid-twenties, I refuse to leave my apartment without the proper application of skin product. As one might expect, this can be fairly time-consuming. My post-shower prep probably takes me about 15-30 minutes longer than the average person because of my skin regiment. As a result, I am frequently complimented because of the ‘softness’ and ‘cleanness’ of my skin. As much as I’d like to say I rolled out of the cabbage patch with perfect skin, I fear I must admit that my ‘great’ skin is really just the product of horrible childhood memories and paranoia.

That being said, I’m constantly on the look out for products which will help my skin maintain its youthful appearance. To be honest, I don’t mind being mistaken for an 18 year-old- however, I know the day will come when my skin is less forgiving, and I need to be prepared. I’m not really worried about the signs of aging, but I don’t want to look back at my mid-twenties and think ‘Why didn’t I take care myself?

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Stages of Beauty took note of this quandary and came up with a  truly remarkable concept- create skin care products which speak to the needs of a specific age group. Basically, when I’m in my 30s, 40s, and 50s+, my skin will be different. It will be more mature and it will require more mature products. However, in my 20s, I need a really light cream which can help repair my skin from daily trauma (makeup, wind, sun streaking, etc.)

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I am always on the lookout for great new products, so you can imagine how stoked I was when the nice folks over at Stages of Beauty asked me to review their Radiance Treatment Cream, crafted specifically for 20 somethings. I’ve been using the cream for about three weeks- our skin is really affected (positively and negatively) by the weather, and the shift from a  blustery Carolina winter to a subtle and warm spring was the perfect opportunity to see what these products could really do for me and my twenty-something readers.

(NOTE: I am not endorsed by Stages of Beauty. If I review a product, I’m giving my real opinion- for better or worse.)

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PACKAGING– Stages of Beauty is really focused on minimizing their carbon footprint, and this can be noted by the small amount of packaging used in the shipping process. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the box is pretty small and they use paper packing materials as opposed to evil plastic bubbles. I really appreciate this attention to detail, as there are companies (*cough*AMAZON *cough*) that use a ridiculous amount of extraneous packaging in the name of ‘protecting the product’– more like ‘destroying trees unnecessarily’. In addition, the tube which protects the glass bottle inside is really handy when traveling- when I was on my beach adventure last week, I had no trouble bringing the cream with me and it stayed snug as a bug in the tube. This is really important because, when travelling, I usually have to put my beauty and skin care products in additional plastic bags or wrap them in cloth so they don’t break and/or make my clothes smell a Neutrogena display.

SIZE– I admit it: I’m a cheapskate. I blame my frugality on my tight budget- either way, when I make purchases I am frequently forced to choose quantity over quality. For the 20 something sans trust fund, Stages of Beauty is a bit out of my regular purchasing options- the 30 mL bottle costs $52.99. To be fair, if you purchase beauty products at a department store, you will pay similar prices for department store brands (Lancome, Estee Lauder, Clinique, etc). That being said, I’m not so cheap that I can’t understand the benefit of choosing quality over quantity and choosing the best products even if they are expensive/come in a small quantity. However, the steep price could be enough to stop even the most skin-concerned young woman from purchasing this product.

TEXTURE/ODOR– I am still swooning over the texture of this cream. It is SO FREAKING SMOOTH. Seriously, it feels like rubbing fresh goat’s milk into my pores. That might sound awkward but trust me- it’s a great compliment. I usually stick to a really thick cream for my allover body care. However, when you’re wearing makeup or heading out for a busy day, you don’t want to have a thick cream clogging up your face. The texture of this cream is absolutely perfect for everyday wear, and it doesn’t leave a glossy/wet finish like other products I’ve used. It’s perfectly matte, and dries quickly- this is really important if you are going to be wearing any other products, ESPECIALLY makeup. Who likes to blot their skin dry of excess moisture before applying foundation? NOT this girl. In addition, odor is REALLY important to me. I have kind of sensitive skin (if you obsessively read Seventeen magazine as a teen, you know that my skin is technically known as ‘combination’ skin). This means that extra fragrances in skin care products make my toffee colored skin look like bumpy, cherry flavored toffee. And I like my toffee PLAIN, not fruit flavored. Therefore, it’s absolutely imperative that all my skin products be sans odor (except for my favorite face wash- I’ll discuss that later). The Radiance cream is 100% fragrance free and it’s not tested on animals. So my skin won’t turn into cherry flavored toffee, AND monkeys are not deformed as a result of the product manufacturing. Where I come from we call that a win.

FINAL VERDICT? Last week, when I was at my parents’ house, my father commented on the smoothness of my skin. I don’t think you understand the brevity of his statement- he NEVER comments on my skin. That comment, plus the fact that my skin feels smoother than usual and my usual bumpy nose appears to be a thing of the past are all signs that this product is the cat’s meow. I can’t overemphasize how much the price deters me, and will probably deter anyone with a budget. But the quality is very high, and it’s definitely worth the price. I would love to see how this product works on women in other age brackets, and women with different skin conditions. However, for my sensitive skin, Stages of Beauty Radiance treatment cream is the nectar of the gods.

Want to know more? Check out the Stages of Beauty website and tell them Jessamyn sent you. Winking smile

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Jessamyn’s New Favorite Thing of The Week: North Carolina Pride Edition

I’ve been thinking about how to explain the insanity of my day. Of my week, for that matter. But really- today just took the cake, pie, and every other decadent metaphor. Put simply, TGIF.

However, you know why Friday is also especially awesome. Because it’s time for Jessamyn’s New Favorite Thing.

No kidding, I tried about a dozen new food items this week. Some of them were really awesome- some left quite a bit to the imagination. And some (quite literally) left a bad taste in my mouth. But what came out on top? What is Jessamyn’s New Favorite Thing of The Week?

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Ok, picture your favorite potato chip. Now make it less fatty, more delicious, and even more awesome. You’re thinking of Glories Sweet Potato Chips. The purchase of these chips was the definition of an impulse buy- the woman shopping in front of me at Washington Perk and Provisions was eating them and I asked to try a few. I immediately bought a bag, and proceeded to eat nearly the entire bag during the Sunday matinee of 1776.

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There are so many good things about these chips that I almost don’t know where to begin. Some sweet potato chips are too salty and too broad, which makes them take up too much space in your mouth and messes up the balance of natural potato sweetness and added salt. These chips are really thin and very crunchy- simply by size judgement, you will never question whether these chips are the product of actual sweet potatoes or a sweet potato processing machine monster. They are properly dusted with sea salt, and the salt does not overpower the natural potato sweetness. The chips are gluten-free AND GMO-free. Also, the only ingredients are sweet potatoes, GMO-free oil, and sea salt. As it should be.

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After I bought the chips and consumed nearly the entire bag before intermission, I made it my mission to find out more about the company. What other products do they make? Would the products like me? Would the products want to take me to the prom? (Too far? Yeah, a step too far.)

Well, I perused the website and immediately found out that NOT ONLY are these American south sweet potatoes (which explains why they are perfect and delicious- the American South farms the best sweet potatoes you’ll ever eat), but OH MY GOD THE COMPANY IS BASED IN GREENSBORO, NC.

My hometown. THE BIRTHPLACE OF JESSAMYN. It’s also the next large town over, but that’s irrelevant right now.

Therefore, not only are Glories Sweet Potato Chips my new favorite thing of the week, but Good Health Natural Foods is my new best friend.

Happy Friday, y’all. Seriously, TGIF, or what?

By the way, speaking of  Jessamyn’s New Favorite Things, my pre-fasting breakfast this morning was a bowl of corn flakes with chocolate almond milk. I nearly swooned because of the delicious flavors entering my mouth. Seriously, go to the grocery store and GET YOU SOME.

Also, keep your socks on: days 2 and 3 of The Macaroni Bowl are still forthcoming- I promise. I’m also going to post the recipe for this ABSOLUTELY AMAZING curried lentil soup I made on Wednesday.

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Delicious doesn’t begin to describe it. Also, since I’m in the mood to overshare, I finally received Waiting For “Superman” from netflix, and I can’t wait to start watching. Wait, why am I still typing? I need to watch!

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SlapHappy Friday: Jessamyn’s New Favorite Thing of The Week

Ok, so remember that time I said I was too busy to breathe and didn’t have time to blog?

Ok, I definitely wasn’t lying but I couldn’t resist sharing my new favorite thing of the week. Maybe this should be a weekly segment… Hm, I’ll put that in my good ideas folder: right next to “Vegan and Gluten-Free Soul Food Cookbook” (which is DEFINITELY an active idea- I’m mentally working out a primitive version of Southern Fried “Chicken” as we speak).

Ok, enough rambling, Jessamyn! What’s my new favorite thing?

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Isn’t it adorable? I discovered this while having a really quick dinner at the UNCSA non-cafeteria on-campus eatery (was that descriptive enough for you?) It’s a Sabra Hummus Grab N’ Go Pack. It comes in a domed container (obviously), with hummus on the bottom half and pretzel crisps on the top half.

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Nevermind that Sabra hummus occasionally tastes like mayonnaise (am I the only person who feels this way? I mean, I like it in general but sometimes it definitely tastes like mayo). This idea is freaking AWESOME. The container is really handy, the portion size is plentiful, and who doesn’t love pretzel crisps? Ok, I’m sure someone doesn’t. Also, I’m sure someone doesn’t care for original hummus- well, that’s why it also comes in roasted garlic and roasted red pepper, DUH!

But let’s get serious: I was pleased with this purchase even though it was a bit of an impulse buy. I ate some of the pack with my fruit bowl dinner, and then decided I didn’t want anymore. So I just put the two halves back together, tossed it in my bag, and headed back to rehearsal. Guess who had a tasty hummus mid-rehearsal snack? THIS GIRL. So yes, this pack is PERFECT for travel, school, work, and play.

By the way, I’m sorry if I seem a little slaphappy and crazy: it’s because the weather here in Winston-Salem is about 73 degrees today. ON FEBRUARY 18TH. Like I said via twitter: I hate global warming as much as the next liberal, but this NC spring during winter weather? I AM IN LOVE.

Happy Friday, y’all. I’m going to spend all weekend listening to hot boys sing about the revolutionary war. What are your weekend plans?

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Double Product Review! Chobani Pineapple Yogurt and FlatOut Wraps

As I mentioned earlier, Greek yogurt is one of my great loves- it’s thick, creamy, low fat (depending upon the brand), and an excellent addition to a multitude of dishes. That being said, can you BELIEVE today was the first day I ever tried Chobani Yogurt?

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In my defense, I’ve always been hesitant to buy Chobani because, for a broke grad student, it’s pretty pricey. However, due in no small part to my new food resolution, I decided that the time had finally come for me to try out one of the most talked about Greek yogurts in the blogosphere.

I’ve got to say: this was true love at first Bite. Chobani is everything I dreamed (and read) it would be. It’s super smooth and creamy, with delicious nuggets of pineapple just waiting to be scooped into your mouth. Unlike other fruit on the bottom yogurts, Chobani doesn’t have a weird syrupy fruit base. It tastes like…well, like fresh pineapple added to a creamy treat.

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So delicious, I basically had to lick the container clean.

At 4 wwpoints+, it is a great mid day snack or an addition to a green smoothie. I don’t typically put dairy items in my Green monsters, but I bet Chobani would taste delicious. Chobani comes in a number of flavors, so I also picked out mango and honey. If those flavors taste anything like the pineapple version, I will have truly fallen in love.

I also finally tried Flatout Flatbread.

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I had two reasons for not trying Flatout wraps- first of all (of course), I thought they were slightly overpriced. That problem was solved because they are on sale at Harris Teeter this week.

Second problem is that I have had some bad ‘wrap’ experiences. In my opinion, wraps are either really delicious and perfect, or dry and flavorless.

I am happy to say that I was way too quick to judge Flatout Wraps- I bought the Multi-grain with Flax, and they are absolutely delicious. The texture of the wrap is surprisingly moist, especially considering that they are sold in the bread section and not the freezer section. They are nice and floppy, so they don’t twist, break, or crack when you wrap them in whatever filling you choose.

Speaking of which, I decided today was a perfect day to make a tuna wrap. What are the secrets to Jessamyn’s Tuna Wrap?

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First of all, for the record, I HATE FAT-FREE MAYONNAISE. I’m sure you’re thinking, “why the hell did she put it in her tuna?” My response? “Because I’m ridiculous, that’s why!” It’s really just because I have trained myself to eat mayo in tuna- when I realized that (BIG SURPRISE) mayo is bad for you, I decided to fill my pantry with jars of fat-free mayonnaise. However, what I failed to recognize during this pantry revamp is that

a) fat-free mayo tastes awful.

and

b) the ingredients are worse than regular mayo ingredients.

Plus, I’m a Southern Girl- I should know not to buy anything other than Duke’s Mayonnaise.  Speaking of Official Condiments of Southeastern USA, Texas Pete is a required ingredient in most dishes- when I was high school, we had an (informal) contest to see who could eat the most Texas Pete (FROM PACKETS!) in one sitting.

(Yes, I did go to a liberal all-girls boarding school. How’d you know? Winking smile)

I also really like to add dijon mustard to most things- I definitely prefer to pass the Grey Poupon, but Great Value is no slouch either.

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I set the tuna mixture on a bed of greens, and at the last minute I decided to thinly slice a radish on top of my wrap. Radishes have such a delicious crunch and a very refreshing flavor- they taste good with pretty much everything, ESPECIALLY tacos.

The whole wrap?

Tuna- 3 wwpoints+

Mixed greens- 0 wwpoints+

Flatout Wrap- 3 wwpoints+

Dijon Mustard- 0 wwpoints+

Fat-Free Mayo- 1 wwpoints+

Radish- 0 wwpoints+
TOTAL: 7 wwpoints+

Verdict? Get thee to your local grocer and buy Flatout wraps and chobani yogurt. DE-licious.

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Product Review: Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt

I love yogurt. It’s one of the many reasons why I have difficulty commiting to a vegan diet- that, and all the delicious varieties of cheese this world has to offer. However, I don’t like certain kinds of yogurt- in particular, runny, fruit on the bottom varieties. Ok, I’m not going to discriminate against all ‘fruit on the bottom’ yogurts, but c’mon- I know you’ve probably had a bad experience with some 4/$1 brand of runny, low-fat, fruit on the bottom yogurt. If you’re anything like me and could recount pages of bad yogurt adventures, you have probably developed a deep love affair with Greek yogurt.

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So yes, I absolutely love Greek yogurt. Especially Oikos and Fage. But recently I saw a new type of yogurt called Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt hanging out in my mom’s icebox.

Ok, Icelandic. Things I know about Iceland:

1. Bjork

2. Lesbian Prime Minister

As far as I’m concerned, these two facts alone have given Iceland a fairly high placement on my ‘must visit list’.

But, um, skyr? Can I get some culinary subtitles here? Does that mean the yogurt is especially thin? Is this some sort of Northern European Greek yogurt? WHAT’S THE DEAL?

Skyr, for those of you who don’t know about wikipedia, is apparently a cheese and very popular in Iceland (Captain Obvious). Implication? This must be a thick yogurt in the style of Greek yogurt. Therefore, when Jessamyn sees that Siggi’s yogurt is on sale at Whole Foods Market, she decides that it’s time to try out this new treat.

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First of all, I need to address the issue of money and price. As I’ve discussed before, I am a textbook cheapskate. I hate spending more money than is absolutely necessary- most of the time, I honestly can’t afford to spend more money than is absolutely necessary. However, I’ve recently come to a crossroad about buying inexpensive foods-

Is it worth it to buy a lot of cheap food that you don’t love to eat, or is it better to buy a smaller amount of high quality food you love to eat?

(Yeah, that’s right- I’m expressing personal relationships with food. Learn to love it, because you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)

I used to be in the first camp- but I think that if you can afford (financially) to change to the second camp, do so immediately. I have purchased giant 32oz containers of store brand yogurt which get moldy in my fridge because the texture makes me want to vomit- thereby making the ‘money savings’ a waste. I should have just bought the brand I liked and would have consumed. Buy for quality- this is Jessamyn’s official opinion, as of January 23, 2011.

ANYWAY, back to the yogurt at hand. The first thing I noticed about Siggi’s? THIS IS THE THICKEST YOGURT IN HISTORY. In my mind, that makes Siggi’s yogurt a revelation in the world of dairy, and I’m officially saving money for an Icelandic vision quest. Seriously, the yogurt is so creamy and thick that I had difficulty mixing it up with my spoon.

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Check out that (lack of) white balance. Also, welcome to my ridiculously messy bedroom.

The texture is smooth as a baby’s bottom- seriously, I can’t use enough positive  adjectives in regard to the consistency. However, even though the texture is out of this world thick and creamy, the yogurt doesn’t weigh you down. I went to the gym shortly after eating the 6oz container and felt fine.

My only problem with this particular type was the flavor- maybe it’s the kool-aid drinking American in me, but I found the flavor of the vanilla Siggi’s yogurt to be a bit too subtle. It was still delicious, but it was a little too vague for my personal standards. However, because I’m a resourceful Southern girl, I hit it with 1/2 tablespoon of honey- flavor problem solved.

I’m actually kind of upset because my local Whole Foods Market only carries the vanilla Siggi’s- they have several other flavors (GRAPEFRUIT? POMEGRANATE?!) that I’m absolutely dying to try, and I can’t! My feelings are hurt, Siggi– hook a sister up.

Anyway, get thee to your local Whole Foods Market (or Fresh Market. or EarthFare.) and try out Siggi’s Icelandic Skyr. And don’t let the price deter you- the splurge is totally worth it.

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Filed under food, grocery shopping, product review