Monday, March 22, 2010

Faves & Fails: Cheerios, Two Sisters Gourmet, Yogi

Yogi Granola Crisps
I'm not usually a fan of so-called health food, but my friend Clayton brought a bag of these Yogi Granola Crisps to work one day, and we were ALL hooked on them immediately. They have a great crunch and just the right amount of sweet blueberry flavor in the Mountain Blueberry Flax variety. Yogi also makes these in Fresh Strawberry Crunch and Baked Cinnamon Raisin. Other than being low in fat, they aren't spectacularly healthy, but they taste GREAT! They are sweetened with evaporated cane juice, so no high-fructose corn syrup, which is always a plus. (No trans-fats either!) I can't wait to get the strawberry flavor and toss them onto some frozen yogurt. The crips are also "all-natural," which means nothing to me because there are plenty of awful things you do not want to eat that are also all-natural (cyanide, arsenic). I will say that I read the ingredient list and there was nothing overtly chemical on it: Oats, Barley, Spelt, Amaranth, Quinoa, Brown Rice Flour, Evaporated Cane Juice, Vegetable Oil, Flax Seed, BlueberryFruit Puree, Natural Flavors, Corn Flour, Salt, Barley Malt Syrup and Natural Vitamin E. The website also has a full ingredient glossary with great and accurate descriptions of each item, which backs up the all-natural claim. Yogi also makes teas and cereals.

Chocolate Cheerios
Who doesn't love Cheerios? One of the earliest foods we ate as kids, they are now available in 11 flavors. I already loved the Fruity Cheerios because they tasted like Froot Loops but without that oh-so-lovely greasy taste (yuck!) and enough sugar to require a visit to the dentist; ditto for the Apple Cinnamon flavor versus Apple Jacks. When Chocolate Cheerios were released, I grabbed a box at the first opportunity and fell in love. Think Cocoa Puffs, but again without the shock-inducing levels of sugar. They taste great, with a deep cocoa flavor that I love. I don't think of them remotely as breakfast; instead, I eat them as a great healthy (well, healthier!) alternative to a rich dessert at night. Dry out of the box, with milk, stirred into vanilla yogurt or sprinkled over low-fat ice cream, they are a chocolate-lover's dream. Like all Cheerios, they are made with oats, so they also have more protein and fiber than the junk cereals we ate as kids.

Two Sister's Gourmet Over the Edge Herbed Spinach Dip Mix
I tasted this at a PartyLite candle party my friend Sherri hosted; Two Sisters was merged into PartyLite about a year ago, and PartyLite consultants now sell the products. I will say there were a lot of delicious products to taste including some inventive preserves such as Ripe Pear Chardonnay and Blackberry Cabernet. The Snickerdoodle Cheeseball mix, mixed with cream cheese and rolled in crumb topping, was also a hit, but my favorite item a dip made with Over the Edge Herbed Spinach Dip Mix. I bought a gift set that included it as well as three other seasoning blends: Peppery Herbed, Outrageously Garlic and Lemony Dill. So far all have been delicious, but the one I couldn't wait to get to was the spinach dip mix. It includes dehydrated spinach, garlic, salt and other seasonings, and it is delicious. The major drawback though - and this may be because of the volume of spinach in the bottle - is that you have to use a LOT to get any real flavor. I mixed some with 1/2 cup sour cream to top baked potatoes, and I had to use almost three tablespoons in that amount of sour cream for the flavor to come through. At $7.45 a bottle, plus tax and shipping, that's annoying! The Peppery Herbed blend packs a lot more punch for the same price. So although I can attest that the mix makes a lovely dip, and it is great in scrambled eggs, the amount needed to get the real flavor of it is NOT justified by the price.

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