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Taste Test: What We're Snacking on This Week

Taste Test: What We're Snacking on This Week


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The best part about working at Cooking Light? Tasting new healthy snacks before they hit the grocery shelves. With our help, you'll choose the best store-bought products in both taste and nutrition. Snack smarter with these new winning picks.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

Sign up for our daily newsletter for more great articles and tasty, healthy recipes.

Mrs. Renfro's Salsa: Celebrate the South by dipping chips in these deliciously sweet and spicy salsas made in the heart of Texas. Slather on tacos, nachos, or omelets for an unforgettable meal. Our favorite by far: the Peach Salsa. I'll be dreaming about it till the day I die. (Renfrofoods.com, $3.95)

Editors' Notes:"I'm not a big salsa gal, but dang, I'd eat this all day!""Hot and fruity—in all the good ways.""OMG, I dig. Sweet on the front, but then spicy once you swallow."

Nutrition:Two tablespoons of salsa range from 10 to 15 calories, with no fat and 70 to 230 milligrams of sodium.

LaLoo's Goat Milk Ice Cream: Don't let the goat's head on the packaging deter you from a creamy, dreamy ice-cream experience. Whole goat milk has less lactose than cow's milk, making it easier to digest. Higher in protein and lower in fat than most conventional ice-creams, LaLoo's three newest flavors (Mystic Strawberry, Sea Salt Caramel and Capraccino Almond Fudge) are to die for. (Icecreamsource.com, $6.99 for 1 pint)

Editors' Notes:"Super creamy and the goat-y tanginess is not overpowering. Honestly, I wouldn't even know the difference.""Fresh and refreshing! I love the chunks of strawberries in Mystic Strawberry.""So rich and delicious—good stuff with no weird aftertaste!"

Nutrition:Half a cup of ice-cream ranges from 90 to 210 calories, with 5 to 9 grams of fat (3.5 to 6 grams of saturated fat), 4 to 6 grams of protein, and 22 to 24 grams of sugar.

Chef's Cut Real Jerky: As the bag says, "You had me at bacon!" Our staff went wild over these sweet and spicy flavored bacon strips. Forget the tough, chewy jerky commonly found at the grocery store. Here, uncured meat is cooked low and slow until crisp and crunchy. (Chefscutrealjerky.com, $27.96 for a 4-pack case)

Editors' Notes:

"YUM! Now, that's a real treat. The texture is so soft.""Ooo, it's spicy! Add a cold beer, please.""If the bag goes missing, I have nothing to do with it! :)"

Nutrition:One ounce of jerky ranges from 120 to 140 calories, with 6 to 10 grams fat (2 to 3 grams saturated fat), 6 to 9 grams of sugar, and 550 to 600 milligrams of sodium. Having said that, Cooking Light recommends a serving of 250 milligrams of sodium or less in most snacks. Just stick to small portions of two or three jerky strips and you'll be in the clear!

Keep Reading:


Honey Mustard Dressing

So long, store bought salad dressing! This honey mustard dressing recipe is easy to make, and it's packed with irresistible sweet and tangy flavor.

This homemade honey mustard dressing is like magic. Whenever I have it on hand, I eat salads like crazy, just to taste its sweet, tangy, spicy flavor. If I’m out of greens, I use it as a dipping sauce, dunking sliced bell peppers until I don’t have any dressing left. If you’re someone who’s trying to eat more veggies, make this honey mustard dressing recipe. You’ll find yourself tossing together salads and snacking on carrot sticks left and right!

Unlike many store bought honey mustard salad dressings, this one is totally vegan and dairy-free. Its smooth, lightly creamy texture comes from emulsified olive oil, honey, and Dijon mustard, not mayo or Greek yogurt. You only need 5 ingredients to make it, and you can whisk it together in a snap. In the last few months, it’s become one of my favorite dressings, and I think you’re going to love it too!


The Epicurious Blog

Last week we celebrated Take Your Kids to Work Day with the kids of Condé Nast. We hosted a Vanilla Yogurt Taste Test to let the little ones try their taste buds at rating and ranking their favorites. As it turned out, our 8 and 9 year old junior judges had some very passionate opinions.

They sampled three different yogurts: Chobani Vanilla Non-Fat Yogurt, Dannon Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt, and Stonyfield Organic Low-Fat French Vanilla Yogurt. In a blind taste test, we had them judge the yogurts based on appearance, taste, and consistency and rank them using the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being best).

Best Overall: Dannon, 3 1/2 forks

Pros: One junior judge commented "It&aposs awesome. It tastes sweet. It&aposs not bland. It&aposs not fakey. It&aposs natural." Another enjoyed its texture, "It&aposs really creamy and yummy." Many junior judges noted that there was a distinct honey flavor to the yogurt which they liked while one taster thought it was kind of "bananaish." One judge noted, "I think this would be a great hit for yogurt."

Cons: Some felt it wasn&apost rich enough. One taster commented "I think they should make it more thick."

First Runner-Up: Stonyfield, 1 1/2 forks

Pros: The junior judges enjoyed the off-white, cream color of the yogurt and its rich texture. One junior judge commented "Rarely white." Some judges like its "creamy and thick" consistency and others liked its "kind of nutty and sweet" flavor.

Cons: Many noted that it had an artificial flavor, one said "Tastes sweet, but bad aftertaste." Another said, "Tastes like wax."

Second Runner-Up: Chobani, 1/2 fork

Pros: A few junior judges enjoyed the slightly sour, lemony flavor and the thick texture. One junior judge said, "It&aposs very chunky and tastes like sweet, and kind of lemons."

Cons: The kids were not too kind in their assessment of this yogurt. Comments ranged from, "I literally want to throw it in the garbage" to "It tastes horribly bad" to "It dries out my mouth and throat" to "Chunky and pukey, gross gross." But, one junior judge did clarify why they didn&apost enjoy it, "I don&apost like Greek yogurt. I&aposm not Greek."

After the tasting, the kids tried their hands at food styling by creating beautiful miniature pies and parfaits using fresh fruit, chocolate chips, and their favorite yogurt from the taste test. They then went on to learn about gardening and planted their very own rosemary and basil plants to take home.

We&aposre already looking forward to Take Your Kids to Work Day next year to have more food-filled fun, culinary crafting, and creative comments from the kids!

For more about yogurt𠅊nd how to make your own𠅌heck out our primer.


Photo: Kendra Vizcaino-Lico

Maple Syrup Taste Test

Whether you like to drizzle it on pancakes, pour it over waffles, or drench French toast with it, maple syrup is an indispensable part of a delicious breakfast.

But, with so many varieties out there how do you know which one to choose? We tasted 13 of the top brands of the sticky, sweet, amber hued syrups and came up with a few favorites.

Now, we know that there&aposs a great divide amongst the serious syrup fans. On one side are the purists. Those who will settle for nothing but 100% pure, real, maple gold tapped from the chilly trees up north. On the other side are the nostalgics. Those who swear by the thick, dark pancake syrups that remind them of happy childhood mornings. We just couldn&apost choose a side, so we tasted both!

Find out which were our favorites in the results of our maple and pancake syrup taste test.

Taste Testing the New Lay&aposs Potato Chip Flavors

We get to taste a lot of inventive and enticing foods on any given day in the Epicurious office, so when a box of the new Lay&aposs Potato Chips flavors arrived this week, my "I&aposll-try-anything-once" mantra encouraged me to start snacking.

The chips are part of Lay&aposs "Do Us a Flavor" campaign, which asked consumers to submit their dream potato chip flavors. Out of 3.8 million submissions, Lay&aposs narrowed it down to three finalists: Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha. The chips are available nationwide, and the creator of whichever flavor receives the most fan votes will win $1 million or 1 percent of their flavor&aposs 2013 net sales (whichever is higher).

My strategy was simple: Start with what I anticipated to be the most mild flavor, Cheesy Garlic Bread, work my way toward the Chicken and Waffles, and leave the seemingly potent Sriracha flavor as the finale. And so, without further ado, the results:

Cheesy Garlic Bread: Tearing open the bag, I anticipated a whiff of garlic or cheese. Neither aroma wafted my way. The flavor was very bland and almost nondescript. If you&aposd handed me one of the chips and asked me the flavor, I would have guessed onion or chive, not cheese, not garlic, and definitely not bread. The flavor wasn&apost off-putting, it just wasn&apost bold enough to merit a name like "Cheesy Garlic Bread."

Chicken & Waffles: The questions started swirling in my mind long before I even opened the bag. How do you get fresh chicken flavor onto a chip? Is there such a thing as chicken powder? And is syrup included? Or perhaps they intended these to be like the tortilla chip of the guacamole world, with consumers serving them alongside a bowl of maple syrup. All of my questions were answered in the first bite. The chips are sweet, very sweet. I didn&apost taste any presence of waffles, although there was a faint chicken flavor. In the words of my fellow editor, "They&aposre kind of not that bad . kind of."

Baking-Chocolate Taste-Test Results

Have you ever had to take a bite out of more than one type of brownie in one sitting? We have! (Tough life, we know).

For our baking-chocolate taste test we all agreed that the best way to determine the chocolate&aposs true measure of quality was through baking with it. So several of us went home, baked up a batch using this recipe and we sampled, and then sampled some more. We wrote down our thoughts and rated each option from 1 to 4 forks.

Read on to find out which one was our Epi Top Pick!

Vanilla Ice Cream Taste Test

There is no need to top your delicious holiday desserts with whipped cream because all you have in your freezer is plain old vanilla ice cream. (I&aposm biased. I prefer ice cream over whipped cream any day).

Today at the office, we&aposre beginning a three-day mission to taste approximately 10 (give or take) different types of vanilla ice cream. This taste test will include frozen delights marketed as vanilla, French vanilla, and vanilla bean. Why do such a taste test? Well, because we all know that everything tastes better a la mode. We can&apost wait to find out which one wins!

Do you have a favorite vanilla ice cream brand we should know about?

Frozen Pumpkin Pie Taste Test Results

A while back we did a prepared pie-crust taste test, but using all of the crusts in a basic pumpkin-pie recipe. This time we thought, well what if you don&apost even have time to make the pie? Finding a delicious frozen pumpkin pie was our only answer (if you don&apost happen to have a great local bakery nearby). So we did just that. We tasted several frozen pumpkin pies and did a blind taste test, just like we always do! Check here to see who won, and which brands we tried out!

Defining the Perfect Veggie Burger

Today we had a veggie burger tasting in the office, and sampled one made with beans, another with kasha, and another one with bulgur. They were delicious, but keeping veggie burgers intact can be quite challenging. What makes the perfect veggie burger? Do you like one with just veggies? One with soy? How about with beans, breadcrumbs, cheese or a grain? Does it have to stand up to bread or complement condiments? Check out these veggie burger recipes for inspiration. And if store-bought is what you prefer, check out which ones we liked in our veggie burger taste test!

What&aposs been your favorite veggie burger experience?

Frozen Waffle Taste Test Results

The results are in! A few weeks ago we got down and dirty and indulged, eating 10 different kinds of frozen waffles for our latest taste test. We&aposre talking buttermilk to whole wheat to gluten free. We sampled each with and without maple syrup. Who won? Well we had one Epi Top Pick and two other picks we were big fans of. So check it out here! Did we miss your favorite? Tell us about it!

Favorite Frozen Waffles

Tomorrow we are doing yet another taste test in time for our Back to School Package: frozen waffles! We plan to taste a variety, from buttermilk to multigrain and gluten free.

If you haven&apost check out our taste test section, get on it! We&aposve tasted salsa, sorbet, oatmeal, tortilla chips. even ketchup! Also, we&aposd love to know what other taste tests you would like us to do! Let us know!

Holy Breads

Tonight marks the start of Passover, and for many, matzoh will be on the seder table. And this Sunday is Easter where communion wafers will be served to celebrants around the world. In the current issue of Gourmet Live, Regina Schrambling delves into the religious breads, touching upon flavored matzoh and gluten-free wafers. What will manufacturers think of next? How about jumping on the ancient grains trend?

Matzoh could be found in my childhood home from time to time and I&aposve taken communion at churches where they&aposve served matzoh. But my most favorite matzoh ever was shmurah matzoh--handmade matzoh that was a beautiful golden brown and a hearty flavor that no boxed matzoh could ever match. However, if boxed matzoh is how you roll, check out the results from our matzoh taste test.


Not All Dark Chocolate Is Created Equal, So Here's How To Find The Good Stuff

Thanks to the federal government’s new guidelines on added sugar, a lot of people are trying to cut back on sweets.

But one dessert we’re going to keep indulging in -- guilt free -- is dreamy, delicious dark chocolate.

In addition to being delightful, research shows that dark chocolate can help improve our health in several important ways beyond just making us happy.

For one thing, dark chocolate is so satisfying that eating or even just smelling the stuff can suppress your appetite, which means having a bite of a bar before a big night out is a legitimate way to keep your self-control in check.

Chocolate may also help lower blood pressure. In a 2011 study, researchers found that a 75-gram serving of dark chocolate containing 72 percent cocoa was linked to an 18 percent inhibition of ACE activity (which helps relax blood vessels) three hours after eating it.

The dark stuff may even help lower stress levels. Scientists at the Nestle Research Center have found that eating dark chocolate was linked to a significant reduction in stress hormones secreted in urine.

So how can you know which chocolate is healthiest for you, and how much of it should you eat?

Mindful nutritionist Lilian Cheung says that going for at least 65 percent cacao, and having no more than three ounces per day, is a good rule of thumb for most chocolate lovers. And because chocolate also has a significant amount of sugar and fat in it, remember to sacrifice those calories somewhere else in your diet if you’re going to indulge in the dark that day.

“Seven squares of chocolate is about 420 calories. Trade out your pumpkin spice latte (380 calories) and you're almost there,” Cheung wrote in a blog for HuffPost. "Plus, you'll save yourself the 40 percent trans fat and artificial flavoring [from the latte]."

Now for the fun part -- which chocolate should you buy? Depending on what you’re using it for, different experts have different recommendations. America’s Test Kitchen says the best supermarket chocolate you can buy for eating and baking is Ghiradelli’s 60 percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar. They said it had “the tart fruitiness of cherries and wine with a slight smokiness."

In a blind taste test, the lucky (and thorough) writers of the site The Sweet Home recommend Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao 72 percent for its "slightly fruity" and “nutty" notes, as well as the Guittard Epique Bar, which a fruit flavor that is “reminiscent of raisins or prunes.”

And for chocolate eaters who want to support bean-to-bar chocolates made in the U.S. (local and artisanal, y’all!), the New York Times picked 70 percent Ocumare from Venezuela, with its “bundle of juicy, delicious berry and pear flavors” and the 67 percent Madagascar from Patric, with its “delicate violet and lavender notes," as their top two picks.

At this point, you may be wondering, what’s up with all that wine flavor talk? Well, chocolate as dark and as well-crafted as these bars can evoke delicate taste memories of fruit, flowers and other kinds of food for people who know how to savor their chocolate.

For tutorials on how to indulge in dark chocolate and pick up all its flavor subtleties, check out Cheung’s blog on mindful chocolate meditation, or the Guittard chocolate company’s site, where they describe five ways to get the most out of your experience. Happy chocolating!

Do you want to be more mindful about eating healthy foods that’ll keep your mind and body at their best? Sign up for our newsletter and join our Eat Well, Feel Great challenge to learn how to fuel your body in the healthiest way possible. We’ll deliver tips, challenges and advice to your inbox every day.


Peanut Butter, Creamy | Taste Test

Peanut butter was an obvious tasting to do next. We hadn't attempted this since 2007, and back then, we were just amateurs trying eight brands. This time we doubled it: 16 brands. Ever had 16 spoonfuls of peanut butter in one sitting? Ever wanted an excuse to?

We sure did! And we'll have another one soon: the Crunchy edition. But first, we figured we'd tackle Creamy. (When we polled your preference over on Facebook, Creamy won, but not by a huge margin.)

Let's be honest, unless you have a peanut allergy, you are in the pro-PB camp. You find yourself twisting off the cap, whipping out a spoon, and going to town. Sometimes you can't stop. Sometimes it's scary. Sometimes you wake up on the couch with a peanut butter mustache, parched for milk. (Wait, just us? Right.)

One perk of conducting a peanut butter tasting is you end up with 16 half-full jars after. Each of the editors has a jar sitting at their desk with a spoon hanging out. Another perk was the convenient timing of the baguette tasting—the leftovers made for great sandwichification.

The Contenders

365 Whole Foods Creamnut Jif Jif Natural Justin (Organic) Marantaha (Organic) Peanut Butter & Co. Peter Pan Reese's Santa Cruz (Organic) Skippy Skippy Natural Smuckers Natural Trader Joe's (Organic) Trader Joe's Salted Woodstock Farms (Organic)

Criteria

Creamy peanut butter should be smooth and spreadable, just a tad sweet but kicked up with enough salt, rounded out with a roasted peanut depth. We asked That's Nuts columnist Lee Zalben, who founded Peanut Butter & Co. to join our tasting. "How many peanut butter tastings have I done? Oh, hundreds." How's that for a pro? The Peanut Butter & Co. brand was included in the mix, but this was of course a blind tasting, so his role as a SE columnist didn't influence the results.

The Results

We tried both the no-stir and stir varieties with oil separation. There was no question that we all preferred the no-stir commercial brands over the old-fashioned kind you have to mix by hand. Maybe it's nostalgia or maybe the stir kind just tasted too hippie-dippie healthy. Regardless, we've also included a few recommendations if you're going that route.

Note: there were ties for second, seventh, and ninth places.

#1. Skippy (7.62/10)

You were probably raised in a Skippy or Jif household (and a Colgate or Crest one, but thankfully this is not a toothpaste tasting). Either the majority of us at SEHQ were raised in a Skippy one, or we just played at other kids' houses that were. Really smooth and creamy, sightly saltier than sweet, and rounded out with a savory roasted-ness, this had everything we were looking for. It's the peanut butter we'd eat by the spoonful, and the one we want to smear on a sandwich or Ants on a Log.

#2. Peanut Butter & Co. (6.69/10)

Though comparable to Jif and Skippy in terms of that commercial creaminess texture, Peanut Butter & Co. is more natural-tasting. Many tasters really loved this one. Smooth and buttery on the tongue. It's not too sweet, so it'd also be good coupled with jam.

#2. Reese's (6.69/10)

We were all a little surprised by this one. Sure, we're all guilty of snacking on Reese's Pieces and Cups, but we've never really bothered with their peanut butter. Smooth, sweet, salty, peanutty—this one's just really, really can't-stop-spooning addictive. It was one of the first jars we finished off after the tasting. There's a little of that bad-for-you-peanut-butter thing happening you can tell it didn't come from a health food store, but we didn't seem to mind.

#4. Jif (6.5/10)

Like Skippy, this immediately brought us back to the playground and, OK fine, probably the cupboard last week. Smooth and creamy, it has a hit of saltiness that lingers after the sweetness. "I want to spread this on white bread," said one taster. The difference between Jif and Skippy? Jif had a slightly more robust flavor: both sweeter and saltier, which some tasters didn't appreciate.

#5. Skippy Natural (5.85/10)

Another good showing from Skippy. But we were curious: is Skippy Regular all that different from Skippy Natural? According to the label, the Regular contains hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean) while the Natural contains palm oil. Palm oils are naturally high in saturated fats, which is what makes them solid and creamy at room temperature. Rapeseed and soybean, on the other hand, are naturally very low in saturated fat but the process of hydrogenation converts some of these unsaturated fats into saturated ones. It's essentially vegetable shortening that they're using.

Some hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats can contain higher levels of trans-fatty acids, which are more harmful to your health than naturally occurring cis-fatty acids. However, according to a study by the USDA, no peanut butter, whether made with palm oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil contains any significant amount of trans-fats (from 0 to 0.0032 grams per 32-gram serving), so don't worry!

In the end, they don't taste all that different either. Both are smooth and salty (the salty sticks until the very end) with a nice toasty-ness.

#6. Jif Natural (5.75/10)

Very smooth and spreadable with a few little peanut specks throughout. A deep roasted flavor with the right balance of sweet and salty. Same deal as the Skippy Regular vs. Natural (see above). Overall, the flavors of the two aren't significantly different.

#7. 365 (5.46/10)

Creamy, but with an identity crisis—this one clearly wants to be Crunchy. Lots of nut bits swirled throughout and a deep roasted flavor. 365 tastes very natural, which is what we'd expect from the Whole Foods brand. If you're going the natural peanut butter route, this is a fine choice. Salty and not too sweet, it could use a jam buddy, but is also satisfying on its own. Also recommended for baking cookies.

#7. Peter Pan (5.46/10)

Since the notorious Peter Pan recall of 2007 (oh, and there was that other one in 2009), Peter Pan has updated its logo slightly, but some shoppers will forever be turned off by the brand. Since this was a blind tasting, we didn't let any of that get in the way. Overall though, Peter Pan was a little too artificial-tasting, like candy bar levels of sweet. "I feel like I'm crunching sugar granules." There's a honey-ish aftertaste. We'd be fine with it in more of a dessert capacity, like on ice cream.

#9. Creamnut (4.25/10)

Like 365, this was another case of Crunchy posing as Creamy. Creamnut also sells a Crunchy variety, but this was the "Natural" option (AKA the not as crunchy, but still pretty crunchy). It's gritty and sticky. Resident peanut expert Lee Zalben later explained that Creamnut uses Virginia peanuts, which creates this texture. "I think my mouth is heating up from the friction this peanut butter is causing," said one taster. Could use a little more salt.

#9. Organic Trader Joe's (4.25/10)

This was another one that sorta surprised us. Many of us buy our PB at TJ's, but when it comes down to it, crave the more "bad for you" varieties (cough, Skippy). The peanut flavor is definitely there, but the texture is sticky and pasty. You kind of feel like a dog with peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. It really comes down to whether you want a natural option or not—if yes, this is another decent option.


Thursday, April 23 — Breakfast Tacos with Bacon

These tacos are a tasty and filling way to start&mdashor end&mdashthe day (we&rsquore big fans of breakfast for dinner!). Sauteed bacon and scallions flavor the scrambled eggs, and then kids can add toppings to their tacos, such as Monterey Jack cheese, salsa, and a squeeze of lime. This recipe is also flexible: Swap the Monterey Jack for cheddar, if you like, skip the bacon to make it vegetarian, and both flour and corn tortillas are equally delicious!
[GET THE RECIPE]

What You&rsquoll Need
4 large eggs
⅛ teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
1 slice bacon
1 scallion, sliced thin
4 (6-inch) flour or corn tortillas
½ cup tomato salsa (jarred or homemade)
¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 lime, cut into wedges

Learning Moment
Math (Division Fractions):
Step 6 of this recipe asks kids to divide the scrambled eggs among the warm tortillas. Ask kids: &ldquoWhat could you do to make sure the eggs are evenly divided among our tortillas?&rdquo (This recipe serves 2 to 4, so kids might be dividing among two, three, or four tortillas.) If they need a little guidance, encourage kids to use their rubber spatula to divide the roughly circular scrambled eggs in the pan in half (if serving 2), thirds (if serving 3), or fourths (if serving 4). Then, they can scoop an equal amount of eggs into each tortilla.

Take It Further
Social Studies (World Cultures):
This taco recipe calls for either corn or flour tortillas. Kids can learn and explore how each type of tortilla is made!

Corn tortillas are made with a special kind of corn flour, called masa harina, that&rsquos been made in Mexico for thousands of years. To make masa harina, dried corn soaks in a mixture of hot water and a chemical called calcium hydroxide before it&rsquos dried again and ground into masa harina. This process is called nixtamalization (&ldquoniks-ta-MAL-ih-ZAY-shun&rdquo) and it gives corn tortillas their signature toasty corn flavor. Kids can watch this video to see how corn tortillas are made in a factory and this video shows them being made by hand . If you&rsquore up for it, you can even use our DIY Corn Tortillas recipe to make your own at home.

Wheat flour is the main ingredient in flour tortillas, which also typically include vegetable shortening or lard, too. While corn tortillas are pressed into its round shape, flour tortillas are rolled into a circle using a rolling pin. In general, flour tortillas are more flexible than corn tortillas and are often larger, too.

Corn tortillas are typically used to make tacos, enchiladas, and tortilla chips, while you&rsquoll often see flour tortillas used for burritos and quesadillas. If you have access to both kinds of tortillas at your local grocery store, we encourage you to do a taste test at home!


Brussels Sprout Banh Mi with Spicy Mango Sauce

The idea for a Brussels sprout banh mi sandwich is one that I’ve head in my head forever and a half, but just now got around to making. First I was using my Brussels sprouts for something else (namely, beer-battering and deep frying them) and then we signed up for a winter/spring CSA and had too many other veggies to use up, to justify buying sprouts at the grocer. This weekend, they finally came in the CSA, and we had company who would gladly help taste-test the recipe, so I was pretty quick to get all of the needed banh mi fixin’s.

I adore food that blends ideas and ingredients from multiple regions or cultures, and banh mi sandwiches have got to be one of the best examples of that! In my research, I learned that the term ‘banh mi’ actually just means bread, dating back to the French colonial period in Vietnam which introduced baguettes to the country. But it has come to be used to refer to the whole sandwich, a beautiful fusion of French bread with Vietnamese toppings. Technically this Brussels sprout banh mi is a ‘ bánh mì chay ‘, since it’s vegetarian. I’ve also swapped out the common topping of mayonnaise (also coming from the French side of the equation) for a simple spicy mango sauce made from fresh mango and sriracha.

As for why I went with Brussels sprouts? Their slightly chewy texture makes them a surprisingly excellent sandwich base, plus the contrast between the roasted sprouts with the fresh vegetable toppings is quite lovely. I’ve no problem eating an occasional light meal of bread + veggies but if you’re looking to round out the sandwich with something a little heartier, I recommend a generous helping of carrot ginger hummus!

Speaking of the CSA, I’m going to try getting into the habit of sharing my CSA contents on the blog again, and how I’m using them. Our winter/spring CSA consists of 6 items per week, and it’ll last until the end of April. Then we have the month of May to buy our own veggies at the market before the summer CSA starts. This Friday we received:

Brussels sprouts (used in these Brussels sprout banh mis!)
Yellow onions
Carrots
Spinach
Kale
Red potatoes

I won’t have any trouble with the carrots (I enjoy snacking on them), spinach (green smoothies), or onions (ubiquitous in recipes). But I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with the kale or potatoes yet (plus the leftover potatoes and celery from last week…). Probably depends on how ambitious we’re feeling in the kitchen this week. There are no leftover banh mi supplies – those got gobbled up pretty dang quickly! =]


Not Our Favorites, But Still Pancakes

Phoros Protein Pancake Mix ($19.99 per 12oz bag)

[tiImage is_image="1" image_id="597144" image_style="375x375" align="center"]

At 30 grams of protein per serving, Phoros seems like a potentially good option. But it smells, and tastes, like artificial bananas. Why? We&rsquore not quite sure. Nothing in the ingredients immediately leapt out as the banana culprit. The pancakes themselves cooked up fine, so if you like artificial bananas, this mix might be the one. But given the weird taste and the price for such a small amount, we probably won&rsquot be grabbing this one again.

MET-Rx High Protein Pancake Mix in Original Buttermilk ($26.71 per 64oz container)

[tiImage is_image="1" image_id="597147" image_style="375x375" align="center"]

MET-Rx&rsquos movie theater butter taste remains as big of a mystery as Phoros&rsquos banana essence. It&rsquos not a bad flavor option for a pancake mix, but when you&rsquore not expecting it, it&rsquos still a little off-putting. Still, the mix does contain 18 grams of protein per serving, which is respectable. The only other upside of this literal tub of pancake mix is that you&rsquoll definitely be buying in bulk four pounds is the default size. But since the cost breaks down to roughly $9 per 20oz, you could definitely do better by sticking with the cheaper options above.


These are the 5 BEST things we ate at Walt Disney World this week!

We weren’t kidding when we said green took over Disney World snacks this week. Over at Disney Springs, Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew was serving up a Shamrock Supreme Donut. This is a glazed donut that comes with Vanilla Icing, Shamrock Sprinkles, Lucky Charms Marshmallows, a Rainbow Sour Candy Piece, Sour Patch Crumbles, Vanilla Buttercream, and a Chocolate Coin! Just look at that donut decked out for the occasion!

Shamrock Supreme Donut

This GIANT donut was very sweet, but we weren’t complaining! It satisfied our sweet tooth (and then some) and we really liked the added flavor of the rainbow sour candy! It cost $6.50 for just the donut, or you could get a coffee to go with for $12.


Galactic Swirl Funnel Cake

Another Star Wars treat that won us over was the Galactic Swirl Funnel Cake. This treat was available at Epic Eats in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and was a black and white funnel cake with strawberries, space dust, and candy rocks. And, what exactly are candy rocks? Well, they’re little chocolates that give this snack its otherworldly look!

Galactic Swirl Funnel Cake

We really liked just how many flavors this giant funnel cake featured. Between the strawberries, space dusty (aka powdered sugar), chocolate, and crispy fried dough there were a lot of different ways to enjoy this treat. Sadly, this treat was only around for a VERY limited time (May 4th and 5th), but hopefully it’ll make its return next year!

Disney’s specialty treats can be tricky because you have to be visiting at just the right time to get your hands on them. But, if you’re anything like us, you’ll find a way to fit in more than just one before they come off the menu! And, speaking of specialty treats, Mother’s Day is here which means there’s even more to try, so stay tuned!

Check out ALL the Mother’s Day treats coming to Disney World!

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How did you celebrate Star Wars Day this year? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments:

  1. Daimh

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