Sunday, August 31, 2008

Caroline's Recent Faves

As part of my new Sunday Feature format, I'll devote an occasional post to product reviews. As far as I can tell, blog readers are divided on these reviews: either they can't get enough product recommendations, or they have become entirely bored by them. To satisfy both camps, I'll give my opinion on select food products only sporadically. Enjoy!

This past week I have been favoring a few products: Clif Z Bars, Futter's Nut Butters, and a new kind of hummus.

Clif Z Bars
If you read food blogs at all, then you have likely seen these familiar blue wrappers before. While they are marketed toward schoolage children, my fellow bloggers and I have found them extremely convenient for on-the-go snacking, although I've been known to eat them even when I'm lounging at home.

Z Bars are certified organic with generally nutritious ingredients, including oats and flaxseed. There are a lot of added sugars (evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup), which contribute to the 10-12 grams of sugar per bar. In addition to the ingredients already mentioned, Clif also includes a vitamin/mineral blend. I find this addition helpful to vegans and non-vegans alike, because a single bar provides 30% of your RDA for calcium, 10% for iron, and 10% for B12, all nutrients that may be elusive to some. All this for 120-140 kcalories and 2-5 grams of fat. Not bad.

Current flavors available include
Peanut Butter, Honey Graham, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Brownie, Apple Cinnamon, and Blueberry. I have yet to try the Honey Graham, Apple Cinnamon, and Peanut Butter varieties (don't worry--it's on my to-do list).

-Thus far, my favorite is the Chocolate Brownie--it really does taste like a brownie. I bet warming it up and enjoying it with a glass of milk (soy or cow's!) would enhance its "browniness."
-The chocolate chip was decent, although I much prefer the regular Clif version of this flavor.
-The Blueberry made for a nice change of pace--it's not your typical snack bar flavor. It mimics a blueberry crisp in taste, which would make it ideal for a portable breakfast. It makes a great pre-workout snack as well.

Another plus (especially for poor college kids like me): only 69 cents at Trader Joe's! At Whole Foods they are still a reasonable 99 cents.

Futter's Nut Butters
I would never have discovered these nut butters had it not been for VeggieGirl. In my search for hazelnut butter, I had asked her what brand she used, and she provided this link. One visit to their site, and you'll soon realize that if there's a nut (or seed) out there, Futter's likely makes a nut butter out of it. Think: pistachio butter, pumpkin seed butter, Brazil nut butter...the possibilities are endless. Anyway, as I do not live near any of the locations that sell Futter's, I ordered some as a treat for myself.

Perhaps one of the best things about these butters is the fact that they are
just nuts. No palm oil, no salt, no sugar--just ground up nuttiness. While its simple composition is ideal for overall health, spreadability can be a problem. I recommend using it as a dip for sliced bananas or apples, or you can warm it up a bit to use it as a spread on toast.

The nutritional information varies according to the nut used.. kcalories and fat are not listed on the website, but they do arrive with the nut butters once ordered. Generally speaking, a two tablespoon serving may contain 160-220 kcalories and 15-20 grams of fat, plus a host of vital nutrients such as vitamin E and magnesium. Don't be scared of the fat--it is health-promoting fat, which may help reduce cholesterol.

Futter's Nut Butters are pricey, but if used in moderation, one tiny jar may last for a few weeks or more (depending on your nut butter addiction).

Also, if you're interested, Futter's also sells dried fruits and nuts.

What you see below is Brazil Nut butter, almond butter, and hazelnut butter. I can't wait to try the other flavors!
Market Pantry Hummus
Imagine this scene: thousands of parents and students scrambling to SuperTarget over a single weekend. With list in hand, I search for that ever-so-versatile spread, hummus. I find Sabra in the produce section and cringe a little upon seeing the price. The hummus gods smiled upon me and showed me a better alternative in the deli section, the Market Pantry (aka Target house brand) hummus.

With stats almost identical to those of
Sabra hummus, I decided it was worth a try. I first tried it in a hummus sandwich last week and was surprised at the depth of flavor and richness it provided. Then I remembered that each serving has 6 grams of fat. Fat is an amazing thing when it comes to flavor. Ideally, I would prefer a lower fat hummus, considering I usually use more than the prescribed two tablespoon serving. Also, I wish there were more protein per serving as well--2 grams seems a bit paltry for a meat alternative in sandwiches.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this much cheaper hummus, especially due to its addition of caramelized onions.
I am not certain as to the price, but I think it was within the vicinity of $2-3 for an 8 oz. container.

I've spent a lot of time evaluating hummus. For more information, read my article here.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


sweetpotato said...

Chocolate brownie is my favorite Z Bar flavor too! I bet it'd soooo good heated up! I've got to try that. How have I never thought of this before??!?

Ruby Red Vegan said...

Oooh, I liked reading all your reviews! This is a great little addition to your already awesome blog. I haven't had a Clif Z bar in forever, but I did notice how cheap they are at Trader Joe's. Nice! The honey graham was my favorite flavor before I was a vegan, but I love your suggestion of heating up the brownie one and enjoying with soymilk! That's so much easier than baking up a batch of brownies...and no guilt because there's not a full pan of brownies sitting around, tempting you. :)

Those nut butters look fabulous! I am in love with Justin's Maple Almond Butter right now...

And gotta love hummus! I always get mad at the protein content when I read the labels. You'd think it would have more protein, since chickpeas and tahini are two vital ingredients...

VeggieGirl said...

I'm LOVING your new Sunday Feature format, with the product reviews - great addition to your already-fabulous blog!!

I'm so glad that you like Futters Nut Butters - I'm glad that my suggestion was a good one, since obviously I'm obsessed with that brand, haha :0) My pantry/fridge are stocked with their hazelnut-butter, pumpkin-seed-butter, almond-butter, AND sunflower-seed-butter.

shelby said...

Ooo, I just bought a brownie ClifZ bar!! I would love to try it heated, and your idea with it mized in yogurt sounds great too!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Z bars come in one more flavor: Spooky S'mores. It's a limited edition flavor for Halloween ;o)

sportsnutritionliving said...

I just got back into the z bars because they never did really hold me over but when I mix it with chobani it is a great snack. Also I got the nut butter suggestion from veggie girl and I am pleased that the job I work at gets vitamins from a company that sells these nut butters so i def will be getting them!
Thanks for the updates...

Matt said...

i think peanut butter is my favorite z bar. well, i pretty much love peanut butter everything.

i have yet to try the blueberry and apple cinnamon. i am heading to whole foods in birmingham soon so i'll check for them there.

eatingbender said...

I love this new addition to your blog, Caroline!!

I was so happy to see ZBaRs - and that chocolate brownie is your favorite! I agree, it definitely tastes like a real brownie - and the blueberry is definitely a nice change up from the others. The apple cinnamon is similar to the blueberry in that respect. Can you believe that they are 49c at my Whole Foods?! I don't know how that happened - I've never seen them that cheap anywhere else.

I've tried the Futter's hazelnut butter. They really are amazing. I need to take some time to explore that site and see what else they have to offer!

ChickPea said...

SweetPotato: Yay for brownie lovers! We both must try the Z bar back how you like it!
Ruby: Ya know, I had never thought of that--the Z bars ARE a lot better than having a whole pan of brownie s tempting you.
I LOVE Justin's! I might have to order some more one of these days.
Yeah, I don't really understand hummus's lack of protein either. Maybe companies have taken to using more olive oil rather than tahini? Beats me.
VeggieGirl: Glad you like the format! Pumpkin seed butter sounds divine!
Shelby: Yeah, I'm kinda craving a Z bar mixed in yogurt right now...maybe I need a snack soon.
CCV: OMG! How did I miss these festive bars? I need to find some pronto. Are they vegan? I wonder if they use gelatin-free marshmallows for the s'mores flavor.
SportsNutritionLiving: Sweet deal on getting the nut butters through your company. What flavors have you tried?
Matt: I totally hear you on the PB thing--anything PB flavored and I'm so there.
I think I saw those flavors at the Bham store the last time I was there. Let me know what you think!
EatingBender: Wow! 49 cents?! What a steal! Futter's has a seemingly never-ending selection of nut butters. I could easily spend an entire pay check on that site...

Anonymous said...

i was saddened to realize that clif z bars are not vegan since they contain traces of milk.

ChickPea said...

Anonymous: Yes, I did notice that on the package. I am a lactovegetarian, so it doesn't bother me as much as it might otherwise. Still, I prefer that the bars and packaged items I buy to be as animal product-free as possible.

Danielle said...

Ahhh Caroline, you're driving me crazy over here! I wish I could try every single one of your recent faves... until then I'm going to have to learn to deal with your wonderful pictures and descriptions, gah, this is going to be tough ;)

ChickPea said...

Danielle: I could say the same about you--all those local favorites you feature look so delicious. Your "mom" is quite the cook!