Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Taste Buds Demand Something New

Occasionally, I try enough new things to accumulate a critical mass, which allows me to justify a blog post devoted to new edibles.  “New” is, however, a relative term.  It means new to me.  I’ve never claimed to be a trendy person.  I like wearing clothes I bought in high school and listening to old CDs.  So please, take it easy on me here!  I may not be breaking new ground, but at least I’ve got some good peanut butter to share.

Trader Joes Peanut Butter

* Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter Made with Valencia Peanuts.  This stuff is my sister-in-law’s favorite peanut butter, and I can see why.  It has a terrific peanut flavor, a very creamy texture (after a little stirring to incorporate the oil that separates), and it contains just two ingredients: Valencia peanuts and salt.  I’ve become a big fan of the peanut butters made with only two ingredients—they’re delicious and wholesome and simple.

On a sad note, there is no Trader Joe’s anywhere close to me in Texas, so I’ll be buying more of this peanut butter the next time I’m in the Mitten.

Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

* Silk PureAlmond Dark Chocolate Almondmilk.  Yum, right?  Indeed, this is tasty stuff.  I’ve become a big fan of almond milk, and Silk is my brand of choice.  This dark chocolate version is a nice option for making almond milk-based drinks.  I like it mixed with my strawberry kefir for a blender-less milkshake of sorts.  I also think it would be terrific with some fizzy water for a super-simple fake chocolate egg cream.  The only downside to this dark chocolate almond milk is the sugar content: at 22 grams per cup, this is very, very sweet and in my opinion, not nearly as versatile as the original plain flavor.

Mi-Del Honey Grahams

* Mi-Del 100% Whole Wheat Honey Grahams.  Full disclaimer: I bought this box because it was 99 cents.  What a steal!  But after tasting these graham crackers, I changed my mind.  I don’t like them very much.  They don’t taste like the traditional graham crackers I love; instead, they are less sweet and have a strange, slightly bitter flavor that I can’t quite place.  Perhaps it’s the molasses?  Anyway, these aren’t sweet enough to stand up to bitter flavors like dark chocolate, which is sad because I love graham crackers with a few squares of fabulous dark chocolate.  To make them more palatable, I paired them with sweeter things, like peanut butter fudge sauce, which was tasty.  These graham crackers kind of go with mild buttery cheese, like havarti.

I think if these crackers were made with a bit more honey or sugar, they’d be terrific.  For now, I think I’ll pass on them, even if I see another sale at the hippie food store.

Starbucks Strawberry Smoothie

* Starbucks Strawberry Vivanno Smoothie.  I’m not a regular customer at Starbucks; I like to make my own coffee and smoothies at home.  Plus I’m too frugal for Starbucks’s prices (or should I say $tarbuck$’$ price$?).  But last Friday, I finished my work early and had some free time between the end of my work day and my evening plans, so I decided to enjoy the beautiful weather by getting something to eat and walking around campus.  I chose a smoothie—a healthy treat and caffeine-free.  This smoothie is a mixed cup, so to speak.  It’s certainly refreshing—not too sweet with a nice fruit flavor.  But it also has a weird bitter taste to it that I do not like.  Starbucks uses a “special powder mix of whey protein and fiber” in their smoothies, which I suspect is responsible for the weird flavor.  I’d rather they skip the extra nutrients to make a tastier smoothie.  Also, at $4.60 for the cup you see above, this smoothie is a little expensive for my budget.  I don’t think I’ll be getting one of these again.

Self-Portrait in Sunset Light

* A Texas sunset in late winter.  Texas is a great place to spend a winter if you like things like sunshine and warmth.  I think people from the North are afraid of Texas; I literally had no idea what to expect when I made the decision to move here.  I’m now completing my second winter in the Lone Star State, and it’s been wonderful.  We’ve had some chilly days this year, and one glorious snow day, but for the most part, it’s sunshine and mild temperatures and good running weather.  The photo above is a self-portrait from last Friday; I’m wearing my favorite new top (thanks, Heather!) and feeling relaxed and happy.  Walking around Texas A & M University’s campus, I felt so grateful to be exactly where I was, enjoying the pretty evening and drinking my smoothie.  I spend too much of my time wound up with anxiety, so the calm moments feel like a gift, a temporary reprieve from my own ridiculous expectations of myself.

Have you tried anything tasty recently, dear reader?  Any good recommendations for me (us)?

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