Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review of Healthy Choice Lemon Herb Chicken

Could it be? Is this what I think it is? The layout of this webpage looks so familiar, and yet -- have I been here before? I have heard tell of a frozen food blog which far surpasses any other to ever grace the internet, but... yes. Yes, yes, yes! This must be it! I remember now! Oh, how I used to love to write about my glorious adventures in Lean Cuisines, but then, for seemingly no reason, it all went away. So suddenly, and for so long! But fear not, my beloved readers, I am back with more forays into the world of prepackaged dinners that will leave you drooling (or possibly totally repulsed) and hungry for more.

...Or something to that effect. Point is, I'm back.

I suppose I owe y'all an explanation of why I stopped writing for such a long time. The short answer is that I started taking my weight loss seriously and eating mostly raw foods. There's also a bit in there where I kind of got lazy, but let's overlook that for the time being. I won't be updating Show Me The Microwave as often this year, as I'm still on a healthier track than LC and Healthy Choice 3x a day, but you'll get a taste here and there of the good stuff.

Ha. "Taste." I crack myself up sometimes.

Today's meal is a welcome return to the world of frozen diet food. It's the Healthy Choice Lemon Herb Chicken, one of the entrees in their standard steaming entrees line. I bought it on a whim (and also by accident), as I was hurriedly raiding the frozen food aisle from force of habit and failed to notice that it has preservatives in it. My own philosophy on this is that I consumed enough alcohol last night to render anything inorganic in this food nutritionally nonexistent, and so it's not a deal right now. I guess I just got lost in the "FRESH TASTE from QUALITY INGREDIENTS" labels and all the lovely green on the box. Do marketing companies know me, or what?

I have absolutely zero complaints about this meal, except that I wish there was more of it. The description on the box says "chicken tenderloins with whole grain pasta, cherry tomatoes & green beans in herb lemon-Chardonnay sauce." It's on the smaller side for an entree, at 8.7 oz, but has a calorie count to match at an even 200. I guess if they made it bigger, they'd have to come to grips with the fact that a teeny-tiny meal contains an inordinate amount of sodium, as per usual for these types of food. This box will kill 20% of your daily allotment in 10% of your calorie allotment. But who's counting?

The chicken, in contrast to many other frozen chicken tenderloin meals, was surprisingly moist and flavorful. I'm always surprised by this; I just can't ever get my hopes up for formed chicken pieces. The herb flavoring in the lemon-wine sauce complemented the meat beautifully, although the lemon taste was perhaps a bit too concentrated for me in some places (and a bit uneven, weirdly). The pasta was delightfully not mushy, although I'd be lying if I said it was in any way al dente. The vegetables were possibly the best part of the dish. Healthy Choice has earned so many brownie points with me by including a large portion of green beans with what seems like every meal they do. I happen to love green beans. If you don't, I suggest trying other frozen meals. Healthy Choice will disappoint you. They gave me a heaping portion of delicious beans, and exactly four cherry tomatoes. Initially, I was a little annoyed by that. Four? Really? What, do the kids need new shoes at Christmas again? Then I realized that each one of those little cherry tomatoes was, in fact, a little tiny flavor bomb of delicious acidity that gave the meal a really delightful finishing touch.

I'm happy to give my first meal back an A. For the calorie count, you really can't go wrong. It's tasty, and with some fruit and a granola bar, I've had a satisfying dinner. Heck, it even made the kitchen smell great while it was cooking in the microwave. Until next time, readers. I promise I will really be back soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review of Island Way Sorbet

This summer, I've started a diet. "But Laura, you were already on a diet." When I say "diet" now, I mean I've veered far away from eating even microwavable entrees. Unbelievable, I know. Unfortunately, this means that as long as I'm home and it's bikini season, you won't be getting any frozen food reviews. This is also why you haven't had your fix of them for a while. My diet now consists of fruit, vegetables, egg whites, fish, chicken, low-fat cheese, and the occasional sorbet. That's right, the Carbmonster has sworn off bread and Wheat Thins alike. Fortunately, though, it means that I get to post today's review of Island Way Sorbet.

These sorbet cups come in a bunch of different flavors, including apple, lemon, chocolate, pineapple, coconut, pina colada, orange, mango, pomegranate, green apple, and passion orange. Because my local Costco is lame, I have tried only the ones they carry in their variety pack: pineapple, coconut, mango, and pomegranate. It's also wicked expensive to order them online from the distributor, or I'd already have the other flavors in my freezer. As it is, I'll give reviews to each of the four flavors I've tasted, from worst to best. The thing about these sorbet cups (I can't even call them cups - they're served in fruit shells) is that even the worst of them is delightfully good, for dieters and non-dieters alike. Some of them are more nutritionally sound than others, but they're perfectly portion-controlled and easy to work into a diet plan.

Pomegranate (actually pomegranate-lemon, if we believe the box): C+. I have to tell you before you read this that I intensely dislike anything flavored like pomegranate. I love pomegranates as they are, but the flavoring (to me) is more gross than twelve dozen. The fact that this even earned a C+ from me is a testament to its value as a food product (and its texture; it is pretty creamy). It does have decent nutritional stats (67 calories), so I suppose that's something to take into consideration. If you're into pomegranate flavoring, you'll probably enjoy this. I know my mother does.

Pineapple: A-. This was the first one I ever tried, mostly because I was scared to try the passion-mango one and I didn't like coconut at the time (how little I knew). The pineapple is absolutely delicious, although the texture is slightly less creamy than the others. It's on the border between sorbet and fruit ice. There also tend to be little flecks of pineapple husk in the sorbet itself, which is a bit obnoxious, but doesn't at all infringe on the taste. It's sweet, but has a bit of tang in it too. Really a delightful taste, and it comes in at a measly 81 calories (about the same as a medium-sized apple). Fix the texture up and it might just beat out the passion-mango.

Mango (or, according to the packaging, passion mango): A. This is actually a mango-flavored sorbet labelled "passion mango" and served in an orange shell. Don't ask. There is basically nothing I can criticize with this sorbet. It tastes delicious (although not entirely like mango; I've never had passionfruit, though, so maybe that's the other thing I'm tasting), it's creamy, and it's only 51 calories. More, please.

Coconut: A+. When I was a kid, I hated coconut. I hated the meat, I hated the milk, I hated the smell. You could not get near me with anything that resembled a coconut in any way. That may have been why all my childhood computer passwords revolved around the word "coconut" - no one would suspect a thing! Anyway, within the past couple of years, I had sort of come around to the scent of it, but only a little bit. Guess what? I'm obsessed with it now, and this sorbet gets the credit. I smear coconut lotion on my skin. I keep coconut-scented hand sanitizer in my car. I drink coconut-flavored sparkling water more often than I drink Diet Coke. That, my friends, is a gaspworthy accomplishment on the part of this husky little fruit, and it all started with Island Way. The coconut sorbet is indulgent, creamy, and beyond delicious. It almost tastes like there's a hint of vanilla in there, too, but maybe I'm just overwhelmed by the tropical exquisiteness of it all. The only problem with this one is that it's 170 calories, more than you'd find in 1/2 cup of ice cream, and it has a high fat content because it's made with coconut milk. The nutritional issue brought the grade down from an A+, summa cum laude, with glitter, rainbows, and trumpet fanfare to a plain old A+. The beauty of this as compared to ice cream is that with ice cream, it's really easy to take more than the 1/2 cup serving (who eats 1/2 cup of ice cream EVER?). With the coconut sorbet, it's already portioned out for you, so you really can't cheat. Besides, I actually think it's better than ice cream. These are always the first to go when we get a new box of sorbet.

You can generally find these at your local Costco during the summertime. I'd check the website to find more information about locating Island Way in your state. Trust me, you will want to, and I promise they are worth the price tag. If you manage to find some of the flavors I haven't been able to sample, let me know how they are! You could be the first to write a guest review for Show Me The Microwave. On that note, though... keep these little suckers far away from the microwave. It's June, after all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Name Commentary: Most Popular of 2011

This morning, the Social Security Administration released the most popular baby names of the year 2011. This is always an exciting day for me, as I follow trends and check out interesting names that appear on the charts. It's almost a national holiday. I keep up with my favorite names, make fun of the awful appearances, and note surprising stars. I thought today I'd take a break from the microwavable entrees (I should really start a blog just for names) and give my thoughts on some of the more remarkable names that made the top 1000 this past year.

There are a number of trends influencing popularity in U.S. baby names. For example, we've been taking after the Brits in recent years. They like names like Ruby, Oliver, and Lucy, so we start using names like Ruby (no. 109, up 99 places in the past ten years), Oliver (no. 78, gain of 10 places this year), and Lucy (no. 72, up 100 places in the past six years). If only we'd jump farther onto the UK bandwagon and start using names like Freya, Daisy, Poppy, Imogen, Eliza, Harry, Lewis, Callum, Theo, Declan, and Rhys with more regularity.

In keeping with the past decade, surnames remain perennially popular. Among girls, these are largely based around K names sharing similar sounds: Kennedy is up 21 places to no. 90, the undoubtedly Kardashian-influenced Kendall is up 10 places to no. 123, Kinley is up 37 places to no. 194, Kensley jumped onto the charts at no. 824, and Kinsley is up 91 places to no. 216. Surnames aside, the K-name phenomenon (thankfully) appears to be reversing itself. Kaylee, Khloe, Kiley, Kayla, Kaitlyn, Keira, Kayleigh, Kelsey, Kaleigh, and Kaydence are all trending downward in popularity. Perhaps the name gods have heard my cries of sorrow and bestowed mercy upon my aching soul.

The surname popularity trend holds true for both boys and girls. While the K surnames predominate on the fairer sex, the boys are showing more varied choices such as Gibson (up 65 to no. 909); Lennox (up 111 to no. 822); Landry (up 113 to no. 779); Brogan (up 65 to no. 777); Edison (up 127 to no. 767); Lennon (up 175 to no. 743); Winston (up 143 to no. 739); Branson (up 121 to no. 731); Sullivan (up 127 to no. 524); Remington (up 66 to no. 478); Miller, Turner, Princeton, Crosby, Bowen, Benton, Nixon, and even Hendrix (all new to the top 1000 this year). Other surnames showing gains in popularity on both boys and girls include Emery, Emerson, Finley, Parker, Leighton (perhaps after Ms. Meester), Tatum, and Sawyer (remaining steady for boys, gaining over 60 places for girls).

Our next category is place names. These have been an ongoing trend for quite a while now, but there are some new arrivals to our shores this year that are a little more interesting than the tried-and-blah Madison and Brooklyn. Among the girls, place names gaining in popularity include Malaysia (new), Dixie (up 78 places to no. 845), Phoenix (up 21 to no. 645), Zion (up 80 to no. 609), Milan (up 59 to no. 606), Virginia (up 24 to no. 576), Aspen (up 79 to no. 519), Bristol (up 126 to no. 434), Heaven (up 8 to no. 317, and yes, I'm counting that as a place), and Georgia (up 19 to no. 305). However, place names seem to be on the front end of a decline, perhaps in deference to the surname trend; this appears  true especially for boys. For girls, London continues to gain in popularity, while it declines for boys along with Boston. Also on the decline for boys are Dayton, Trenton, Dallas, Phoenix, Memphis, Zion, and Houston. Zaire has remained in the same place (no. 909). The only place name for boys that's really on the rise is Camden, which is up 20 places - kind of an odd choice when you think about the city itself. I suppose you could also count Eden, up 78 places to no. 831. Also of note is that names that overlap from surname to place name hold on to the highest popularity; Jackson and Hudson are examples. Female place names on the decline include Kenya, Sanaa, America, Asia, and Paris.

We now come to my Coolest New Name awards. I'm going to give you a list of the ten names for both boys and girls that I have deemed to be the coolest new arrivals to the popularity charts, pick a winner (and two runners-up), and then tell you why I picked them. These are the names that are actually inventive without being over-the-top, unique without being meaningless mashups, potentially historic or reminiscent of a famous character, and which seem modern without also seeming made-up or flimsy.

The female nominees are:

Galilea
Hattie
Renata
Laurel
Dorothy
Temperance
Juniper
Rivka
Gwyneth
Yuliana

In third place: Gwyneth. Despite my personal dislike for Ms. Paltrow's diva attitude, she bears a gentle Welsh name that's long been deserving of more use in the States.

In second place: Renata. Not only is Renata used all around the world, it's very sophisticated and has an extensive history. It's one of those so-dusty-it's-awesome names that I've liked for years.

And the winner is... Laurel. Call bias if you want, given that my own name is Laura, but Laurel is a quieter and gentler version of an old classic. She's ageless and timeless and far more elegant than the overused Lauren, and fresher (sniff) than my name (which will never stop being a classic). Botanical names never quite go out of style, and Laurel is no exception. Best of all, she's still very unique, coming in at number 926 on the charts.

The male nominees are:

Amos
Cassius
Elvis
Arlo
Mustafa (okay, I lied: this is a terrible name for your kid, but I thought it was so funny and gutsy I had to include it for sheer chutzpah)
Otto
Enoch
Flynn
Maksim
Dimitri

In third place: a tie between Maksim and Dimitri. Both are fabulous Russian names to which I am extremely partial, but Maksim is going to be mispronounced all the damn time, and I prefer the spelling Dmitri.

In second place: Otto. It takes serious guts to use this name, but it's really cool in a very unique way. It's very old, but still seems modern with the O ending.

And the winner is... Flynn. I'm usually not a fan of celebrity baby names, but Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr did their son well by choosing Flynn. It's a simple Irish name with a lot of smarts and strength packed into one syllable. You just know it hit the charts based on the combination of Orlando and Miranda and the hero from Tangled, though.

Our next category is the category of word names that really should have been thought out before they were used. These really need no other explanation other than just thinking about the kid being called by that name in a classroom ("Messiah, come answer this problem on the board"). For boys, we have Aryan (no. 681, and you're just asking for it with this one), Sincere (no. 638), Prince (no. 480), Justice (no. 510), Talon (no. 516), Noe (no. 560), Blaze (no. 825), Crew (no. 943), and Messiah (inexplicably on the rise, up 20 to no. 629). For girls, we have Justice again (no. 528), Miracle (no. 494), Journey (no. 372), Karma (no. 989), Princess (no. 863), and Liberty (no. 568). I have to admit, though, Liberty is a guilty pleasure name of mine with the nickname Libby (down in popularity this year and scraping the bottom of the charts at no. 920).

Next, we have the "girl" names that really aren't. Giving girls traditionally male names is nothing new; however, the names that are beginning the crossover are becoming laughably masculine. This year's star newbies include Elliot (new at no. 875) and Bentley (new at no. 904). I have no problems with Elliot on a girl in theory; in practice it annoys me a little because I love Elliott so much on a boy. However, as far as trendy crossover names go, it's not bad at all. Bentley, on the other hand, is most of my worst nightmares rolled into one name. It's trendy, it's a brand name, it's inspired by a TV show, it's a surname, and it's male. It's almost enough to kill me, but the day I see Bentleigh on a little girl may be the day I actually die.

Another new trend that's really catching on is the antique shop of names. Like many trends, this applies more to female names than male names, given male names' tendency to have more staying power over time. Consequently, I'm going to focus for now on just the female names. We can divide this category into two subcategories: the delicate, dainty, uber-feminine old names and the clunky, retro, so-ugly-they're-awesome old names. The delicate names have been on trend for some time; Sophia rules the roost at no. 1, while Isabella topped the charts last year and is still sitting pretty at number 2. The top 200 includes frilly names such as Abigail, Lillian, Victoria, Charlotte, Amelia, Violet, Angelina, Annabelle, Eleanor, and Delilah. Some of the newer delicates include Adelina (up 23 to no. 885), Pearl (up 145 to no. 813), Emelia (up 54 to no. 756), Angeline (up 97 to no. 753), Livia (up 74 to no. 751), Beatrice (up 128 to no. 707), Elaine (up 103 to no. 697), Felicity (up 101 to no. 664), Cecelia (up 88 to no. 655), Rosemary (up 61 to no. 653), Rosalie (up 40 to no. 547), Annabel (up 91 to no. 536), Priscilla (holding steady at no. 487), Elsie (up 165 to no. 480), Viviana (up 24 to no. 461), Lucille (up 23 to no. 454), Eloise (up 79 to no. 449), Adelaide (up 27 to no. 407), Vivienne (up 44 to no. 383), Angelique (up 247 to no. 380), Arabella (up 51 to no. 335), Emilia (up 24 to no. 324), Adeline (up 35 to no. 288), Evangeline (up 48 to no. 286), Cecilia (up 37 to no. 240), and Genevieve (up 46 to no. 232).

Some of the clunky-cool names that have experienced a resurgence include Pamela (up 19 to no. 964), Geraldine (jumped onto the charts at no. 959), Dorothy (also new on the charts at no. 934), Leona (up 64 to no. 928), Jolene (up 51 to no. 915), Marlene (up 20 to no. 882), Salma and Judith (tied at no. 837), Millie (up 45 to no. 815), Myra (up 175 to no. 791), Edith (up 51 to no. 771), Matilda (up 31 to no. 768), Mollie (up 26 to no. 648), Regina (up 27 to no. 560), Vera (up 163 to no. 510), Daphne (up 38 to no. 450), Olive (up 127 to no. 416), and Esther (up 24 to no. 236).

In a similar vein to the old-is-new-again names, we have the really, really old Biblical names. We've had names like James, Mark, John, Luke, Joshua, Daniel, Peter, Adam, Aaron, Paul, David, Benjamin, Gabriel, Hannah, Leah, Rachel, Sarah, Ruth, Naomi, and Mary for so long that we don't necessarily think of them as super Biblical anymore. I normally like to think of myself as a bit of a trailblazer in Biblical names, but this year, I've been proven wrong. My Biblical name taste can be described merely as "Laura likes old Hebrew names" (on that note, my pet favorite Chaya gained substantial popularity again this year, dammit). Many parents today are putting me to shame. Cain and Abel are both on this year's list, at nos. 841 and 237 respectively. Nehemiah, while down 13 places, still maintains a respectable spot at no. 349. Both Emmanuel and Malachi are in the top 200, around the same popularity levels as Jeremy and Marcus. Ezra, Silas, and Ezekiel gained 38, 36, and 18 places respectively. Even dusty relics like Hezekiah gained this year - 47 places! Jedidiah, while sitting at roughly the same level of popularity, lost nine spots. Zachariah also lost a few places, but still remains in the top 500, along with Adriel and Uriel. Some of my personal Bible favorites that gained in popularity this year include Isaac (no. 35), Jonah (no. 144), Judah (no. 288), Saul (no. 395), Gideon (no. 412), and Solomon (no. 449). For the ladies, Damaris just barely stayed in the top 1000 this year, but Biblical bad girls Lilith and Delilah made giant leaps. Hadassah and Esther, two names for the same brave woman, gained popularity to arrive at spots no. 804 and 236, respectively. Place name Bethany gained ground this year, up 18 spots to no. 352, while 90s-trendy Moriah lost 56 places and sits at no. 831. and More subdued names Miriam and Tabitha - two favorites of mine - lost popularity this year. The Biblical names tend to hold stronger for boys than for girls, as many parents are turning to creative surname names for their daughters and hunting through the crevices of the Old Testament for their sons (or just reusing old Biblical names).

Another trendy category that also focuses primarily on the boys is what I call the Heroes and Legends category. These are the names that are taken directly from mythology, literature, or history and give your son a little too much to live up to. Within this category are Titus (up 31 to no. 365), Atticus (up 96 to no. 462), Messiah (see word names above, and just kill me), Adonis (up 109 to no. 694), Odin (up 127 to no. 728), Samson (down 1 to no. 874), Cassius (new at no. 876), Leonidas (up 33 to no. 888), Hendrix (see surnames), Cortez (down 57 to no. 996), and, of course, Legend (up 15 to no. 924). The most popular female name in this category is Athena, which has been growing steadily in popularity and gained 49 places this year to rest comfortably at no. 313.

Finally, we have my least favorite (or possibly favorite, depending on how you look at it) category: the MUBS names (Made-Up BullShit). This category encompasses both the stupid misspellings of otherwise acceptable names and the "creative" and "unique" names that parents come up with when evidently high on some illicit substance. I use this category kind of like the Razzies. I call out and honor the most atrocious names of the year with individual commentary on each one (aren't you lucky?).

Leigha: new to the charts this year. It used to be the question of whether or not you pronounced Leah as LEE-uh or LAY-uh. Then it became Leah vs. Lia. Now, we have Leigha, because the -leigh element wasn't yet tired enough and had to be used again in just one more name. A related name gaining popularity is Aleigha. Good. Great. Nothing works better for your child than a meaningless string of noises without a phonetic spelling or meaning to make it easier on anyone.

Journee: up 221 places this year (HOW?!). Because Journey wasn't stupid enough, make it even worse with a poor spelling. You, not only as a parent but as a human being, will never look more uneducated.

Kyndal: new to the charts. Kendall was fine, but you just made it impossible for anyone to spell correctly on the first try while simultaneously making it a sound-alike to a popular eBook-reading device from Amazon.

Blakely: new to the charts. I don't understand. Were you trying to make Blake into an adverb?

Neveah: down 7 this year. The entire point of the name Nevaeh is that it's Heaven spelled backwards. That is the only conceivable reason that anyone would use this invented piece of MUBS, and even that is a poor excuse for a name. Once you misspell it, you've just gone into new levels of idiocy for which your child will not likely forgive you.

Charleigh: up 218 places. Charlie, once upon a time, was a cool and edgy unisex name. I've personally never been able to separate it from Charles Manson, but that's personal. Spelling it Charleigh doesn't make it any more feminine or original. If you were trying to make Charlie more feminine, why would you bother using Charlie on a girl? The idea behind the name is that it's androgynous-chic. Putting -leigh on the end does one thing, and one thing only: makes it trendeigh and difficult to take seriousleigh. You're not edgeigh or creighative by using the -leigh suffix. Evereighone and his mother has been tacking this on to the end of evereigh girl name ever since the nineteighs.

Brantley: up an impossibly frustrating 416 places in one year. Let's just take every trendy phoneme available and make one generic and meaningless name out of it. This name is MUBS personified.

Izayah: up 47 places. Isaiah was fine. Izaiah was pushing it. Isayah was a bad Southern accent about to make a declaration of some sort. Izayah is not a name. It's a noise.

Kolby: down 22 places. Colby was a cheese, but Kolby is a trendy, misspelled cheese.

Kash: Kold hard Kash? Let's konsider this. If we kan just substitute the letter K where every other hard sound goes, perfekt. I have no objektion to that. It will bring us kloser to other languages, where they don't use the C as frekuently. Oooh, unforeseen komplikation. What do we do about the letter kue (or is it kew)? Must you still stikk a U after it? I guess it's a kuality/kwality/koala-ty idea after all. Too many letters make some obsolete. Really, though. Kut it out. You look like you never made it past the sekond grade. Maybeigh Kash and Kolby (or Kolbeigh!) kan hang out with Charleigh and look kool and uneighk together.

Maxx: down 15 places this year, thank heavens. Just name his brother TJ and you've got a matching set.

Note: this list is by no means indicative of the worst names I've seen on children. These are merely the worst in the top 1000. It's also totally subjective, so if you don't like it, you're free to keep your opinion to yourself.

Well, folks, that concludes my commentary on American naming - for today. Stay tuned for more thoughts, information, ideas, and inspirations. In the meantime, don't name anything I wouldn't name!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review of Weight Watchers Strawberry Smoothie Yogurt Bars

Okay, so the Weight Watchers bars aren't frozen entrees. However, they are two things: 1. frozen (ha!), and 2. so damn delicious I couldn't NOT review them. I've been on a popsicle kick lately. It all started with Passover. I was looking for foods that contained no trace of chametz, and I settled on Edy's fruit bars (Dreyer's if you're out west). They're tried and true popsicles and quite delicious. A couple of days ago, I was wandering Kroger with my dear friend Anna, and we spotted a box of Weight Watchers Strawberry Smoothie frozen yogurt bars. They had a lower calorie count than the Edy's popsicles (60 vs. 80), and I'm pretty heavily invested in frozen yogurt. Anna told me she'd had great experiences with Weight Watchers desserts before, so I figured, what the hell? Let's try something new.

Let me tell you here and now, as much as I adore Edy's mango fruit bars, they cannot hold a popsicle stick to the strawberry smoothie bars. OH MY FREAKING HELL. Those are the BEST frozen dessert I have eaten in... ever. They are creamy. They are sweet. They have a whole damn lot of strawberries in them. They are ice cream. Except not. BUT YOU CAN'T TELL! They taste and feel like ice cream! I honestly felt like I was cheating on my diet. They are scrumptious, heavenly, delicious, delectable, dreamy, luscious, and all other adjectives of that category. You can also eat two of them for roughly the same calorie count as a banana, but you'll feel like you splurged a whole lot more.

If there was a grade higher than A+, I would give it to this dessert. I can't do that, though, so I'll just give it an A+ with honors, accolades, and a trumpet fanfare. Go to your local supermarket and stock up, because if you don't, I probably will.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review of MorningStar Hickory BBQ Riblets

Today's a revolutionary day for me. I'm reviewing a food that's not actually an entree! You may gasp. I'll wait. Done? Good. The reason behind this magical change is that my dear friend Kevin sometimes brings back things from the Munchie Marts on campus that he is willing to share with me, and being the foodaholic that I am, I rarely turn him down. This past weekend, he brought home both the MorningStar veggie breakfast sausage patties and the hickory BBQ riblets. Having already had my fair share of mediocre veggie sausage, I was much more intrigued by the riblets. Also, he decided to microwave those first, and I was hungry.

The riblets come in little pouches. There are two pouches per box. Each pouch contains four little veggie riblets stuck together with some kind of veggie-soy thing that is the same thing as what the whole unit of riblet is made of. Normal people cut a slit in the plastic before microwaving it, so that hickory BBQ sauce does not explode all over the microwave, but Kevin (bless his heart) is not the best when it comes to the microwave. He is more likely to use it as a brownie storage unit than an actual appliance, as I found out when I attempted to microwave a Lean Cuisine in there and ended up with a half-nuked entree and a fully-nuked toxic waste brownie. After gently nudging him to prevent microwave mishaps similar to the Potato Incident of 2011 (if I haven't explained it, I will), we sat and waited on the riblets to finish cooking. During this period, we both noticed the incredible strength of the aroma emanating from the microwave; that BBQ sauce is STRONG. I'm not normally a BBQ person, but that smelled damn good.

Upon opening the microwave, the riblets had in fact spilled an Exxon Valdez of BBQ sauce all over the rotating tray. Whoops. We were both really excited to try them, though, so we overlooked the mess momentarily. Kevin, true to form, tried to eat it while the sauce was still bubbling, then recoiled with an exclamation about the temperature. Men never learn. After a few minutes, we tried again. No knife is necessary to cut these riblets up, unless you nuked the living bejeezus out of them. Basically, what you're eating is a tasteless, reshaped veggie burger with the strongest BBQ sauce in the entire world slathered all over it. Actually, I really don't know if the riblets were tasteless. I don't know if they were tasty. I don't know if they were tasteful. All I know is BBQ SAUCE EVERYWHERE IN MY MOUTH ALL I WILL BE ABLE TO TASTE FOREVER. Don't get me wrong, the sauce is quite tasty. But it is quite simply the only thing you will taste in this product. The riblets are merely an instrument for delivering the sauce to your gustatory receptor cells. My mouth is quite literally watering as I sit here reminiscing about the riblets. I'm not sure if it's because the sauce was good or because the sauce was as insanely strong as it was. Doesn't really matter; if you like barbecue and don't care about the actual thing you're eating underneath it, this is the product you've been looking for.

At 210 calories, 3.5g fat, 16g protein, and 6g of dietary fiber per four-riblet pouch, these are a decent deal in terms of nutrition. However, as is to be expected from any barbecue sauce, the sugar content is quite high, so beware if that's something you're watching. I probably wouldn't buy these myself (B+ rating), but I'll eat them if Kevin gets them again.