Saturday, March 28, 2009


A wise man once said, "Everything good is better with bacon." Okay, that was me. But it was true as hell. Think of all things delicious. All of them have bacon on them. In high school, my friend Mary had a dream that an acquaintance of ours was suddenly hugely fat and was begging her to make him a "bacon cake." We then became obsessed with the idea of a chocolate cake wrapped with bacon. To this day, that still sounds delicious (footnote: in high school every so often our group of friends would have a party involving Starmeat, a meatloaf that we covered in sprinkles and colored sugar. You wished on Starmeat like you would a birthday cake. Those wishes always came true. Believe it.) In fact, there even exists a chocolate-covered bacon bar that I would devour if not for the fact that is has to be delivered by mail, and I'm too lazy for that.

There's also the deliciousness of bacon all by itself. Thick, perhaps maple syrup soaked slabs of bacon curling up and leaving a slug-like trail of grease in their wake, the satisfying muted crunch and salty taste. I will say here that the best bacon I have had in a breakfast restaurant was at Elegance in Brownsburg. They know how to do it up right. That place is also reputedly run by the Greek mafia, so give them your business and avoid having your fingers cut off and sent to your family one by one. Opa!

However, bacon is really, really fucking horrible for you. There's no two ways about it. Especially if, like me, you use bacon as a condiment to other really horrible for you things (bacon double cheeseburger, loaded baked potato, PBJ&B, etc.) Also, since I became a sort-of vegetarian (I refuse to call myself a vegetarian until I can resist the siren call of a salmon fillet or crab cake), I no longer can partake of the deliciousness.

Or..... CAN I?!?!

Well, sorta. It all began many years ago when I was a wee child and my sister was a vegan. She came into my room eating something that looked kinda like bacon, smelled kinda like bacon, but was decidedly not bacon. And she was eating it RAW (that was the coolest part at the time, obv.) What the fuck was this meatless wonder? Why, it was Morningstar Farms Bacon Strips!

Morningstar is kind of the bomb. Meatless meat is a tough to do up right. It's kinda of a crap shoot, especially when it comes to specialty things beyond 'meatless crumbles' and 'veggie burgers.' It's all about recreating not only taste, but texture. And for the most part, Morning Star can do that pretty well. I will say that their meatless crumbles aren't worth it. But when it comes to their breakfast options, they discovered the secret ingredient that makes you bound outta bed and come a-runnin' to the table as soon as the rooster crows (I don't know who these people are who have time in the morning during the work week to prepare and eat a feast of waffles, OJ, bacon, and fruit like they suggest on TV, but apparently they exist, so I guess when I say 'you' I mean 'those people.')

Morningstar Farms Bacon Strips

I'll start with the name. They don't even really tell you outright that it's not real bacon. Subliminal. I like it. The box is friendly looking enough; Morningstar Farms! It came from a farm! But this farm doesn't grow animals, it grows vegetables! More accurately, it grows BACON. Wouldn't that be awesome, if bacon were a vegetable? Or a legume? Definitely a legume.

Sadly, facon lacks that thick but crunchy texture of good bacon. However, it has a crispiness to which no real bacon could ever aspire, probably because I would (generously) estimate that these facon strips are a 1/2 millimeter thick. It is also saltier than any real bacon, and if you, like me, would happily purchase a salt lick for home use, that is a good thing. Like most meatless meat, it's not fooling anyone. This isn't bacon. But I do think it could pass as an animal product. It has that meaty essence.

I will warn you to exercise caution when heating these up. While I think it includes directions for stovetop frying and oven baking, I am far too lazy to dream of frying bacon in a pan (also, that sort of defeats the purpose of low fat bacon if you're going to soak it in lard anyway.) I heated them up on a paper plate for the suggested 1 1/2-2 minutes, and the middles were charred and black and stuck to the plate by the time they came out of the microwave. I ate them anyway. But just so you know.

Morningstar Farms Bacon Strips have 60 calories per 2 strip serving, 40 from fat. That's a bajillion times less than regular bacon, I promise.

I'll plug Morningstar's sausage patties while I'm at it. I've always loved these, even when I didn't eschew real sausage. They just taste so damn good. They even have that fatty aftertaste. Last week I used them in a quiche, and you couldn't tell. In a quiche texture is important, and they held up admirably. They have 80 calories per pattie, 25 for fat, which is quite amazing considering how delicious they are.

And for those vegetarians out there who want my opinion on the matter, Boca pales in comparison to the luminious shine of Morningstar Farms meatless meats. Boca is crap. Don't buy it!

That's all I got for today. Comment and tell me what sorts of baked desserts you embellish with bacon! Also, next time I may have a special treat as requested by Carrie... low fat recipes!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The oxymoron supreme- low fat ice cream!

It's been heating up a little around here, so I've switched my dessert preferences from baked goods to ice cream. Now, if you're anything like me, you cannot eat the suggested serving of a 1/2 cup of ice cream. I mean, really? The fuck? You think I'm going to eat- wait, you aren't serious. Oh my God, you're serious. Well, um, no. I need more like 2 cups of ice cream. And sometimes a second bowl. I have no self control (enter nutritionist.)

So the solution is not to eat less ice cream. The solution is to eat ice cream that doesn't make you fat! But since there is no such thing, ice cream that won't make you fat as fast is the solution. Low fat ice cream! Or sherbert, or sorbet if you wanna be pretentious.

Low fat ice cream is another one of those 'deal breaker' foods that people who hate diet food will generally refuse to eat on principle (see also, diet soda.) In my mind, ice cream is ice cream and is usually delicious regardless of fat content. But for those of you who disbelieve, I have made the sacrifice to sample several different kinds of low fat ice cream and review two of them.

Private Selection Premium Light Ice Cream: Peanut Butter Passion

This comes to us from Kroger's off-brand label. I am a fan of anything generic because, as a philistine with no discerning palate, I genuinely cannot taste the difference. And I especially like the generic ice cream because ice cream is expensive as hell. Why is that? Especially Edy's. Unless it has gold chunks in it, there's no way in hell I'm paying five dollars for a tub of dessert.

Anywho, on to the review. There are big ole chunks of peanut butter cup in this- not just the cheap peanut butter cup dust that most ice creams have. There is also a stripe of inexplicably gooey peanut butter twisting throughout it. I find that any ice cream that reports having chunks of something rarely has enough for me, so I will not hold that against this ice cream, but will simply comment that I wished, as I always do, for more chunks. I should probably just buy my lazy self some Reese's if I want something to bite into so bad.

Maybe it's because I've eaten low fat ice cream for so long, but I couldn't tell any difference between this and other kinds of ice cream. It tasted like, well, ice cream, and ice cream is delicious, thus this was delicious. Sweet and cold and peanut buttery. I recommend it.

Private Selection Premium Light Ice Cream in Peanut Butter Passion has 150 calories per 1/2 cup serving, 45 from fat.

Kroger Deluxe Reduced Fat Ice Cream: Rocky Road

Rocky Road is pretty much the perfect flavor, if you ask me. Chocolate with almonds and marshmallows? Delicion. The problem with marshmallows, though, is that I think you have to put them in the ice cream before it is packaged. If you go to some place like Cold Stone Creamery, their marshmallows will inevitably be hard as rocks and chip your tooth. Marshmallows are delicious no matter what, but still. I like the way my mouth looks with all its teeth.

Mm-mm! Doesn't that picture look delicious? Unforch, that is not what you will find inside your box of Kroger Deluxe. I didn't pick this ice cream; my dad did. His heart was in the right place. It's made with Splenda, which I usually cannot tell from real sugar (or at least I've trained my taste buds not to care.) Yet in this case I definitely could. It almost tasted like it was made with Equal or Sweet 'n Low. Also, way to skimp on the marshmallows. I think they in fact used marshmallow creme and not even real marshmallows! Imposter! And not many almonds here. Also, I prefer my chocolate base to be a little darker than the mocha-ish color presented here. However, hey, it's ice cream, I'll still eat it. But you won't be fooling your kids/friends/neighbors/mistress into thinking this is regular ice cream if they usually avoid low fat crap. Best to keep it to yourself.

Kroger Deluxe Reduced Fat Ice Cream in Rocky Road has 120 calories per 1/2 cup serving, 40 from fat.

That's all! Comment and tell me how much ice cream you usually eat in one sitting!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Feta cheese!

We can all agree that cheese is nature's perfect food (unless you are vegan, because then you eat soy cheese, which is not so perfect and maybe not even much of a food.) Think about how to describe what cheese tastes like to someone who has never had it. Can you think of any word other than 'cheesy'? If you can, shut up and let me make my point.

There are many kinds of delicious cheeses, most of them not only extremely expensive but also pretty awful for you. If you buy an expensive enough cheese, then they no longer list the nutritional information, which leads me to believe that rich people don't care what they weigh. Good for them. I probably wouldn't care about anything other than lying in a bathtub full of diamonds and calling people who were mean to me in the past and saying, "Guess what? I'm lying in a bathtub full of diamonds."

But I digress. Another nice thing about cheese is that it makes things that otherwise don't taste good, taste delicious! In fact, it makes them taste like... cheese! So today I will be reviewing a very handy and healthy cheese product with which to make bad things taste good.

Athenos Reduced Fat Feta Cheese

Mmmm, feta. How great thou art. Use it in pasta, potato salad, regular salad, chocolate cake, etc. I find that feta is a great addition to anything that doesn't taste good, actually. You know how they say a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down? It could just as easily be feta. And it would fit into the phrasing of the song, too.

I was a little hesitant about reduced fat feta cheese, as cheese crumbles tend to be made delicious by the amount of fat they contain. Think bleu cheese. But since the words 'reduced fat' mean more to me than 'sale' or 'Jeffrey Dean Morgan kissing booth', I figured I'd give it a whirl.

I tried it out on my usual salad of spinach, feta, and olive oil viniagrette and am happy to report that it is absolutely a good substitute for the real thing. I can taste just an ever so slight difference; it is maybe a little less tart than the regular fat kind. I must include the caveat that the salad dressing I use is quite overpowering and may account for some of my satisfaction. But other members of my family have also eaten the reduced fat feta and I have gotten no complaints.

The Athenos Reduced Fat Feta Cheese packs 90 calories for 1/4 cup serving, with 35 of those from fat (4g total fat, 2.5 saturated.) The regular kind also has 90 calories per serving, but 60 from fat (7g total fat, 4g saturated fat.) I actually don't generally care about calories from fat unless it's something astronomical like 76% of your daily fat needs- I'm usually more into total calories, period (though the low fat versions generally have fewer calories than regular, just not in this case.) But if you care about that kind of stuff, the reduced fat feta is the bomb.

That's all for today. Comment and tell me your favorite cheese!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Assorted diet drinks from Coca-Cola!

Oh, diet soda. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

So, you know how they say that you would need to drink upwards of 15 cans of diet soda a day to actually get cancer from the sweeteners? Well, my body is riddled with cancer (not really, get off my back American Cancer Society.) But I do loves me the diet soda. I used to abhor it, as it was all my very health conscious mother would ever let us have in the way of carbonated beverages. I grew up on a steady diet of pilfered diet Mountain Dew, but I secretly pined for regular Sprite, a rare treat that I only got during my once weekly trip to McDonald's with my dad when my mom was working late. Once I got old enough to order my own drinks in a restaurant, or to go to restaurants on my own, I bathed in all the regular soda one could ask for. I would have filled up a hot tub with at shit and soaked in it if I were able. And then, one day when I was probably 15, I ordered diet Coke at a restaurant instead of regular, figuring that the double cheeseburger and large cheez fry I was about to sink my teeth in to probably had enough calories in it without the added sugar from the Slurm.

And I never looked back.

Now I am a confirmed diet soda addict. I would wager to guess that I generally drink between 4 and 7 cans a day, except when I go out. I gave up drinking for Lent this year, so to replace the alcohol with something equally unhealthy, I've taken to drinking about 6 glasses of diet Coke in the course of a night if I'm at a bar. I am probably the only person that leaves the bar far more alert than she arrived. I will say that too much diet Coke can sometimes have the same effect as alcohol as far as making you say things you later regret. If you find me putting my finger in your face and giving you unsolicited advice, please believe me- it's the diet Coke talking.

I am not picky about my diet soda and will drink any calorie free carbonated beverage that I can get my hands on. For the purpose of this review, I will only be reviewing select diet drinks from the fine folks at the Coca Cola company. I'll start with the classic:

Diet Coke
Maybe it's the friendly, effervescent logo- so bubbly! See how they mix cursive with your generic block lettering? Truly innovative. Maybe it's the way it tickles your nose in a feeling akin to bending over your stove to light a cigarette- a little dangerous, but well worth it. Maybe it's the way it wakes your up like a morning cup of coffee without the temptation of stealing a handful's worth of those delicious little French Vanilla creamers on your way to the cash register to pay for it.

Or maybe it's that it's a fucking diet Coke, of course it will taste magical.

Diet Coke is pretty much a religion. Those who drink it drink it obsessively and exclusively. They drink it with every meal. Hell, it IS a meal. I think the way they get you hooked is by serving it at restaurants as the only diet option. I bet you'd see lots of diet Sprite devotees if it were the other way around. As it stands, diet Coke is pretty ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive. You can get it everywhere, and since a good 50% of people in this country pretty much have an IV of it hooked into their arm, you can always get a sip if you need a pick me up.

I could blame the caffeine for making diet Coke so addictive, but I don't even think that's it. I once heard someone describe diet Coke's appeal as lying in its consistency, how it doesn't have that thick, tar-y feeling as it slides down your throat like regular Coke. I find that I kind of like the cancery taste of diet Coke; it is kind of refreshing. I find it especially effective in the morning with a big, heavy breakfast, like pancakes and bacon. You can feel the diet Coke dissolving the food particles in your gullet. Mmm, faux metabolism!

For those of you who worry about such paltry concerns as malnutrition and osteoporosis stemming from a nonstop river of diet Coke into your tummy, they now make delicious diet Coke Plus, with added vitamins! Granted, it's not a lot, but any little bit helps. Like someone's going to complain that they overdosed on vitamin E. Now watch, someone will do it. Diet Coke Plus, I can attest, tastes just like regular diet Coke. You can't even taste the vitamins! Give it to the kids at snack time! Yummy!

I do, however, think it is an acquired taste, as people who do not like diet soda will generally cite diet Coke as the worst offender. The best thing to do with these people is to inform them that their opinion is wrong.

Caffeine Free Diet Coke
I had to throw this one in because I find it to taste so inexplicably different from regular diet Coke. It's flatter, of course, but I think that's to be expected when it doesn't have the electric energy of 2000 milligrams of caffeine rushing through it. But it's also sweeter. Like, a lot sweeter. Someone told me once that they used a different sweetener for this because the lack of caffeine would make it taste strange, but I don't know if that person was full of shit because I can't remember who the hell it was. I can say that caffeine free diet, or CFD as I used to abbreviate it in my waitressing days, will definitely do in a pinch, and might be the best thing to mix with your rum. It also has the advantage over caffeine free diet Pepsi, of which my friend Heather says, "It's like drinking air." CFD is substantial enough to drink in lieu of real diet Coke, but it definitely doesn't give you the same satisfying "oh my god my stomach lining it's burning it's burning" feeling that diet Coke does first thing in the morning.

Diet Coke with Lime

Now, is that a sexy graphic or what? Actually, it's giving me a kind of unpleasant mental image of slicing my mouth on the razor sharp ends of the can and then having my cuts doused in lime juce. But I digress.

Diet Coke with Lime is my mom's new favorite drink. A similarly devoted diet soda drinker, Mama always has been a sucker for the added fruit accent. I've sampled it several times and will say this: It'll do.

The problem with these added accents, like vanilla or lemon or sausage, is that not only do they alter the burny feeling that I so dearly love in my diet soda, but they also tend to make it taste vaguely alcoholic. And not in the good way. In the "this vaguely makes me feel like I wanna puke" way. I think that feeling is probably unique to me, as one morning during my waitressing days I caught a big whiff of some cut lemons that were on the verge of turning. Just so happened I had a few too many amaretto sours that night before. Not a good memory. That is what diet Coke with lime reminds me of- an alcoholic drink with a little too much booze that is being masked by a twist. However, I will still drink it, because as I've said before, I will never turn my nose up at a diet soda.

Coke Zero
I freebase Coke Zero. I don't remember when I first discovered it, but I can tell you that it was magical. The tides changed. The angels wept. I might have gotten a boner, and I'm a girl. That's how good this shit is. There have been multiple times when I've gotten up in the middle of the night craving a Coke Zero and could not get back to sleep unless I downed one, generally a lukewarm one from my garage. A lack of Coke Zero in my house constitutes a full on red alert EMERGENCY. A few weeks ago I briefly switched to mostly diet Coke- I would stop at a gas station on my way to rehearsal in the morning and pick up a bottle to get me through. But then I poured myself a glass at home and it was like being reborn. "Never leave me again," I said to my Coke Zero, and it didn't answer, but that's okay, he was just playing hard to get. I like that in a drink.

The appeal of Coke Zero lies in that it really does taste, to me, almost exactly like regular Coke. To be honest, if I didn't care about calories and whatnot, I would never have switched to diet in the first place, so I still have a soft spot for the Slurm. But the taste of regular Coke with none of the pesky calories? I'll buy that for a dollar! I am happy to report that the Coke Zero does retain just the right amount of the ever important burn-y feeling. Coke Zero is also particularly delicious served from a 2 liter. Don't ask me why.

I have converted several friends and relatives to the Church of the Coke Zero. Even Raymond, who steadfastly refuses to drink anything diet, will drink it when he's over. My father, who rarely drinks anything other than gallon upon gallon of iced tea, has also been known to partake. If I can awaken even one more person to the wonders of Coke Zero, then I have done my job.

All the Coke Zero subsidiaries are equally delicious, such as Vanilla Coke Zero and Cherry Coke Zero, with the cherry option retaining the most burniness and the vanilla being more delicious. But just plain Coke Zero is really where it's at. I predict that in the future, every softdrink will have a 'zero' counterpart. They've already done it with Sprite, and let me tell you- it tastes nothing like regular Sprite, and it is HUGE in South America.

I'll end with the true pioneer in diet soda technology- Tab. This is what your mom was drinking when she saw your dad across the quad in 1976. With the advent of more delicious and less cancer causing diet drinks, Tab slowly faded into obscurity, but for the truly dedicated among us, it is out there.

I began drinking Tab during Evil Dead: The Musical when I was trying to quit smoking. I figured I would replace one carcinogen with another. I was also itching to have a can around so I could quote Polyester whenever I wanted to ("Look, Francine, I got Tab for our
diet!") I was a little apprehensive at first, but discovered that it was pretty much diet Coke in a more attractive can. And really, doesn't that make all the difference? There appears to be a little less carbonation in the tab, and I think the sweetener may be slightly different. But it's pretty much a diet Coke that grabs much more attention than your boring, everyday silver can. And also, it's Tab. Come on. Few things are more awesome than that. I'm pretty sure any cancer causing agents have been phased out, but people must still be apprehensive because it's only available in 12 packs and I have yet to see it sold individually at gas stations. I hear they make a Tab energy drink now. I highly doubt I will ever sample it unless it has zero calories, but I admire the folks at Coca Cola for reclaiming that fierce pink label and making it cool again.

Well, that's enough for now, I'm sure. Comment with how many diet sodas you drink a day! The person who drinks the most wins a vitamin deficiency!
Welcome to my first ever post on my new diet food blog!

I guess people start these review blogs with some sort of introduction, and stickler that I am for protocol, that is what I'll do.

I recently started seeing a nutritionist after years of crazy eating. One of the first things she said to me was that I needed to work on learning how to eat the "real thing." Meaning, the not low-fat, sugar free, no sodium, 0% trans fat thing. Now, I'll concede that her heart is in the right place. But I don't know if that will work. Because I love diet food.

There, I said it.

I've been on every diet ever. Really. I even did the Beyonce 'lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup' diet (didn't take. Imagine that.) And from years of being on diets, I have embraced the diet food more than I ever embraced the 'healthy' lifestyle that they were supposed to instill in me. I am that person who would never dream of buying a box of Poptarts unless that were the kind that advertise '20% of your daily fiber needs!' I can't remember the last time I ate ice cream that did not claim to have '30% less fat than our regular blend!' (What the hell they blend together to make ice cream, I do not want to know.) I am the queen of diet soda and Slimfast and fiber powders.

However, I am constantly surrounded by people who hate diet food. It gives them a headache. They can taste the missing fat! Two such people are my dad and my best friend, so imagine how frustrating it is to try to explain to people with no concept of diet food how awesome it is that the pasta sauce we are eating has 10 grams of protein and zero trans fats!

So this blog is, I guess, for three kinds of people- people who eat diet food, people who don't, and me. Here I will review what I consider to be diet food (and if you don't consider it to be diet food, then start your own damn food blog.) I don't intend it to be advice on what you should eat, and I certainly think that if you don't care about how many calories are in your soda that you probably have a much healthier outlook than I. So take it as entertainment, because I do.