Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Product Review: thinkThin Creamy Peanut Butter Bar

Every now and then, I try some commercial products and fast food. My opinions tend to overflow, and in my desire to guide the public in spending their money for worthwhile things, I will post reviews now and then about these products that I've bought and tried. I will rate on primarily on taste and price, with commentary on sustainability, ingredients, and aesthetics.

First review: ThinkThin Creamy Peanut Butter Bar

First time I ever tried a thinkThin bar was a "Bites" sample from some school event. Back then, that sample was not very appealing. The texture was like other creamy protein bars out there (creamy, being in contrast to those grainy soy crisp textures) and the taste was full of that whey protein and sugar substitute and artificial-ness. These thinkThin Bites are marketed as "low calorie protein bars" having "5-6 grams of protein, 0 grams of sugar and no gluten" and only 100 calories. I think I tried the Chocolate Toffee Nut or something, but I was not very impressed.

I had been fooled by the packaging, thinking it would be like one of those super natural, surprisingly tasty, grain and fruit tasting bars like Larabar. (I really think the packaging is marketed for women, who like to think they're green, and like working out and shopping or something.) I was grossly mistaken. It tasted and felt like those Tiger Milk bars that I use to eat way back in early 2000 taking and failing at tennis class.

Tonight, I got a hold of another free thinkThin bar, a full one this time: Creamy Peanut Butter. The first few bites were all right. Again, that same graininess of protein blends (man, these protein blends, be it whey or soy, are really nasty, and and feel so artificial). The give of the coating and the feel of your teeth tearing through the bar, oddly enough, is a satisfying feat, but alas...continued eating of the entire bar is more of its own fitness challenge. Come on, Rocky! Get to the end of this bar! Eye of the Tiger!!! (Ahh, no more no more.)

And the fact that one full bar (2.1 oz) is 230 calories,  8g (12% DV) fat, 3.5g (18% DV) saturated fat, 11 g sugar alcohol, and only 4% calcium...I don't think this is really that much of "thinking thin."


thinkThin is just another protein bar that makes it seem different with its more "natural" looking wrapping (natural, given the tan color and simple design, I believe). I suppose it is supposed to be maybe a meal replacement and an after-workout supplement, but I don't think it's worth it. It doesn't even give you other vitamins that other protein bars or Ensure shakes give you. It would be better to eat a banana and have a chocolate milk after an intense workout.

Taste: 2/5
Price: n/a, but about $1.99 online
Overall: 2/5

Pros: nice packaging, first bites all right, feeling like Rocky and a "Real Housewife" of Orange County at the same time, small and light bar that doesn't break easily in purses (it jumbled around a bit before I got to it)

Cons: misleading packaging, tastes like a protein bar x_x, ending bites are torture without something to drink, expensive per bar (compared to slightly better tasting Odwalla which usually goes on sale for $1 each over in Cali)

Note: I kind of stole the style and based my review off of theImpulsiveBuy's style of food reviews. Check 'em out. They're fun to read.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

View from the Top

Just thought it'd be nice to share a little something with you all.
Something that makes hiking uphill through the UC Berkeley campus worthwhile.
A sight that makes working late at the residence halls satisfying.
From the stairs of Foothill or the balcony of Stern Hall,
You can see the beauty of Downtown and the City (short term for San Francisco).


Granted, this image does little justice to what I see on most nights.
My 5 Megapixel cellphone camera cannot do the nightscene justice,
But I do hope this gives you some feel of the euphoria that fills my soul everytime I turn around
And take in the beautiful view.
Especially at night, when all is relatively serene,
Some lights softly flicker. The clocktower ("Campanile") shining erect.
On a warm night, it is all I need.

If you do ever take a visit to Berkeley, take a hike uphill to the landmark "Big C" at night. Sit up there, stare at the surroundings. Deer wander by sometimes too. It's wonderful.

(Upcoming posts: Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square, Improv Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bread Pudding, and restaurant reviews)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baked Donut Update 2

To continue my Baked Donut Project update from yesterday, I continue with the Dark Chocolate Espresso Bean Donuts and the Pumpkin Donuts.

Based off of the original VeganYumYum vanilla base, I added in dark chocolate coffee beans. I had these dark chocolate espresso beans from Trader Joe's and chopped them in my spice/coffee bean grinder.

I ended up with kind of a dark chocolate dust, dark chocolate bits, and espresso bean bits. This I blended into the batter, with some leftover. After baking, I melted the remaining dark chocolate dust (with espresso bean remnants) and used that as the frosting. Like last time, I frosted with my pastel sprinkles.

Normal vanilla-nutmeg donuts (top left). Dark ChocoCoffee Bean (bottom right).
Basic and Dark ChocoCoffee Bean frosted with sprinkles.
 As you can tell from the picture, the addition of the dark choco-coffee bean bits made the donuts crumbly. This also could have resulted from me leaving the batter in open air on the countertop as I waited for the first batch of regular donuts to bake. The batter could have dried, losing the moisture it needs to stick together during baking. Next time, gotta cover and refrigerate batter.

20 mini donuts for enjoyment ^_^
What I like to do when I bake my donuts, is leave it in the oven for 6 min, then turn the pan around and bake for another 6-7 minutes, just to ensure even browning, since my oven is tiny! It's like a third the size of my oven bake home. So, I have to make my donuts in two batches - which works because I only have one donut pan, but I could do stuff in my multiple mini cupcake pans.

Next up are the pumpkin donuts, of whose flavor is the quintessential, nearly hackneyed predilection of foodies and bloggers during the fall season. For this one, I did not use VeganYumYum's recipe, but based it off this one: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Donuts. Again, I did not make it vegan, nor gluten-free. I used all-purpose flour, a blend of white and brown sugar, butter, and a blend of pumpkin puree, soymilk, and frozen yogurt.

Some frosted, some not.
Such good texture...*drool*
 The results were fantastic. I loved just munching on them without frosting (a general statement for all the donuts I've been making). Frosting for me is purely for decoration purposes; I'd rather eat the cake in all its normal, not overly sweet euphoria.

Puffed up in the pan, hot and toasty!
 Yup, so that pretty much sums up my donut project so far. Every time I make some, I give some to my housemates and then to my friends at UC Berkeley. I even called up my old roommates to meet them on campus and extend some yummy baked donut love.

It's always good to share (but of course save some for meself too! ;-P )

In the meantime, I've cooked a few random things and made an impromptu pumpkin pie which I'll post up soon too.

Baked Donut Update

For lack of posting, you must forgive me.

I am a college student, a senior in bioengineering at UC Berkeley, and juggling projects, clubs, assignments, and some tests here and there. I do have a legitimate excuse for not posting as much.

It's called PFAT: procrastination, Facebook, ADD, and Tastespotting (okay, so the ADD part isn't really real, but I have such issues focusing sometimes).

Zits really tells you how us college teenagers (wait, I'm no loner a teen, dangit!) work (please click the images below to read):

Another funny Zits comic about blogging:

Well, besides this detour, the purpose of this post is really an update on my semester Baked Donut Project. So far, I've made about 5 different types of donuts (1 of which failed and we will not post pictures of the lava flow it produced on my pan x_x ): basic vanilla from NorPro (the baking pan I bought), vanilla-nutmeg from VeganYumYum, dark chocolate coffee bean, failed eggless carrot cake, and pumpkin.

For now, I will only post my first two trials so that people with slow to average internet connections don't suffer from the load times.

Norpro Vanilla Cake Donut Recipe: came out flat and more cookie like
(harder and crispier than cakey). Simple frosting with pastel sprinkles.
Try 2: VeganYumYum's Vanilla-Nutmeg Donuts. Very very awesome and delicious.
The nutmeg added a very pleasant flavor, while the texture was perfect.
Even the day after and after it was still delicious.

Cakey interior texture, springy under strain (omg, viscoelastic!).
Have to admit, the sprinkles are pretty, but I don't like how much
crystalline crunch it gives to the top. I want normal sprinkles.

I modified VeganYumYum's by making it non-vegan and using unsalted real butter, milk, and eggs. Instead of apple cider vinegar, I used fresh lime/lemon juice. For the frosting on both, I mixed powdered (confectioners') sugar with a touch of milk, lemon, and vanilla. To frost, you just dip the donuts upside in it, let some drip down and wipe some off, smooth it a little, then dip the frosted top into a small flat bowl of sprinkles, making sure to roll along the sides.

Because Norpro's failed me in terms of shape and texture (flavor was good), I will not post their recipe. Above are links to VeganYumYum's recipe, so you can go there to experiment with hers. It is a great recipe base, which I modified with the aforementioned dark chocolate coffee bean, which will be posted up next soon sometime...


Note to self: try the recipes on this page