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23 May

In the Pacific Northwest, hiking season is any time despite our often dreary weather and discounting any harsh meteorological conditions.  I won’t put it pass some daredevils out there to actually make a go of it even with severe weather alerts.  Nature abounds in PacNW and hiking trails are gorgeous, so who can blame a free spirit.

Snoqualmie Falls

With spring in full and summer just around the corner, hiking has really ramped up, and with hikers come their favorite minimalist portable snacks.  Apples are my favorite after a good hike (and a heavy shake or smoothie to sate me on the ride home) but during the hike itself, I like something nutrient dense, preferably protein dense.  In comes EPIC, which are meat bars we found while in Whole Foods Redmond.  Yes, meat bars.

EPIC protein bars

We also saw EPIC’s turkey bars but there were so many that we decided not to get one; we thought there’d still be a lot left available on our next grocery outing.  Surprise!  There weren’t any more EPIC bars the following week.  At $2.99 each, they’re pricier than other protein bars (e.g. Go Lean Kashi bars at $1.09 each, Clif Mojo bars at $0.99 each), so we didn’t want to buy any more than enough for a taste test.

EPIC lamb bar
The EPIC lamb bar is made of organic lamb, organic currants, sea salt, lactic acid (not from milk), celery powder, spices (basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, red pepper, black pepper), sesame seeds, dehydrated spearmint leaves, and dehydrated lemon peel.  If you’re wondering what the white blot you’re seeing on the photo is, it’s fat.

The bar’s texture is unsurprisingly moist for a meat bar, but then again it’s almost like a meat loaf slice, so if it’s any drier, you might as well have a jerky.  Both The Hubby and I were not keen on the taste.  It tasted strongly sour for us.  I understand that lactic acid is used as a preservative, but the lactic acid with the dehydrated lemon peel pushed what’s supposed to be tangy to the sour end.  It’s enough to say that we’ll pass on this one if we come by it again.
EPIC beef bar

The ingredients for the EPIC beef bar is as follows: organic beef, walnuts, dried cherries, lactic acid (not from milk), salt, celery powder, fine black pepper, and crushed habanero.  The beef bar has more fat content than the lamb bar, but the taste is beefy and not overwhelmed by the seasonings.  The texture is similar to meatball but slightly mushy.

For what would be a long and tiring hike, I’d be happy to have an EPIC beef bar as my lembas.  For the meat-haters out there, these bars are obviously not for you.  Luckily, many protein bars out there are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.  For those of you who’d like a really filling bar for your energy draining activities, EPIC bars are worth a try.

Popcorn Indiana Kettlecorn

17 Dec

What makes popcorn so popular during the holidays?  I have no idea – from Harry & David’s moose munch to a slew of all things popcorn at The Popcorn Factory (where else, eh?), popcorn is a part of holiday traditions.  If you’ve received popcorn holiday tins for a gift, then you understand.  I’m surprise that we don’t leave a bowl of popcorn for Santa instead.

I like popcorn but I like it even more when it’s kettlecorn; so it takes serious discipline for me to avoid the kettlecorn booth at farmers’ markets.  But it’s the holidays… so indulgence is in and discipline is still sort of in but not totally.

Popcorn Indiana Kettlecorn

Whole Foods in Redmond has Popcorn Indiana on sale for 2 for $5 until 12/25.  So if you’re like me and other sweetened popcorn lovers out there, then this sweet deal is for you.  I don’t know if Whole Foods in other cities have the same sale, but why not check it out?  All the bags have the Whole Trade Guarantee seal so by buying the product, you’re supporting a program that promotes “quality, premium price to the producer, better wages and working conditions, and the environment”.  It’s a feel-good buy.  How you’ll feel about all the calories after your indulgence is another subject.

Love the sound of popcorn kernels popping?  Go here.


Kettle Brand Chips Limited Edition Flavors

20 Aug

Early this afternoon, while in the middle of weeding, the UPS delivery dude (I just can’t shake off the Californian in me) arrived, I was icky and covered with pollen and weed seeds, and was glad that he offered to just drop off the packages at the front door and not bother me with signing off.  When I passed by the porch, I noticed that there were two packages.  (Surprise!)  I only expected one.  One of the boxes was reddish and on the visible side, it had “DELICIOUS” written on it.  I took that as a sign that I should wrap up weeding, clean up, and open the box of deliciousness. What could it be, I wondered. Whoa, whoa, whoa.  It’s Christmas in August!  Lucky me! Kettle Brand Chips is having its 30th birthday and to celebrate, Kettle Foods, Inc. gave away limited edition chips to 5,000 randomly selected winners.  The flavors are: Red Chili, Jalapeño Jack, Salsa with Mesquite, and Cheddar Beer.  Oh my! I’m exercising self control like no one would believe.  I wish my potato chips queen sister, Claire, is here so I could share the wealth but I’m also glad she’s nowhere near or all the chips would be devoured.  In. One. Day. Interested in trying out the limited edition flavors?  5 oz bags of all four classics will be available in select natural food stores for $2.79 each, while Jalapeño Jack and Red Chili, in 8.5 oz bags for $3.49, will be avaible in grocery stores this fall.  If you want to get your hands on these retired flavors sooner rather than later, visit the Kettle Chips online store.  Stat!

To the good folks of Kettle Foods, Inc., thank you for the goodies!  Happy 30th Birthday Kettle Brand Chips!  May you have many more birthdays and offer more tantalizing potato chips flavors!

Koka Singapore Noodles

29 Feb

It’s grey.  It’s cold.  It’s raining.  What a great day for noodles.  Though, for me, any day is a good day for noodles.  And today is extra special because it’s a Leap Day.  Any event that happens once every x years (with “x” being 2 or more) is special… so special that beginning in the 18th century, women were encouraged to propose to that special someone.  But that’s another story.

Being that today is an uncommon day, it’s a good day to have uncommon noodles too like the Koka Singapore Noodles which we discovered in Uwajimaya-Bellevue this past weekend.  I was looking for a substitute to my usual Sapporo Ichiban noodles when the 4-pk package of Koka noodles caught my attention.  The ingredients listed are not bad at all, considering that other instant ramen noodles I’ve tried before have ingredients that consist of various chemical flavorings.  I prefer my noodle soups made from scratch, but there are days when instant makes an okay alternative.

Koka Instant “Non-Fried” Noodles Curry Flavour ingredients: (Noodles) wheat flour, tapioca starch, salt; (Seasoning mix) salt, sugar, spices, non-dairy creamer, yeast extract, curry powder, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, disodium 5’ribonucleotide, paprika, oil; (Garnishes) dehydrated vegetables: cabbage, carrot, peas

The ingredients list wasn’t clear in what “spices” were added but as it is curry flavor after all, this could mean any number of spices.  However, I can suppose that there possibly could be turmeric because of the color of the seasoning.  We’ve had curry flavor noodles before but this one was particularly light and oddly refreshing.  I wouldn’t associate curry with “refreshing” but this one is mild, simple, and quite good.

Koka Instant “Non-Fried” Noodles Laksa Singapura Flavour ingredients: (Noodles) wheat flour, tapioca starch, salt; (Seasoning mix) coconut powder, sugar, canola oi, salt spices, flavour (contains fish, crustaceans, trace of milk) hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, disodium 5’ribonucleotide, chili flakes, malic acid, paprika, oil, chili oil

The Laksa Singapura flavor is particularly creamy and very different compared to my normal instant ramen noodles, all thanks to the coconut powder and the seasonings.  The flavor reminds me of a coconut-based seafood soup my Mom has made in the past.  The smell and taste were so familiar that my senses were fooled into thinking that there’s fish in the dish somewhere.  I slurped my way through this bowl of yumminess in about five minutes… it was not a pretty sight.

I’ve eaten enough noodles today to make anyone on a protein-centered diet cringe, or anyone on any sort of a diet for that matter.  I love, love, love noodles but I’m so glad that Leap Days come only once every four years because I won’t be celebrating my noodle love like this anytime soon.  Methinks having two bowls of noodles in less than half an hour is too much.

Smart Puffs

4 Mar

I made the mistake of packing late two nights ago.  Pulling books that housed several species of dust bunnies when there’s inadequate circulation was not a smart move.  With a temperature of near freezing, I didn’t open any windows in order to keep the heat in.  However, I did turn on all three available exhaust fans so maybe that helped a tad with ventilation. Yesterday, I began packing early afternoon to take advantage of the tolerably cool temperature and the few minutes of sunshine which allowed me to keep the windows open.  For a couple of hours, I sauntered around the apartment looking like a bandit with a bandana mask on and toting packaging materials.  To provide better packing ambience, I turned on the 360 so Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons can play in the background. Like dinnerware and drinkware, books must be painstakingly packed.  Perhaps that’s just me. I’m happy that there are only five more shelves to empty.  One small bookcase is practically empty and that makes me happier.  I managed to make it through box #10 before it began to rain.  Thus, the weather necessitated closing the windows and consequently haulting my activity. During my breather (literally), I snacked on PIRATE BRANDS Smart Puffs.  I finished bag #1 a couple of nights ago when I first started packing and finished bag #2 yesterday afternoon.  There’s something about packing that makes me crave Smart Puffs.  The most critical of you are probably saying, “Cheese puffs for dinner?  Why, that’s just empty calories!”  Fine, so it is.  But you know, they’re cheesetastic empty calories.  So there. And for the weekend… more packing.  Hopefuly, more Smart Puffs too.