REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs’ Banana Peanut Butter Chip

There aren’t too many better ways to start a morning than a piece of peanut butter banana toast. Okay, actually, there are eggs benedict, chicken fried steak, huevos rancheros, fluffy ass pancakes…I’m getting out of hand. Let me rephrase. There aren’t many simple, smart, and deliciously better ways to start a morning than the wonderful combination of peanut butter and banana. The perfect balance of fats, carbs, and flavor, they combine for a super creamy sweet and salty AM treat that remains one of my go-tos whenever I’m feeling classic (and lazy). And what better way to elevate that combo than substitute the bread for ice cream? Oh yes, it sounds divine, and Haagen-Dazs’ new Decadent Collection delivers just that with Banana Peanut Butter Chip, which combines a sweet banana ice cream with bits of chocolate chips and peanut butter ribbons.

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REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch One Love

Nothing says peace and love like ice cream. Maybe I’m biased, but think about it – when was the last time you were leisurely licking away at a scoop shop or comfortably couch-crushing a pint and felt any sort of malice towards anyone around you? How often are people clenching their fists in the frozen aisle or grimacing while staring into the cold case filled with cone-topping delights? Likely never, and it is with that sense of togetherness that Ben & Jerry’s have released their latest limited batch creation with Bob Marley’s One Love, which combines banana ice cream with caramel and graham cracker swirls and fudge peace sings…mon.

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It’s already been established that I’m a fan of banana ice cream and this is a great banana base. It’s velvety smooth and creamy with an authentic banana flavor that is just present enough to be very obvious without being overwhelming. Its profile is spot on perfectly ripened, not over-ripened, banana, with a great balance of fruity sweetness and dairy richness.

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I’m not sure why, but the fudge peace signs in here really kick ass. They snap with a great chocolatey crunch and finish with a smooth meltiness that feels both creamier and darker than the usual fudge flakes. I don’t know if they actually have different ingredients or it’s just the size and shape of the signs as opposed to the flakes, but these little cocoa circles are truly filling me with good vibrations.

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The caramel swirls are wonderfully integrated throughout the base and pool up in gorgeous golden spots throughout the pint. I’ve always loved the play of banana with caramel so it’s no surprise that it works really well here too. The caramel itself is standard B&J’s – thin, runny, and sweet with a mellow flavor – not dark, roasty, or salted at all, and does its job in adding a fun texture and an extra depth to the creamy banana vibes.

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Much less prominently featured is the graham cracker swirl, which seems to pop up mostly in tandem with the caramel. It has a soft but gritty texture and noticeable saltiness that cuts through all the other sweet-leaning elements in the pint, but there’s so little of it that it doesn’t become a very pronounced part of the experience. Towards the middle of the container I got a big congregation of graham and it was awesome. As a lover of the graham I wish there was more, but what is there adds something totally different than the other components and its taste and texture are great, despite being limited.

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Beautiful layer of graham

One Love is without a doubt my favorite of Ben & Jerry’s releases this year, and one that I would be happy to see stick around for the future. As an ice cream that was originally released as a U.K exclusive, hopefully this is a sign of good things to come for more of their inventive and interesting pints to make their way to the good ole U S of A.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: Duc Loi Supermarket ($4.49)
Quick Nutrition: 1/2 cup (109g) – 290 cal – 15g fat – 8g sat fat – 115mg sodium – 36g carb – 29g sugar – 4g protein

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REVIEW: Doughbar Doughnuts (feat. Junk Banter Variety Pack)

Doughbar Doughnuts are a Bay Area based company cranking out made to order protein packed baked donuts with a slew of fun and limited offering toppings and variety packs shipped straight to your door.  Their goal is to offer a macro-friendly alternative to the often frowned upon fried treat that is versatile, healthy, and delicious all at the same time.  The un-dressed donuts, including the hole, clock in at 150 calories, 4 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.  You can order the donuts with no toppings, or, more commonly, with toppings packaged individually that you put on yourself in whatever fashion you’d like.  For my first run with Doughbar I ordered the Junk Banter variety pack, which included four donuts and toppings for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Cookie Monster (Chips Ahoy/Oreo), Cinnamon with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Nutella with Kit Kat pieces.

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The naked base flavor of a Doughbar Doughnut is relatively plain with a yeasty whole wheat bounce, slight sweetness, and a hint of cinnamon.  The texture is more like a bagel than a donut, with an eggy dense inside that is neither super delicious or offensive.  Since they are baked and not fried there is no outside crisp or greasiness, and as with most donuts, “real” or otherwise, most of the flavor comes from the toppings.  The success of the doughnuts themselves varied based not only on the toppings but the actual bake itself.  Since they’re all individually made I found some of them to be a little bit thinner and darker with a tougher, less-dount-y texture, and some of them to be fluffier and lighter in color, which much more closely resembled a true donut.

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The experience of putting the doughnuts together is pretty damn fun.  They arrive in a nostalgia-laden pink box with each component clearly labeled and packaged so you can truly choose your own destiny.  All of the toppings have their own nutritional information provided, and while the icing containers looked really small to me at first, they actually do provide enough to piece together a pretty tasty breakfast treat.

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I enjoyed all of the doughnuts that I got but by far my favorite was the Nutella with Kit Kat crumbles.  I’m not sure if it was the slight nuttiness in the glaze or the luck of the fluff on that particular ‘nut but it gave me the most satisfying donut fix of them all.  My least favorite was very surprisingly the Reese’s-inspired peanut butter one, because I felt it just didn’t have enough authentic peanut butter flavor.  Luckily, I had a couple of extra naked donuts and put together my own decadent masterpiece using their classic doughnut glaze, crunchy peanut butter, and banana.

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PB Banana Doughnut: 320 Cals/10g Fat/11g Sugar/30g Carbs/15g Protein

All in all, are Doughbar Doughnuts better than one from your local shop or Krispy Kreme?  Nah.  But are they a fun switch up from a protein bar or shake or carb-heavy weekend breakfast?  Most certainly.  The ability to customize and switch things up on the go is definitely a plus and I look forward to ordering again when time and money will allow.  Hopefully this small creative company can get wider distribution and/or a brick and mortar location so we can all “eat more hole foods” on the regular.

Rating: 8/10

REVIEW: flapJACKed Buttermilk Protein Pancake and Baking Mix

While I have so far only had experience with their Mighty Muffins, what flapJACKed is most well known for is their Protein Pancake and Baking Mix.  Utilizing a combination of whole oat flour and both whey and pea protein, they’ve put together a mixture that delivers approximately three pancakes for only 200 calories that provides 20 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  Sounds almost too good to be true, but my good luck with the Mighty Muffin’s recently has me feeling optimistic.

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Opening the bag it looks and smells like tan flour with no distinguishable pancake or waffle aromas except for a hint of sweet and salty shimmer.  Once you add in the 1/3 cup cold water, however, it smells distinctly like a pancake or biscuit dough, with the slight tang of buttermilk and a Bisquick familiarity.  Let the mixture sit for three minutes to thicken up, and all of the prep work is done.

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I decided to start with a sacrificial cake and try the ratios exactly as recommended.  Coming off the griddle the pancake has a lovely sweet and cake-like smell with a solid fluffy appearance and bounce.  On its own the taste is a little dry and bland, with a slight grainy texture.  It reminds me a bit of when I make my own pancakes with whole wheat flour and don’t do anything to try and transform the flavor.  To be fair though, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a naked pancake, and when the classic butter and syrup combination is applied the flavor is greatly improved.  The texture holds up just like a traditional pancake but a bit more dense and tough.

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For the second, full batch, I added a little bit more water to thin out the batter, in hopes that they may cook a little more evenly with a slightly less tough result.  This was the right move, as these cakes are fluffier and wider with an overall more appealing look.  The smell, once again, is fantastic, with the flavor being good but a bit muted.  I tried them again with the classic butter and syrup combo and they were great.  Not as intensely indulgent as a true stack of pancakes but for 200 calories, 23 carbs, and 20 grams of protein these are a fantastic tradeoff.  To really put the cake to the test I made a short stack in a fashion that I would actually make if I was cooking from scratch; with syrup, butter, banana, blackberries, and peanut butter.

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This was absolutely delicious, and the exact reason why this product has such potential, because when most people, myself included, eat pancakes or waffles, we put so many additional things on them that the base flavor gets lost.  The flapJACKed pancakes give you a great filling and fluffy base by which to build your masterpiece and leave extra macro-space for syrups, fruits, and delicious spreads.

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The protein pancake masters at flapJACKed have slowly become one of my favorite companies, delivering great products that are filling, delicious, and an exciting way to still enjoy a weekend breakfast without the inevitable carb and sugar crash.  I’ll be on the lookout for other mixes but this Buttermilk version is a fantastic start to any pancake or waffle creation.
Rating: 9/10