Category Archives: Product Reviews

Food Review: Chipotle’s Sofritas

I still remember the first time I had Chipotle.  It was early on during my freshman year of college.  I had a chicken burrito.  Truth be told, I wasn’t a huge fan at first.  It only took one more trip for me to come around.  Now, like most people on planet Earth, I’m drawn to the place.  It’s relatively inexpensive, the ingredients are simple and fresh, it’s veggie friendly, and now… drum roll, please… Chipotle is testing a plant-based protein option.  It’s called SOFRITAS!  Holy frijoles!SOFRITAS 1

The sofritas option consists of organic tofu, seasoned and braised.  Chipotle says it’s shredded.  I’d say the texture more resembles ground turkey or chicken.  But before you get too excited, know this – right now, sofritas are only available on the West Coast, in Chicago, and a limited number of cities on the East Coast. They’re not available everywhere quite yet.  But it didn’t take long for Chipotle’s brown rice to spread like wildfire.  I have a feeling sofritas aren’t far behind.

So I tried them in a bowl today, and here’s the verdict in a word – YES.SOFRITAS 2Sofritas have a lot of flavor, so much so that I didn’t need my favorite smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce.  Some reviewers say there’s too much salt.  I disagree.  But I also put salt on almost everything, so my tongue might be a little pickled.  Who knows.

The texture, as I said, resembles ground turkey or chicken.  The tofu is extra firm, so it holds its shape well.  I’m used to loading my bowl with just veggies, rice and beans, so it was nice to add something a little different.  I finished the entire thing, and when I was done, I was satisfied, but not overly full.  I even managed to run a solid 3 miles as soon as I got home.  Yes, without puking.  Shocking, right?

The best part is that the calorie content is relatively low.  Sofritas have 145 calories in a 4 ounce serving.  That’s compared to 190 in almost every other protein option, including chicken.

Bottom line:  I was really looking forward to trying sofritas.  My beloved Chipotle did not let me down.  I will be ordering them again.

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Friday Favorite: 10 Ways To Use Greek Yogurt

It’s creamy.  It’s healthy.  It’s packed with protein.  Best of all, it’s one of the most versatile foods around.  I’m talking about today’s Friday Favorite, a gift from the gods, GREEK YOGURT!

greek yogurt

My fridge is always stocked with at least one quart of the plain non-fat kind.   I’m not brand loyal, although there are lots to choose from.  I usually just buy whatever’s on sale.  An entire cup is only 120 calories with a whopping 20 grams of protein.

Sure, you can eat it like you would a regular cup of Yoplait, but there are so many more options.  Here are 10 things you can do with your plain Greek yogurt:

  1. Scoop out a serving and top it with your favorite fruit.  Maybe a little stevia or agave nectar.  Chances are you already do this.  It’s still delicious.  I like to buy the plain and add my own things to it to avoid added processed ingredients.  You also get more food for the calories.
  2. Add to your smoothie for a thicker consistency and protein boost.
  3. Throw a dollop or two into your favorite red pasta sauce or use it instead of heavy cream in your alfredo.
  4. Add a pinch of salt.  Instant sour cream!  Seriously, it tastes identical to the real thing.  Use on everything from baked potatoes to tacos.
  5. Use as a substitute for mayo.  Works especially well in things like tuna & egg salad.
  6. Greek yogurt + chopped cucumbers + dill + salt = tsatziki
  7. Skip the traditional pizza sauce.  Spread Greek yogurt on the pizza dough instead!  Add your favorite toppings & bake.
  8. Get a popsicle tray.  Make frozen yogurt pops.
  9. Slim down your favorite cookies and cakes by replacing half the amount of butter with Greek yogurt.
  10. Turn your already healthy guacamole into a protein-packed snack by adding a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt.  So rich.  So good for you.

What do you do with your Greek yogurt?  Tell me in the comments section below or e-mail me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Fro-Yo Fever!

Summer is the season for frozen treats, but let’s get real.  We eat ice cream all year round.  And you know I’m right.  I’ve eaten it with gloves on outside in the middle of winter, and I’m not even sorry.

I don’t know if it’s just my location in the world, but the frozen yogurt world has really stepped up its game.  The places that have me smitten at the moment are as follows:

Starfruit Cafe

STARFRUITAs far as I can tell, Starfruit is exclusive to Chicago.  That’s really too bad, because it’s so unique.  Instead of plain old frozen yogurt, Starfruit serves frozen kefir.  They call it a “miracle drink”, but what it really is is a fermented dairy product like yogurt that contains lots more live and active probiotic cultures, which are good for the immune system and digestion.  It’s also a good option for people who experience tummy trouble with milk, because it’s 99% lactose free.  I’ve had frozen kefir at Starfruit many times.  You can pick from a few flavors.  There are also lots of healthy and not-so-healthy toppings to add.  I think the kefir alone is rich, satisfying, and totally delicious.  One note – there’s a definite yogurty tang.  I think it tastes a little like cheesecake, but it can be off-putting to some.  If it’s your first time trying a kefir product, I’d suggest asking for a taste before you blow your money on something you don’t like.

Red Mango

RED MANGO

Okay… when did Red Mango totally change everything?  The last time I went was a few years ago in Columbus, Ohio.  They had a couple of flavors.  They all had that trendy tang.  It was good, but not so good that I felt like going out of my way to find it again.  Then, a week ago, Red Mango opened a new location RIGHT NEXT TO MY WORK OHMYGODDDD… and wow.  Just wow.  Everything is different from what I remember.  First of all, most Red Mango locations are now self-serve.  They didn’t used to be.  And next to say, oxygen, a self-serve yogurt place is my favorite thing on planet Earth.  There are close to a dozen flavors to choose from at any given time, including two “skinny” flavors with no added sugar! And they’re sweetened naturally with stevia!  STEVIA!  Can you believe the progress here, people?  I rushed over to try the Dark Chocolate Skinny Sorbetto.  It’s dairy free, sugar-free, contains healthy bacteria, and it only has 50 calories in half a cup.  If I didn’t already know these things before trying it, there’s no way I would have been able to tell.  It’s creamy, melty, incredibly rich, and almost unbelievable.  I have no idea how they did it.  It didn’t even need toppings.  I mean, I returned to find a parking ticket on my car, and I didn’t even care.  It was that good.  This flavor alone has roped me in for life.

RED MANGO SORBETTO

Even if you don’t have a Starfruit or a Red Mango near you, there’s a good chance you do have frozen yogurt options, self-serve or otherwise.  Frozen yogurt seems like a healthier option than ice cream.  Most of the time it is, but if you do it wrong, it can be just as bad… even worse!  And it can get expensive.  Check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self!  Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Self-serve shops that require you to pay by the ounce.  The cups they supply are GIGANTIC, because they’re hoping you’ll fill ’em all the way to the top.  Don’t feel like you have to.  Watch the heavy hand at the yogurt machine, and keep in mind, although fruit is healthy, it also weighs a lot because it’s filled with water.  Choose lighter toppings like nuts and granola if you’re on a budget.  And speaking of toppings…
  • Pretend not to see all the delicious cookies, candies, hot fudge, etc.  You might as well just go and eat a full pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  Like I said, go with some nuts or a little fruit.  Or just skip the toppings altogether.
  • Try before you buy.  Most yogurt shops will allow you to taste a few flavors before deciding on an order.  Take advantage of the perk.
  • Check the website before stopping by.  These days, almost everyone has their nutritional information online.  This way, if you’re watching what you eat, you can go in with a plan, and you can enjoy a little dessert without totally blowing your diet.  And BONUS ALERT!  Some shops have loyalty programs that give you discounts just for signing up!  At Red Mango, I saved $2 on my first cup.  Starfruit gives you a free order after so many visits.  Don’t miss out on the perks!

Do you have a favorite summer treat?  It doesn’t have to be ice cream.  It could be anything… even fruit!  Let me know in the comments section below, or e-mail me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Thirsty Thursday: Suja Juice

I’ve heard a lot about it.  Friends have recommended it to me.  Over the weekend, I finally tried it.  Suja Juice!  The ONE 16 oz. bottle I bought was $8.99 at Whole Foods, and to be honest with you, I didn’t feel totally ripped off.  I’ll tell you why a little later in the post.
SUJAFirst, let’s talk about juicing in general.  It may be the most buzzed about trend in health, and also the most misunderstood.  I’m certainly no expert.  Even after introducing fresh pressed juice into my life over a year ago, I always have new questions.  There are a 2 things, however, I take as fact:

Not All Juice is Created Equal:  The juice you buy in the milk cooler, say Tropicana or even most “healthier” juices in the drink aisle like Pom Wonderful, are usually pasteurized and sweetened with some form of added sugar.  Pasteurization itself is a contentious subject.  The process brings liquids, like juice and milk, to super hot temperatures, then recools them quickly, increasing shelf-life and reducing the likelihood of food poisoning.  The bad part?  Along with bugs and other bad stuff that might make us sick, pasteurization also destroys a lot of the good stuff in raw foods, too.  What we’re left with is usually nothing more than sugar-water.

Juice “Cleanses” and “Fasts” Aren’t For Everyone:  There are plenty of success stories about people who have juiced exclusively for 3 days or a week or a month or 3 months… and lost a whole crap load of weight.  The documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” is a good example.  I’m not bashing the movie.  I’ve seen it.  I think it’s a great learning tool, and for the extremely overweight, juicing may be a good way to boost a longer weight loss journey.  But in my experience, juice fasts/cleanses make people crazy, myself included.  There’s something about not being able to chew your food that makes you want to murder the world.  That being said, I think fresh-pressed juice has its place.  It’s an easy way to get a high concentration of vitamins and minerals.  But keep in mind, juice is not complete nutrition.  It’s largely void of fiber.  Most Americans are already deficient in fiber, which helps regulate your appetite.  Ditto for protein.  So, when deciding between juice and a salad, it might be better to just eat the salad.

You know what works best for your body.  I already eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I like to drink my own fresh-pressed fruit & veggie juice when:

  • I feel an illness coming on
  • I have a particularly raucous night, and I need to help my liver & kidneys get shit done
  • I eat too much, and I need my pants to fit again
  • I have an occassion coming up, and I want to look and feel especially hot

Okay, back Suja.  The first time I noticed it, I was at a very busy Whole Foods location in Chicago.  I was browsing the kombucha, and the woman next to me, who was obviously on her lunch break said out loud, “Holy shit!  That’s some expensive-ass juice!”.  She was right.  One 16 oz. bottle of Suja can run you $10.

There’s a reason they charge you so much.  First, this is cold-pressed, raw juice… just like the stuff you’d make with your juicer at home.  Pasteurization doesn’t come into play, which means nutrients are preserved.  Instead, to extend shelf life, they use something called High Hydrostatic Pressure processing or HPP.  Sounds fancy, right?

The other reason this juice is so expensive is because Suja is using all organic, non-GMO ingredients, which tend to be pricier.  Include the fact that they’re doing all the work for you, and you don’t have to wash a juicer, and the $10 might be worth it.

I enjoyed my first bottle for breakfast the way I do most morning meals – behind the wheel of my car on the way to work.

SUJA 1

Don’t worry, I promise I was parked when I took the pictures (despite the big “D” on the dashboard).  Suja has at least 10 varieties, which are meant to be taken in a specific order when on one of their cleanses.  I chose “Glow”, which includes apple, greens, and peppermint.  The verdict?  It tasted almost exactly like juices I’ve made before on my own.  Clean.  Refreshing.  It wasn’t too sweet.  I had trouble detecting the peppermint, but I definitely caught the unmistakable spice of kale, which I actually like.  What really gets me is the marketing.  The bottles and the colors of the juices couldn’t be more beautiful.  I wouldn’t buy these all the time because of the price, but I can see myself throwing down another $8-$10 for another flavor at some point down the road.

Until then, I just might dust off the juicer hiding in my cabinet to save a little cash.  Check this out.  Suja puts the recipe for each bottle of juice right there on the side of the container!  I imagine if you wanted to try your own Suja cleanse at home, you totally could.   Now all I need is a maid to clean my juicer.

SUJA 2

Friday Favorite: LaCroix Coconut Flavored Sparking Water

I know.  LaCroix is expensive.  It’s what rich housewives buy at Whole Foods in the middle of a weekday.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!  I’m sorta jealous.  But if you’re looking for something totally unique, pick some of this up and give it a try – LaCroix coconut flavored sparking water.

LACROIX WATER

It’s not coconut water.  It’s coconut flavored sparking water.  Fizzy.  No calories.  No sweeteners.  No sodium.  Just something to curb that pop craving.  I almost never drink real soda anymore, but I still get a hankering for the carbonation every now and then.  Am I alone on this one?

Anyway, the coconut flavor isn’t overwhelming.  It hits your tongue as you’re swallowing.  It’s subtle but pleasant.  It’s great alone, but I’m sure it would taste awesome mixed in with some fresh juice… pineapple maybe?  There are tons of other flavors available.  I found a 12-pack on sale for $4.50.

Do you have a favorite fizzy drink?  Maybe you have your own completely unrelated Friday Favorite.  Let me know!  We can chat in the comments below, or you can e-mail me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Review: McDonald’s New Egg White Delight McMuffin

It’s here!!!!  On this day, April 22, 2013, McDonald’s rolled out its newest, healthier breakfast option, the Egg White Delight McMuffin.  Feast your eyes:

photo(6)

I actually had to go to two different locations to get the sandwich.  The first McDonald’s I went to didn’t have the egg whites ready.  I gave them a disgusted “NEVERMIND” and squealed away from the drive-thru.  I really wanted them to feel bad.  Odds are, they laughed at me instead.

As I mentioned in THIS post about a month ago, the Egg White Delight is different from the classic Egg McMuffin for the following reasons:

  • Duh, it has egg whites instead of a whole egg.
  • It’s made with what McDonald’s is calling a “whole grain” muffin, although I doubt if it’s 100% whole grain.
  • Instead of a slice of American cheese, the Egg White Delight has white cheddar.
  • The Egg White Delight has 250 calories compared to the regular sandwich’s 300, and an extra gram of fiber.  Ask for it without Canadian bacon, and you’ll save 20 more calories.

If you follow this blog, you know that I usually avoid meat.  In this case, I made an exception in the name of an objective review.  So here’s the deal – I’m giving McDonald’s an A for effort.  It’s really nice to see fast food restaurants attempting to provide healthier options.  However, I’m giving it a C for execution.  The egg whites were a little wet.  The white cheddar didn’t make a damn difference.  I was expecting it to be sharper and tangier than the American.  Nope.  It tasted like run-of-the-mill mediocre cheese.  Totally unexciting.

photo(5)photo(4)My advice – don’t get this unless it’s your last option.  Like, you’re trapped in a car, and everyone you’re with has decided that your opinion doesn’t matter.  Your first step is to get new friends.  You second step is to spend your money somewhere else.  I paid over $3 for the stupid Egg White Delight at McDonald’s.  For that, you can go to Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, or Panera and get an egg white option that tastes WAY better.

It’s also worth mentioning that aside from the Egg White Delight, you can now ask for egg whites with other McDonald’s menu options.

Have you tried the Egg White Delight?  Do you have another favorite fast food breakfast option?  Let me know!  We can chat in the comments section below, of you can e-mail me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Friday Favorite: Leinenkugel Summer Shandy

There’s something about a seasonal beer that gets everyone’s panties in a bunch.  For me and almost everyone I know, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is one of those beers.  You guessed it.  It’s today’s Friday Favorite!SUMMER SHANDY 2

I saw it on tap for the first time this season 2 weeks ago, and I literally squealed with delight.  I took this picture.  I immediately shared it on Facebook.  I just couldn’t believe my eyes.  SUMMER SHANDY WAS AND IS BACK!

SUMMER SHANDY

The mere sight of it signaled some kind of shift inside me.  The grey, depressing chill of winter lifted.  I started believing things were going to get better.  Things were going to get warmer.  I might get to see the sun eventually, and maybe, just maybe, I’d be drinking one of these on a boat at some point within the next few months.  I saw beaches.  I saw tank tops.  I saw vacations and baseball games.  My ideal summer flashed before my eyes within seconds of ordering… and on that day, I was in Detroit.  It was only 40 degrees.  It was cloudy.  I didn’t have a jacket.  I was freezing my ass off, and I didn’t even care.  I had Summer Shandy.  I was invincible.

For those of you who’ve never experienced Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, it’s basically beer cut with lemonade.  Simple.  Refreshing.  Slightly sweet.  Easy to drink.  The alcohol content is about the same as a light beer.  It’s definitely a cult hit.  It has its own super popular Facebook page.  People buy this stuff when it’s available and hoard it when it’s not.  You could probably make your own pretty easily, but I’ve never tried, and I almost don’t want to.  Getting wrapped up in the excitement of a seasonal release is part of the allure.  If we could have it year-round, it would kill the magic.  Am I right or am I right?

Do you have a favorite seasonal beer?  Tell me PLEASE because I’d love any excuse to try a new brew!  Leave your comment in the section below, or email me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Have a warm & healthy weekend!

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