Category Archives: Food Review

Food Reviews: Special K Crackers, Special K Chips and Fiber One Bars

Brief notes on some things I’ve recently tried.

Special K Crackers
Regular and Herb. These crackers are similar size to a Wheat Thin, a little thicker but not as dense. I haven’t had Special K in a while, but I don’t think they taste like what I recall. To be perfectly honest, the first time I tried regular, I didn’t like it, but it mostly was about it not being what I expected. It’s cracker shaped, but texture is not cracker like. That said, they grew on me, and I enjoyed them after the initial trial.

What I really like about what Special K did is they seem to understand the satisfaction of quantity. These are 110 calories for 24 crackers. That’s double the cracker count than wheat thins. You can eat 4-5 for barely any. I wouldn’t want to use these as a primary every day snack, but as an periodic snack, sure. Definitely more satisfying I think that a 100 calorie cereal bar or some such.

Two thumbs up.

Special K Chips
Salt, Cheddar, Ranch or Sour Cream & Onion.  These are roughly the size of a tostito bite size chip. They are about 2-3 times thicker, but also less dense. Once again, mastery of the satisfaction of quantity – 27 chips for 110 calories. That said, these guys are not going to even remotely satisfy a chip craving. They are even further from chips than the crackers are from crackers. Not bad, but the Sour Cream & Onion flavor came nowhere close to Pringle satisfaction (though obviously pringle satisfaction can only be had one half of  a can at a time, so not entirely fair). Again, something to include in the mix for variety, but not a regular go to snack for me.

One thumb sort of up.

Fiber One 90 Calories Chocolate Peanut Butter
I’m going to be very specific about the flavor I had, well, because I don’t have anything nice to say about it. It’s possible the other flavors are better, but I’ll be in no hurry to try. To be blunt, it tasted like what I imagine weak sewage to taste like. The primary culprit seemed to be the PB flavoring, as it was worse when I bit that side tongue down. I’d also say, it tasted nothing like PB. I could tell it was trying as it was somewhere in the right city, but not anywhere close. I battled my way through the box to not waste anything, but it was not fun. In addition to the taste, as with other 90 calorie bars, if you find those unfilling, you’ll find more of the same here.

Two thumbs down.

Food Review: Newtons Fruit Thins and DelMonte Fruit Chillers Tubes

Newtons Fruit Thins:

Specifically Fig and Honey version.  I finished the last of these today, December 31, 2011.  I originally bought them as a way to increase whole wheat foods.  My first recorded entry I can find of them in the tracker is Oct 12.  This should be a good indicator of how very resistible they were.

I’ll also comment that there must be some good chemicals in there, since they pretty much tasted the same right up to the end.  Only the last two I had (the very last one went to the dog) began to get (slightly) stiffer and (slightly) stale.

Edit:  The dog seemed more than happy enough to eat more of them if I’d had any.

Overall, they aren’t bad.  They just aren’t good.  And at around 48 calories a cookie (recommended serving size – 3 cookies for 145 calories), it’s tough to eat them when they were more flavorful/healthier options around.

I’m a big fan of the original Fig Newtons so I was hopeful.  Unlikely to be purchased again.  I did just buy their bars, we’ll see.

Del Monte Fruit Chillers

Specifically Arctic Strawberry Tubes.  I saw these somewhere in the supermarket (not frozen, possibly juice aisle), saw they claimed to be made of real fruit (1 lb!) and were 55 calories per tube and decided to give them a whirl.  Edit – I forgot I was also thinking the kid might like them too (nope!).

Opening up the first tube, I questioned my sanity and lowered my expectations.  I was shocked when it turned out really tasty.  I was expecting a red ice pop with minimal flavor.  Definitely has a lot of taste.  The main thing giving me pause about them is they seem pretty high in sugar.  11g per tube and the third ingredient in the list.  Which is probably why I like the taste so much.

All in all I would say, not as good as a healthy snack (real fruit), but better than ice cream or cake.  So I plan to include these on occasion in future as a ‘naughty’ snack.

Oh and wear a bib, these things stain!

Food Review: Olive Garden – Venetian Apricot Chicken, Dolcini Dessert

Had the pleasure of going out to dinner with the wife last week and it was her choice.  She chose the Olive Garden.  Now, in general, I am not Olive Garden’s biggest fan.  I like the salads, especially since they have olives (well an olive per person but I always get my wife’s) and those spicy peppers, but they are not the healthiest.  I hate the breadsticks (bland bread that is over-salted + 140 calories per stick).  And I am just not thrilled with the entrees.  Nothing is ever particularly bad, but neither is anything ever particularly good.

I admit, I am a little biased, since I have an Italian heritage.  What I especially don’t like is that pretty much anything I can get there, I can make better myself at home.  The wife likes it because I don’t cook as often as she does, and it means she doesn’t have to cook or clean for her meal (and I make a big mess when I cook).

So when we went there, I was conscious of it being a mediocre both week- and day- for me food wise, and I decided to try and find something reasonable since I hadn’t been able to scale back that day or the day before.  At 400 calories, the Venetian Apricot Chicken was the lowest calorie item I would potentially be interested in, though I was a bit worried, since I am not a big apricot fan.

I was pleasantly surprised by my meal.  I won’t go so far as to say it was great, but it was decent.  The chicken was bog-standard mass produced chicken – pretend grill-marks, mostly micro-waved or mass-baked.  The asparagus and broccoli were also pretty average (and I skipped the tomato/spinach mush).  But the apricot sauce was really nice.  It really made the meal quite nice.  Definitely at least a thumbs up.

Edit (5/19/12) – Had this again and will comment that the chicken was better than last time.  Looked freshly cooked almost.  Was actually two thumbs up.

In addition, they added a new dessert line called dolcinis which are little cups of different things.  They are all 200 – 300 calories or so (compared to their average dessert of a double that).  Again, the wife and I each had one (caramel and dark chocolate mousse for her, chocolate mousse and dark cookie crumble for me) and both were very nice (hers was a little better as well as lower calorie).  It was nice to be able to have a dessert without blowing the budget.

Edit (5/19/12) – Since the original review, I have had the Limoncello Mousse and the Strawberry & White Chocolate Dolcini’s.  I like lemon-y things and thought the Limoncello was fantastic.  Better than either chocolate one (and I like chocolate).  The strawberry one was mediocre at best in my book, very bland.  That said, I’m very hit or miss in general on strawberry flavored items.

(And to think when I was young, I used to love the Olive Garden and especially the Tour of Italy at 1400 calories – yep there’s a reason I’m fat today.)

Edit – 8/18/11:  Here is a link to a recipe that claims to recreate the chicken dish mentioned below.  I have not personally tried it yet.