Friday, September 20, 2019

Legendary Foods - Chocolate Banana Flavored Peanut Spread - Sept. 20, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Legendary Foods
Chocolate Banana Flavored Peanut Spread
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) in total packet/sachet
Calories: 140 calories in 1 packet/sachet
Cost: $1.69 for 1 packet/sachet
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

Today's sachet (packet) of Chocolate Banana Flavored Peanut Spread was from Legendary Foods (Pasadena, CA). The convenient single-serving packaging made it convenient to carry it and eat it with a meal on the go or as an outdoor adventure snack.

The keto-friendly and gluten free spread had a slightly artificially sweet banana aroma and flavor (perhaps due to the "natural flavors"* or alternative sweeteners added?). Banana can be a tricky flavor to infuse into foods and sweets.

The spread's consistency, like every other nut butter-like spreads in small packets we've tasted, was a combination of nut butter solids and oil. So do massage the small packet gently between your fingers first before opening it, to avoid having to sponge oil drips out of your clothing.

Otherwise, the peanut spread had authentic peanut flavor, a faint cocoa note, and nut butter melt and consistency. Extra points to the company for no sugar, and using relatively natural sugar substitutes (erythritol and stevia)* to add some sweetness. (A single serving had 3 net carbs.)

*Ingredients: Peanuts, Erythritol. Contains less than 2% of the following: cocoa, dried bananas, cocoa butter, natural flavors, sea salt, sunflower lecithin, palm oil, steviol glycosides (stevia). (The company sources ingredients without GMOs.)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Clif Bar - Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter - Nut Butter Filled bar - Sept. 18, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Clif Bar
Nut Butter Filled - Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter bar
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 220 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

Today's Nut Butter Filled Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter bar was from Clif Bar (Emeryville, CA)*, a family and employee-owned company based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This organic bar had a fresh baked banana bread aroma, which showed up in the flavor (and finish). And it had a soft, chewy texture and a smooth chocolate nut (peanut) butter filling.

Clif Bar (co-)founder Gary Erickson's idea(s) for a better energy bar, and the first Clif Bar, were conceived in the early 1990s.

Clif Bar now offers a variety of bars (including a family of nut butter filled bars), in the ever-evolving, individually-packaged energy/trail/protein/snack bar category—designed for busy, on-the-go lives, and for those who want a sturdy, non-perishable snack to take on outdoor adventures.

I've had a life-long love for hiking, skiing and long-distance adventures, and appreciate all the progress that's been made in this category.

While home built snacks (like gorp) and trail "bars" last century were great. (You knew exactly what was in them and you could customize your own blend.) However, they required extra shopping and planning and the produce or plastic bags they were stuffed in, or taped up with, often leaked—or (worse) oozed—staining one's backpack and attracting unwanted wildlife out on the trail.

Thankfully, individually-wrapped commercially available bars have continued to improve. Early pressed bars made were often overly sweet, over-processed, and contained many artificial ingredients. Clif Bar has kept up with, and sometimes led, the field with their priorities and choices around health and wellness.

*This bar was made in Canada, and contained peanuts, fair trade chocolate, oats and "natural flavors."  It may contain traces of tree nuts, milk, wheat and soy.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Barnana - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup - Banana Bites - Sept. 18, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup - Organic Chewy Banana Bites
Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total package
Calories: 185 calories in 1 serving
Cost: $ missing information - $6.99 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: Piazza's Fine Foods, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Banana Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Organic Chewy Banana Bites were from Barnana (Santa Monica, CA).

The oval-shaped Barnana bites had a smooth, chocolate peanut butter cup coating surrounding a banana and peanut flour core.* They had a roasted nut and caramelized banana aroma and flavor, a slightly chewy texture and balanced natural-tasting banana, peanut and chocolate flavors.

These grain-free bites were labeled as being "Upcycled." Barnana, a Certified B Corporation,** is helping to reduce food waste by using "imperfect", but still good, bananas grown on organic banana plantations, that might otherwise be discarded.

*Ingredients: Organic Peanut Butter Cup Coating (organic dried cane syrup, organic cacao beans, certified organic sustainable palm kernel oil, organic peanut flour, organic cacao butter, sea salt, organic sunflower lecithin), organic bananas, organic peanut flour

**A Certified B Corporation is a for-profit corporation that's been certified by B Lab, which is a non-profit organization that measures a company's social, environmental and transparency performance against certain standards. By mid-2019, there were approximately 1,800 Certified B Corps in more than 50 countries across 130 different industries.

Chocolate Maya - Almond Butter chocolate - Sept. 17, 2019

Chocolate(s) of the Day

Chocolate Maya
1.) Almond Butter chocolate - Good +++
2.) Caramelized Almond Cup - Dark Chocolate - Good ++
Weight: .78 oz. (22 g.) (estimate) for 2 pieces
Calories: 117 calories (estimate) in 2 pieces
Cost: $5.00 for 2 pieces
Purchased from: Chocolate Maya, Santa Barbara, CA

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's Almond Butter filled chocolate and Caramelized Almond Cup were handcrafted at Chocolate Maya (Santa Barbara, CA).

The Almond Butter piece was described as having "toasty spices blended in (a) creamy almond butter." And the Caramelized Almond Cup's description read: "solid dark chocolate and caramelized California almonds."

Both were quite good and as promised. The former, a vegan, gluten free Almond Butter filled dome had well balanced, nutty, almond butter aroma and flavor with a trace of light upbeat spice and was covered with a high-quality, lightly decorated (spotted) chocolate shell.

The Caramelized Almond Cup was wall-to-wall, high-quality dark chocolate studded with caramelized (but not too sweet, thank you!) crunchy almond pieces that had received just the right amount of heat.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Wild Friends Foods - Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter - Sept. 16, 2019

Source: Wild Friends website
Chocolate of the Day:

Wild Friends Foods
Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter
Weight: 1.13 oz. (32 g.) in 1 serving (2 TB)
Calories: 170 calories in 1 serving (2 TB)
Cost: $2.99 for 1 jar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's jar of Chocolate Protein Peanut Butter was from Wild Friends Foods (Portland, OR).

This Chocolate Protein Nut Butter contained 12 grams of protein, provided primarily by peanuts and whey protein .*

Yes, I realize that peanuts aren't technically nuts, but rather legumes, but they have been included this week nonetheless.

This nutty spread had a fairly natural peanut aroma and taste. Chocolate was a background flavor. The melt and mouthfeel were even and uniform. The texture was a mix of slightly fluffy, creamy and smooth, with a fine graininess as well.

Wild Friends now offers a wide selection of nut butter spreads, and at least a half dozen with chocolate. Unfortunately, today's flavor may no longer be available. (It was not listed on the company's website this week. Although a similar chocolate peanut butter with collagen protein was featured.)

*Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, whey protein isolate, organic dark chocolate (cane sugar, cocoa liquor, cocoa butter), peanut oil, organic vanilla, sea salt

Sunday, September 15, 2019

BochaSweet - BochaBar Chocolate Peanut Butter - Sept. 15, 2019

Chocolate of the Day:

BochaSweet LLC
BochaBar Chocolate Peanut Butter bar
Good ++
Weight: 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 260 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $N/A - part of a larger order
Purchased from: BochaSweet (online order)

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's Chocolate Peanut Butter bar was from BochaSweet LLC (Las Vegas, NV). The company has focused on producing a healthier bar with superior versions of sugars and fats.

This bar tasted like a pressed, chewy chocolate peanut butter protein bar, with no off flavors, and with a sweetness that was natural without being too sweet (thank you!). It was substantial and filling in a satisfying way.

The company's sugar alternative (BochaSweet), used to sweeten today's bar is made from kabocha and is being incorporated into two BochaBars. Today's bar) contains chocolate, and the other is a vanilla almond flavor, with no chocolate.

Kabocha is a dark green, pumpkin-like squash rich in Vitamins A, B and C, manganese and other nutrients. Kabocha has also been a food staple in Japan for many centuries, and is consumed in some regions of Japan where populations have longer than average lifespans.

Whether BochaSweet's (pentose) extract, in its processed form, still contains all of the kabocha nutrients mentioned above, I do not know. But the resulting sugar substitute (which looks like sugar) is supposed to have a minimal effect on insulin--one of the holy grails, for sugar alternatives, along with a naturally clean, sweet taste, which BochaSweet also seems to have.

A sweetener like this that doesn't result in glucose spikes and lacks any bitter aftertaste should peak interest in the chocolate and confection industry. One possible barrier to the adoption of this sweetener may be its relatively high cost, at least initially.*

And now, on to fats...Consumers have grown wary of vegetable oils in processed foods and bars.

This BochaBar contained MCT oil, that contains medium-chain triglycerides. It is often extracted from coconut oil or palm oil. MCTs are made of of shorter chains of fatty acids than some other fats in our diet, are naturally found in coconut and palm oils as well as goat's milk and (human) breast milk. They are thought to be a bit easier to digest than longer chains found in other food sources.

*Higher adoption rates and volume can sometimes bring down costs over time.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Trader Joe's - Almond Butter Cups - Sept. 14, 2019

Chocolate of the Day: 

Trader Joe's
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
Good ++
Weight: 1.27 oz. (36 g.) / 8 oz. (227 g.) in total container
Calories: 190 calories in 1 serving (3 small cups)
Cost: $3.99 for 1 container
Purchased from: Trader Joe's, Mountain View, CA

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Nut Butter Theme Week.

Today's Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups from Trader Joe's (Monrovia, CA) were thick, creamy, sweet and satisfying.

Individually wrapped in gold foil, these filled chocolate cups were thick, creamy, sweet and satisfying. Great for hikes, personal (or work) field trips, bag lunches, etc. as long as they aren't left in direct sun.

Even then, these cups proved to be more resilience than, say, a thin, single origin dark chocolate bar, which converts to a lovely solar-induced chocolate fondue fairly quickly on a hot day. And, since we're experiencing a last blast of hot weather (edging toward triple digits) and trying to spend time outdoors, chocolate meltdowns can be avoided only with careful planning.
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