Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Critique: Smart Ones Pasta Primavera!

'Tender bow tie pasta with broccoli florets and julienne-cut carrots in a creamy Parmesan sauce.' That's the description on the cover of this Weight Watchers 250 calories TV dinner! It was on sale for $2.50 and I decided to give one a try. I mean who can resist bow tie pasta?

Like some of the other Smart Ones offerings, this meal comes in at about a calorie per gram. That's a good figure to see in any complex food, if you're thinking of losing weight. In my case, I am trying to consume just 1300 calories per day. At that rate, I am losing about 1.5 pounds per week, a number that most doctors consider safe. It's important, however, that I make sure the foods I'm consuming are
healthy! That translates into a balance mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats! During an average month (July 2014), I averaged 1,267 calories per day. (See the pie chart for the breakout). I managed to lose 6 pounds, and yet, I ate pretty well!

Preparation of the Pasta Primavera meal deal was fairly straightforward – You pull back a corner of the plastic covering. Nuke on high for 3 ½ minutes, stir, recover and nuke for another minute! A simple meal to prepare for a simple person like myself!

The taste was a pleasant surprise. First off the pasta was thankfully al dente – had it been anything other than perfect, I would have shit-canned the meal right there. The Parmesan sauce also brought a lot to the party and seemed to tie everything together. I gave this one a 7 on a scale of 10.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A quick picnic at River Run Park!

On a Tuesday in late July day, at around noontime, I decided it would be a great idea to go down to a local part for an informal picnic. The weather was picture perfect at 82°F, as is it this time of year, and I thought sitting next to a river might be just the ticket!

Most people around these parts know River Run is a popular RV/camping area situated just east of the small town of Forsyth Missouri. On this particular day, only a few scattered RV's were in evidence leaving the park about 1/3 full. I elected to park at site #25 which is just across from the dual bridges that span Swan Creek. A small tributary that feeds into the much larger Bull Shoals.

Under a partly cloudy sky, with just a little wind out of the west for companions; I laid out a simple man's feast consisting of a hotdog, a bowl of vegetable beef soup I'd made earlier and a Diet Pepsi.
Over to my left, out on Bull Shoals river, I noticed there was one or two fishing boats in evidence. They always seem to be running from one location to another.

As, I ate, I was struck by just how quiet this park is. It's a great location to just sit and watch the river slowly flow on by.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Critique: Smart Ones Chicken Oriental

In my limited view of all things dietary, if a TV dinner has the word 'oriental' somewhere in the description, it's basically a varied version of chicken chow mien! This product from the folks at Weight Watchers was on sale at $2.50 at a local grocery store, and so I scooped one up. You have to give the marketing people some credit as the picture on the front of the package looked awesome! In addition, the 255 gram meal contain only 255 calories and as we all know, if you can score a decent entree that comes in at one calorie per gram, you're on to something good!

This offering had rice, soy sauce, bits of chicken, celery carrots and all the other stuff you might associate with a chicken chow mien styled meal.

Ah so! And, as I was on a life-long diet, I figured it might even fit as something I could supplement with another one or two sides, so I added a small serving of coleslaw and a glass of milk!

The directions were very simple and straight forward. Peel back a corner, nuke on high for 3 minutes 30 seconds, stir and then nuke for another minute. Easy greasy and the kind of TV dinner made for blokes like myself!

TASTE: Surprise! The taste was pretty darn good stuff! A filling meal combined with low calories and which tastes great makes this a sure winner in my book. I plan to buy more in the future! I scored this meal a deal at a healthy 7.5 on a scale of 10!

Update: Sept 2016 - This item was again on sale at only $2! and, as I had some oriental styled left over veggies, I threw them in for good measure with a slice of white bread that had been slathered with butter! The result was all a quick meal could hope to be!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Critique: A cherry pie Blast-o-Rama!

In this commercial picture, I feel they could have done a better job!
For someone with one foot already dipped ever so lightly into the pool of Type II diabetes, I normally tend to shy away from anything with extremely high levels of sugar! (And, for the most part, I've been successful). Then, one afternoon in July, while shopping at a local grocery, I spied this small package labeled 'Cherry Pie'! They are made by a company called JJ's Bakery which is actually JTM Foods out of Erie, PA and each 113 gram pie serving contains a whopping 410 calories.Gee, almost an entire for this aging dieter!

But, what really sealed the purchase deal, for me, on this occasion was the fact that you can 'try them warmmm' by nuking them in the microwave for about 15 seconds. that brought me instantly back in time to my youth and the cheery pies my mom like to make! Who could resist that? [The only turn off for me was that picture of the filing! Horrible! They could have done a much better job, in my opinion.

As you might imagine, the taste was all it could be! Hey, who doesn't like raw sugar? For only 75 cents, this deal was well worth the risk! I gave it a 9 on a scale of 10!

Update: In early 2016, this treat was still seventy five cents!

Well, at least I know what decade I'm in...

While walking along a country road, I spied this empty water bottle that was lying in a gutter. It told me loads of information even if it were empty and discarded. For one thing this was a bottle of spring water, something more and more people drink as they are afraid of what comes from their taps. Seeing it, I can definitively state that the era was sometime around the early second decade of the 21st Century.

After all this time, people still litter and are afraid. Nothing much has changed...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Critique: Tony's Supreme Crispy Crust Pizza for One!

In general, my experiences with so-called 'single' servings of pizza have not gone very well (see my critique on Freschetta pizza). Those little boxed items, found in the freezer section of many grocery markets, are oftentimes an impulse purchase for me. (This is especially if you happen to be an old bachelor who is looking for a 'quickie' meal that incorporates some form of junk food, which is the best food there is, in my view)!

As I had never tried a Tony's pizza before, I was looking forward to the experience. At a cost of only a buck on sale, this 221 gram meal still manages to pack a hefty 500 calories! And, if you guessed that it's also loaded with fat, you'd be right on the money!

Preparation is not the simple sort of deal I would have liked. You have to heat your oven up to 400F, then place the pizza on a rack for 16-18 minutes. This would normally turn me off, as I would rather do a quick nuke-it and eat-it meal, instead. My other objection was a nutritional one – the sodium content was at 930 mg! (That's a warning signal – in general the more salt added the less tasty the product would be without it)!

So, with those cravats in mind, I 'did the time', removed it from the oven, snapped a picture and then dug on in.....

Well, my first impression was 'not too bad'. The crust was crispy, as advertised, and the toppings were cooked and pleasant to the taste. The sauce they use was tangy and good, also. My only complaint was I felt that their crust was a bit too crispy for my tastes. Other than that, I gave it a 7 on a scale of ten. It would have scored higher if they could find a way to cut back on the salt a bit!

Note: For young children, this could easily be a pizza for two!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Pre-Lucy Movie Review!

Normally, I shy away from movie reviews, especially any reviews that come out before the movie does! This effort by Luc Besson is scheduled for release on July 25, 2014. It stars Scarlett Johansson as the title character, along with Morgan Freeman. It's a sci fi flick about a world run by the mob, street gangs, drug addicts and corrupt cops! Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a woman living in Taipei, Taiwan who is forced to work as a drug mule for the mob. The drug implanted in her body inadvertently leaks into her system, which allows her to use more than the normal 10% of her brain's capacity, thus changing her into a kind of super-woman. As a result, she can absorb information instantaneously, is able to move objects with her mind, and can choose not to feel pain or other discomforts.

In truth, I like the premise of this plot and plan to make an effort to see it. The idea of mankind using more than 10% of their brain power for things other than breathing, eating and having sex is also a rather novel idea!  (It may also give the real drug mules that are currently streaming over our border, at least the illusion that things will work out well for them....)!

A high carb, high gluten breakfast!

At a time in our society where many Americans are increasingly avoiding products that contain gluten, it must be very hard for the General mills folks who make cereals like 'Wheaties' to get it done!The key, of course, is to balance a high carbohydrate meal like this by eating high protein foods later in the day. I like getting my carbs early on in the day to give me a boost and then will move into some meats and veggies for lunch and dinner to balance everything out!

Friday, July 11, 2014

We'll be right back!

After years of suffering through ads with William Devane and his gold commercials, I've finally achieved a milestone. I've reached that magic point where I automatically and without thinking, hit the mute button whenever I hear the key words 'right back'! This is done subconsciously now and it's frankly wonderful! and, I'm apparently not alone!

"I don’t think those Rosland Capital commercials starring William Devane are having the desired response. If I have to watch one more TV spot where he’s flying his plane, sitting in his gorgeous home with his massive fireplace, or riding his horse on his expansive ranch, I’m just not sure what I’ll do.

Especially when he says, “Dontcha just love the feel of gold?” Yeah, I’m sure I’d love it way more than the piles of bills on my desk. Hey, William, send some of those gold coins over and I’ll put them in my safe. Keep ‘em safe for ya."