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Product review: Planters NUTrition peanut butters

I’ve always loved peanut butter, but for whatever reason it’s the type of food that I eat for a while, and then take a break from it. So I hadn’t eaten any peanut butter in a few weeks when a food publicist I work with sent me the new Planters NUTrition peanut butters to try. There are three varieties–Banana Granola Nut, Berry Nut, and Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut.

These aren’t just peanut butters, they are like mix-ins. If you like spreading peanut butter on, say, a granola bar, then this stuff is for you. The Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut is the best one–it’s like cinnamon toast spread with peanut butter. It just works, has great flavor, and the crunch is an added bonus. The Berry Nut (with dried cranberries) is pretty good and a good one to spread on an apple. The Banana Granola Nut, however, I was not a fan of. It had the strong taste of a very ripe banana–which may appeal to some of you, but not to me.

As for the nutrition part, each serving has 6-7 grams of protein and at least 5 vitamins and minerals, and it’s a healthy snack when paired with fruit, whole grain crackers or breads such as bagels or English muffins, or in recipes. Or there is one of my other favorite ways–with a big spoon right out of the jar. Of course, you could be like George Costanza and use your “disgusting index finger.”

If you like peanut butter, you will love this stuff!

Worth the wait–beef jerky

Sometimes recipes look daunting. Or sometimes just the thought of making something delicious seems like it’s too much trouble. I subscribe to a great magazine called Clean Eating. Of course, I don’t eat as healthy as I should, or by the standards of this magazine all that much (if you read this blog, you know I have a soft spot for junk food)–but I do try to at the very least use it for some healthy habits and for some killer recipes. So last week my wife was reading the letters to the editor about how great their homemade beef jerky recipe was. I had missed that, so I dug it up from the January/February issue to see what the fuss was about.

And as you can see by the attached photo, it sure looked like a lot of work, and a bit complicated because you have to take out your oven racks, reposition them, hang the jerky from the racks on skewers, put foil down and use a towel to absorb moisture. You also have to freeze the meat to cut it easier, then marinate it for 3-6 hours before baking/dehydrating it for 5 hours or more. That’s a long day. So after buying a nice London broil on Saturday, I looked closer at the recipe and became scared. I didn’t want to spend all day Sunday doing this.

But on Monday I felt guilty and felt like I really should give it a go. I pulled out the recipe again in the morning, and fortunately I work from home. So I did it. I froze the meat for an hour, cut it, marinated for 3 hours, then did all the funky oven stuff (which was not difficult or time consuming as I had thought) and let the strips of deliciousness cook or dry out or whatever it does…for five hours. The result…..fantastic. Here I have homemade jerky that is tasty, spicy, just chewy enough, and with no ingredients I can’t pronounce. The only problem is that big batch from Monday is almost gone already. So it’s time to make more!

Note: I couldn’t find this recipe online, but I will reach out to the editor to see if they have one or a pdf…and if you’re interested in that, e-mail me at mikeyskitchen@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

Product review: Planters Nuts for March Madness

I’ve never seen such hype around March Madness bracket-wise. There are brackets for everything now, but many of them are food-related. What are the top cereals, the top snack foods, the top fast food. Well, here are some snacks that were sent to us to review during March Madness–Planters Five Alarm Chili Dry Roasted Peanuts, and Dry Roasted Pistachios. As the press release said, before mentioning that these are indeed a healthy and tasty snack option, “What’s a party without Mr. Peanut?”

Chef JimDry Roasted Pistachios–these nuts are roasted in the shell with sea salt added. I was expecting these to be without shells as many pistachios now are, but that’s okay. I think part of the charm of pistachios is opening the shells. It takes longer and makes you eat slower. And they were nice and easy to crack open which is always a plus. Oh, and the taste? Delicious, and a good source of fiber and protein to boot! By the way, remember when pistachios had that pinkish-red dye? You ate them and your hands looked like they were smeared with lipstick. Just thought I would throw that in to reminisce.

Chef JimFive Alarm Chili Dry Roasted Peanuts–One of the biggest complaints I have about spicy snack foods is that they are often not spicy enough. Not so with these dry roasted peanuts. They are spicy in a deceptive kind of way–you pop them in your mouth, and enjoy the peppery/spicy taste of the dry rub. Then a boot comes up from behind and kicks you square in the butt. And one of the best parts? They are dry roasted, so you don’t get oily hands afterward. The peanuts also now come in a plastic jar, and there is a little “green” sticker on it that says “84% less packaging.” Hey, more spice, less carbon footprint. But yeah, these are might tasty too.

So the Final Four starts this weekend, which means more time to enjoy March Madness party food like Planter’s nuts.

Product review: Blue Diamond Nut-Thins

Chef JimIf you haven’t tried Blue Diamond’s new Nut-Thins, you are in for a treat–especially if you are allergic to wheat products (although there is a disclaimer on the box about that). The fine folks of Blue Diamond have figured out a way to make a cracker out of almonds, even if the main ingredient is rice flour. The second ingredient is pure almonds, and you can surely taste the delcious nutty flavor in each bite.

The company sent us two flavors–original and smokehouse. The original tastes very much like a flattened rice cake, but a bit more dense from the almonds. The smokehouse has that signature flavor we’ve all come to love from the company’s signature Smokehouse Almonds. And I can attest to one thing that Mrs. Mikey and I both noticed–you absolutely can’t stop eating them, especially the highly addictive smokehouse flavor.

And the good thing about not being able to put the box down, is that each 16-cracker serving is only 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat but with a whopping 3 grams of protein. They are baked, not fried, and yet are light and crispy.

In addition to the flavors we tried, there is also a cheddar flavor almond cracker, as well as hazelnut and pecan versions.

For more information, go to www.bluediamond.com or just go pluck a box or three off your grocery store shelf.

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