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What Is Fake Junk Food And Does It Really Help Your Health?

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One of the biggest catch phrases in the media right now is “fake news,” so it’s fitting that there is also something called “fake junk food.” Fake junk food is food that resembles your favorite junk food, but doesn’t contain all the bad things that your body doesn’t need.

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Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest is a home run

In the PR world, there are gimmicks, and there are the actual bright ideas that, when done correctly, can become a company’s signature. Frito-Lay has, in this blogger’s humble opinion, potentially laid the groundwork for the latter with their new Lay’s Potato Chip Do Us a Flavor competition. When I first heard about the competition on a radio talk show promo, I knew I had to try these chips. The concept? Lay’s asked for suggestions for new flavors between July and October of 2012, and received 3.8 million submissions from which there were three finalists chosen.

When the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange rang on February 12, the three finalists for the contest were on hand along with actress/restauranteur Eva Longoria and celebrity chef and restauranteur Michael Symon to kick off the contest, which runs until May 4, to introduce their flavors to the world. Here are the options and my thoughts on each one….

Lay’s Cheesy Garlic Bread (submitted by Karen Weber-Mendham of Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin) has a big, bold hit of garlic immediately after biting into the chip, followed by a more subtle cheese taste. I’m not a huge garlic guy, and while the flavor was more of a roasted garlic note, it kind of overpowered the other flavors of the cheesy garlic bread. And I think what is a tad disappointing is that, since I live in Wisconsin like Karen does, I would have preferred the cheese to be more dominant.

Lay’s Sriracha (submitted by Tyler Raineri of Lake Zurich, Illinois) has a touch of sweetness at the start, followed by a big chili pepper kick–just like the sriracha sauce. And it keeps getting hotter and hotter the more you eat. I love spicy food and love sriracha, and I definitely dig this flavor, but it still was my second favorite of the three.

Lay’s Chicken & Waffles (submitted by Christina Abu-Judom of Phoenix, Arizona) was the flavor I wanted to try the most, and it wound up being the one I liked the most, and wanted to just keep eating. If you’ve never had chicken and waffles, let me tell you you are missing out on one of the culinary world’s greatest gifts to our palates. The combination of crispy, juicy fried chicken with a light and fluffy waffle, both drenched in maple syrup, has my mouth watering as I type. And these chips had those notes–maple sweetness, followed by a faint savory chicken flavor. It was like a Chicken in a Biskit cracker dipped in maple syrup. Okay, where are my chips? Now I’m hungry for more.

For more information, please visit the Do Us a Flavor website, which also gives options to vote for your favorite, such as on Facebook. As for where to find the flavors, I’ve seen them in various stores, so you should be able to locate the chips easily as well….or you can use their handy store locator. So what are you waiting for? Do the fine folks at Frito-Lay a flavor!

  

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: Pringles Xtreme Blastin’ Buffalo Wing

Chef JimI’ve said this a million times, but I could live on wing sauce. I could drink it. I could eat it on every food known to man. I use it in recipes, I put it in my chili or in my soup. I douse food with it. I dip wings in it that don’t have wing sauce. And I love foods that use it, commercial foods or otherwise.

Such a food is Pringles Xtreme Blastin’ Buffalo Wing potato crisps (don’t call them chips, I think it’s illegal or something). I bought a stack of these today and they are true to the original flavor–that tangy, peppery, spicy, salty deliciousness. But it’s not doused–instead it’s kind of sprinkled and/or caked on each crisp. And so you get the flavor blast in addition to the subtle Pringle’s potato taste. This is good snack food–not necessarily good for you, but good tasting, good-with-beer, good-with-sandwich, good-with-late-night-anything snack food.

If you like Pringles and you like wings, why are you still reading this? Go buy a can/stack now and watch them disappear!

  

Mikey’s Food Resolutions for 2012

The last few years, Mrs. Mike and I have done New Year’s resolutions together on New Year’s Day. And I must say, we’ve stuck to many of them, often referring to our lists as the year wears on. That’s what resolutions are intended for, but many of us forget about them on or around January 3. But I thought it would be fun to put together a few food resolutions for 2012–feel free to add yours below or on Facebook:

Try one new kind of cheese per month–I started doing this in 2011 and got sidetracked or disinterested. But wait, I live in Wisconsin. Disinterested? Not an option, so I’m going to follow through this time. There are simply too many good cheeses to try in this part of the country.

Try a few things that are out of my comfort zone–I’m not a big fan of seafood, or anything in the organ meat vicinity. But in a meal at Graham Elliott in Chicago this past September, Mrs. Mike and I had a meal that had cooked fish; a deconstructed Caesar salad with a whole anchovy on top; and a foie gras lollipop with watermelon pop rocks. That was enough out of comfort zone for a whole year for me, but the foie gras was phenomenal–and I’m glad I took a step out of my comfort zone to try it.

Eat less junk–and by junk I mean stuff like candy, snack cakes and greasy chips. I am vowing to get back into shape in the New Year, and especially after having back surgery in February. And while I don’t think there is anything wrong with occasional junk food, I ate far too much of it in 2011. Time to start eating more nuts, dried fruit and sensible snacks when possible.

Work even harder to eat what’s in season–we belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) but found ourselves not using everything in our box before some of it went bad. I want to make more of an effort on that one.

Teach our son to eat better–our four year old, who has autism, is very picky about his food. We work hard on this, but it’s extremely difficult to get him to open his mind with food. I think we can work harder at it.

Revive “a can a week”–that was a fun column I started here but need to revive it, reviewing a canned food item per week, be it a new product or one that we’ve been eating for decades.

Use the deep fryer more–I don’t think I took that thing out at all in 2011, and that’s a shame. Who doesn’t love fried food (except me, when my doctor is reading this!)?

Find more cool restaurants and review them here–We live in Madison, one of the coolest food cities on the planet. Mrs. Mike and I love trying new places to eat but need to do so more often. And I’ll bring you the play by play here.

DVR more food shows–I keep seeing press releases and then forget to DVR the shows.

Eat more tofu–seriously? No, that was a joke. Blech.

Thanks for reading, and happy new year!

  

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