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Product review: Krave Jerky

You know how when you buy a car, and then you notice your model of car everywhere on the road? Yeah, where am I going with this? Well, about a month ago I was perusing the cool and interesting food items at World Market, and on the little hooks in between shelves sat some beef jerky–called Krave. And I was struck immediately by the flavors–Chili Lime, and Sweet Chipotle. I must have this jerky, I thought. And so I did. I took it home and tried the chili lime first, and it was love at first bite. Not only was this jerky bursting with flavor and spice, it was extremely tender, the direction that many commercial jerky varieties seem to be going in–that is, away from chewy meat that takes an hour to chew, to a more tender, almost fresh type.

Anyway, the Sweet Chipotle kind of paled in comparison to the Chili Lime, which I inhaled almost in one sitting. Then I did what I do a lot of these days–I looked up Krave online, and contacted them to profess my undying love. And when I perused the site, I found out they have several cool flavors–including Basil Citrus and Orange Pineapple. But the cool thing is that they match the flavor profile to type of meat–so the Basil Citrus is for turkey jerky, as is Lemon Garlic. The other beef flavors are Garlic Chili Pepper (my new favorite that I am gnawing at like a caveman as I am writing this–tastes like beef teriyaki Chinese takeout) and Pineapple Orange. And their smoked teriyaki flavor uses pork as its canvas, and it’s also tender and delicious and one of my other faves.

Right now I have a big bag of Krave that I’m working through a little at a time, since my wife got me the 5-jerky sampler pack for Valentine’s Day, and the fine folks at Krave sent me the Pineapple Orange to try. I also keep finding Krave in stores–in Target, Walgreens and other places (back to my original point, you see). And if I see the Chili Lime, Chili Garlic or Smoked Teriyaki variety, I can’t walk past it without grabbing a bag. And so my bag O Krave is never empty.

My only complaint is that they got rid of the Curry flavor before I had a chance to try it. And when I went to order some of the Garlic Chili Pepper flavor yesterday, they were out of stock. Luckily I stopped at World Market yesterday and stocked up. But they also told me a new flavor is being developed–Black Cherry Barbecue. I love that this company is coming up with new, bold and interesting flavors and maybe rotating them out. And rotating is fine so long as I know I can stock up on my faves.

My point is, if you see Krave, buy it and eat it! You will Krave it just like I do now.

Product review: House Foods Tofu

I know, I know. A food blog geared toward guys talking about tofu? Well, I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, but its health benefits, especially for weight loss, are real. So when the fine folks who represent House Foods Premium Tofu reached out, I thought I’d give tofu another chance. They touted the prospects of cutting tofu into chunks and grilling it, with House Foods extra firm variety really standing up to the grill, whereas that is not always the case with standard tofu. For you novices, keep in mind that tofu typically comes in the extra firm variety like that, or the softer versions which are more like scrambled eggs (and can be used as such) and can be used as a salad dressing or “cream” soup base.

Anyway, I tried the firm variety, not extra firm, and used it cubed in a miso soup. I should preface this by saying that my doctor instructed me to lose some weight to help bring down my spiking blood pressure, so I’m doing Weight Watchers, which really has come a long way in being more guy-friendly. I mean, Charles Barkley does it, why can’t I? Anyway, this soup kicks ass–you fry some mushrooms in a bit of oil, add some broth along with sliced bok choy, and the tofu. And to make it more flavorful (and with some spice), I sliced some fresh jalapeno and put that in the soup. Delicious.

But wait, this is about the tofu. Well, tofu is the type of food that absorbs flavors, but it’s usually the texture that separates good tofu from not-so-good. And House Foods is good–the firm is firm, and it doesn’t fall apart in soup. It has a nice texture that isn’t offensive. And hey, I’d use it again, and I probably will!

Product review: Sheets Energy/Sleep Sheets

Wake, or sleep?

That is the question if you’re looking for a boost in either direction, the folks at Sheets brand have the products for you that are as easy to take as those breath strips that have become so popular the last few years. That’s because they are strips–the kind that dissolve on your tongue within seconds.

Chef JimWe reviewed the Energy Sheets a while back, and they recently sent us some samples of a new flavor–Mint Boost. These strips have no sugar, no calories and are loaded with B-vitamins, and they really taste good, similar to a fresh breath strip (which I need badly now because I’m on the South Beach diet!). There is a bit of caffeine as well (50 mg), which is about the amount of maybe a third of a cup of coffee. That might explain why I felt a jolt for a few minutes that did not last beyond that. So while the Sheets may give you some extra vitamins, I’d suggest grabbing a cup of coffee instead if you need that afternoon boost or need to stay awake while driving on the freeway at night.

Chef JimBut the Sleep Sheets are a completely different story. I have an affinity for so-called “relaxation” drinks such as Serenity and Marley’s Mellow Mood. They all have a mixture of herbs and natural supplements such as melatonin and/or valerian root that promote relaxation and sleep. But the problem with these beverages is that, well, you have to pee a couple hours later, right as you’re in the midst of a kickass night’s sleep. Sleep Sheets won’t make you pee, and it has those same key ingredients such as melatonin, theanine and chamomile. And they have a nice minty flavor too. The best part….they work. Take this an hour or so before you plan to crash, and you will relax and fall asleep easily. I can’t recommend this product any more than I am right now!

Check out www.sheetsbrand.com for more information.

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: Hormel Mary Kitchen 50% less fat Corned Beef Hash

Chef JimJust in time for St. Patrick’s Day, right? I popped open a can of Hormel Mary Kitchen 50% less fat Corned Beef Hash for lunch today, and it was awesome. What I did was to empty half a can into a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, and cooked on medium heat for about ten minutes with flipping it. That made the bottom nice and crispy, and then I flipped it over to crisp the other side. After about five more minutes, I cracked an egg on top and let that cook until set, added salt and pepper, and instant lunch! Of course, this is a food more suited for breakfast, but there are no rules here at Mikey’s Kitchen.

I didn’t compare this against the full fat version of this hash, but this one had less fat (I believe 7 grams per serving). However, it was still 290 calories, so if you’re watching your weight, you should keep this one on the shelf.

Anyway, the tasty combo of tiny cubes of corned beef and potatoes was filling and delicious, and even better crisped up with the egg on top. This is a good thing to keep on hand for hangover food or to impress your house guests.

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