Walgreen’s Nutritional Shakes Review

Hey folks, today I’ll be reviewing Walgreen’s Nutritional Shakes. Last week I needed to get something to supplement my work lunches in the few days before our next scheduled grocery shipment from Amazon Fresh. I was doing a little shopping in the area of my work, and I went to Walgreen’s, to see if they had anything that looked good to me, and which also satisfied my dietary preferences. I decided to try a six pack of the vanilla bean flavored nutritional shakes, which cost me $8.79, plus tax. A picture of one is below.

Walgreens Shake Front

It said on the package that the nutritional content could be compared to the Boost line of shakes. I like Boost. Back in 2000, when I had surgery on my jaw, I couldn’t eat solid food for two weeks, and I pretty much lived on them. I lost more than fifteen pounds, but I thought the shakes were good. They actually tasted not far off from an actual milkshake, just a small one, since each shake is only eight ounces.

The Walgreen’s nutritional shakes were eight ounces as well, and they were good from a nutritional standpoint, as each one had nine percent total fat and five percent saturated fat, and only eight percent of your daily recommended sodium, as well as plenty of protein. Unfortunately, where these ones were lacking were in the taste department. At first sip, there was a taste of vanilla bean, but then, as I swallowed, there was an odd, chemical kind of aftertaste. It happened each time I took a sip: first it would taste pretty good, and then that chemical taste would be left on my tongue. I thought it might have been just that one shake, but then as I opened each of the other ones in the package and drank them, the same thing happened. Based on that unpleasant aftertaste, I can’t recommend this particular product, and I won’t be purchasing it again. Maybe Walgreen’s might choose to alter its formula at some point to counteract that nasty chemical taste, but until then, I’ll be searching elsewhere, or maybe just going back to Boost, a quality-proven product for me. That’s it for now folks, more next week!

Big Daddy’s Diner Review

Recently I went to Big Daddy’s Diner in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, at 239 Park Avenue South. I went with Megan and two of her friends, a couple, so it could be considered to be a double date, which sounds like about the most middle-aged and domesticated thing I can think of. At any rate, Big Daddy’s is just a few blocks from my work, and I had noticed it in the past, and wanted to check it out. They have some good, Steven-friendly stuff on the menu, fried chicken, chili, tator tots, and other typical American diner food. Not a lot that’s very healthy, unless you wanted to go the salad route, and, as you can probably guess, that wasn’t too likely with me. I was pretty hungry when I got there, after having worked a full day, so I got a bowl of chili, some teriyaki chicken tenders, and tator tots. Below is a shot of the chili.

Chili

As you can see, it came with melted cheese and tortilla strips on top, which isn’t the way I’d usually expect to see it prepared, but I didn’t mind. The problem came when I dug into the chili, and found that it was full of onions and chunks of tomato. If you come to the site regularly, you know that I hate onions. They’re the bane of my existence, and you never know what dish they’re going to pop up in. I’m not a big fan of the tomato chunks, either. I’d much prefer the chili be just meat and beans, essentially. Alas, you never know with chili what the recipe is going to be, and in this case, it was not to my liking.

The good news is that the tots and chicken strips were just fine. It’s kind of hard to mess up those two things, and I found the tots to be crispy and portion size to be generous. The same could be said for the teriyaki tenders, and they had some other good sounding flavors too. Next time the buffalo style might be the way to go. Megan got one of the many alcoholic milkshakes the diner has on offer, and she said it was very enjoyable. She also went with the cheeseburger sliders. A pic is below.

Sliders

Really, the best to thing to mention about our experience at Big Daddy’s, though, has to be the happy hour specials. So there are specials nearly every weekday (we were there Friday, and fried chicken is half off that day), but also every weekday until seven all appetizers, cocktails, and beer are half off. We got there at six, and since we ordered almost exclusively off the app menu, our bill was very reasonable. The tots, tenders, sliders, and chili were all half off, and I got several Blue Moons at three dollars each, normally six. Because of that, I would say that my experience at Big Daddy’s Diner was more than satisfactory, despite the slight disappointment of the chili. Next time I’ll know not to get that, and if you go, which I recommend that you do, I strongly urge you to go during happy hour, when you can take advantage of the specials. If you don’t, you’ll be paying Manhattan prices for food, which are, needless to say, a bit pricey. As far as looking for a healthy meal, try elsewhere, unless you opt for the salad, and if you’re likely to do that, you’re pretty much on the wrong website. Overall, because of it’s not being too healthy, I wouldn’t go to Big Daddy’s every day. It’s a dietary splurge, but one that I fully enjoyed on this occasion, along with good company and good conversation. Now I’ll just have to jog a couple of miles to work off some of those tots!

Bill’s Bar and Burger Review

Hey folks, today I’ll be reviewing Bill’s Bar and Burger. My mom was in town last week and she was going to a museum in the Meatpacking District. I’d heard that Bill’s has good burgers, so we went as a group, me and Megan, my mom, and my cousin and her boyfriend. The restaurant is located at 22 9th Avenue, between 13th and 14th Streets. It’s cozy, and when we were seated in the back room, it was fairly dead, being the start of the lunch hour. It got busier as we ate our meal. The menu was definitely Steven-friendly, which was one of the main reasons I’d picked it. Basically just a lot of meat was what was happening, wings, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and milkshakes. Some of the milkshake flavors sounded intriguing, but instead I opted for an Angry Orchard cider. We started with a half dozen buffalo wings, which cost $11.95. That comes out to two dollars a wing, which is pretty freaking overpriced, but it’s Manhattan, an upscale part of town, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. No worries, though, since my mom was paying for it. Thanks, mom! The wings were very good, at least, smoky, saucy, and meaty, with just a bit of a kick from the buffalo sauce. Nothing special, but definitely serviceable.

Next up was the main course, and I felt like I had to go with the burger. I opted to build my own burger. I got mine medium, and added mozzarella and chili. The burger was $9.75, the added cheese was an extra dollar, and the added chili was an extra two dollars. That’s expensive, again, especially since it didn’t come with fries, and I was obliged to add them to the order. They were five dollars. That means that all together I was looking at $17.75. Again, that’s on the expensive side, any way you choose to look at it, but you’re paying for the zip code, so it’s unavoidable. A picture of the burger is below.

Chili Cheeseburger

This was a tasty burger, and, at six ounces, it was a good size, but not excessive. It came with tomato and lettuce, which I removed, but it least there was no hated onion. The chili had beans and brisket, and it was savory rather than sweet, tasting of vinegar a bit. The cheese was stretchy and added a pleasant flavor, and the bun was lightly toasted. Really no complaints, this made for a tasty lunch, particularly with the fries on the side. They’re below.

Fries

They were hot, starchy, and crispy, everything you look for from my favorite side dish. The portion was also ample, but not excessive. When I finished my meal, I was pleasantly full, not overly so. With some good company and conversation, this was a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I have no problems recommending Bill’s Bar and Burger based on the quality of the food or the portion size, but I will say that the price is a bit prohibitive. Also, this wasn’t exactly a healthy meal, so I would simply say this: I’d be happy coming back here, but it would have to be an occasional thing, seeing as this sort of meal leaves you a pound or two heavier, and a little lighter in the wallet, too. A long walk afterward might have been my penance, were it not brutally cold on this particular day. Oh well, spring should be here soon.

Brick Lane Curry House Review

My wife Megan and myself recently celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. To commemorate our six years of wedded bliss, we went to Brick Lane Curry House, located at 235 East 53rd Street #1, in Midtown Manhattan. We had been there once before; I used to work right in that area. Brick Lane Curry House is one of a number of Indian restaurants in the area known sometimes as Curry Hill. They usually have similar menus, and lunch buffets. I had wanted to try it originally because it appeared on the show Man vs Food, when the host took the phaal challenge. Phaal is a kind of insanely hot curry this place has…I thought about trying it, but didn’t do it the first time I was there, or this time either. Maybe in my younger days I would have given it a shot. We started with a pair of vegetable samosas, which cost nine dollars. A picture is below.

Potato Samosas 2

 

The picture quality on my camera phone isn’t great, and the place was pretty dark, but you get the idea. These were delicious, with two to an order. The pastry crust was crispy, but thick enough to contain the puree of potatoes and peas, which was perfect when topped off with a dab of chutney. Then it was on to the main course. My wife got chicken saag, which is chicken with spinach. Needless to say, it didn’t appeal to me much. I got the chicken vindaloo, which cost twenty dollars. A picture of it is below.

Chicken Vindaloo 2

 

It also came with rice and peas pilaf, below.

Rice Pilaf 2

 

Lastly, we got two orders of garlic naan, which cost five dollars each. They also have several other varieties of naan, but we pretty much always order garlic; it’s the old standby.

Garlic Naan 2

 

The naan was delicious, fluffy yet crispy, buttery, with big pieces of garlic. The rice and peas pilaf was fine, nothing special. The chicken vindaloo was seriously super-fiery, as the server had warned me. I tasted the heat of the peppers with the first bite, and, as I continued eating, I broke out in sweat across my brow and under my armpits. It definitely cleared up my sinuses! I had no one to blame but myself ordering something so hot, as I have the tendency to do, so no problems there.

Really, all the food was fine, or better than fine…the only problem, really, was the price. I know we were in Midtown, and things are going to be more expensive there than they are in our neighborhood, Bay Ridge, for instance, but it still kind of sucked paying more for each item than we might have elsewhere. The vindaloo, for instance, would have run us twelve dollars around here versus twenty there, and the samosas for nine would have been six here. Her entree was overpriced too. With two glasses of wine for Megan and two beers for me, plus tip, our bill was over a hundred dollars. A similar meal here would have been about sixty. So, do I recommend Brick Lane Curry House? I do, based on the quality of the meal, but it would have to be an occasional choice, unless you have no problem paying for overpriced food. In any event, it was a happy anniversary dinner, and a good time was had by both of us.

Ore Ida Bagel Bites Review

Hello again. This week I’ll be reviewing Ore Ida Bagel Bites, with pepperoni. Ore Ida has a good line of frozen food products, many of which I’ve enjoyed over the years. Several of their varieties of frozen fries were staples in my younger days, as was the case with their bagel bites, miniature bagels with pizza toppings on them. Pizza bagels bring back many happy memories for me. As a youngster, I remember going to Camp Livingston in Indiana and looking forward to pizza bagels for lunch the most out of almost anything they’d serve us. The Bagel Bites from Ore Ida remind me of the ones we used to get, both in appearance and taste. They’re available on Amazon.

Bagel Bites go for $1.99 on Amazon Fresh, which is very reasonable. At your local store, you might find them for as much as $2.99 or even $3.49, depending on where you live. You get nine little pizza bagels per package. The total fat for a whole box is twenty percent, saturated fat is twenty-six percent, and total sodium is twenty-eight percent of your daily recommended amount. All of those are within the parameters of what I look for from a frozen meal. A picture of the uncooked bagels is below.

Bagel Bites Wrapped

 

These bagel bites are done after about three minutes in most microwaves. I like to cook mine a little bit longer, so they’re kind of crispy. For a guy like me, the picky eater, these are perfect. They’re relatively healthy, and there’s not a vegetable to be seen, just bagel, which serves as the crust, a little tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni bits. I don’t know what genius it was who came up with the idea of combining mini bagels with pizza toppings, but surely they deserve a place in the snacking hall of fame. I fully endorse Ore Ida Bagel Bites. Whether you’re bringing them to lunch or having them for a snack at home, these are pretty much perfect, bite sized, and they never fail to remind me of bygone times.

 

Bagel Bites Cooked

 

If you have them handy, I also recommend sprinkling these little guys with some garlic powder, oregano, or adding some fire with a dash of hot sauce or Tabasco sauce!

Lean Cuisine Baked Chicken Review

This week I’ll be reviewing the Lean Cuisine Baked Chicken entree, available on Amazon Fresh.

This is another one of the mini-meals that I brought for work. The cost on Amazon Fresh was $2.89, which is pretty good. The total fat for this meal is nine percent of your daily recommended amount, saturated fat is thirteen percent, and sodium is twenty-five percent. All of those are well within the acceptable range. This entree advertises “tender white meat chicken with savory stuffing and creamy red skin mashed potatoes.” Below is a picture of it, out of the package, but not warmed up yet. About four minutes in the microwave at work did the job.

 

Lean Cusine Wrapped

I would say this entree was just okay, not great. The main problem I had with it is with the stuffing. Stuffing is kind of a wild card for a picky eater, because you never know quite what’s going to be in it, unless you made it yourself. It can have all kinds of different ingredients, but the one you want to watch out for is onions, my old nemesis. Sure enough, there were onions in the stuffing, and celery too, both of which I’m not a fan of. The chicken was fine, as was the gravy-like sauce on it, though the piece that you get with a meal of this size is moderate at best, probably about four or five big bites. The mashed potatoes were also tasty, so no problems there.

So, to recap, both chicken and potatoes were fine, but I had to pick through the stuffing, and, finding it pretty much rife with onions and celery, I ended up discarding it. So while there were parts of this meal that I liked, I didn’t finish all of it, meaning that I walked away with my hunger still largely unsatisfied. I’ve had worse meals, but I don’t think this will be something that I get regularly, and so I won’t be recommending it. It turns out this is yet another one of those meals that is marred, for me at least, by the unwelcome presence of vegetables. Here’s another shot of the cooked version below…you can see the offending veggies peeking out from below the chicken.

 

Lean Cuisine Unwrapped

Smucker’s Uncrustables Review

This time around I’ll be reviewing Smucker’s Uncrustables, which are available at many stores in your frozen food section, and on Amazon Prime at the link below.

SMUCKERS UNCRUSTABLES FROZEN SANDWICHES PEANUT BUTTER & GRAPE JELLY 4 CT PACK OF 3

Amazon Prime only has these available in the strawberry flavor. There’s also a grape flavor out there which I like better, but the strawberry is okay. An Uncrustable is basically a crustless, circular peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, which is frozen, and then you thaw it out for about forty-five minutes and it’s good to go. If I have one of these and I take it with me on the train to work, by the time I get there, it’s ready to eat. They come four to a package, and a package is $2.99 on Amazon. You might find them for as much as four dollars or four-fifty in some grocery stores. A picture of one of the individual sandwiches is below.

Uncrustable No Wrapper

Health-wise, an Uncrustable is pretty good. Total fat content is thirteen percent, and saturated fat is nine percent. Sodium content is ten percent. All of those are right in the wheelhouse of what I shoot for in those categories. Simply put, there’s nothing really objectionable to be found about an Uncrustable. The thought behind it and the execution of it is like something I might have come up with in elementary school, and I mean that as a compliment. The crusts, the part of the sandwich that most people don’t like, are done away with, and the peanut butter to jelly ratio is perfect. Not only that, because of the circular design, the toppings are safely inside and have no danger of leaking out until you bite into it.

Smucker’s came up with something really well thought out here, and, after trying this for the first time, I knew it was going to come into my regular rotation as a staple. I enthusiastically recommend this product. It hearkens back to an earlier time in my life, when Mom packed my lunch for me and a PB and J was almost always going to be in there. Those days may be fading ever further into the past, but seeing and tasting something like this always makes me a little nostalgic, and never fails to brighten my day.

Campbell’s Chicken and Stars Review

This week I’ll be reviewing Campbell’s Chicken and Stars…Andy Warhol would be pleased. I was running low on food between grocery deliveries from Amazon Fresh, and I found myself in Manhattan lacking one of my mini-meals at lunchtime. I went to Morton Williams on Park Avenue South, and started looking for an inexpensive option that also fit the health criteria I usually look for from pre-packaged meals. I looked in the soup section and came up with the Chicken and Stars single-serving from Campbell’s. A picture of it and a link to it are below.

Campbell’s Chicken & Star Shaped Pasta Soup on the Go, 10.75 Ounce Microwavable Cups (Pack of 8)

 

Campbell's Back

First, the good. The cost of this item at Morton Williams was $2.49, which is reasonable, although the portion size wasn’t exactly huge. This would do for a snack, not for a significant meal. I liked the package design, which allows one to open the soup with a pull tab, then it’s only a matter of popping it in the microwave for a minute or so. It was a cold day, and the smell of the soup cooking made my stomach rumble.

Now, the not so good. Health-wise, this product has two percent of your daily total fat recommendation, and three percent saturated fat. Those are both great. The problem, predictably enough, was sodium. A whopping forty percent means that even if I had loved this meal, I don’t think I’d be getting it too often, just because of the salt content. I know it’s not easy, but Campbell’s really needs to find a way to cut down on that.

Simply put, this soup wasn’t that great. It’s kind of hard to ruin broth, and that part was fine, but despite promising “chicken and stars,” there was virtually no chicken to speak of. I think I might have seen one or two scraps, that’s it. As for the stars, they were really tiny, and there was quite a bit of cubed carrots for filler. As the great vegetable hater, I don’t really have a vendetta against carrots, though I don’t really care for them when they’re cooked. The softness and mushiness of them isn’t something I’m fond of. I had to fish those out, and what I was left with, when I was done with that, was, well, not much of any real substance. So, to recap, we had almost no chicken, tiny star noodles that didn’t really satisfy, and altogether too many mushy carrots.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this product. You always are taking a chance when you’re trying something new, and this time I was game, but I don’t believe this is going to make its way into my regular rotation. Sorry Campbell’s. Better luck next time.

Healthy Choice Country Herb Chicken Review

Hello again, today I’ll be reviewing the Healthy Choice Country Herb Chicken frozen dinner, which I’ve taken with me sometimes to work for one of my mini-meals. The Country Herb Chicken entree features a chicken breast, roasted potatoes, corn, and cherry-blueberry dessert. I get it at some of the grocery stores near my house, and it goes for $4.49 most places. I have yet to find it on Amazon Fresh. Hear that, Amazon? Start carrying this product! It’s pictured below, out of the package, and there’s a link to it too.

Conagra Healthy Choice Country Herb Chicken, 11.35 Ounce — 12 per case.

 

Healthy Choice Chicken Uncooked

 

This is a pretty tasty entree, and it’s also pretty healthy. It has only ten percent of your daily recommended saturated fat intake, and only twenty percent sodium. That’s very reasonable, considering that some frozen dinners can clock in at thirty percent sodium, or forty, or even higher. The good news with this entree is that there’s no vegetables to be thrown away or picked through. The chicken is tender, as are the potatoes, the gravy is savory, and the corn is fine, though not exactly loaded with flavor. You can only expect so much from frozen dinner corn kernels. Below is a picture of the product once it’s been cooked, about four minutes in most microwaves.

 

Healthy Choice Chicken Cooked

 

The only thing that’s objectionable about this product, as far as I can tell, is a problem somewhat unique to it. The dessert, corn, and chicken and potatoes are in three separate sections. But as the dinner cooks, the dessert tends to bubble up over the sides of its section, and it gets into the corn, and the chicken and potatoes. Nobody wants that. It’s sweet mixing with savory, and it’s not a good result. However, I have a solution. Before I start microwaving this meal, I scoop the dessert out, and into a paper cup. Then, I microwave it separately from the rest of the food. That way, you can enjoy the chicken and the sides, then microwave the paper cup with the dessert in it for about thirty seconds, and it’s good to go. If you don’t care about the dessert mixing in with the rest of the food, you don’t need to do to this. It’s all about how picky of an eater you are.

Other than that, I endorse this product. It’s a bit on the expensive side for the amount of food you’re getting, but everything in the meal is good, nothing goes to waste, and it’s healthy. I’d like to see Amazon Fresh start carrying it, and then I would eat it more.

Cafe Spice Potato Samosas Review

 

Hey folks, I’m back with another product review. This time I’m checking out Cafe Spice Potato Samosas. Samosas are a popular appetizer that can be found at most Indian restaurants, and at some food carts here in NYC. Indian food is one of my favorites, though, as I’ve mentioned on the site before, some people might shy away from it because it hasn’t caught on as much as burgers, pizza, fried chicken, or one of the other favorite American or Americanized¬† cuisines. That’s a shame, because there’s so many tasty Indian dishes that I like. Samosas might be a good place to start if you’re trying Indian for the first time, as they’re essentially just pastry pockets with a meat or vegetarian option. The meat one is fine; the problem that I sometimes have with it is that it’s usually filled with minced meat and onions. Since I don’t like onions, I usually avoid that one. The veggie option, as is the case with the Cafe Spice product, is usually filled with potatoes and peas. Even though peas are a green vegetable, I don’t mind a few, in this case, mixed in with the potatoes. The one thing to remember, though, is that if you get it at a restaurant, it’s always possible that you might get some other things in there that you may or may not care for, such as carrots, green beans, or other veggies.

Cafe Spice has a line of products that are available at several grocery stores, including higher end places like Whole Foods. They have pre-packaged lunch or dinner options like Tikka Masala or Vindaloo, but those usually go for about seven bucks, which is more than I care to spend on one of my “mini-meals” that I eat during the day at work. I bought the potato samosas through Amazon Fresh, for the price of $2.99, which is pretty reasonable.

The total fat for this product is sixteen percent, and there is no saturated fat, which is great. The total sodium is twenty-six percent, which is also pretty good for a pre-packaged meal. It’s ready in the microwave in about one minute, and comes with two little cups of dipping sauce (I think they’re chutney), a red one and a green one. I prefer the red, but try them both. This is a savory, flavorful meal. You can cut into the pastry pocket with a knife and fork, and dip the pieces in the chutney, and there’s no onions, tomatoes, or other veggies that I’m normally on the lookout for. There’s a little kick to the samosas as well, which I think comes from a few red pepper flakes scattered inside. All in all, I strongly recommend this product, which has become a favorite of mine in the past few months. Not having to pick around anything, a good price, and minimal fat and sodium, along with a mouth-watering flavor, makes Cafe Spice Potato Samosas a winner in my book.