Friday, July 28, 2017

Quest Nutrition Bars

Quest Nutrition is another nutrition snack foods company, focusing on high protein items.  They made protein powder, bars, protein pasta, and even, uh, protein chips and peanut butter cups.  The chips sound kinda amazing actually, in real flavors like sour cream and onion, cheddar and sour cream, and more, and 21 grams of protein per single serve bag.  Sounds too good to be true, really.

I've tried only the bars, as they are an easy grab-n-go item for me when I'm dashing around on weekends.  Quest makes 3 different product lines for bars: "Cereal Protein Bars", in flavors like Waffle and Cinnamon Roll, Hero bars, with gooey fillings and sweet candy-like coatings, and more standard protein bars.
"America's Favorite Protein Bar leads the charge in Quest's mission to end metabolic disease. Every delicious Quest Bar flavor has 20-21 grams of protein and plenty of fiber without a lot of unnecessary ingredients or extra carbs. All Quest Bars are gluten and soy free, and contain no added sugar."
It is the protein bars that I tried, which is also their most extensive product line, with more than 20 varieties, many of which sound rather awesome (e.g. Strawberry Cheesecake, Cinnamon Roll, PB & J, Mint Chocolate Chunk).

The protein bars are high protein, 20+ grams per bar, made from a protein blend of milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate, along with soluble corn fiber, almonds, and, some chemicals.  They are virtual no sugar, using artificial sweetener only.  Sounds promising, nutritionally, in some ways.

I tried several flavors, and, I have to admit, my reaction was a bit unexpected.  The texture is all wrong, but, they don't taste that bad.  I stopped after trying only 3 varieties however because whey protein isolate bothers my stomach, and, these made me feel awful almost immediately.  If you can tolerate whey protein isolate though, I do recommend, for taste and yummy chunks inside!
S'mores Protein Bar.
"Toasty-sweet marshmallow, rich chocolate and crisp graham cracker layered together in this melt-in-your-mouth, campfire classic. "

This one looked ... promising.  I could indeed see large chunks of chocolate.  I could indeed see areas of graham cracker.  It didn't look THAT fake.

And, at first bite, it wasn't awful either.  It was kind of a strange texture, but I loved the big chunk of chocolate.  And then ... the aftertaste hit.  Wow, it was horrible.  I don't know what it was, if it was the "protein blend" or all the artificial sweeteners.  Whatever it was, it was truly awful.  I actually spit it out.  I couldn't handle it, nor could I handle taking a second bite to give it another chance.
Cookies & Cream.
"With real cookie crumbles and delicious cream, America’s favorite flavor can now be your favorite Quest Bar! "

So, I tried another, the promising sounding Cookies & Cream.

And, like the S'mores, it was actually almost good.  The texture was odd, but it had huge chunks of chocolate cookie and cream in it, both of which were actually good.  This was much better than the S'mores.

Except, well, it had the strange protein blend in it, which immediately made my stomach feel really funny.

I need to stop trying these bars!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
"Our best-selling bar is like sneaking a spoonful of cookie dough straight from the bowl."

I don't listen to my own advice.  Particularly when I discover cookie dough bars.

It was like every other bar.  The texture is strange, the taste is strange, but, the chocolate chunks and slightly cookie dough nature of it are good.  And it makes my stomach feel strange.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Will it Waffle: Cookie Dough

I'll cut to the chase on this.

Yes, I waffle anything and everything.  Usually leftovers.  I think it is the best way ever to transform day-old foods.

Since discovering my obsession passion, people constantly ask me about waffling all sorts of things.  I love to engage in these discussions, and run experiments.  I get a kick out of it, and have a lot of fun trying crazy things.  I often have unexpected success.  Or hilarious disasters.  Either way, I have fun.

People often don't grasp however that I really use the waffle iron more as a way to reheat foods than to truly "cook", or certainly not to add ingredients to waffle batter.  I rarely use raw ingredients ( although I've made quesadillas in it before).   I certainly don't try to actually bake in it.
Waffle Iron Baked Cookies.
Eventually, someone asked me to cook cookies in the waffle iron.  Starting with raw dough.  They even provided me the dough.  So ... I had to do it, even though this is actually one that lots of people on the internet do.  Others have been blogging about it for years.  I didn't start here though.  It came late in my waffling "career".

And, unlike the masses on the internet, I don't recommend it.  I evangelize waffle iron cooking, but, not for cookies.  It just isn't better that way.

So, Cookie Dough: Will it Waffle?  Yes, but, just bake your cookies.
Raw Dough.
I started with raw dough, provided by the person who suggested this experiment.  He even formed the dough into balls, and brought it to me ready to go.
Ready to Go!
I set the waffle iron to 370°, the regular baking temperature for the cookies, and inserted a ball into each slot.  I pressed down the lid.
Cookies Baking. 
The cookies baked easily.  And quickly.  They were ready in mere minutes, shorter than regular baking time.  They extracted with no problem.

From an ease of waffling perspective, yes, cookie dough waffles like a charm.
The result was ... easily identifiable as a waffle.  It looked like any old chocolate chip waffle, actually.

It was crispy on the outside, cooked through properly.

But ... it was just boring.  It didn't rise as well as a cookie baked in the oven.  It wasn't bad, but waffling it didn't enhance anything, it only took away.  I see no real point in cooking cookies this way.

Side note: I do think this technique would work great for ice cream sandwiches, since a waffle-cookie is harder than a regular one, and would hold up to the ice cream better than a traditional cookie.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Spiro Coffee

Spiro Coffee was a coffee shop in the Tenderloin, right along Van Ness Ave.  I used to walk by it frequently, and finally stopped in a few times to try their baked goods, many of which were baked in house.

The location was large, service was efficient, coffee good, and the staff quite friendly.  Sadly, it has since closed.

Not that the neighborhood is one where you'd necessarily want to sit on the sidewalk, but, they had indoor seating only.  Simple wooden tables and chairs.

Bright and airy inside though, large windows, tables not crammed in.
Drink Menu.
Drink offerings include standard espresso drinks (hot and iced), drip or pour over coffee, chai, smoothies, and even some "Special Lattes" with flavors like raspberry cheesecake.  Coffee and espresso come from Sightglass Coffee.

I had a decaf once, and remember thinking it was good.
Baked Goods: Biscuits, Muffins, Cookies, Scones, Danishes, Croissants.
The first display case contained breakfast standard baked goods.

Some baked goods are made in-house (biscuits, muffins, cookies), and others come from Bakers of Paris (croissants, danishes, morning buns).

Bakers of Paris is wholesale bakery, you can find their stuff at Whole Foods and Safeway too.  None of the Bakers of Paris items looked very appealing, besides the scones, but I think that is just because I have a strange thing for mass produced scones, but zero tolerance for lackluster puff pastry.
Baked Goods: Gluten Free Offerings, Breakfast Sandwiches.
The section section of the case contained more "dessert" style items, like bread pudding and flan (both house made), and breakfast sandwiches.

The top shelf was all gluten free, really an impressive selection, with assorted cakes from Flour Chylde Bakery and cookies from Wholesome Bakery.
Bacon & Brie Savory Biscuit. $2.75.
On my first visit, I wanted a house made item, so I went for a biscuit because the muffin really wasn't calling out to me.  My choices were Parmesan and Chives or Bacon and Brie.  As if that is a question!  Brie!

I was happy when the server asked if I'd like it warmed up.  Of course!  Such a nice touch.

The biscuit was ... ok.  It had a slight tang and decent crumb.  I didn't really taste a lot of bacon, and I found absolutely no brie, nor essence of brie, anywhere.  It was more oily than I'd like.

And ... as for being warm, the outside was slightly warm, but the inside was still stone cold.  I appreciated the touch of warming it up, but I think it was even worse in its half-warm half-cold form than if I'd just had it not warmed up at all.

$2.75 price was fine, but I won't be getting another one of these.
Bakers of Paris Maple Walnut Scone. $3.
On my next visit, I went for the scone.  I couldn't resist.

This was a pretty boring scone.  It looked so promising, with the glaze on top!

The base was rather cakey, not crumbly like I expected the scone to be.  It didn't have much flavor nor tang to it.  A bit dried out and almost burnt on top.  Inside were a few token bits of walnut, nice for crunch, but there weren't many of them.  The glaze on top was sweet and subtly maple-y, but wasn't enough to save it.

I just wanted this to be ... more.  Wouldn't get again.