This ice cream is from the “FroYo” series which takes popular Ben & Jerry’s flavors and turns them into frozen yogurt with reduced calories and fat. I had reviewed the ice cream (non lowfat) version of Chocolate Fudge Brownie here, and this time I thought I would review the lowfat one. It’s great when you want a deep, rich flavor without quite as many calories.
This dessert tastes very similar to the ice cream version. Spongy brownie pieces float in a sea of rich, gooey chocolate, saturated with sugary goodness throughout.
I’m sure if did a direct taste comparison where I alternated between spoonfuls of these two products I would be able to taste the difference more clearly, but eating it normally the FroYo doesn’t taste anything like “low-calorie” or “low-fat” – which is a good thing. The main difference is that the texture is more icey and less creamy. It’s midway in between eating normal ice cream and Italian ice (the latter of which has no milk and only water as its base).
The first time I tried this I didn’t taste any of the yogurt flavor. I tried it again, paying close attention, and was able to detect yogurt very subtly, more as an aftertaste than anything else. More on this below.
For a single 104 gram serving there is 180 calories, slightly below average for an ice cream of this type. Consistent with the “lowfat” branding, there is only 2.5 grams of fat. Compare these figures to the normal Chocolate Fudge Brownie – 270 calories and 12 grams of fat – and you’ll see a huge difference.
For those of you who are more concerned about sugar intake than calories (which I sometimes am), this product isn’t too great. There is a whopping 25 grams of sugar, only 2 grams less than the standard less-healthy version. I’d wish they would have reduced it a bit more, but I guess the characteristic flavor would be ruined if they took out any more sugar.
Protein amount is typical at 5 grams, and fiber is 2 grams a serving.
As I mentioned above, this product has only a tiny hint of yogurt taste. I checked on what “frozen yogurt” really means, and it looks like besides containing yogurt, it is also typically more tart, and lower in fat due to milk used in place of cream. Comparing ingredients against the normal ice cream version, we can see that both contain skim milk and cream. However the FroYo version contains more skim milk than cream (order on label 2nd and 9th, compared to 3rd and 1st on the ice cream version). So this frozen yogurt does contain less fat, although it is not particularly tart.
Technically this product can be placed in the “frozen yogurt” category because of the presence of yogurt powder (11th place) and yogurt cultures (20th and last place). However, because of the small amount of these ingredients, which is reflected in the taste, I wouldn’t really consider this a true “frozen yogurt”. It looks like Ben & Jerry’s is just using the “yogurt” nomenclature to associate nutrition and health, and as a result sell better. I can’t say whether the yogurt cultures have any nutritional benefit or not, but they in are such small proportion I doubt that is much an effect, if at all. I’d prefer B&J’s either drop the yogurt branding and remove the little yogurt that is present, or increase it so this dessert can honestly be called a “frozen yogurt”.
Another trick they use to make this product lighter is using water as a filler – it’s listed as the #1 ingredient and is the main reason for the texture change I discussed previously. I think this is generally a great idea for health-conscious frozen desserts, and when done in moderation doesn’t destroy the flavor.
I’ve listed both versions’ ingredient list below. If you compare you’ll see that except for the yogurt, milk/cream, and water differences, they are very similar.
FroYo version (this product):
Water, Skim Milk, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Corn Syrup, Sugar, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Wheat Flour, Corn Syrup Solids, Cream, Cocoa, Nonfat Yogurt Powder, Egg Yolks, Butter (Cream, Salt), Eggs, Egg Whites, Locust Bean Gum, Salt, Vanilla Extract, Sodium Bicarbonate, Yogurt Cultures
ice cream version:
CREAM, LIQUID SUGAR (SUGAR, WATER), SKIM MILK, WATER, SUGAR, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), WHEAT FLOUR, COCOA POWDER, EGG YOLKS, BUTTER (CREAM, SALT), INVERT SUGAR SYRUP, WHOLE EGGS, EGG WHITES, GUAR GUM, SALT, CARRAGEENAN, VANILLA EXTRACT, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, SODIUM BICARBONATE.
One final difference is that the FroYo version does not contain carrageenan, a substance used as a thickener/stabilizer. It turns out there is some research that indicates carrageenan may be involved in tumor promotion, though I don’t think there is any definitive proof for this yet, and currently it is considered as a safe food additive by the FDA. Nevertheless I’d rather do without it if I have a choice.
This product is available all over the place. I purchased it for $4.69 at Publix supermarket.
Ratings: Flavor: 8.0 Nutrition/Ingredients:7.0 Price:8.0 Overall: 7.6
This doesn’t stand out as a particularly healthy choice, but when compared against the less healthy non-yogurt version it’s much lower in calories and fat, and still boasts a rich, sweet taste. Once you switch to FroYo I doubt you’ll find the need to return to more fattening ice cream.
I like to eat cereal every morning with my family before I go to work. It’s a good way to start the day especially when I can’t always predict when I’ll have time for lunch. To keep things from getting boring, we try to change up the cereal every few days to something different.
I had reviewed Three Sister’s Honey Puffs rice cereal in a previous blog entry (see first reference below), and I decided to try out another of their cereals. As you’ll soon find out, these two cereals have a great deal in common.
This cereal is pretty much a “healthy” version of Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies, meaning its supposed to be healthy though in some ways it isn’t much different.
This cereal is made of puffed rice, made with a similar process as puffed wheat in Honey Puffs. This gives it a light fluffy texture, and the added advantage of higher surface area without too much volume. In other words, you are eating a lot of air, and as a result you take in less calories, sugar, and nutrients (per spoonful) that you would otherwise if it wasn’t puffed. You could call this a health food in that sense (much like puffed rice cakes), but I actually think of it more as a way for the producer to save money on materials and sell a large bag of cereal with a good percentage of that empty space.
It has a moderately sweet chocolate flavor, which is appetizing but not quite what I am looking for in a cereal. The sweetness catches your intention while you are eating but sometime later you realize you really haven’t eaten that much food (at least if you eat a small bowl like I do) and are likely to get hungry earlier than if you ate a more wholesome breakfast.
Both the flavor and texture is nearly identical to Cocoa Krispies.
Nutrition / Ingredients
In a single 29 gram (3/4 cup) serving, there are 120 calories which is standard for this type of product. Sugar is 13 grams, a bit on the sweet side.
There isn’t much nutrition in this product, with no fiber, practically no protein (1 gram per serving), and less than 10% of most common vitamins and minerals. Sodium is nothing special at 150 mg, which is 6% of daily intake.
Because of the lack of substance and nutrition, I feel this is really not the best way to get your day started, unless of course you supplement it with other foods higher in nutrition.
The ingredients are so-so, with caramel color, and natural flavor as negative marks in my book. The full list is as follows:
Rice, Sugar, Coconut oil, Cocoa (process with alkali), Contains 2% less of: salt, caramel color, natural flavor, reduced iron, zinc (zinc oxide)
When comparing this to Cocoa Krispies, as you might expect both the ingredients and nutritional information is very similar. Calorie count is virtually the same (120 calories for one 31 gram serving) and sugars is actually a tad less in the “less healthy” version, at 12 grams. The other funny thing is that Cocoa Krispies has much more vitamins and minerals (compare 25% DV of vitamin A and C to 0% in Cocoa Snaps).
I remember writing something similar for the Sugar Puffs review – but I’ll repeat it here. If a cereal really wants to be billed as “healthy”, it should reduce sugar and add some more nutrients. This cereal actually has less nutrients and more sugar! (I’d like to point on here that some believe that vitamins and minerals added artificially are not easily absorbed by the body and have little to no value)
There are a few areas where Cocoa Snapz is healthier than its predecessor. Natural flavor and caramel color is used instead of malt flavor, artificial flavor, and BHT (a preservative). The last of those has particularly scary, with some research pointing to cancer-inducing effects in animal experiments. I’m not convinced it is truly harmful but if a cereal can stay fresh enough without BHT that is clearly a better way go.
Price and Availability
Available exclusively from Whole Foods. I purchased mine for $3.99. There are 396 grams in the package.
A cereal that closely copies Cocoa Krispies flavor while making it more healthy in some areas (no preservatives) and potentially worse in others (less nutrients, slightly more sugar). If you are a fan of Krispies I recommend trying this, otherwise I would search for a heartier cereal with more nutrition.
I live a conflicted life – I yearn for sweet treats while simultaneously scrutinizing them for sugar content. Sugar is also the topic of this blog, albeit indirectly.
As I studied my sugar intake I began to realize there is enormous amounts of it in some unexpected places, especially in breakfast foods. Everyone knows donuts are quite sugary, but when you turn a careful eye to other foods such as yogurts, and even many cereals, the sugar really comes out of the woodwork.
Our product this time is in that very category, a strongly sweetened breakfast cereal made by Three Sisters company (not to be confused with “Three Twins”, the ice cream producer). A great thing about this company is that they purchase wind-generated credits proportional to the electricity used to make their cereals, a nice aid to sustainable energy.
This cereal is made of sweetened wheat grains, puffed with heat in a process much like popcorn. Both flavor and composition is very similar to Post’s Super Golden Crisp, which it’s clearly modeled after.
I think you probably already saw this coming, but the sweetness is a little too heavy for my taste, especially when eating this as my first meal of the day. The puffy texture is pleasant, but it seems a tad airier than Post’s classic cereal, at least as far as I can remember.
If the overt sweetness doesn’t bother you, you will likely find this cereal quite delicious. My young son loves this and eats it up, sometimes asking for seconds.
Ingredients / Nutrition
One serving (27 grams or ¾ cup) contains only 110 calories, a typical value for cereals. Unfortunately sugar clocks in at a whopping 15 grams. Sure, if you only have one serving this isn’t a massive amount, but the amount of sugar per weight is very high, surpassing many ice creams!
With minor amounts of minerals, this product is nutritionally unimpressive, with only 2 grams of protein and zero fiber. There is low salt (65 mg), and no fat or cholesterol, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of nutrition.
Ingredient composition isn’t anything special either. Here is the full list:
Sugar, Wheat, Corn Syrup, Honey, salt, Caramel Color, Soy Lechitin, Citric Acid, and Sodium Acetate.
Three out of four of the top ingredients are used for sweetness. With a name like “Honey Puffs” you would expect honey to be the most prevalent, but instead its disappointingly last, and thereby in a much lower proportion that the other sweeteners. Corn Syrup, while not nearly as bad as its evil brother High Fructose Corn Syrup, is nevertheless made from processed corn and something I think we all have had too much of in our diets.
Caramel Color is another undesirable item which I discussed in one of my recent posts. Effects on the body vary depending on the process used but coloring is never a plus unless its from something completely natural.
Sodium Acetate is a common flavoring agent (it gives the characteristic taste to salt and vinegar chips), which supposedly has no major health drawbacks. Having said that, I prefer they would use something a bit more natural, like plain old salt.
Above all my biggest problem with this cereal is that it isn’t much different than the classic cereal it is clearly based off, Post’s Super Golden Crisp. Ingredients are very similar, though there are some minor tradeoffs like less salt (40 mg) and non-zero fat (.5 g). To make matters worse, Honey Puffs actually has *more* sugar than Super Golden Crisp. Give me a break!
I think making a healthy version of a not-so-healthy classic is a great idea, but I wish they would set themselves apart by a wider margin.
Price and Availability
Available exclusively from Whole Foods. I purchased mine for $3.99, though recently they had a sale for buy one get one free.
Cereal with too much sugar and not enough nutrients to make a well-balanced breakfast.
I recommend the Honey Oaties cereal from the same company, which contains more fiber and much less sugar.
A majority of the products I’ve reviewed in this blog up until now have been longtime favorites of mine, something I’ve enjoyed for months if not years. Those reports were a lot of fun to write, but I’m running out of ammo. If I am going to keep updating this blog at the same rate, I’m going to have to adventure out and try new things. It will be a great experience for me to see what else is out there in the world of sweets, and I hope some of you readers can learn about some products you hadn’t heard of it, or hadn’t had a chance to try.
My last review was partially in this category, but the subject this time, Artisana Oganic Raw Cacao Bliss, was chosen just so I could have something interesting to report on.
I wasn’t able to find out the official date this product was released, but I just noticed it on the shelves of Whole Foods Market a few weeks back, so it may be somewhat new.
I could just state the flavor is a mix of coconut and cacao, which would be quite correct, but that much you could easily guess just from the product name.
In all fairness, I come a background of heavy “Justin” (Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter) use, so I can’t help but compare initially. Texture wise, cacao bliss is much more oilier with a finer consistency, almost what I would describe as grainy. Due to the lack of nuts this product is less ‘meaty’ than nut-based spreads.
What really hit me in the face, so to speak, was how *coconutty* this spread is. I’m a big proponent of coconut-based ice cream, but I’ve never been overpowered by the coconut flavor there; it’s always secondary to the other flavors. In this product it’s really exposed, with the cocoa flavor taking a back seat.
My first reaction wasn’t too rosy, but after I finished my slice of bread and rested a moment, I realized I wanted some more. So I worked my fingers and squeezed every last drop of this coconut-heavy spread into my mouth, and to my surprise was already liking it more. I have the feeling I’ll learn to love it as I eat more of this product, and learn to stop comparing it to other spreads.
Ingredients / Nutrition
In one 33.7 gram pack there are 177 calories, a value on par with similar spreads. Sugar is very low at 3 grams, nearly half that of my beloved “Justin”.
There all only five ingredients, all Organic: Coconut Butter, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Agave Syrup, Cacao, and Cacao Butter. Many will be happy to hear this product is both vegan and free of sugar cane sugar, and it should satisfy even the pickiest health fanatics. I’d like to note that the term “raw” is a bit vague, and most if not all of the ingredients here have at least some processing.
Although the protein content (2 grams) is a little lower than nut-based spreads, both coconut butter and coconut oil are known for a wide array of health benefits. For example, they can increase metabolism, reduce cholesterol, and help maintain proper weight.
Unfortunately in the world of nutrition there is always another side to things. Coconut oil is a saturated fat and hence should be limited a small portion of total calories due to potential increase in heart disease risk. So as with most things, eat this in moderation.
Price and Availability
This product is sold in 1.19 ounce (33.7 gram) packs, either individually or in sets of 10. I bought a single pack from Whole Foods for around $2.00, though if you look around you can buy a pack of 10 for as little as 1.67 per pack online (see references).
It’s also sold in 6 packs of 227 gram jars, for roughly 20% cheaper than buying the 33 gram packs.
Healthy chocolate spread which is great for coconut lovers.
In my high school days there was a time when I frequently ate ice cream sandwiches – vanilla ice cream held between two chocolate cookies. But it was just a passing craze for me, and many years have passed since I went on to other desserts.
Recently I discovered Whole Foods made their own “healthy” version of the traditional ice cream sandwich, so I decided to try them out.
By far the most noteworthy thing about this product is the texture, which is pretty rare as desserts go. Neither the ice cream nor the cookie, both very sweet, are exceptionally tasty on their own. And yet together they make a perfect match – the dark cookies with their tough, chewy texture contrast well against the soft, pure white ice cream. The latter is always the perfect consistency, even when pulled straight from the freezer, thanks to rich cream being used as the main ingredient.
Temperature difference also plays a big role here in the enjoyment. The cookie, with its relatively low density and viscosity, tends to retain less of the coldness than the ice cream. Just as you are sinking your teeth into the cookie you suddenly hit gold and the sensation of chilled cream expands in your mouth – a refreshing surprise that repeats itself on each and every bite.
Ingredients / Nutrition
Each 60 gram, 89 mL sandwich contains 170 calories and 14 grams of sugar. These are on the low end of the scale, making this a perfect dessert for those counting calories, and the individually wrapped packs make it easy to limit yourself to one sandwich per sitting.
The perceived sweetness is actually quite intense, which is perplexing at first because of the low sugar content. However, this makes sense when you take into account the fact that the sandwiches are pretty small, and that sugar (in the form of organic dehydrated cane juice) is the second ingredient in both ice cream and cookies.
The ingredients, mostly organic, are generally healthy, with the possible exception of caramel coloring present in the cookie. Caramel coloring, depending on how it is made, can be a carcinogen (see references) and cause problems with allergies. I don’t know the exact type of caramel coloring used here as it isn’t specified on the package, but I feel that using a more natural coloring agent (possibly a beet-based one) would be healthier. I’ve sent an email to Whole Foods requesting more information about this, will update this post when I receive a response.
[Update: after a few days I got a response from Whole Foods stating that the vendor uses a Class 1 caramel color, which is the least controversial because it avoids using ammonium or sulfite compounds]
This product doesn’t have much going for it nutrition wise, with low levels of protein (3 g) and other common vitamins and minerals. A nice perk is that it is much more filling than many ice cream products, probably due to the flour used in the cookie.Also, organic cocoa is listed as the final ingredient for the cookie, which means there isn’t very much caffeine to worry about.
In fact, I just had one of these sandwiches to stave off my hunger before I go to bed.
Price and Availability
This product generally sells for around $4.99 from Whole Foods Market. With six sandwiches per pack, thats less than one dollar per each, quite inexpensive for an organic dessert.
Tasty organic snack, great for times you want to eat light.
Lindt Excellence Cocoa Bar 75% [Smooth Dark]
Lindt Excellence Cocoa Bar 85% [Extra Dark]
Lindt Excellence Cocoa Bar 90% [Supreme Dark]
Lindt Excellence Cocoa Bar 99% [Dark – Noir]
I remember eating Hershey’s Miniatures variety packs as a child, and how I would always go straight for the “Extra Dark” ones before they were snatched up by someone. Besides loving the flavor, there was always something attractive about the idea of “Dark” – this was the rich, “real” chocolate that made you somehow feel privileged to eat it, and anything else was just a faint ghost of chocolate.
It turns out I had underestimated what real dark chocolate was.
“Special Dark” has around 60% cocoa content, but this time I’ll be reporting on a series of products by Lindt which have 75%-99% cocoa (yes, that last figure isn’t a typo).
Everything about these Lindt bars – from the packaging and marketing literature to the flavor – speaks of elegance and sophistication, in a way that other chocolatiers with less than 150 years of experience can’t imitate. Their own term of “gourmet chocolate” is quite fitting.
Cocoa and Coffee have much in common. They both come from a dark-colored bean, have a significant amount of caffeine, and in natural form have a distinctly bitter taste.
As you would expect in these bars, the characteristic bitterness gets increasingly sharp the higher percentage of cocoa you have, and the mild sweetness fades out until there is nothing but a trace.
I’ll give my comments about each bar, broken down by cocoa percentage.
70%: By dark chocolate standards, this bar is sufficiently sweet and the bitterness of the cocoa is subtle. For those accustomed to other dark chocolate this should be a easy starting point to enjoy Lindt’s Excellence chocolate.
85%: Though the amount of cocoa increases by only 15%, the sugar content is less than halved. This results in a much more pronounced bitter taste. My personal favorite and most consumed of the four, I find the this perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness.
90%: I haven’t had the opportunity to sample this, but judging from the ingredients and cocoa content, it must be very similar to the 85% bar. I’d only recommend this for those wanting to attempt the 99% but need a more gradual transition.
99%: The ultimate, most hard core of this serious chocolates. I’ve only tried this once, and with only around 1 gram of sugar per serving, frankily it was just too bitter for me. Having said that, chocolate lovers should try this at least once.
There are several other competing bars with similar composition and cocoa content, but none of them have quite the same consistency or thickness.
In a recent article I had discussed ideas for how to eat ice cream, in particular the importance of the half-melted state. With dark chocolate, especially 85% and above, using the right “technique” is even more important to get the maximum enjoyment of the flavor and texture.
Breaking off a irregularly shaped piece and popping it in your mouth, quickly chewing, and finally swallowing. That’s the typical way to eat chocolate, which is unfortunate since it misses out on so much.
Instead, try to pop a large chunk of chocolate in your mouth, leaving it to rest on the tongue for a few seconds. The first time you do this you’ll surely be assaulted by the urge to bite down, so go ahead and give in. Now try again, holding it even longer on your tongue, until the chocolate starts to melt and soften. The longer you do this, the more you will start to savor the deep, rich flavor, quite different from a crude bite and swallow. When you do finally decide to bite down, fracturing the chocolate into several pieces which whirl around your mouth, you’ll notice the rough edges you felt before are now dulled and smooth on the tongue.
What’s happening here, in my interpretation, is that the digestive juices in your mouth are beginning to gradually break down the chocolate while your body warmth simultaneously melts it. It becomes easier to do this when you repeat it again and again. Beware of drinking liquids such as water mid-snack, which will ‘reset’ the chemistry in your mouth.
Try this once, and I bet you’ll never feel the same about dark chocolate again.
Ingredients / Nutrition
The 75% bar has only five ingredients: chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lechitin (emulsifier), and bourbon vanilla. The 85% gets rid of soya lechitin and upgrades everyday sugar to demerara sugar, a large-grain unrefined sugar. The 90% adds in some cocoa powder processed with alkali, and the 99% removes the vanilla beans from the 90% recipe.
The emulsifier used in the 75% bar serves many purposes, including reduction of sugar crystallization and helping the ingredients mix uniformly. It also contains choline, as essential nutrient, which studies have shown to have various health benefits.
Cocoa itself has a wide range of nutrients including antioxidants, serotonine, and many essential minerals, with a high concentration of iron. There are many studies linking chocolate to specific health benefits, including a recent one about preventing decline in aging brains (see references section).
For those of you who are sold on Cocoa’s health benefits, this set of products is perfect because of the high cocoa content. As a result sugar content is low, which is a health benefit in and of itself.
The biggest drawback of this product is cocoa does contain a somewhat high proportion of fat and a corresponding number of calories. But even if you gobble up an entire bar, you will only be getting roughly 500-600 calories. That’s not too bad considering it’s the in the ballpark of what you would get eating two servings (half a pint) of ice cream.
Another minor complaint is that these bars don’t really satisfy hunger at all for me (in the same way coffee doesn’t), so don’t eat them on an empty stomach. This applies to many other desserts as well.
See the below table for a nutritional comparison of the four products.
The Lindt FAQ online downplays the amount of caffeine in theirproducts, stating that dark chocolate generally has 20 mg of caffeine per 1 g of dark chocolate, and compares to caffeine in coffee which can typically be 80 mg to around double that.
However if you do the math you’ll see that eating a full 3.5 g bar results in around 70 mg by their estimates. For the higher concentration bars (85%, 90%, 100%) I feel this estimate is still too low since the amount of cocoa, and hence caffeine, is that much higher.
From my personal experience there have been several occasions when I had over half an 85% bar in the evening before bed, and it took me several more hours before I was able to fall asleep due to the caffeine in my system. To be fair, during that time I wasn’t consuming many other caffeine products so my body’s tolerance to this stimulant was low.
I’m not trying to say caffeine is evil here – just keep in mind that caffeine by any definition is a drug, whose effects can vary greatly depending on the dosage, and the state of your body (heavy coffee drinker, empty stomach, feeling under the weather, etc.). It can be used for positive impact (nice temporary buzz) or negative impact (sleep loss, jitters, etc.).
Price and Availability
The 70% and 85% bars can typically be found at most grocery stores, and of course online. For the higher concentration bars (90%, 99%) you might have to do some searching to find them in a brick-and-mortar store.
If you haven’t been to a Lindt store, be sure to check it out – the diversity of the various bars on sale is astonishing. The Sawgrass Mills mall is one of the places in South Florida where you can enjoy Lindt’s world of chocolate.
All but the 99% bar, which sells for $4.99, have prices of $3.85 on the official Lindt website. If you buy in bulk (12 bars) on some internet retailer sites (Amazon, etc.) you can get sub-$3 pricing for the lower cocoa content bars.
(Note: these refer to the 85% bar)
If you’re looking to consume chocolate in its simplest, purest form, you can’t get anything better than this.