May 10, 2013

Pop Tart Ice Cream Sandwich

I did not think fast-food sandwiches could get any worse than the KFC Double Down. But then Carl's Jr. introduced its Pop-Tart ice cream sandwich. This is just what it sounds like: vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two Pop-Tarts.

Carl's Jr. is testing this creative treat in at least one location in Newport Beach, California.

Window cling advertising the Pop-Tart ice cream sandwich,
from FoodBeast.
Unsurprisingly, Carl's Jr. has not revealed nutrition facts for this item. Based on the picture, it appears the sandwich contains one whole frosted strawberry Pop-Tart (200 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 16 grams of sugar) and about one-half cup of Carl's Jr. vanilla ice cream (235 calories, 13 of grams fat, and 22 grams of sugar),* for a total of approximately 435 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 39 grams of sugar.

At first, the Pop-Tart ice cream sandwich may seem creative, colorful, and funny. But there is nothing creative about layering sugar on more sugar; food companies have been doing it for years (for example, McDonald's McFlurry, Wendy's Oreo Frosty Parfait, Burger King's Hershey Sundae Pie, Taco Bell's Caramel Apple Empanada). And there is nothing funny about a dessert "sandwich" made of sugar, preservatives, and artificial food coloring. I really hope this does not become a permanent addition to the Carl's Jr. menu. If it does, do not eat it.

Read more from FoodBeast, The Huffington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. Read a hilarious review of the sandwich at NPR's The Salt.

*I used nutrition facts for a single scoop of ice cream from Carl's Jr.'s sibling restaurant, Hardee's.

Feb 24, 2013

Fruit and Nut Cookies

These cookies are similar to traditional oatmeal-raisin cookies, but slightly healthier and totally vegan. The dough is completely safe to eat because it has no eggs.

2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a small bowl, beat together ground flax seed and warm water. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add sugar, brown sugar, "butter," and vanilla. Mix well. Add flax seed mixture, mix well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, mix well. Add oats, raisins, cranberries, and nuts, and mix by hand. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

-The Green Jalapeño

Jan 30, 2013

Does Eating Late Pack on the Weight?

Does eating late pack on the weight? A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests the answer is yes. Researchers followed 420 obese and overweight individuals over the course of a 20-week weight loss program. The subjects all consumed 1,400 calories per day and engaged in similar amounts of exercise, but they ate at different times of day. Some ate a large lunch, consisting of about 40% of their daily calories, prior to 3 p.m., while others ate a large meal after 3 p.m. The study concluded that subjects who ate the majority of their calories prior to 3 p.m. lost about five pounds more than those who ate later.

One explanation for the reduced weight loss is that all of the cells in the human body are on a 24-hour "clock." The "clock" can vary between cells and organs in the body. Frank Scheer, a Harvard Professor of Medicine who assisted with the study, explained,"[w]hen the timing of meals do not match with the sleep-wake cycle well, there's a disconnect between the different clocks that we have in basically all the cells of our body."

Some scholars have criticized the study. They point out that it was observational, meaning that the results show an association between eating early and weight loss, but do not necessarily show a cause-and-effect pattern.

The authors acknowledged that the study could not control for every possible variable: "other factors may still explain the faster weight loss among the late eaters, such as genetics and how much each group slept on average," the authors said.

All studies have limitations, but I think these results are definitely worth considering before you smash that late-night taco or piece of cake. What do you think? Will these new findings make you start eating earlier in the day?

Read more from NPR, Time Magazine, and CNN Health.

-The Green Jalapeño

Jan 22, 2013

Cranberry Walnut Granola

This easy granola is packed with protein and is much lower in sugar than anything you will find in a box or bag.

Cranberry Walnut Granola

6 cups rolled oats
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 cup cranberries
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup ground flax seed

3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix oats, walnuts, flax seed, coconut, raisins, and cranberries in large mixing bowl. Set aside. Mix canola oil, agave nectar, and cinnamon in liquid measuring cup. Drizzle oil and agave mixture over dry ingredients and stir until coated. Brush large baking dish or cookie sheet with canola oil. Add mixture. Bake about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until granola is golden brown. Store in an airtight container.

This recipe is gluten-free, as long as you use gluten-free rolled oats. I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats.

Bon Appetit!

-The Green Jalapeño

Jan 20, 2013

Re-Pac Living Social

Do you go through a ton of plastic baggies? If so, check out Re-Pac Bags. These reusable bags are strong, durable, dishwasher and washing-machine safe, and resistant to water and mold. The bags can hold almost any food item, as well as toiletries, make-up, dog biscuits, or almost anything else.

Re-Pac Bags
I bought a few Re-Pac bags several months ago and have not purchased any disposable plastic baggies since. I use and wash the bags a few times per week and they are still in great condition.

For the next 10 days, LivingSocial is offering a deal for $22 worth of Re-Pac bags for $10. You can use the LivingSocial voucher towards any Re-Pac bag(s) of your choice. They come in four different sizes and lots of fun colors and patterns. Prices range from $5.95 to $9.95.

If you use just one plastic bag five days per week, you use (and throw away) 260 bags per year. If you use a few Re-Pac bags instead, you can save over 1,000 plastic bags from landfills over four years. Plus, you will never have to worry about running out or buying more.

What a great innovation!

-The Green Jalapeño

Jan 16, 2013

2013 XTreme Eating Awards

It is finally time for my favorite (or least favorite, this is a love-hate relationship) awards show. The Center for Science in the Public Interest just published its seventh-annual XTreme Eating Awards.

The winners (really, the losers) just keep getting better (or worse).

The Cheesecake Factory once again topped the charts with its  Bistro Shrimp Pasta. The pasta dish tips the scale at a whopping 3,120 calories and 89 grams of saturated fat.

Cheesecake Factory Bistro Shrimp Pasta, from CNNHealth.
The Cheesecake Factory seems to be on an endless quest to keep the XTreme Eating Awards title. Just two years ago, the Cheesecake Factory took Xtreme Eating gold with its Farmhouse Cheeseburger. The burger packed 1530 calories and 36 grams of saturated fat. But compared to the Bistro Shrimp Pasta, the Farmhouse Cheeseburger seems like diet food. Just how far will the Cheesecake Factory go to remain the most unhealthy restaurant in the United States?

What is surprising about the Bistro Shrimp Pasta is that by simply looking at the menu, it actually seems somewhat healthy. The menu describes the dish as:
Crispy Battered Shrimp, Fresh Mushrooms, Tomato and Arugula Tossed with Spaghettini and a Basil-Garlic-Lemon Cream Sauce.
Yes, the meal actually contains real vegetables, fruits, and herbs: tomato, argula, basil, and lemon. Do not let this fool youThe Cheesecake Factory starts with 3 and 1/2 cups of white pasta (normal serving size is one cup), then tops it with a butter-laden cream sauce and 8 or 10 battered, fried shrimp. The few vegetables mixed into this monstorous entree have little redeeming value.

Johnny Rockets's, IHOP, Smoothie King, Maggiano's Little Italy, Chili's and Uno Chicago Grill also took XTreme Eating Awards. All the winners contain over 1400 calories.

Michael F. Jacobsen, the Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, commented,
It's as if IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano's Little Italy, and other major restaurant chains are scientifically engineering these extreme meals with the express purpose of promoting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease...You'd think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants.
I tend to agree. What do you think? 

Read more from The Center for Science in the Public InterestThe Huffington Post, and WebMD.

-The Green Jalapeño