Tag Archives: Snack review

Snack Review – Pop Tarts Frosted Pumpkin Pie & Happy Thanksgiving!

pumpkin pie pop tarts


I finished the Philadelphia Marathon, but haven’t had time to write my recap of the race yet as I’ve been too busy eating cheesesteaks and packing for a trip home for Thanksgiving.  Instead, I’ve taken some time to give you a brief glimpse into the life of Pop Tarts Frosted Pumpkin Pie flavor toaster pastries.


First, I gotta say that I love Pop Tarts.  They are my current go-to breakfast pre-marathon, as I can usually eat (and enjoy) two entire pastries (400 calories!) even at 4:00 in the morning, which helps me not become a ravenous beast a mile into the race (instead delaying the beast until about mile 6).  I never toast my Pop Tarts, as I feel that turns them into a sad attempt at a hot breakfast, which they most decidedly are not.  (Also, the toasting ruins the pastry, IMO.)

The sorta pumpkin-y, sorta goodness.

The sorta pumpkin-y, sorta goodness.


Pop Tarts Frosted Pumpkin Pie Limited Edition toaster pastries smell sweet and have a very slight pumpkin pie fragrance, but so slight that the smell of the unflavored pastry itself almost obscures the pumpkin pie smell.   Since the pastry itself smells more like “nothing” than most edible things, that means the fragrance is slight indeed.

I wish there were more pumpkin in the real thing!

I wish there were more pumpkin in the real thing!

The Pumpkin Pie flavor is not bad.  I love strong, spicy pumpkin pie, and I usually double the spice called for in a recipe when baking pies at home.  The Pop Tart version is disappointingly bland, because “a pumpkin doesn’t taste like anything,” and Kellogg’s decided to use a light hand on the spice.  But there is some pumpkin-y flavor to it, and it’s sweet, and not objectionable.  It’s not nearly as good as Frosted Blueberry, Frosted Strawberry, or Frosted Grape, but it’s a fine novelty limited edition treat around Thanksgiving, I suppose.  I had to order these from Amazon (“had” here meaning something that doesn’t actually mean “had”), and I actually finished both pastries (400 calories!) while writing this post and I didn’t even notice.


Finally, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are just a few of the things I’m thankful for – I’m thankful I’m still running.  I’m thankful I can take my time to write my Philly recap and not fail a class or something.  I’m thankful for this video, which seriously if you didn’t watch it while clicking around above, I urge you to watch it now.  I’m thankful for Pop Tarts, and the minds at Kellogg’s that will continue to put new and ill-advised flavors into those Pop Tarts.  And I’m thankful you’re reading this.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


What are you thankful for this year?  Are you doing a Turkey Trot today?  What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?  Share in the comments!

Candy Review – Russell Stover Dark Chocolate & MARSHMALLOW Pumpkin

Too soon.

Too soon.

Today is August 11, 2015.  It’s 90 degrees and sunny here in Portland, Oregon, and people are frolicking on the sandy beaches of the Columbia River, since it’s hot and it’s summertime and that’s what you’re supposed to do on a hot summer’s day.


Today is also the day I stopped by the drugstore for some ice packs and happened upon a Halloween Candy display.  Halloween.  As in October 31st.  As in the second best candy holiday in America, but one that is firmly rooted in the chilly fall.  Nevertheless, I purchased one of these Halloween candies for (cough cough) research purposes.  Here are my findings:




The Russell Stover Dark Chocolate & MARSHMALLOW Pumpkin is 110 calories of sugary goodness.  There is no actual pumpkin involved in the treat.  Except for the fact that the candy is vaguely pumpkin-shaped (although, let’s be honest, pumpkins come in a wide variety of blob-like shapes and almost any candy could arguably be called pumpkin-shaped), this tasty treat has no connection to pumpkins or Halloween or summer or food.  I’m also not sure why it must yell MARSHMALLOW at me, but that’s an issue for another day.


Cross section candy marshmallowAs for the candy itself – the dark chocolate coating is wafer thin and the marshmallow is soft, gooey, and as fresh as only a 2.5 month premature marshmallow can be.  It was so sweet it actually hurt my teeth, which is worrying on a number of levels, but it was also exactly how I expected it to be.  It was like eating the candy incarnate of diabetes itself, and it was delicious.


For those who want a more descriptive account of the taste – are you familiar with soft marshmallow, more firm than marshmallow fluff but softer than your typical store-bought bagged marshmallows and minus the powdery exterior?  Are you familiar with briefly running your tongue against a cheap bar of dark chocolate?  Can you imagine combining those two experiences and injecting them into the center of your teeth where unborn cavities live?  Can you also imagine some small part of you enjoying this experience in a deeply guilty way?  Then that, my friend, is the Russell Stover Dark Chocolate & MARSHMALLOW Pumpkin, enjoyed on a hot summer’s day in mid-August, after a big lunch and before a long nap.


How early do you think it’s acceptable to start selling and/or consuming Halloween candy?  How many naps will it take before my EMT camp sleep debt is repaid?  Did you know Easter is the best candy holiday in America?  Share in the comments!

Candy cross sections unwrapped - starting at top going clockwise - Ohio Buckeyes, KitKat Chunky Hazelnut Cream, something-something fruit chew candy, Hi-Chew peach, Birthday Cake M&Ms, Divine Dark Chocolate with mint

Snack Review – 6 New Candies & New Haircut Revealed

6 new candies - Divine Dark Chocolate with mint, Ohio Buckeyes, Birthday Cake M&Ms, KitKat Chunky Hazelnut Cream, Hi-Chew peach, something-something fruit chew candy

6 new candies – Divine Dark Chocolate with mint, Ohio Buckeyes, Birthday Cake M&Ms, KitKat Chunky Hazelnut Cream, Hi-Chew peach, and Puccho grapefruit chewy candy

This is a lot of candy I’ve never tried before.  Before going to my running class, I ate all of these candies so I could review them for you all at once.  Let’s begin, shall we?


  1. Candy cross sections unwrapped - starting at top going clockwise - Ohio Buckeyes, KitKat Chunky Hazelnut Cream, something-something fruit chew candy, Hi-Chew peach, Birthday Cake M&Ms, Divine Dark Chocolate with mint

    Candy cross-sections unwrapped – starting at top going clockwise – Ohio Buckeyes, KitKat Chunky Hazelnut Cream, Puccho grapefruit chews, Hi-Chew peach, Birthday Cake M&Ms, Divine Dark Chocolate with mint

    Divine Dark Chocolate with Mint – The wrapper in the photo above is empty and the little piece pictured is actually all that is left of this magically delightful, appropriately named “Divine” dark chocolate mint bar.  I bought this as part of my groceries one day at Fairway, since dark chocolate is healthy and with mint added it counts as one of my vegetables.  I wasn’t planning on reviewing it until I ate it and realized just how delicious vegetables can be.  It’s currently my favorite dark chocolate bar, but that is subject to change as easily as my TV on a Friday night.  (PS there is no good tv on Friday night.)

  2. Ohio Buckeyes – Technically the name is Continue reading
Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts

Snack Review – Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts

Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts

I’ve Gone Nutty! by buying these.

What do Pop Tarts have to do with running?  They’re just about my favorite processed food in the world, and I often treat myself to a two-pack of frosted blueberry Pop Tarts when I run a marathon (and maybe sometimes when I don’t…).


I also love all things chocolate and peanut butter, so you can imagine my excitement when I learned Pop Tarts released a new flavor – “Gone Nutty!” frosted Chocolate Peanut Butter “Made with Real Peanut Butter” flavored Pop Tarts.  I finally found them in stores, so I quickly snuck the box into my shopping basket and pretended I was an irresponsible mother instead of a single woman with a Pop Tart addiction.


I always eat my Pop Tarts cold, straight from the package.  I find toasting them makes them unpleasantly crunchy.  I also strongly dislike the s’mores flavor of Pop Tarts, finding the fake graham-cracker-flavored crust abhorrent and the marshmallow filling plain gross.  In general I stick to the frosted blueberry and frosted strawberry flavors, so it was with both excitement and as much trepidation as a Pop Tart can create that I cracked into the Gone Nutty! box.


Upon opening the box, I was momentarily wonderstruck by the fancy gold packaging instead of the standard silver.  But upon opening the gold foil package, I was disappointed at the splotchy smear of chocolate frosting – from fancy to messy in an instant.  The Tarts smelled strongly of that lovely artificial chocolate smell, but the peanut butter filling looked legit, although incredibly thin.


I’ve now finished almost an entire Tart, and the most I can say about the flavor is that it can best be described as “mild.”  It doesn’t taste strongly of chocolate, or of peanut butter, or of anything, really, other than “sweet.”  It’s not bad, but it’s not soul-affirming good (as I still find those frosted blueberry ones).  It’s definitely not inedible like the s’mores flavor, and I keep eating it because it’s sweet and it’s 2:30 PM, but I will certainly not be tempted to immediately finish the box, nor will I buy another.


If you love chocolate and peanut butter, go out and buy some real chocolate and actual peanut butter, or a Reece’s cup, or Trader Joe’s dark chocolate and peanut butter cups (amazing, especially frozen), but skip the Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts.  If you don’t really like chocolate or peanut butter, but love mild, soft, sweet but flavorless pastries, Pop Tarts has a great new option for you.


One Tart has 200 calories, 5 grams fat, 19 grams sugar, and 2 grams protein.  It’s also half of what you’ll probably eat, so just go ahead and double all those amounts.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake – Snack Review

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake for Where's the Finish

Yes, it makes two full glasses like this, and yes, I easily drink both of them.

In my never-ending quest to find foods that taste like dessert but provide protein, I’ve pretty much perfected my protein powder smoothie into a delicious, creamy, decadent chocolate peanut butter banana milkshake.


First, the ingredients.

Pure protein and PB2 for milkshake

These are the amounts I use – nothing exact required unless you’re closely counting calories, which I foolishly do not.

  1. I’ve been using Pure Protein chocolate protein powders for a few years now.  The “frosty chocolate” flavor mixes okay into water using just a spoon, but any flavor tastes better if it’s blended with ice and extras in a blender.
  2. This summer I discovered PB2 powdered peanut butter.  I originally got it because it’s low-fat and I planned on mixing it with water to use as regular peanut butter, but pretty much I’ve only used it for smoothies.
  3. A banana.  Still the best deal in NYC at 5 (sometimes 8) for one dollar.  The banana is optional but it makes for a creamier milkshake.  Besides, aren’t runners supposed to eat a lot of bananas?
  4. Ice (pictured – maybe 1.5 cups?) and water (not pictured, maybe another cup or two?).  Amounts can vary a lot depending on how “icy” you want your drink – but too much ice and not enough water means it won’t blend properly.  You could also use milk but it’s not necessary.


Protein shake before blending

All the ingredients before blending – note the line of liquid is about even with the peanut butter jar

Put in the ice first, then dump the two powders on top, then put in the banana.  Shake the powder down through the ice cubes as much as possible (so it doesn’t all shoot to the top when you start the blender), then pour water on top of everything until the powder and ice is covered with about an inch or so of water.  Blend for about 30 seconds or until it’s all nicely mixed and frothy.  Pour into a large glass and try to stop at one… because the amounts above make two giant glasses.  I still drink both glasses and pretend it’s supposed to be one serving.  Approximate calories are 140 for the scoop of protein powder (3 g fat, 25 g protein), 45 calories for 2 tablespoons of the powdered peanut butter (1.5 g fat, 5 g protein) (but I use a little more than 2 T of the peanut powder), and 100 calories for the banana (.5 g fat, 1 g protein), so around 285 calories total (probably a little over 300 the way I make it), 5 g fat and 31 grams protein.


Protein shake after blending

After blending – froths up quite a bit – level is now way above the peanut butter jar

It’s my favorite recovery drink after long runs and I’ve been enjoying them even after short runs now, with only minor guilt.  They fill you up fairly well, too, but I usually need a little more to be satisfied for a meal.



What kind of protein powder or recovery food do you like?  Share in the comments!

Snack Review – Titan High Protein Cookies & QuestBar Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor

Titan Cookies & Questbar wrapped

Titan Cookies & Questbar, in their wrappers

Instead of buying cucumbers as I promised myself yesterday, I visited the local Vitamin Shoppe (which can only be pronounced “shop-ee”) for more Fit n Crisp bars.  While there, I picked up a couple of new protein treats so I could review them for you, loyal reader.  Not so I could eat cookies in the name of science, I swear.

First up is Titan’s High Protein Cookie, Oatmeal Raisin flavor.  The package promised “20g Protein” and 2 “Soft ‘n Chewy Cookies” with “Fresh Baked Taste” that’s “fresh from your oven!”  Nutritional info on the back tells me that a serving size of ONE (1) cookie is 150 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein.  Half the protein I thought I was getting!  (That big “20g Protein” on the front of the package is followed by very tiny “per pack” text.)  Ah, well.  For a fresh baked soft ‘n chewy fresh oatmeal raisin fresh cookie, that still sounds good, right?

Out of the package, the cookies somewhat resembled the photo on the package, and certainly looked like real cookies.  They smelled pretty good too, and felt like soft cookies.  But upon biting into them, the resemblance to a real cookie ended.  They were definitely soft ‘n chewy – way too chewy.  They had the consistency of a dense protein bar, and the cookie smell somehow did not translate into cookie taste.  They weren’t repellant, but this will definitely not satisfy any cookie craving I might have.

On to Titan’s Peanut Butter cookie flavor!  They looked good, felt a bit sticky, but smelled wonderful.  “This is it!” I thought to myself.  “This is going to be my new go-to peanut butter cookie!”  It had about the same nutritional profile as the oatmeal raisin flavor and the same let-down once I actually tasted them.  Actually, it was a much bigger let-down.  Not only did the smell not translate into flavor, but the texture was so dense and chewy, if you squished it up you could form the brick of a standard protein bar (not even exaggerating here – I tried it).  That’s not to say I’m not going to finish them off later.  Because, hey, “cookies.”

Titan Cookies & Questbar unwrapped

Titan Cookies & Questbar unwrapped

Finally, for a bonus, I picked up a Questbar Natural Protein Bar, Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor.  The packaging really sold it to me.  While you might think it was the inexplicable photo of a flan/yellow cake with jimmies splashing into a puddle of hot chocolate, what actually got me was the nutritional facts on the back – 1 bar (the whole package, thank you very much) was only 160 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 20 grams of protein.  Ah yes, the 20 I was looking for!  It also has 17 grams of fiber, which I’m just now noticing.  Maybe good to notice that before I down the whole thing in a sitting.

Out of the package, the Questbar looks like a log with occasional flecks of what I assume are peanuts.  It has a faint chocolatey smell and very little flavor.  If I closed my eyes and you told me the flavor was raspberry, I might believe you.  The texture is very dense but not as sticky/chewy as the cookies, but it goes down fairly easily and doesn’t stick to your teeth.  To give you more of an idea on the texture, propping it up for the photo like that did not take much effort, just as propping up blocks of clay would not take much effort.  However, for 20 grams of portable protein in only 160 calories, I’d give it a thumbs up.  While you probably won’t be craving it as a snack (which is maybe another good thing, actually), this product allows you to eat something called a “Questbar” which makes you sound like a dragon-slaying princess in a computer game.


What highly processed, artificially created snacks do you recommend?  Have you noticed a trend of including “n” in snack names instead of “and” or “&”?  How fresh is fresh baked fresh fresh oven fresh?  Let me know in the comments!