Category Archives: Food

Shaw's French Bread

Complete Score: 18 / 42 = 43%

Every Thursday Shaw’s supermarkets sell big loafs of french bread for just $1. These loafs are baked fresh that day in their store. At first glance it seems like a great deal but a close look at the ingredients delivers the truth.

Value

Getting a big loaf of bread for one measly dollar is a fantastic deal, but there is a downside. The bread contains high fructose corn syrup. Why Shaw’s, why?

If you’re on a super tight budget then this bread is OK but otherwise I’d send the extra $1.5 and get one of their loaves that does not contain HFCS.

Score: 3 / 5

Half of the loaf
Half of the loaf

Quality

The bread is baked fresh and is edible, but also contains that tell-tale empty cardboard-esque taste that comes with high fructose corn syrup. The bread is also not very crispy, but rather a bit soft and chewy. It stays well, as it’s already not crispy, but it’s simply not very tasty. I like my bread crispy on the outside and soft on the inside but this loaf was just soft all around, to the point I could bend it in half to stuff in my backpack without ruining it.

Score: 2 / 5

Innovation

I’d say offering loaves of bread for $1 is a great deal, except Whole Foods did the same thing for half this summer and their loaves were much, much tastier.

Score: 3 / 5

Social Benefit

Cheap bread is great and helps families, college students and others on tight budgets stretch each and every dollar, but at a price of eating high fructose corn syrup. Honestly, high fructose corn syrup is probably not the worst thing for us but it’s certainly no better than sugar. For what it’s worth I prefer natural foods and see natural as simply better than artificial.

Score: 2 / 5

Looks crispy crunchy...but it's not
Looks crispy crunchy...but it's not

Freestyle!

Lots of potential here but in the end Shaw’s French Bread falls short.

Score: 8 / 22

Shaw’s French Bread can be purchased at Shaw’s supermarkets.

Complete Score: 18 / 42 = 43%

Izze Sparkling Pomegranate

Complete Score: 34 / 42 = 81%

Hmmm…sparkling pomegranates…hmmm!

The latest craze aside, I love the taste of pomegranates, they’re sweet but sharp and instantly refreshing. That’s why when I saw the Izze Sparkling Pomegranate Juice Soda, I had to give it a try.

Value

At $1 per 12 ounce bottle, IZZE is neither cheap nor expensive but rather middle of the range. It’s made from all natural ingredients and contains real non-refined sugar so at least it’s better than soda with high fructose corn syrup.

The nutritional value of this drink is low, as it contains 120 calories, 15 mg of sodium and 29 grams of carbohydrates, 26 of which are from sugar.

Score: 3 / 5

Hmm...pomegranatey
Hmm...pomegranatey

Quality

As noted above, Izze uses all natural ingredients in their drinks and it makes a difference as one glass of Sparkling Pomegranate juice delivers a sharp, sweet taste that pays homage to its name, while the lack of refined sugars and caffeine does not leave you feeling drained just a few minutes later. It’s a very refreshing beverage and the sparkling (carbonated) water is a nice touch that gives you that little bit of fizz action.

Score: 4 / 5

Innovation

This pomegranate soda is a unique drink that I’ve yet to see bottled by other companies. It’s flavored similar to pomegranate juice but also has a mix of juice from pineapples, apples, white grapes, lemons, and cranberries to balance out the flavor very nicely. Also note that the label on the Izze Sparkling Pomegranate bottle points out that the USDA recommends we get most of our fruit from whole fruits, and urges us to eat whole fruits! Imagine that, a company telling us the truth and recommending we buy a product they don’t make!

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

Unlike the Hansen’s line of natural sodas we reviewed earlier, Izze’s natural flavored juice beverages come in glass bottles that make for easier recycling and a cleaner taste than aluminum cans.s Also, as noted in the innovation category, Izze recommends we eat whole fruits too, not just rely on their beverages for our daily fruit servings. It’s nice to see a company state health facts that don’t necessarily help their bottom line. The all natural ingredients round out a beverage that might not be good for us on its own, but is certainly much, much better for us and our society than the average High Fructose Corn Syrup laden sodas found on our shelves.

Izze also participates in their community, giving back some of their profits to help others, thus also helping to offset any negative externalities such as pollution from transporting the beverage.

Score: 4 / 5

Fizzy!
Fizzy!

Freestyle!

Simply put, pomegranates rock and the Izze Sparkling Pomegrante juice soda drink is uber tasty delicious!

Score: 18 / 22

Buy delicious Izze Sparkling Pomegranate Juice Soda online right now!

Complete Score: 34 / 42 = 81%

Kashi Margherita Tomato Garlic Cheese Thin Crust Pizza

Complete Score: 31.5 / 42 = 75%

Since our review of the Kashi Mediterranean Pizza, the company has come out with a new thin crust line of pizzas which look quite appetizing. I picked one of these up today and am glad I did, it was delicious!

Ooooh....thin!
Ooooh....thin!

Value

With Mr. Money’s tip about getting $2 off Kashi pizzas, I was able to grab the Kashi Margherita Tomato Garlic Cheese Thin Crust Pizza for only $4 and change. That’s a pretty good deal for an entire meal. Normally these pizzas run for $6 though so that is how we’ll rate them. Similar to the Kashi Mediterranean Pizza, these thin crust pizzas are a good but not great value.

Below are the nutritional facts pulled from the Kashi site. As with the Mediterranean Pizza, these values are per serving and list one pizza as 3 servings. You’ll likely eat the whole pizza in a sitting so just multiply the below by three.

Nutritional Facts

  • 260 Calories
  • 90 Calories from Fat
  • 9 g Total Fat
  • 4 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 g Trans Fat
  • 20 mg Cholesterol
  • 630 mg Sodium
  • 29 g Carbohydrates
  • 4 g Fiber
  • 4 g Sugars
  • 14 g Protein
  • 10% Vitamin A
  • 10% Vitamin C
  • 20% Calcium
  • 8% Iron

Pretty close in value to the Kashi Mediterranean Pizza. For the cost and considering it’s a frozen pizza you get a fair amount of nutrients for one meal.

Score: 4 / 5

Quality

This pizza was delicious! The crust was perfect and the cheese and toppings cooked and melted perfectly. Plus, since it’s thin crust it only takes 6-7 minutes to cook! There’s just the right amount of garlic, that amount that leaves you satisfied an hour or two later with the taste of garlic still hitting your taste buds but not overwhelmingly so.

Score: 4.5 / 5

Innovation

Well, the thin crust is a new addition for Kashi and one that’s rarely seen in the frozen pizza market so I’ll give them an extra .5 points in addition to their previous innovation score.

Score: 4.5 / 5

Hmmm...thin crust deliciousness
Hmmm...thin crust deliciousness

Social Benefit

We discussed the social impact of Kashi frozen pizzas before so let me just quickly state that they’re good for society in that they substitute for delivery pizza, which is often greasy and unhealthy. However frozen pizzas use a lot of salt to preserve themselves and are not exactly healthy, just healthier. If you really want to reduce your impact and increase your health make a pizza from scratch.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Freestyle!

For $4 it’s tough to beat this pizza. For $6, you’re better off making your own but if you’re crunched for time then it’s really tough to beat a pizza that cooks in under ten minutes.

Score: 16 / 22

Kashi pizzas are available at Stop & Shop and many other super markets.

Complete Score: 31.5 / 42 = 75%

Kashi Mediterranean Pizza

Complete Score: 31 / 42 = 74%

Unlike Amy’s Soy Cheese Pizza, more often than not Kashi’s Mediterranean Pizza comes out of the oven looking just like the picture on the box and tasting damn good.

Value

At $5.99 for a one person (3 servings size) pizza, the Kashi Mediterranean Pizza is a pretty good value. It’s slightly cheaper than a delivery pizza and certainly more nutritious than most pizza shops fare. It’s a completely vegetarian pizza, featuring red onions, sweet red peppers, spinach, basil, feta along with three other cheeses.

Below are the nutritional facts pulled from the Kashi site. Remember the below info is based off the box containing three servings, so if you eat the whole pizza, which is quite possible, multiple the below numbers by three.

Nutritional Facts

  • 290 Calories
  • 80 Calories from Fat
  • 9 g Total Fat
  • 4 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 gTrans Fat
  • 1.5 g Polyunsaturated Fat
  • 3 g Monounsaturated Fat
  • 20 mg Cholesterol
  • 640 mg Sodium
  • 37 g Carbohydrates
  • 5 g Fiber
  • 3g Sugars
  • 15 g Protein
  • 30% Vitamin A
  • 10% Vitamin C
  • 20% Calcium
  • 8% Iron

Overall the numbers are similar to Amy’s Soy Cheeze pizza, but the Kashi Mediterranean pizza certainly has much stronger vitamin values, owing to its veggie toppings. Overall, you’re getting a fairly good amount of nutrients for a pizza.

Score: 4 / 5

Kashi Mediterranean Pizza before cooking (CD case for size comparison)
Kashi Mediterranean Pizza before cooking (CD case for size comparison)

Quality

For several years I simply did not eat many frozen pizzas. Living in Boston, we have tons and tons of great pizza shops that for the most part beat frozen pizzas on taste. Well, earlier this year I was strolling down the aisles of the local Stop & Shop and saw a Kashi Mediterranean Pizza, which looked unlike any frozen pizza I’d seen before. After purchasing the pizza and taken it home to get cooked, I quickly learned Kashi pizzas are the exception to the frozen pizzas sucking rule.

It’s crust for one is near perfect, as normal cooking time gets it crispy but still soft enough. The flax seed whole grain crust is very tasty too and filling. The vegetable toppings are hefty and frozen while fresh to help preserve as much flavor as possible. The red onions and peppers, along with the spinach and feta cheese all come together to create a great tasting vegetarian pizza that is also relatively healthy. The amount of salt tossed into the pizza weighs down its health appeal but in terms of taste it’s tough to beat Kashi pizzas. Warning, just like the Bolthouse Farms protein shakes, these Kashi pizzas can be habit forming!

Score: 4.5 / 5

Innovation

We all know pizza is not new, however attempting to make pizza healthy (or at least healthier) is a pretty new trend for the market and Kashi succeeds in making a tasty while relatively healthy frozen pizza. Of course, there are much better foods for us to be eating but there are also much worse too.

Kashi’s crust is unique and their secret blend of grains, sesame and flax seeds creates a crust that competes with many top end pizza shops, and simply destroys most of its frozen competition.

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

As noted above, there are healthier options (for instance, making your own veggie pizza from scratch) but comparatively if everyone ate Kashi pizzas rather than their average frozen pizza or delivery from some greasy spoon shop, our collective health would certainly improve. Considering the fossil fuels burned to seal the pizza in its plastic warp, transport the frozen pizzas to markets all across the country and the energy needed to keep the pizzas frozen during transport, while in market and finally in our homes there’s much better foods we could be eating to have a lower impact on our environment and our wallets. As noted above and in the Amy’s Soy Cheeze Pizza review, these frozen pizzas are loaded with salt in order to preserve them and most Americans simply do not need more salt in their diets.

Overall, these Kashi pizzas are better for society than the average frozen pizza, but in the grand scheme not by much.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Cooked and ready for consumption!
Cooked and ready for consumption!

Freestyle!

For a few months, when I first discovered these pizzas, I was near addicted to them and ate them 1-2 times per week! At $5.99, they were cheap enough that walking down to the super market, picking one up and tossing it in the oven was a healthier and more economical alternative to ordering delivery pizza. I rarely order delivery pizza nowadays and have cut back to getting a Kashi pizza perhaps once a month. Still, if I get the craving for a pizza and don’t have the time nor energy to make one myself, chances are a Kashi pizza is what I’ll end up eating.

Score: 16 / 22

Kashi pizzas are available at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s and most other super markets.

Complete Score: 31 / 42 = 74%

Amy’s Soy Cheeze Pizza

Complete Score: 16 / 42 = 38%

Recently my diet has naturally featured less and less meat each week. Over the past 7-8 months my main method of transportation has been my bicycle and as such the food I eat doubles as my fuel too. With the new duel-nature of my food, I’ve naturally started eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat, partly because meat is tough to carry on the road (bruised fruit is still edible, whereas meat would hardly last an hour or two in my black backpack in the middle of summer) and partly because fruits and veggies give me better and more energy.

As my diet progressed away from meat I also noticed just how damn good everything tastes without meat overpowering everything. Now, I don’t even miss meat! So much so that I’ve been considering switching to a completely vegan diet, at least for a trial for a month. The toughest thing to give up would be pizza, so when I saw this Soy Cheese Pizza from Amy’s (makers of super-delicious frozen burritos) I had to give it a shot.

Amy's Frozen Soy Cheeze Pizza prior to cooking
Amy's Frozen Soy Cheeze Pizza prior to cooking

Value

At $5.99 for a single person sized pizza, Amy’s Soy Cheeze Pizza is at least comparable in cost to a delivery pizza. It’s slightly cheaper than most small pizzas here in Boston, but remember to take into account the cost of cooking the pizza in terms of energy and time. Sure, it’s a relatively easy process but it still does cost money to cook this pizza. Still, six dollars for a meal is reasonable.

Below is the nutritional information for this pizza as reported on Amy’s Kitchen web-site. Note, the below figures are based off the box containing three servings, though realistically it’s a small enough pizza for one person to mow down in one sitting.

Nutritional Facts

  • 290 Calories
  • 100 Calories from Fat
  • 11 g Total Fat
  • 1 g Saturated Fat
  • 0 gTrans Fat
  • 0 mg Cholesterol
  • 590 mg Sodium
  • 37 g Carbohydrates
  • 2 g Fiber
  • 3g Sugars
  • 12 g Protein
  • 80% Organic
  • 4% Vitamin A
  • 4% Vitamin C
  • 2% Calcium
  • 10% Iron

On its own, the soy cheeze pizza is not a great source of any nutrients, though it does have a fair amount of fiber and iron, as well as (obviously) being loaded with carbohydrates.

Score: 3 / 5

Quality

Though I was doubtful at first of soy’s ability to match real cheese, the description on the back of the box of the soy melting into a mozzarella-esque pile of delicious gooeyness had my mouth watering. Plus my recent experience with soy cream “cheese” left me optimistic about this pizza. I fired up my oven to 425 degrees, waited for it to warm up and popped the soon to be warm, crispy but gooey pile of tomato, soy and crust into the oven.

12-14 minutes later, my excitement and anticipation disappeared as my eyes fell upon a slightly burnt but not melted pile of dough, sauce and half melted half burnt soy bits. The sight left me sadder than a kid at Christmas opening a big box to find clothes.

Score: 1 / 5

Amy's Soy Cheeze Pizza after cooking
Amy's Soy Cheeze Pizza after cooking

Innovation

While I commend Amy’s for their effort in taking the cheese out of cheese pizza, their soy based cheeze just does not compare to the real deal. The soy simply did not melt and instead either burned into a crisp or just stayed in its un-melted form. In either case it was honestly a bit nasty tasting, especially on the texture front. Having experienced the diversity of soy, I’m confident that this recipe could be tweaked to work but as is it simply does not mimic cheese. You’re much better off just making a cheese-less pizza if you’re trying to go the vegan route.

Score: 2 / 5

Social Benefit

Well, if you stockpile a bunch of these pizzas and thus do not get pizza delivery, there would be a net positive impact on the environment. Better yet, we could make our own pizzas from scratch using local ingredients and thus reduce the polluting impact even more.

These pizzas are loaded with salt and other preservatives, which is the last thing most Americans need more of. They’re certainly not healthy but are most likely better for you than the average pizza shop. Amy’s should be commended for at least attempting to make a vegan cheese-esque pizza, though the actual implementation falls far short.

Score: 2 / 5

Freestyle!

Somehow this soy cheese pizza ended up looking like a Barbecue chicken pizza, though unsurprisingly it did not taste like it at all.

Granted, I should have expected that the marketing on the back of the box wouldn’t match up with reality, but I at least expected the soy “cheese” to melt! Instead, the soy sort of warmed up and kinda melted in some spots and kinda burned in other spots. The texture was decidedly not gooey and instead had a plasticy feel to it as the whole layer of cheese was connected and crunchy.

Still, I was hungry and food is food. I cut up the pizza into eight slices and after a few bites realized it wasn’t as bad as it looked. The crust was actually quite good. Crispy and crunchy but also chewy enough in the right places. The sauce too was very, very good. Still, the disappointment of the cheese n bits topping overpowered the goodness of the sauce and crust.

Perhaps I’ll try this soy cheese pizza again (especially if I go through with my month of veganism experiment and fiend for pizza) but this first time was disappointing though edible.

Score: 8 / 22

Amy’s Soy Cheeze Pizza is available at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s and other supermarkets.

Complete Score: 16 / 42 = 38%

Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino

Complete Score: 18.5 / 42 = 44%

Though ridiculously priced ($2.69 at Tedeschi’s on Neponset Avenue in Dorchester), the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino is a tasty coffee drink that will give you a bit of a sugar and caffeine boost. I’ve had the vanilla and coffee versions of this drink before and they simply do not compare to the grand Mocha flavored concoction. Make sure you shake the bottle to arouse the delicious chocolate powder that’s settled on the floor of the coffee ocean contained inside the bottle (OK I got a bit carried away there)

Value

At $2.69, there’s simply no way this drink is worth the cash. For that price you can easily buy and make yourself multiple coffee drinks. If you’re studying or working late and have no coffee at home and no 24 hour supermarkets in the area, then sure a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccion makes for a suitable, tasty and expensive alternative. Also, at least the ingredients are natural so you’re paying a premium to get a quick caffeine and sugar high from coffee instead of artificially flavored soda. With this bottled coffee drink, you know you’re paying for the convenience of a pre-made caffeine drink, not for the quality or quantity of coffee inside.

Score: 1.5 / 5

Quality

They’re too expensive but damn, these mocha filled drinks sure are tasty. Just like the Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappuccion protein drinks, these Frappuccinos are quite addictive. I’m begining to think that mocha itself had some strong addictive properties. It’s surely not the caffeine as I’ve long grown past a mere caffeine addiction. Back in my days of attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill I’d frequently buy a pack of these drinks to keep me going on my long car trips to and from Boston. Since then, I believe I’ve become immune to the effects of caffeine, as I can drink coffee before bed and fall asleep just fine (even though I’m a natural insomniac).

Score: 4 / 5

Innovation

For a bit of nutrition with your caffeine shakes, try blending up a banana or two and mixing in a little bit of milk and a Mocha Frappuccino. It is extremely delicious, and for you smokers out there it eases the throat quite nicely. As for the effectiveness of the drugs inside this drink, I find it to be a little bit weak on awakening power but I have drank about a 900,000 of these so I’m also immune by now. If Starbucks invented some way to jack up the caffeine dose, or at least increase its effectiveness, perhaps this drink would score higher in this category. As is, it’s simply coffee, sugar, milk, and that oh so delicious mocha. An argument could be made for Starbuck being innovative in charging so much for this drink, but I will not encourage them!

Score: 1 / 5

Social Benefit

At this price range, we must consider the impact of such a highly priced drink on society. For $2.69 you could feed someone for the day, but instead Starbucks and the consumer get together to exchange some caffeine and sugar for a few US dollars. Surely, there’s better ways we as a world can spend our money on, but obviously there’s worse things too.

Onto the good, Starbucks used natural ingredients in this coffee drink and ships it in a glass bottle. On the negative side though, they wrap the top part of the bottle in plastic, even though it has a sealed top. It’s an unnecessary piece of packaging and only serves to contribute to waste.

Overall, it’s an overpriced, overpackaged, coffee drink that you could make yourself for a portion of the costs and environmental impact. If it came in a plastic bottle and had artificial ingredients it’d get a zero here.

Score: 1 / 5

Freestyle!

Personally, I’ve enjoyed the taste of this drink many times in the past, especially during my college years. Now though, it’s rare that I buy one of these, though every now and then the craving for an overcharged Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino strikes me. It must be some bit of programming Starbucks injects into the drink, because on rational grounds there’s no need for this drink.

Score: 11 / 22

Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Coffee Drink Mocha is available from Amazon.com.

Complete Score: 18.5 / 42 = 44%

Hansen’s Mandarin Lime Soda

Complete Score: 18.5 / 42 = 44%

A few months ago I completely weaned myself off sodas and went soda-free for a couple of months. At first it was tough breaking that addiction, especially because my body and mind simply craved soda. Honestly, the decision to cut out soda from my diet was partly due to health and environmental concerns, but mostly it was an economical decision! Simply put, after having quit my job I needed to consciously drink liquids that would replenish what I needed in exchange for the smallest cost possible. Of course, this meant I mostly drank water.

Still, the cravings never truly disappeared and one day John introduced me to natural sodas, made from natural ingredients, devoid of high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives. Since then, I’ve discovered Hansen’s Natural Sodas and every now and then indulge myself in some cheap and natural sodas.

Value

At the Stop & Shop down the street from my house Hansen’s natural sodas are available for $.59 per can, plus a $.05 deposit. Sixty four cents is considerably cheaper than a Coca-Cola or Pepsi product and is better for your body too. Still, for $.64 you simply do not get much nutritional value from a Hansen’s natural soda and by no means is it good for you, it’s just better than artificially sweetened over processed sodas.

Straight from Hansen’s site, the nutritional facts for one serving (one can) are:

  • 150 Calories
  • 0 g Total Fat
  • 0 mg Sodium
  • 39 g Total Carb
  • 39 g Sugars 39g
  • 0 g Protein

In other words, empty calories and sugar. Sometimes though you crave a sweet sugary soda, and during those times you could do a lot worse than buying a Hansen’s natural soda.

Score: 3 / 5

Quality

It’s very, very tasty. I’ll admit, I’ve gone on somewhat of a bender on these sodas, as I’ve always loved orange soda and the Mandarin-Lime taste is quite appealing to me. The ingredients are all natural, which is refreshing for a soda. In fact, this orange soda is not even orange!

Check it out:

The bubbles means it's breathing
The bubbles means it's breathing

And again, straight from Hansen’s site, here are the Ingredients:

“Pure triple filtered carbonated water, cane sugar, citric acid, natural flavors with extracts of yucatan mandarin and colima lime”

I’d certainly rather drink those natural ingredients rather than some artificial chemical concocted in some corporate laboratory.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Innovation

Now, though Hansen’s contains only natural cane sugar we can’t quite credit them for the innovation. In fact, Hansen’s only changed to cane sugar from high fructose corn syrup this past April, as the FDA announced that drinks could not be labeled natural if they contained high fructose corn syrup. They state that they were planning the change earlier but in either case it’s not highly inventive to use a natural ingredient instead of an artificial chemical. I will credit Hansen’s with having flavors not commonly found in sodas though. For instance they have kiwi strawberry, mango orange and pomegranate flavored sodas.

Score: 3 / 5

Social Benefit

Their sodas come in aluminum cans, which are much, much more recyclable than plastic. They get points for using aluminum over plastic bottles. However, taking a look at some of Hansen’s other products, they do use plenty of plastic. Also, aluminum is not a green material by any means and soda is certainly not a necessary food item.

In this country, we’re faced with an obesity epidemic, and though natural sodas are certainly healthier than other sodas loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives, these sodas are still by no means healthy.

Score: 1 / 5

Orange can, clear soda
Orange can, clear soda

Freestyle!

Part of our review process here at OTIBR includes reaching out to the companies we review to give them a chance to let us know of their work behind the scenes. For instance, my review for organic Australian blood oranges was enhanced by Global Organics NZ LTD informing me that they ship their food via sea freight, not air freight as I assumed. Before publishing this review for Hansen’s Mandarin Lime Soda, I e-mailed the company looking for a few answers on their environmental policy. Seeing how many of their products utilized plastic bottles, that are more difficult to recycle than aluminum or glass we reached out to Hansen’s via their online e-mail form. Upon receiving a response it was apparent that Hansen’s was a bit confused by our site, as they looked at our review as a marketing opportunity, which if you read our disclosure policy or our about us section is clearly not the case!

We responded back to Hansen’s that we are a review site, not a marketing site and requested that our e-mail be forwarded to someone who could make a public statement or at least provide us with some more information. It’s been three weeks and we’ve yet to hear back from Hansen’s so we’ve moved on. Some companies get it and some do not. For instance Sweet Leaf promotes consumers and media to write about their product and even posts images of Sweet Leaf drinks for media and fans to use! Sweet Leaf also responded to our e-mails in a timely and honest fashion. Hansen’s on the other hand seems to be very un-organized, especially as parts of their web-site list that their product still uses high fructose corn syrup, though they do not!

I mention all of this here, because it’s certainly affected my perception of the company. It’s partly why we have a freestyle section, as there is no other place to mention this poor experience with Hansen’s the company. It made me reconsider purchasing their product as I’m a big proponent of the line of thinking that a company is concerned with quality in all aspects or they are not. If the service is shoddy on this end, it makes me question their quality assurance in their manufacturing too. It’s a shame for Hansen’s as they make a tasty natural cheap soda, but perhaps we get what we pay for?

Score: 8 / 22

Hansen’s natural sodas are available at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s and other supermarkets.

Complete Score: 18.5 / 42 = 44%

Soya Kaas: A Natural Cream Cheese Alternative

Complete Score: 34.75 / 42 = 82.7%

A few years back when I first heard of the Atkins diet I laughed. Now, I’m not one to go on diets; I eat what I eat, sticking to a food plan seems a bit bizarre to me. Still, this Atkins diet of avoiding carbohydrates was straight up looney tunes to me. I could never give up bread! I also love bagels and can’t imagine avoiding carbohydrates, especially now that I ride my bicycle everywhere and need the extra energy.

Carbohydrates and fake cheese FTW!

So long story short, I do make a conscious effort to eat natural organic foods, as they taste better and food without artificial chemicals is a big plus for our health. This trend started about the same time I quit my full time job. Knowing I’d be without health insurance I made a conscious effort to put good food in my system. Naturally, my decrease in consistent cash flow also led me to seek out non-meat meals, for health and cost reasons.

Tasty fake cream cheese inside!
Tasty fake cream cheese inside!

At some point I tried out Soya Kaas: A Natural Cream Cheese Alternative and found it not only looked and tasted similar to cream cheese, I actually enjoyed it better than cream cheese! As John‘s vegan brother says, “why eat dairy if you don’t have to?”

Why indeed?

Value

At $3.99 per 8 oz. container at Whole Foods, Soya Kaas is not cheap, but it’s not extraordinarily more expensive than regular cream cheese. Considering it also has no cholesterol and is relatively low in fat (9 grams per 28 gram serving), it’s worth the extra $.75 – $1.00 over regular dairy cream cheese.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Quality

It looks like cream cheese, smells like cream cheese, spreads like cream cheese and tastes even better than cream cheese. What’s not to like?

It’s made out of 51% organic ingredients. In total the ingredients are Tofu (Filtered Water, Organic Soy Beans, Calcium Sulfate), Non-hydrogenated Soy Oil, Caseinate (which is a milk protein synthesized from dried skim milk, so it’s not 100% dairy free), Lactic Acid (from corn), Citric Acid, Carob and Carrageenan (a seaweed extract) Gums, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors and Sea Salt.

Overall, the ingredients used and the awesome taste make Soya Kaas not just a tasty alternative to cream cheese, but a superior product in general.

Score: 4.5 / 5

Alternative music meets cream cheese?
Alternative music meets cream cheese?

Innovation

When I first say the blue and white container of Soya Kaas at Whole Foods, I thought no way that tastes anything like cream cheese. Even though this was after trying soy butter and other soy products, and admitting they were close in taste to what they were imitating, I still thought there was just no way it could taste like cream cheese. Still, being adventurous with my food intake, I figured frack it, let’s give it a shot.

The first thing I noticed upon getting home was the remarkably difficult plastic wrap covering the fake cream cheese inside the container. For some reason Soya Kaas chose to make it extremely difficult to peal back the plastic wrap in one motion, instead using a piece of plastic that falls apart as you pull it off. Really got to hand it to them, I thought I’ve seen all the various difficult to open packaging there is but this one really just falls apart as you try to peal it. Annoying but unique.

Onto the “cheese”! As I’ve noted numerous times already, this white spread really truly does taste like cream cheese. It’s actually better tasting than most cream cheese spreads I’ve had. Spread a bit of this stuff on a warm crisp bagel and it’ll melt and sink into the nooks and crannies and generally taste wicked good. All I know is that the soy bean is nature’s most magical creation. It contorts into so many different food items it’s quite insane. Props to you soy bean, props to you!

Score: 4.5 / 5

Social Benefit

Aside from the small plastic container, Soya Kaas is great for the environment. By relying on soy beans and other natural products, instead of relying on cows, Soya Kaas has a positive impact on reducing green house emissions. Unbeknownst to many people, cows are a leading producer of methane, a greenhouse gas. Though it’s biological in nature, these gases do have a noticeable impact on global warming due to the sheer number of cows in the U.S. and abroad. It’s not so much that cows are bad for the environment, rather millions upon millions of cows concentrated in small areas are bad for the environment and bad for themselves. By choosing a product that does not rely on cows you’re helping to reduce the global demand for cows and helping to make sure they get a little more breathing space and we get a little less cow gas blowing hot air around.

Score: 4.25 / 5

Soya Kass + Bagel = Delicious Breakfast
Soya Kass + Bagel = Delicious Breakfast

Freestyle!

This “alternative” to cream cheese tastes great! In fact, while writing this review I made myself so hungry I simply had to have another bagel with alternative cream cheese and strawberry jam and orange fig spread (hmmm real fruit sugar and fake cheese on bread….drooool). If you’re concerned about cholestrorol, cow gas, or need a lactose free alternative to cream cheese, give Soya Kaas: A Natural Cream Cheese Alternative a shot. I cannot guarantee you’ll like it but I love it!

Carbohydrates and fake cheese FTW!

Score: 18 / 22

Soya Kaas: A Natural Cream Cheese Alternative is available at Whole foods for $3.99.

Complete Score: 34.75 / 42 = 82.7%

Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino

Complete Score: 34.5 / 42 = 82.1%

A few months ago John introduced me to what he described as “the best protein shake I’ve ever had”. Indeed, after he poured me a glass of Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino I agreed with him completely, that drink was delicious!

Value

At Stop & Shop a one liter bottle is $4.29, and at Shaw’s and Whole Foods it’s $3.99. In either case, it’s not cheap. Still, considering there are four servings in one bottle and the amount of nutrients per serving it’s an OK deal. For one serving, you get 150% of your Vitamin B6, B12 and C needs, plus 19% of your potassium, 10 grams of protein, 45% of your calcium, 20% of your magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D and 10% of your daily iron need. Note this nutritional information is directly from the official Bolthouse Farms page for the Mocha Cappuccino Protein drink.

Plus it’s got a little bit of caffeine, no artificial sugars and tastes great. All in all you could make your own protein shake for considerably cheaper but if you must get a pre-made drink, this one is packed with the good stuff for a semi-reasonable price.

Score: 4 / 5

Quality

Simply put, this drink is delicious.

As I’ve mentioned above, one serving costs $1 but also comes jam packed with enough nutrients for a day. Still, I often find it tough to resist a second glass of this stuff, it’s just that good. If you like mocha cappuccinos, you must give this drink a try.

Score: 4.75 / 5

Mochalicious
Mochalicious

Innovation

Well, as I said in the intro, the Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino drink is one of the best protein drinks I’ve ever tasted, which is saying something because usually protein shakes are not the tastiest of drinks. Normally I wouldn’t award too many innovation points to a drink like this one, but Bolthouse Farms nailed the taste of this drink so well that they’ve earned it.

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

Well, all of the Bolthouse Farms drinks come in plastic bottles. They are recyclable but plastic is notorious for being more difficult (e.g. resource intensive) to recycle than aluminum or glass. On the plus side, these drinks have all natural ingredients and the bottle is a hefty 1 liter, so at least they jam a big amount of goodness into that plastic bottle. Also Bolthouse Farms is family owned and produces a lot of organic carrots and other produce. They’re located in California, which is much closer and thus requires less energy to get to me than the Australian blood oranges I reviewed earlier this week. Overall, they could do better but so can nearly every company and consumer on the planet.

Score: 3.75 / 5

Freestyle!

Warning: the Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino drink is borderline addictive! At least it’s a relatively health addiction, though everything should be consumed in moderation!

This stuff is really, really tasty. I just wish it wasn’t so fracking expensive.

Score: 18 / 22

Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino is available at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Whole Foods and most other supermarkets.

Complete Score: 34.5 / 42 = 82.1%

Super Stop & Shop: The 24 Hour Super Market

Complete Score: 26 / 42 = 62.0%

Unlike most places in Boston, the Super Stop & Shop supermarket on 1100 Massachusetts Avenue is open 24 hours a day Tuesday through Saturday. As I live a few blocks from this Stop & Shop and tend to keep insomniac hours I love that I have an option for actual food at 3 AM on a Wednesday. Sure, Super Stop & Shop does not have the best produce in the world but their selection is quite large and you’re sure to find something to satisfy your midnight munchies.

Value

The building is huge, bigger than any other Stop & Shop in the Boston area (as far as I know). There is an entire aisle devoted to organic foods, ranging from Soy milk, yogurt, and burgers to organic chips, cookies, salsa, rice, soda, tea, cereal and even pizza. This large selection also correlates with relatively decent prices. If you’re looking to pick up a lot of competitively priced groceries in one spot, this Stop & Shop is a good place to go. You won’t find the best bargains here, but considering the store is open 24 hours a day 5 days a week, it’ll definitely have the best bargains at some points during the day. If it’s 2 AM and you’re in need of an actual meal you’ll be hard pressed to find better, healthier, fresher food for a better price in Boston.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Quality

Though this market has a huge produce section, their fruits and veggies leave a lot to desire. Their kiwis are sub-par on a good day, most of their bananas are from the corrupt and tasteless Chiquita brand and their berries are overpriced. All in all, I do most of my produce shopping at farmer’s markets, Whole Foods, Lambert’s or the Fruit Center and avoid the majority of Super Stop & Shop produce as much as possible. If you’re looking for a super market open 24 hours, there’s only one game in town.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Super Stop & Shop
Super Stop & Shop

Innovation

For such a large building it is a bit surprising and disappointing that there are only 4 self-service express checkouts and only one self-service full lane. Also, note that the self-service checkouts are shut down during the night and there is usually only one checkout lane open during the graveyard shift, though the lack of traffic tends to make this a non-issue. Still, being open 24 hours is a pretty big deal for Boston.

Score: 4 / 5

Social Benefit

It’d be nice if there was better bike parking and more of it. There is a bike rack but it does not seem too sturdy and does not allow for one to lock up your front and back wheel easily. There is a lot of open space where the bike rack is located and I’d like to see some benches set up so people don’t sit on the bike rack.

Still, having a supermarket open 24 hours a day gives a few more people jobs and gives people more options besides late night fast food. It’s a fairly large store and would likely be staffed during the night anyway so they are not using more energy than they normally would. Most super markets have so much roof space that it’d be nice to see more super markets put up solar panels to help power themselves sustainably.

Score: 3 / 5

Freestyle!

Overall, the 24 hour convenience and large selection outweigh the typical negatives of most Stop & Shops (mainly that they’re not Whole Foods or farmers markets). It’s conveniently located right off I-93 and Massachusetts Avenue, with buses arriving and departing to the JFK/Umass red line stop and other points in the area at a (seemingly) reasonable pace.

Score: 13 / 22

This Super Stop & Shop is located at 1100 Massachusetts Avenue in Dorchester, MA 02122 and is open 24 hours Tuesday through Saturday, and 7AM to midnight Monday and Sunday.

Complete Score: 26 / 42 = 62.0%