Archive for July, 2015

Joey Tries: barkTHINS

Welcome to my new blog post section Joey Tries! In this section of my blog I will be reviewing various products that I’ve either purchased myself or been asked to try by the manufacturer or organization. I promise to always tell you whether I was sent the sample, or purchased it myself. Many of the food related items may also be gluten-free – and I’ll tell you that as well.

bark thins

This week I will be reviewing barkTHINS. I received a coupon for this product through Influenster as part of their “sunshine box.”

Shorty Hulk took the coupon to our local Harris Teeter, and one 4.7 oz bag cost $3.99. Our coupon covered the cost of the whole thing, and I brought it to the office for my 3 co-workers to try with me.

As you can see from the picture, we tried the Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt. The label clearly tells you that it is a non-GMO food with fair trade certified ingredients. For Allergy interested friends, this snack contains tree nuts and soy – and because it is made in the same machine as other snacks, it could contain traces of peanuts, wheat, milk and eggs. The thing I liked best about the ingredients list is that I could pronounce everything listed except for the Soy Lecithin – so I didn’t feel like I was putting a bunch of extra chemicals in my mouth.

Of course, the picture on the front never looks exactly like the contents inside – in this case, you just need to know that the “bark” is all different sizes – big pieces to little pieces – so if you are counting points or calories, you have to go by ounces and not pieces. One serving is 220 calories, so there are definitely lower calorie snacks out there. But due to the richness of the chocolate, we actually felt like you could have half a serving and get your sweets fix.

The taste is a classic contrast of dark and sweet chocolate with the saltiness of the almonds and sea salt. The texture is smooth and although it is a kind of “brittle” you don’t feel like you are going to break your teeth biting in to it. It has a nice balance between the sweet and salt, and no lingering aftertaste. The package is resealable so you can store it for later, but since the packaging is a bag and not a box, sticking it in a backpack or purse could mean that it would get crushed in to smaller pieces if you took it on a trip.

My co-worker B called it “yummy” and “satisfying” for her. My boss D came back looking for another sample, and A (our health nut) said she would definitely consider it for a treat if she was looking for something fun. The bag was gone by day 2, and I only think it lasted that long because they were polite and also could not find where I hid the bag.

barkTHINS currently comes in 7 different varieties:

  • Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt
  • Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt
  • Dark Chocolate Mint
  • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt
  • Blueberry Quinoa with Agave
  • Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond with Sea Salt
  • Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel with Sea Salt (seasonal)
  • Joey’s Ruling: Definitely would buy again if I had a coupon or if it was on sale. Very interested in trying the other flavors. Good alternative to a candy bar or bag of cookies for that sweet craving.

    Joey Cooks: Boston Butt

    Welcome to Joey Cooks! In this new segment of my blog, I’ll be writing about some of my cooking (mis)adventures. Shorty Hulk calls me a “scratch cook” – basically, I tend to look through the cupboards, look through my recipes, look through the dark and dusky corners of my scattered mind (which is scary, trust me) and then I wing it.

    I’m not a master chef, nor have I studied at Johnson & Wales. In fact, when I got my first apartment I found myself constantly calling my mom in a panic – and when she wasn’t home, I called her neighbor. (Thank you, Mrs. Westgate!) I’ve also watched way too many hours of the Food Network and other cooking shows over the years. And I’m very thankful to all my friends and family members who let me “experiment” on the strength of their gastric systems and palates.

    Whether the results are great or not so great, I’ll let you know. Mostly, I’m trying to stop all the fast food and take out from being the default dinner ideas in our home. I also try to eat gluten-free due to Celiac’s disease, so I’m always looking for yummy things that will keep me from straying from the GF path.

    So – this week I’m going to start things off with an easy-as-pork recipe that I tried last night.

    Boston Butt (Pork Shoulder) in a Crockpot

    Boston Butt

    I purchased a 7 lb. Boston Butt (aka Pork Shoulder) from Harris Teeter because it was on sale. After a quick google I came across this blog recipe for cooking it in a crock pot. And no, I don’t know why the shoulder of the pig is called the Boston Butt. But since I’m from New England, I like calling it Boston Butt – it feels more like home.

    I don’t have a fancy crock pot – I have an 1980s Rival model (similar to the one pictured here) that was given to me by the mother of an ex-boyfriend.Old-Crock-Pot-e1383428309661 So as you can see, it has 3 settings: Off, Low, and High.

    If you don’t know (I didn’t) – Boston Butt has a big bone in the center of it. You don’t have to remove it for this process, you can just leave it right where it is.

    Also, mine had a big layer of fat along one side. I decided to plunk the whole thing in my crockpot fat side up so all the juices could drip down. The Worcestershire sauce I used was the Harris Teeter brand, and since my cut of meat was bigger than the recipe, I was very liberal with my “dashes”. I then used a jar of roast rub that I had recently bought (I had a coupon!) and covered the fat layer with it, making sure to coat the top very liberally. I then put a few more dashes of Worcestershire on top of that. I also peeled and cut up 2 cloves of garlic and tucked them down either side of the meat for good measure.
    (even though I washed my hands well before and after this process, I had dreams of yummy garlic dishes while I slept that night.)

    I put everything together around midnight (while watching an old black and white movie featuring Dean Jones, Connie Stevens and Cesar Romero – “Guillotine for Two”), set the crock pot on low as instructed and then went to bed (garlic dreams, yada yada).

    When I woke up the next morning – the meat was pretty done and there was a good layer of juice in the crock pot. I kept it on low and headed off to work – I didn’t turn the meat or anything. I didn’t get a chance to check the meat again until about 5:30, so by that time the meat had cooked and then “steamed” for about 18 hours. The entire piece of meat was so tender and moist it literally slid right off the large bone when I lifted it with a fork. I pulled the bone out and threw that away.

    To serve it for dinner, I microwaved a pack of Trader Joe’s Jasmine rice and split it between 2 bowls. I used a fork to grab several hunks of meat and place it on top, then spooned the steamed juices over everything. Shorty Hulk and I both had 2 servings of meat and it was great. I didn’t add any salt or pepper, the rub and Worcestershire was enough for me. Your miles may vary.

    I stored the leftovers with juice in the fridge overnight, and Shorty Hulk used some of it to make pork nachos for lunch the next day.

    Joey’s Ruling: Success, will definitely make again.