Friday, May 31, 2013

REVIEW: Special K Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bar

This weekend, my Dad decided to take my brother and me to see the White Sox play at Comiskey Park (Well, technically, now it's called U.S. Cellular Field, but my parents say it was originally- and always will be, Comiskey Park). Road trip! Woohoo! We stopped at a gas station as we headed out that morning, and Dad was all like, "Get what you want," to my brother and me as we walked through the doors. Score!!! I''ll takeeee... hmm... a powdered donut, this bag of chips, two bottles of soda, a pack of gum, a large hazelnut coffee, this loaf of white bread, a block of cheese, SPAM, ramen noodle cup, a package of S'Mores Pop-Tarts, teriyaki beef jerky, a granola bar, a box of cereal, a tin of canned cat food, a gallon of 1% milk... and a bunch of bananas, why not!
Well... that might be considered going a touch overboard. So keeping that in mind, I tried to narrow down my options to one drink and one food item. I got a Diet Cherry Coke, and since I'm on this new found protein bar kick, I decided to try this one from Special K: Their Double Chocolate Protein Meal Bar.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

REVIEW: PowerBar ProteinPlus Bar 20g Cookies N Cream

Cookies and cream is one awesome combination with humble beginnings, only faintly aware of how loved it would become. It started off just being the taste of a simple sandwich cookie, better known as the Oreo. But the taste quickly found its spot in ice creams, pies, cheesecakes, and plenty of other sweet desserts. And for good reason! Who doesn't like cookies and cream? It's one of my favorite sweet flavors, that's for sure. I even named my two cats- you guessed it- Cookie and Cream!
But, sadly, cookies and cream can't find its spot in everything you buy. I think we'd have a much easier time losing weight and eating healthier if apples had the crunchy, chocolately taste and the sweet, thick cream that Oreos possess. But, until science makes this physically possible, I guess us healthy eaters out there will just have to yearn for the taste of high-calorie, nutrient-belittled, yet totally addictive sandwich cookies... Sigh...
That's what I thought, however, until one day when I was walking around the supermarket and came across this in the protein bar aisle:

Dadadada! PowerBar's ProteinPlus Bar, now available in Cookies N Cream! I couldn't believe my eyes! I knew that new protein bar flavors were being released left and right, but now this?! Could I possibly enjoy the divine wonder that is a sandwich cookie and still eat healthily? 20g of protein and 4g of fiber in a bar that tastes like heaven above? How can this be??? Well, no time to ask questions- Time to rip this baby open!!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

REVIEW: Torani Sugar Free Caramel Syrup

You know, I'll be perfectly honest here- I'm straight-up addicted to coffee. I used to hate it- It tasted terribly bitter, even when coupled with mounds of whipped cream, creamy milk, and squirt after squirt of chocolate syrup. And to make matters worse, I was taught that coffee could do no good- I heard stories of it stunting peoples growth, discoloring their teeth- I think I might've even believed it to be an agent of cancer. I never fully understood what made coffee so beloved by grown-ups everywhere.
My devotion for coffee sprouted about a year ago, when I heard that it wasn't really as bad for us as I had assumed- no, rather- It's actually a zero-calorie drink that boosts your metabolism and brain function. I didn't really like to drink it at first, I only did so for the health benefits, but I soon grew to love the dark drink. The rich, bitter taste coupled with the fragrant aroma- Soon, not a day went by where I didn't drink two cups of joe for breakfast every morning at least. But things got really bad when I started eating whole beans straight out of the bag like a pack mule to a sack of oats.
Because of this, my family signed me up for a CAA (Coffee Addicts Anonymous) Meeting to try and improve my situation. I was all like, "Hi, I'm Rianna, and I'm a coffee addict." And everyone else was all like, "Hiiii Rianna..." It was a real productive afternoon.
But everyone there seemed a bit out of it, if anything. I think they all could've used a cup of coffee. In fact, I'm feeling a bit out of it all just thinking about it. Please excuse me while I go to fill up my mug.
Despite my strong passion for black coffee, even I get to a point where I gotta put something in it. I mean, I usually will add a packet or two or sweetener- And there's nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. But sometimes, even that just isn't enough- And since I'm on a goal to gain weight and muscle now, I'm free to add as much milk as I like. It's pretty darn tasty! But then, don't you ever feel like having a fancy-schmany flavored latte from places like Starbucks, only right from the comfort of your own home? I do.
So it's nice to know that the people from Torani offer more than hundred different flavors- when you include both their regular and sugar free variations (the latter of which are sweetened with Splenda). Seriously, check out that list! There's even Bacon and Chicken N' Waffles! (Although I don't know why I'd use either in my coffee).
But then again, you don't have to use these syrups for your coffee. Otherwise, what in the Sam Hill would be Torani's reasoning for making a Coffee flavored coffee syrup? That'd be totally redundant. Yeah, you can use them for milkshakes, cocoas, teas, cocktails, mocktails, smoothies- You don't even have to use them for beverages. I like to mix some of Torani's syrup with plain Greek yogurt for a protein-packed, sweet treat. You can also add them to cakes, pies, tarts, cookies- whatever! Really, these syrups are just great ways to add some flavor to your food- and when you're talking about the sugar free syrups- for no calories whatsoever!
Like I said, I like to use Torani's syrups for zazzling up my Greek yogurt, and my coffee, obviously. I only purchase them when they're sugar free, and my supermarket doesn't offer up a whole bunch of options of those kinds. As in, the only carry the rather typical sugar free flavorings, like Hazelnut and French Vanilla. But I don't mind- I find those two super delicious! I'd make sure they were stocked in my kitchen all year round if I could. But this time, I decided to try something different and went for Torani's Sugar Free Caramel Syrup.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Hey everyone: Happy Memorial Day to you all! What are you guys' plans for the day? Grilling out? Sadly, today is a rather dreary and rainy day here in K-Town. My phone says its only gonna be around 55 degrees Fahrenheit all day, and calls for at least a 30% chance of rain throughout this Memorial Day Monday. That's not gonna stop us from grilling out though, no sir! My Dad wanted to do a pork tenderloin for today, but I was like, "No, we should do burgers! Doesn't that sound more Memorial Day-ish?"
Apparently, Dad liked that idea well enough, since that's what were cooking out tonight!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

REVIEW: Edy's/Dreyer's Slow Churned German Chocolate Cake Spectacular!

You know what one of my all-time favorite cake flavors is?
From the title of this post, I'm pretty sure you can take a good guess.
Yes, I love German Chocolate Cake. My Dad introduced it to me when I was real little- maybe as young as six year- when he had picked it out as his birthday cake flavor. I'll be honest- I didn't like it at first. It was an odd taste of chocolate I had never experienced before. And the tan frosting covering the top didn't please my young, immature, six-year-old palette. But as I grew older, I grew to love German Chocolate as well, along with it's cake form. I mean, a rich, bittersweet, dark chocolate base with a caramel-y, coconut-y, pecan frosting? I thought to myself, "This cake has a little taste of everything!" It was one of those desserts I never got to have very often, but deep down I knew I really, really loved it.
Course', when I began getting wise on nutrition, I realized cake wasn't something that could be included as a daily indulgence. I mean, cake never was a daily treat for me- What I'm saying is that I now know that cake's nutritional stats can get pretty bad. An average slice of the German Chocolate variety will be about 300-400 calories, in fact. And maybe that wouldn't be so bad if cake had some real nutritional value to it, but all those calories are big, ol', empty nothings. Little protein, little fiber, makes for little reason to eat... Sigh.
So I guess it's real nice to know that Edy's/Dreyer's has recently released three new limited editions for the summer season, and one of them is -you guessed it! German Chocolate Cake (Spectacular! no less). Funny thing is, I've been dying for a German Chocolate ice cream to be produced. I was wondering why no company had thought it up yet. But now, it's finally getting the dairy makeover it deserves! I was so excited for this flavor to be stocked on shelves, and when it popped up in the freezer section at the supermarket today, I just had to snag a container! While this flavor has its place in both Edy's Grand and Slow Churned lines, I picked up a half gallon of the latter, since its lower in calories and fat.

Friday, May 24, 2013

REVIEW: Fiber One Nutty Clusters & Almonds Cereal

In today's vast cereal market, it's perfectly easy to find a brand that your taste buds will agree with. It is, however, slightly harder to find a cereal that your dietitian will agree with. And it's even harder to find a cereal that agrees with both!
Thankfully, the breakfast lineup from Fiber One consists of eight cereals with crazy-high levels of fiber, the highest being 57% of your daily value, and the lowest being 35%. Even then, the lowest fiber count is still high. And whether you (and your bowel system) are old or young, fiber isn't something that should be ignored.
And take it from me, Fiber One cereals don't taste bad either! Their Original brand has been a pantry staple of mine for more than a year now. While it looks far from appealing (I call it "goat feed" in front of my friends), it has a surprisingly sweet taste, for only 60 calories a serving. All the students at school who have been skeptical to try it said Fiber One actually tastes pretty good. Even my junk-food obsessed friends find it yummy! And it tastes even better with a pinch of cinnamon mixed in.
With that being said, the Original Fiber One can get stale. (In both ways). Sooo, today I set out to try one of the several other cereals Fiber One has to offer: This time, I'm attempting to review their Nutty Clusters & Almond Cereal!

BIG NEWS!!! Chef's Assistant & Cereal Giveaway Winner

Hey everyone, I've got something super important to tell you! Well, important to me anyway:
If you read my review on Cafe La Scala, you may recall my little paragraph on the chef I met while I was there. If not, I'll tell you a little about him. His name is Chris De Santis, and he goes around doing cooking demonstrations and classes for other peeps. He also knows a whole bunch about Italian cooking! (He talks a lot about the regional differences in Italian cuisine here on his blog). And while Italy did not bring to us the perfect deliciousness that is teriyaki chicken, they sure did open up a  whole world of a bunch of other consistently awesome dishes. I mean, sure, they're rather generic, but pizza and spaghetti Bolognese are two of my favorite foods, like, ever!
Anyway, after the chef took a look at my own blog, he said he was very impressed and is considering to hire me as his assistant when he does his various cooking demonstrations.
Wow, right?! How cool is that? I mean, I may not get payed in money, whooo knows, but I will get payed with an expansive amount of cooking knowledge. Kind of like an apprentice or something!
So, to finish this story up, I'll be going over to Chef De Santis' house with Mama and Dad tonight, just so we all can get to know each other and talk about what the job entails... yadda, yadda, yadda... I think it'll go well enough, I have no doubt in that- I'm just really excited. So wish me luck, ya'll!

In other news, time to announce the winner of the 300 Pageviews Cereal Giveaway Contest (drum roll puh-leeze): ...
Aaaand... the box of cereal goes to a young Miss Blog-Nerd! Woohoo! Way to go, sista! And what did you say you want? Smacks? Got it! Alright, your prize will be mailed to you in record time! (Well, this probably isn't record time. I mean, the contest really ended three days ago, but, you know...)
I have to say, however, I was slightly disappointed with the results of the Giveaway. Not that I didn't want Blog-Nerd to win- that isn't what's bugging me- it's that she's the only one who even entered the thing. I mean, hellooo, it's a free box of cereal, people! What's a reason not to enter?
But I think I'm mostly to blame for the bad turnout. I should've advertised more. I don't think I gave out enough reminders about it. I should've re-posted the link for the cereal contest more often. So I apologize for that. Maybe it was just too soon for Sweet and SavoRi to create a contest. Maybe that's really it.
Well... we'll see! Someday, this blog's following will skyrocket in numbers, and I'll post another contest when that times comes- And then, maybe then, a whole bunch of entries will be posted! I can just see it now!

Oh, by the way, would you all like to see my project for my Interior Design class? I just finished it up today! Everyone in the class had to create a 3-D bedroom made out of poster board. We made floor plans for our rooms first, then we transferred our 2-dimensional ideas onto the 3-dimensional space. Our class had to make little miniature pieces of furniture, like beds, tables, sofas, and dressers... Anyway, it was very neat! I enjoyed working on mine immensely.  It was one of those periods of time during school that I wished didn't go by fast. I love little construction projects like these- I really do. Kids have to follow the directions, but at the same time, they can add their own creative touch. Like, for my own room, I added "posters" of Abbey Road, A Hard Day's Night, Billy Joel, pizza, and ice cream. I also placed some Health & Fitness magazines and a Hungry Girl cookbook on my table. And let's not forget the tiny bowl of cereal!!!
Anyway, here are the pics! I hope you like em'!
And with that, till' next time, this has been RiRi Ri-porting!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

REVIEW: LUNA Protein Cookie Dough Bar

As much as I talk about low-calorie this and low-calorie that, how to stay lean and lose weight, there comes a time in an underweight gal's life when she needs to wake up and realize the best thing for her health is to gain some weight and build up her scrawny muscles! And really, accomplishing BOTH of these goals takes a lot more thought than one might think. If you want to gain weight in muscle, and NOT in fat (I mean, who wants a muffin top when you can have rock-hard abs instead?), you can't go around eating chips and cookies all day. No, rather, when looking to gain, you need to search for the most-nutrient dense foods available! And what nutrient is the building block for muscle? Protein, people! Protein!
But how are you supposed to get all your protein in? Well meat, obviously, but that gets kind of boring. For me, anyways. I don't want every snack I eat to consist of deli slices or cheese. This girl needs her sweet-tooth fix! But what's sweet and high in protein at the same time? The two don't exactly go hand in hand. When I think of sweet snacks, I think of Hostess treats, ice cream, granola bars, Oreo cookies, cereal, candy, Pop-tarts- Need I go on? If it wasn't obvious to you already, NONE of these are great sources of muscle-building protein. Or any significant nutrients, really. Some of them are high in fiber, and maybe even a couple of granola bars and cereals have good amounts of protein, but not many I've seen. So what's a sweet-craving teen who wants to gain weight healthily to do? Behold the LUNA Protein Cookie Dough Bar!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Taste-Testing at the Kenosha HarborMarket Pt. 2

Hey, everyone! I'm continuing where I left off in my previous post, detailing my wild taste-testing adventures at the Kenosha HarborMarket. Click here if you missed Part 1! Now, the wonderful world of fresh Wisconsin cuisine awaits!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Taste-Testing at the Kenosha HarborMarket Pt. 1

This weekend, I headed back to the Kenosha HarborMarket with Mama, since she told me she has never been there before. Well, we've got to fix that, ASAP! And what better time to head out than during the HarborMarket's 10th Anniversary Celebration? Although we still couldn't spend an infinite amount of time there like I would've wanted to (we had to get new grass seed put down before the rain came), I think I still got the gist of it all.
So, what's the difference between the outdoors and indoors markets? Well, the outdoors version is HUGE!!! Just look at those tents stretch on and on...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

REVIEW: Taco Bell's Gordita Supreme with Steak

Taco Bell's pair of Gorditas are two of their lesser-known menu items, as far as I see it. Even I was only vaguely aware of their existence, only slightly recalling reading that the Supreme Gorditas were a healthier pick at the Bell in a dieting book. What then, are Gorditas exactly? Well, a Gordita has all of the toppings of a taco, but instead of putting these toppings into a traditional tortilla shell like you're used to, they're placed inside a (get this!) wam, fluffy, pillowy flatbread. Oh, Gordita! Where have you been all my life?!
I ordered a Steak Gordita Supreme, which Taco Bell describes on their mobile menu as, "warm pillowy flatbread filled with grilled, marinated steak, reduced-fat sour cream, crisp shredded lettuce, a three cheese blend and diced ripe tomatoes." I modified mine to be prepared Fresco style, which gets rid of the cheese and sour cream, but also cuts out some of the calories and fat. Fresco style also adds fresh pico di gallo on top. Altogether, my Gordita costed around $3.09. I think the high price tag is mostly due in part to the marinated steak, which is an whole 60 cents more. Better be good steak, for the price I'm paying! (Well technically, I'm not paying- Mama is. But I still feel bad for making her spend that much on some fancy-sounding taco.)

Alright, so I think my main focus here should be on the flatbread, which seems to be the Gordita's defining feature. The flatbread was chewy and fluffy, and soft like a pillow! It had a slight plushy puffiness when I pinched it in between my fingers. The flatbread had a slight stretch, but at the same time was delicate and somewhat unfirm, which made it a bit hard to hold. It was also colder than I would've thought it'd be, so I warmed it up in the microwave halfway through eating. I think heating up the flatbread on a grill or something would fix these problems- The heat from the grill would make the Gordita hotter, and would also crisp it up, making it more stable and firm.

The steak was very juicy and was drenched in a dark sauce/marinade that tasted great after coming out hot from the nuker. The steak was chewy and yummy, and all the strips were decently sized. I liked it better than Taco Bell's other meats- even their chicken! I don't know if the steak was totally worth its high price tag, but I definitely wouldn't mind ordering it on a Taco Bell item every now and again.

Overall, I enjoyed my Gordita Supreme very much. It's a great alternative to your usual Taco Bell tacos, if you like flatbread. And I love flatbread, so this product was very cool. It's almost like it was made for me. I mean, this wasn't a mind-blowing product, but it's something I can look at and say, "Well, that sure looks unique! I should certainly try it!"

Taco Bell's Gorditas are also bigger than their Crunchy or Soft Tacos, and the flatbread is more dense than both kinds of tortillas. Two Gordita Supremes with either chicken or steak and ordered Fresco style would make for a filling, tasty dinner for under 500 calories. Just don't make the mistake of ordering the Cheesy Gordita Crunch- that one is nearly 500 calories by itself.

So, I can see myself ordering Taco Bell's Gordita Supreme again. In fact, it mostly like will be a stand-by of mine for quite some time whenever I'm there. Other than burritos and tacos, Taco Bell doesn't offer a whole bunch of options on their Fresco Menu (which promotes items at are 350 calories or less), and these Gorditas are a great way to eat healthily without sacrificing the ability to order something unique. I mean, it's a flatbread taco! You don't see that very often. A menu item such as this needs a little more recognition from the general public.

7.5/10 from me!

Taco Bell's Steak Gordita Supreme
  • Pros: Flatbread is chewy, fluffy, pillow-soft, and tasty. Marinated steak is juicy, chewy, yummy, and comes in decent-sized strips. Bigger than a regular taco, more filling. A relatively healthy option. Pico di gallo is also refreshing.
  • Cons: Flatbread is delicate and unfirm. Cold. Might be better if toasted or grilled first. Steak is expensive.
That's all folks! What did you think? Have you even heard of a Gordita before? Does it sound like something you'd want to order? Tell me what you think down below in the comments section! I'd love to know what you feel.

Till' next time, this has been RiRi Ri-porting!

Friday, May 17, 2013

REVIEW: Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos: Cool Ranch vs. Nacho Cheese!

Taco Bell has released two different tacos in its new Doritos-flavored tortilla shell line so far- Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch- the latter being the more recent of the two. I decided to get one of each for dinner tonight to do a little compare and contrast; see which one has the higher ground in overall deliciousness. I ordered mine Fresco style (which replaces the cheese with pico di gallo and lowers the calorie count) and with chicken instead of ground beef (also lowers the calorie amount.) Boy, did that confuse the drive-thru operator! I can't quite remember what the price tag was on each taco, but I believe they're around $1.39 a pop in my area. My tacos were bumped up to $1.69 for the chicken substitution. This is significantly higher when compared to Taco Bell's regular Crunchy Beef Taco, which is only around 99 cents.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

REVIEW: Cafe La Scala (aka The Italian Community Center)

My Italian class had planned a field trip to go see Le nozze di Figaro, or the Marriage of Figaro, an Italian opera which was written by, believe it or not, Mozart himself! I didn't know Mozart had written operas before this trip had been brought up. It's pretty impressive that the man can write a whole opera in a completely different language from his own. I can barely write a whole paragraph in a different language, you know?
Well, anyway, this field trip was optional, but all the Italian classes taught at my school were invited. Mama had offered to drive some kids over to the opera, which was in Milwaukee, and I was afraid we might get stuck with a bunch of students who were either painstakingly annoying and immature, or so unrelatable that the car ride would get extremely awkward. I was on pins and needles, really! But in the end, everybody in our car was an adult chaperone. And it turns out that, altogether, only 25 people had signed up to go in the first place. Even better was that the students were the more mature, more wittier kids at school. Va bene! Needless to say, the car ride went much better than expected. Adults can provide much greater conversations than I'd get out of most of the students at school. But am I sounding condescending? Well,  I'll just move right along then!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Limited Edition Flavors from Edy's/Dreyer's!

Edy's (or Dreyer's, if you're from the west) is releasing three new limited edition flavors for the summer season. This terrific trio of flavors is German Chocolate Cake Spectacular, Sunny Salted Caramel Pretzel, and the returning Take the Cake. It's weird- Was Edy's reading my mind these past couple months? I've been wishing they'd have German Chocolate and Salted Pretzel flavors forever! I'm especially excited to try those two out. The Take the Cake sounds good too, but it isn't as innovative as the others.
These limited editions flavors will be released as part of Edy's/Dreyer's Grand and also part of their Slow Churned lines, the latter being lower in fat and calories. The new Slow Churned flavors will only be 110-120 calories per 1/2 cup serving. Awesome!!! Their Grand counterparts will have higher stats, of course, but they'll probably taste a degree or more richer. Well, whether you're trying to eat light or not, I'm sure both versions will taste great.
Edy's/Dreyer's hasn't added these new limited edition flavors to their website yet, and I have yet to seem them in stores, but I'm sure they'll be coming in soon enough. I'm still seeing containers of Edy's/Dreyer's Caramel Coconut Cookie and Mint Cookie, whose seasons were supposed to end last month ago in April. So if you're still wanting to try these flavors, you better move fast, because I have a feeling that they won't be around for much longer. I bought one half gallon of Slow Churned Caramel Coconut Cookie, which is based off of the popular  Cookie's answer to the Big Mac Samoas/Caramel DeLites that Girl Scouts sell. It's really good, by the way! Tastes just like a Samoa.
I didn't ever try the Mint Cookie flavor, but I've never been a big fan of mint chocolate flavored foods, let alone Thin Mints, which the ice cream is based off of. I've heard its good, if you like that sort of taste. And isn't it funny that a serving of the ice cream has less calories than a serving of the cookies themselves? Hopefully, the new limited edition flavors can live up to the expectations of Edy's/Dreyer's Caramel Coconut Cookie and Mint Cookie. So, keep your eyes peeled for the latest limited edition flavors coming from Edy's/Dreyer's! I'm gonna pick up a container of German Chocolate Cake Spectacular as soon as humanly possible!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Trip to the Kenosha HarborMarket

Today, Dad took my little brother and I downtown to stop at the Kenosha HarborMarket. We were only dropping by to pick up some farm-fresh eggs for the week, but I decided that the least I could do was take a few pictures to show you guys what the market has to offer!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sweet and SavoRi Recipes: Easy Guacamole and Homemade Taco Seasoning!

It's Taco Night over at my house, and what's better than homemade tacos? NOTHING, that's what!!! Well, I mean, besides teriyaki chicken, ice cream, cereal, cake, sushi, spaghetti, pizza- Oh yeah, definitely pizza.
 I love pizza.
 But we're getting off topic here.
 So... yeah, there are a lot of foods I have a deeper love for than tacos, but the tacos we make at home are some of the best I've ever tasted! So, let me rephrase: There are no tacos better than the tacos made by Ri. Why? I don't buy taco seasoning- I make it from scratch! And the unbelievably good guacamole I serve on the side adds to the whole "Ri's Family Taco Experience." So here I am to give you guys a taste, with two super-easy recipes you can make straight from home!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Poem for Mama

Happy Mother's Day, all of you moms out there! Today's the day your kids will completely smother you in love, I hope. I mean, they should anyway. I don't know all of you reader-moms, but if you're anything like my Mama, then you totally deserve nothing but the best on this special day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The State of School Lunches

You know what I don't understand? School lunches. I mean, I understand the main concept, obviously: Schools sell lunches to kids that don't have time to make one for themselves, or prefer not to, or have forgotten theirs at home, or whatever. That way, the walls of those kids' stomachs won't be collapsing on top of each other by the time their last period is over. That makes sense to me. But what's been bugging me is what's being served up for lunch at school lately. And by lately, I mean just this year. Cafeteria food has been changing nationwide because of the new nutritional school lunch regulations unveiled by the USDA just last year in January. The new guidelines can be summarized in these few points:
  • Offer fruits and vegetables as two separate meal components
  • Offer fruit daily at breakfast and lunch
  • Offer vegetables daily at lunch, and a limited quantity of starchy vegetables throughout the week
  • Offer whole grains
  • Offer a daily meat/meat alternate at breakfast
  • Offer fluid milk that is fat-free(unflavored and flavored) and low-fat(unflavored only)
  • Offer meals that meet specific calorie ranges for each age/grade group;
  • Reduce the sodium content of meals
  • Prepare meals using food products or ingredients that contain zero grams of trans fat per serving
  • Require students to select a fruit or a vegetable as part of the reimbursable meal

Now, these are all really great ideas. Whole grains? Awesome! Fruit and vegetables? Fantastic! Fat-free and lowfat milk only? Spectacular! So what could possibly be the problem?
The problem, dear readers, is this:

This slice of pathetic pizza is one my friend had purchased from the school cafeteria this year. Last year, the pizza slices we bought were from the same company, but were worlds different. The old slices were more than twice as big and covered in cheese. But look at them now! They're practically the size of my hand, and only have the occasional blotch of cheese. It's terrible! I can't believe they're calling this a lunch!
And I suppose you're saying, "But isn't that the point, Ri? The slices kids were served last year were just too large; too high in calories- They had to reduce the size in order for the pizza to fit the nutritional guidelines."
And yes, this is true. However! Think of a slice of chocolate cake, for a second: Low in protein, low in fiber, low in vitamins, high in calories. Now, imagine some guys standing around this cake and one says, "How can we make this healthier?" So another grabs a knife and slices the cake in half. There, low in calories. Problem solved, right? Its healthy now, right? Hardly.
That slice of cake may now be "half the calories", but now its also half the amount of protein, half the amount of fiber, and half the amount of vitamins. And considering that cake had barely any of these in the first place! That slice of cake is still nutritonally-deprived in every sort of way. Kids need plenty of protein and fiber to grow up healthily and properly. Plus, let's not forget that slice is now half its original size! Hardly what I call "satisfying." With the combination of a small serving size and no belly-filling protein or fiber, kids' stomachs will be rumbling for more food in one or two hours- tops!
The school pizza is no different than the cake in the story. And I suppose some of the other options offered for lunch are better, but not by much. Breaded chicken sandwiches, cheesy garlic bread, nachos, cheeseburgers, cheese-filled breadsticks... The list goes on and on! And none of these are all that big, really. Sure, there are those fruits and vegetables for sides, but no one honestly takes those because they want to. Most kids just end up grabbing a bag of chips or a package of Pop-Tarts. Why bother trying to get kids to healthily when you just end up letting them purchase junk food anyway? If you're going to offer fruits and vegetables, offer fruits and vegetables ONLY. Because 99% of kids would rather have the sugary, salty, high calorie stuff.
And what's up with the tater tots as an option then? Sure, there are only eight to a container (There we go with the reduction of calories reducing nutrients and size...), but students are learning. They just grab two orders of tater tots and put them together. Now, why would they do that? Hmm... I don't know... BECAUSE THEY'RE HUNGRY???
In fact, even the fruits and vegetable trays are small! And they're fricken fruits and vegetables, for crying out loud! I thought about purchasing one ONCE, but when I grabbed a vegetable tray, there were like, four, tiny baby carrots, a couple slice of cucumbers, and one broccoli floret. Not even fit for topping a salad! (Oh, the salads are pretty small too. Except for ones like the Caesar, which bury the lettuce in cheese, deli meats, and hard-boiled egg yolks.)
And I don't know much about the breakfast menu, since I never get breakfast at school, but from what I've seen, it needs adjusting as well. They mostly offer baked goods in tiny square trays, honey buns, breakfast bars, and cereal. And not even healthy cereal. It's like, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I don't know- Some days, they might offer breakfast wraps and omelettes and stuff, but not everyday, I can assure you of that! But cereal and baked goods are no way to start your day off! Those are nothing but carbs, and not the good, fiberous kinds. Those foods'll make you hungry before lunchtime is even close! Kids need protein to kick off their metabolism: Eggs, ham, greek yogurt, bacon, turkey sausage, cheese! That's what will keep them full and focused. None of this sugary, carby crud.
So, to sum it all up, I like that we as a country are trying to get our kids in school to eat healthier. It's nice we're making the effort to change. But the system... she still needs a little tweaking. Growing boys and girls need high-protein, nutrient-dense foods. We need to see more options that offer this in school lunches. We need less of these nutritient-deprived, starchy foods. Making sure kids get an adequate amount of vitamins should be the top priority, with calories coming in second.
And why keep the fatty deep-dish pizza with sausage and pepperoni if we're going to change? The only thing they're doing to it is making it so teeny-tiny that it can stay on the menu. I propose changing the pizza altogether. Offer thin crust pizza slices, and top them with fat-free or reduced-fat cheeses, and use lean meats like Canadian bacon and grilled chicken. Heck, they even have turkey sausage and turkey pepperoni now! The kids will never know the difference! A thinner crust will provide a bigger surface area for which to cover the pizza with healthy toppings. Smaller portions is NOT the answer here, people; Bigger portions of lower-calorie, nutrition-packed food IS.
I mean, certainly there are ways to give kids satisying portions without stepping over the calorie borderlines, isn't there? I mean, what's the limit here? 500? Okay, you could offer a meal of a plain grilled chicken sandwich, which is like 250. Then, how about an ounce of baked chips? Now we're at 370. A fistful of baby carrots? 405. A sugar-free, fat-free pudding cup too? 465. Maybe top your chicken sandwich with some fat-free mayonnaise, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and you'll be right around 500. I think that sounds like a decent-sized meal, no?
Also, trash the chips and Pop-Tarts already. Well, we can keep the baked chips, but not the standard, oily ones, you know? Just because you set out fruits and vegetables doesn't mean students will magically flock to them like a moths to a flame. You either need to have healthier alternatives to the chips and pastries you're handing out now, or make fresh fruits and vegetables the ONLY options. And these days, there are soooo many low-calorie, healthy alternatives to chips and Pop-Tarts. There are Soy Crisps from Glenny, and 100-calorie Pastry Crisps from Special K, to name a couple. But then, of course, these products are more expensive than regular fare. It really is quite the conundrum.
And Mama also brought up a really good point: She said that if schools offered healthy options ONLY, people would complain because they would feel that schools would be taking away our individuliaty and freedom to eat what we want. Well then, if people want junk food, then THEY can provide it for themselves. You get what you get, and you don't through a fit. If you don't like the healthy options at school, then bring your own food.
I hope I'm making some sense here. Really, I just want schools to be able to provide their students with lunches that are healthy and nutritious, but at the same time won't leave them feeling utterly deprived. Is that so impossible? Really, we're striving for change here, and that's great. I love to see that. But we need to realize their are other choices than deep-dish pizza. Forget trying to modify our preexisting foods. We need to start fresh- from the beginning! I think then we'll truly see how many options are out there for keeping our kids well-nourished, full of protein and fiber, and at a healthy weight.

What do you guys think? How do you feel about the new school lunch guidelines? What can we do to improve them, or are they fine as is? Leave your opinions down below!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

300 Pageviews Cereal Giveaway Contest!

Wow! After just less than two weeks, Sweet and SavoRi has gotten more than 300 pageviews! I know I promised another special surprise recipe after we would hit 250, but the views have just been coming in so fast! I couldn't keep up! Thanks, guys! :) I love it!
You know what else I love? Cereal. Love, love, love it!!! I'll eat it anytime of the day- Breakfast, Lunch, Snacktime, for dessert... Even dinner, when the situation allows. In fact, right at this very moment as I am typing away at the computer, a cool bowl of Fiber One Honey Clusters and skim milk is sitting on the computer desk, beckoning to be devoured after a hard day's night of running with Mama. So yeah, I love cereal. My favorite as of late is Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but it's no good in milk. I'm having these Honey Clusters right now primarily because my quart of skim milk expired three days ago and I ought to use it all up while I still can.
Sp, what else can I say about cereal? It's my passion, I guess. I'm one of those people who's eaten a whole entire box in one sitting. I'm proud to say that too. But yeah... I stick to measuring servings out now. Oh, and one time, when I won some money in a game of bingo, the first thing I did afterwards was run to Piggly Wiggly and buy myself a new box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Some girls got excited for Justin Beiber: Never Say Never- I got excited for Chocolate Frosted Flakes. A great amount of thought is put into which cereal I want to have for dessert each night. I tried making a T-chart of which cereals taste good in milk, and which ones don't. I attempted to create a Top 10 list. I know not only my own favorite cereals, but my friends as well. I looked on Amazon to see if they had any Chocolate Hazelnut Krave for sale (They have that in the UK). I dream of going to Cereality, a restaurant dedicated to cereal.
Are you getting the picture? Do you see how much I love cereal? I love it A LOT. Dare I say it, cereal is one of the best foods EVER .
So, after seeing that my pageviews had gone over the 300 mark, I just knew I had to do something special for my beloved readers. Then it hit me: Cereal. My friend brings a big bag of Multigrain Cheerios to school nearly everyday for lunch. Mama eats it every day for breakfast with some milk and a banana. My brother does too, only dry. He never puts milk in his cereal. Cereal, cereal, cereal! I'm not the only one who likes it. Everyone does! If you don't like one kind of cereal, there are nearly thousands of others to choose from.
So, my dear readers, I'm offering to you all a fantastic giveaway contest of mind-blowing proportions! Why? Because I like you! You're the type of readers who reach 300 in a time when I only expect 250. That shows me dedication! Effort! Enthusiam! And because of this, I'm feeling generous.
Anyway, the giveaway contest is basically this: Leave a comment down below in the comments section stating your name, email address, and your favorite kind of cereal. You don't have to go into great lengths as to why its your favorite, if you don't want to- Just the cereal's name and brand will suffice. Then, after two weeks (plenty of time for people to get their answers in), I'll randomly pick one of the names in the comments section. The one reader picked will receive a FREE box of the cereal they mentioned- courteousy of me! I'll announce the winner here on this blog when the contest giveaway is over.
Oh, but a couple of rules when naming a cereal, guys- I don't want to see any discontinued products. I don't care if Mr. T Crispy Sweet Corn and Oats Cereal was the love of your childhood. I'm not purchasing any old, dusty box of cereal off  ofsome guy on Amazon- without keeping it for myself, anyway. Same goes for cereals not sold in this region. I am NOT travelling all the way to Canada because some hoser wants his bowl of French Toast Crunch. You all know what's acceptable to put down and what's not. Other than that, have at it! It's a free contest, so dive right in! Good luck to you all, and I can't wait to see who the winner is in a couple of weeks! :) Thanks for reading!

The strong-willed Odysseus says, "May the goddess Ceres' blessings be upon you all!"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

REVIEW: The Soup Depot

Hey, everyone! Today's post is another local Ri-view (Haha, get it? Ri. View. Cuz' my name is Ri. And I'm reviewing... Yeahhhh, you get it). This time, Sweet and SavoRi's spotlight is on Kenosha's very own Soup Depot, a cute little cafe that sells dozens of different sandwiches (I counted 38 cold ones, 5 hot) and a bunch of other menu items. They also have a big breakfast menu with omelettes, egg sandwiches, and sides. Best part? Breakfast can be ordered all day! (Yes!!! Does anyone else think it's awesome when restaurants do that?!) The Soup Depot also specializes in- you guessed it- soup. They make a few different batches of homemade soup fresh every day. This means that, some days, you might be able to get something like Clam Chowder, while other times, you may not. But don't get mad if you walk in and find the soup you want is unavailable- Soup Depot has a list of which soups are served which days here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Book News & Pizza Chews

Hey there, everybody! Here are a couple news tid-bits I'd thought I'd share with you today:

  • Today, May 6th, is Free Boneless Chicken Day at KFC! To nab a piece of KFC's New Original Recipe Boneless Chicken, all you have to do is be one of the first 100 customers to visit your local Kentucky Fried Chicken from 2 PM to 4 PM and say the words, "I ate the bones." Yeah, free lunch!

  • For a limited time only, starting today, participating McDonald's locations are having a new deal on their McWraps: Buy One McWrap, Get One for 99 Cents. I've already reviewed the Sweet Chili Chicken McWrap here, and thought it was delicious. Perhaps it's time you tried one for yourself!

  • Hungry Girl, aka Lisa Lillien's, new cookbook Hungry Girl 200 Under 200 Just Desserts: 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories will be hitting shelves nationwide tomorrow. It's a recipe book chock-full of delicious desserts- all under, you guessed it, 200 calories! You can find the official recipe and picture list here. I would love to try making the Red Velvet and Carrot Cakes sometime... Yum! There's still time to pre-order Hg's book online, and if you do, you can save up to 40%. That way, you'll have plenty money for ingredients! And if that's not enough, Hungry Girl is also having a great promotional deal if you buy two copies of her book as well: Just upload your proof of purchase along with some other information here, and you'll get two Vitalicious coupons, each valid for purchase of one free Vitalicious product, along with four free Hungry Girl recipe cards. Nice! Don't miss out!

  • In the Kenosha Area and craving some pizza? FOR FREE?! You can win a large, 3-topping, NY-Style pizza plus one dozen buffalo wings from Slice of NY Pizzeria in downtown Kenosha. All you have to do is answer the WLIP Wake Up Call's trivia question and you will be entered to win! You can find this week's trivia question over on WLIP's or Bill Lawrence's Facebook page. If you think you know the answer, send it to, or Facebook message Bill Lawrence here. The winner will be announced next week Monday on the Wake Up Call (AM 1050) at 7:30 AM. Don't delay! This is a weekly raffle, so don't be disappointed if you don't win the first time.

  •  It's Free Cone Day at Haagen Daaz on May 14th! If you stop by one of Haagen Daaz' shops from 4 PM-8 PM, on Tuesday, May 14th, you'll get a free scoop of ice cream. Woohoo! I wish we had a Haagen Daaz here in Keno-where...

  • Dairy Queen's 2013 May Blizzard of the Month is Choco Peanut Butter Brownie. This flavor features peanut butter, chocolate chunks, and brownie pieces, all swirled together with DQ's signature vanilla soft serve. Sounds good, but watch out: even Mini Blizzards can add 370 calories to your day. Yikes! 

  •  Subway's Featured Five Dollar Footlong for May is the ever-popular Meatball Marinara. Tasty, to be sure. But if you'd rather eat light and spend light, the $3 Six-Inch Select for this month is the Oven Roasted Chicken. One sub is only 320 calories. Eat on!

And that's about all the news I got for today. Till' next time, this has been RiRi Ri-porting!

      Saturday, May 4, 2013

      REVIEW: Red Robin's 5 Alarm Burger

      Today, May 4th, celebrates two great events: My Uncle Mike's birthday, and National Star Wars Day. Happy Birthday Uncle Mike, and may the 4th be with you! (Bet you haven't heard THAT ONE before...Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!)

      Anyway, I've got a review for all of you readers yet again! This time, my family headed over to Red Robin for dinner. I usually get the chain's Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich, since I'm all about teriyaki, but I felt that for a review, I ought to go with something I haven't had time and time again.
      Red Robin recently asked their consumers which of their discontinued burgers everyone wanted to see return to their menu again the most in their "Bring My Burger Back" poll. The people spoke, and the clear winner was the 5 Alarm Burger, which received more than 56,000 votes altogether. Sounds pretty popular, no? But what makes this burger so darn delicious? Did it really deserve to come out on top of the poll results? This sounds like a case only a review can solve!
      I forget how much my burger costed me- Mama was picking up the tab of course, and I was being plain, ol' negligent and didn't look at the receipt before we left. From past visits, I'd say my burger was around $10.00, including the modifications I made.

      Friday, May 3, 2013

      REVIEW: McDonald's Premium McWrap Sweet Chili Chicken (Grilled)

      Hey everybody! Today, I'm treating you guys! For the first time EVER on Sweet and SavoRi, I'll be reviewing a fast-food product. Yay!!! Sure, I've done an official review of one supermarket product since the start of this blog, and have given my casual opinions on plenty of others, but I still have yet to express my thoughts for the latest on-the-go options.

      Image: McDonald's McWrap I was starting to think the day would never come when I got the chance to review a fast-food product. I mean, this blog has been up for a little over a week already! Come on, people! But thankfully, today we had to grab something quick for dinner, and Mama asked me what I wanted to do. I knew what I wanted right from the start.

      REVIEW: Wildwood's Pasta Slim Spinach Fettucini

      Many dieters avoid pasta dishes. Noodles in general, really. A serving of most pastas, (yes, even whole wheat ones), is about 200 calories. And sadly, a serving is only 2 ounces uncooked. Measure it for yourself, friends- You'll find that it is a much smaller amount than you're used to eating.
      But in this day and age, more and more companies are releasing their own kinds if Tofu Shirataki Noodles. "What are those?" you may ask. Well, according to Wikipedia, "Shirataki are very low carbohydrate, low calorie, thin, translucent, gelatinous traditional Japanese noodles made from devil's tongue yam (elephant yam or the konjac yam). Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber, they have little flavor of their own.There are two types of shirataki noodles sold in the United States. Traditional shirataki noodles have zero net carbohydrates, no food energy, and no gluten, and they are useful for those on low-carbohydrate diets. Tofu-based shirataki-style noodles are becoming increasingly popular in U.S. supermarkets and health food stores.
      So, in a nutshell, Shirataki Noodles are a great mix-in to your regular pasta when you want really big portion sizes. Or, if you're trying to go really low-calorie/low-carb, or are gluten-intolerant, you can replace your standard wheat noodles with them altogether.
      My Mama bought these while she was the grocery store, so I have no idea how much a single bag costs, but from my previous Shirataki purchases, I'd say one package of PastaSlim is close to $2.00.

      Wednesday, May 1, 2013

      Handout to Healthy Hot Dogs

      Buds on the tree! Woohoo!

      Today's post is a simpler affair, but delicious none the less. My family decided to do an American favorite: hot dogs on the grill. I'm sure that you'd think hot dogs would go straight to the "Never Eat" list when you're on a diet, but there are many ways to make this tailgate favorite light and guilt-free! Read on for some handy advice and tips!
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