Monday, February 28, 2011

Sano's Vacuum Zip-Lock Food Bags

"Sano Sushi" has added a new bag to its wide variety of products; a vacuum, zip-lock, food-storage bag. The starter package comes with 5 specially designed vacuum bags (a mix of 3 different sizes), a reusable (battery-free) air removal pump and a small plastic "u shaped" tool used to easily and tightly close the zipper.

The bags have a special one-way valve that allows the air from the bags to be removed, via the pump, keeping the food vacuum tight inside the bag.
A major benefit of vacuum packing is that it protects your food against freezer burn or from quickly going stale, which means less wasted food and money.
For a long time now I've wanted a counter-top, vacuum, food-sealer system for my kitchen. But I have yet to find one here in Israel so, until that gadget makes it across the pond, I thought I'd try this new product from Sano 
I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked. It did take a try or two until I got the hang of how to properly use the pump.  At first I was not applying enough pressure so the air was not being vacuumed out. I also had to making sure the pump was directly above the valve and that the content of the bag did not pass the angled dotted line, on the top right-hand corner of the bag.
Once I got the hang of all the details I was thrilled to see how well it worked. I could actually hear the air being pumped out of the bag and I could see when it was completely air tight, so I knew to stop. The bag stayed vacuum sealed until I reopened the zipper. The food inside was just as fresh as when I had sealed it up.

Osem's Tri-Color Mini Croutons
 I reviewed here
 The bags can be used to store things in the refrigerator, freezer, cupboard or drawer. They are relatively sturdy bags and can be used for non food items as well.
Depending on what you store in it, the bag may be reusable.
The starter kit only comes with 5 bags but they also sell a 10 bags package, of each size available (without the pump).

Bottom Line: To me 25 NIS is somewhat pricey for 5 or 10 bags regardless of how well they vacuum-pack the food and protect from freezer burn.
I'll continue waiting until an electric counter-top, vacuum, food-sealer system (that uses biodegradable zip-lock bags) comes to Israel. That might be a tall order but I guess I can dream.
Starter package - 24.99 NIS - Including the pump the closing tool and 5 bags    (2 bags 23x21 cm. + 2 bags 28x23 cm. + 1 bag 30x28 cm.)
10 bags & the closing tool 28x23 cm. - 24.99 NIS
Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me.  No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wissotzky's "Exotic Love Leaves" Tea

I was curious to taste Wissotzky "Exotic Love Leaves" tea, a limited edition tea from their Leaves Collection.
In the box there is a silver bag that had 16 pretty, triangle, satin-like/mesh tea-bags in it.
When I opened the package, the first thing that hit me was the amazing aroma! It was more like a potpourri then a tea. It has a wonderful rose and fruit scent. I would be happy for my closets to smell like this tea, but I think it's a little too expensive to be used as potpourri.
The box says "for best results leave in water for only 2 minutes" possibly because of the large size of the tea-bag or, maybe because of the mesh cloth it's made of, the boiling water turned into tea really fast, seemingly quicker than other tea-bags. I didn't need to leave the tea in the water for the full 2 minutes to get the medium strength tea I prefer.

The tea is made of all natural ingredients; blended Indian, Ceylon & Indonesian black tea, rosebuds, candied pineapple bits, Citrus peels, candied papaya bits, mullein flowers; coconut & piña-colada flavors.
I know a major part of taste is the sense of smell, with this tea the aroma was stronger than the taste, so much so, that I actually found it interfering. It took me some time to notice the piña-colada and other fruits, because the rose seemed to be dominating .

Overall it's a slightly sweeter tea. I did like it ,to some degree, but I enjoyed the aroma more than the taste.

Bottom Line: It’s a nice way to end a romantic meal, even if I don’t drink it, I may brew some up just to have the aroma fill the room as we eat dessert.
Kosher Parve- Rabbinate Lower Galilee
16 tea bags 2.5 grams each - 25.99 NIS
Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me. No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Elite's Dark Chocolate Egozi Bar

In an attempt to add buzz to the re-release of the classic Egozi candy bar, Elite has added a bittersweet chocolate version to the candy shelf.

The new Egozi bar is a nougat-filled candy bar that has hazelnuts mixed in, topped with a thin layer of caramel then coated in chocolate. Exactly the same as the classic Egozi bar, the only difference being the original Egozi bar is coated in milk-chocolate whereas this new Egozi bar has a bittersweet dark-chocolate coating made with 60% cocoa solids.

As I mentioned yesterday, I prefer bittersweet chocolate so I thought this new version was much tastier. I found the rich dark-chocolate to be a nice contrast to the sweet nougat and caramel center.

I did read that this is only meant to be a limited edition candy bar. I'm not sure how long Elite intends to keep it on the shelf. I hope it will be successful and stick around but you never know.

I just recently noticed, here in Israel, the Dark Chocolate Covered Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and thought it was a new product, but when I checked on-line it turns out that it's not new, it's a limited edition that Reese's releases from time to time, regardless of how much people like or dislike it. So who knows what Elite will decide to do regarding this bittersweet chocolate-coated Egozi bar.

Bottom Line: I think the dark-chocolate Egozi bar is a welcomed addition to the candy aisle.
40 gram candy bar- 4.50 NIS
Kosher: Dairy Rabbinate Nazareth-Illit

Here is a detailed review of the Dark Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter cup done a few years ago by "candyblog". After tasting the candy myself I thought it was a good review and still accurate regardless of when it was written.

Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me.  No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nestle Fitness Cereal Bars

There are many cereal bars on the market these days. Nestle Fitness has joined the party with 4 new cereal bars, geared towards adults; natural flavor, dark chocolate, strawberry and dark chocolate with orange.
I tasted two of them, the dark chocolate and the natural one. Both of them were soft and chewy.
The dark chocolate cereal bar has mini dark chocolate chips mixed in with the cereal, as well as a thin coating of chocolate along the bottom of the bar.
Being that I really enjoy dark chocolate, I preferred the dark chocolate cereal bar. It has a rich dark chocolate taste (much more so than its competitor Strauss's Energy Shape 60% dark chocolate cereal bar.)
I found both of the Fitness cereal bars to be quite sweet. It seemed to me that the dark chocolate added to the bar helped somewhat curb the sweetness. That's part of why I preferred the dark chocolate one. For me the natural bar was slightly too sweet.
The cereals in these bars are made of whole flours.
In the natural bar the cereal makes up 55% of the bar (33% wheat and 22% rice.)
Regarding the dark chocolate one 43% of it is cereal (26% wheat and 17% rice.)
I think it’s a major plus that they are made of whole flour and wonderful that they have added 9 vitamins and minerals , including calcium, folic acid and iron to name a few.

They are under 100 calories per bar. The natural one is 92 calories each and the dark chocolate one has 91 calories per bar.

I just want to mention the amounts of sugar they have in them; for a 23.5 gram bar you have; 5.7 grams of sugar in the natural flavor one and 7.1 grams of sugar for the dark chocolate one. Seven grams of sugar is 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. At first, I thought that was a lot for a "healthy" cereal bar but, after comparing a few cereal bars I found that it's not out of the ordinary for healthier cereal bars to have 6-7 grams of sugar in a relatively small bar.

So although this Fitness bar might not replace a healthy breakfast for me, it may be a better snack option than grabbing a few regular cookies.  

Bottom line: I enjoyed the dark chocolate cereal bar. I may buy it again as a "grab and go snack", to tie me over until I can eat a proper meal. I just wish they would have used a little less sugar.

141 grams - 6 bars per pack 18.90 NIS
(Purchased at Rami Levi - 22 NIS for 2 packs)
Kosher: OU Dairy
אבקת חלב נוחרי
Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me. No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Elite's Tapuchips Potato Sticks

I have a feeling this is not the first time I've seen a potato-stick snack pack from Tapuchips Elite but, I'm not 100% sure. Maybe this is a new product for them or maybe it's just a "new and improved" version.

I do like the fact that the Tapuchips line of products are, as their slogan goes; "it’s a potato in a bag".  They are all natural, no preservatives and nothing artificial added. They only have 3 simple ingredients potatoes, oil and salt. Tapuchips gets major points for that in my book.

The new packaging was not at all easy to open. Once I did get it open, I liked that by opening it on the side it created a rectangular shaped bag. This forms a more shallow bag so no need to dig deep in an oily bag to get the potato-sticks out. This should be particularly convenient for a child's smaller hand.

The potato-sticks were fresh, crunchy and had a nice thick texture. One thing I personally do not like about the classic Tapuchips potato chip is how thin a chip it is. This potato-stick is not too thin and that is a plus for me.
I wouldn’t mind if they were slightly less oily. They did leave my fingers somewhat oily but not more than your average potato-stick.

Bottom Line:  If you are looking for an all natural potato-snack I would say this could be a good option.

 Since I'm on the topic of potatoes, checkout this photo I recently took of a french-fry container at KFC, in the Malcha mall.(Please forgive the poor cell phone quality of the photo.)  Granted "potatoes" is not the easiest word in the English language with regards to spelling (even Dan Quayle had a hard of it) but to me KFC's spelling seems simply ridicules.
To see other funny blunders from Israeli companies attempting to write in English go to "a time of the signs" blog and have a good laugh.

65 gram bag 3.69 - 5.00 NIS
Kosher: Badatz

Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me.  No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tnuva's Cottage Cheese Snack-Pack with Strawberries or Honey

After decades of major success with their cottage cheese Tnuva has decided to try something completely new with this product. They have worked for over a year to develop a line of snack-size flavored cottage cheeses.

There are 4 flavors available, 2 sweet options; cottage with honey and cottage with strawberries, in the savory category; cottage with olive tapenade, and finally the classic Tnuva cottage cheese.
Granted I have seen sweet/fruit toppings added to cottage cheese in the USA for years now but, this is new for Tnuva and the Israeli market.
Of the different ones available, Tnuva's is the cottage cheese I prefer so I was very interested to taste the new snack.
For me it was the perfect size snack. They come as a twin set of containers. Each individual container is 125 grams, which is half of their full size cottage and just a little bit bigger than their mini one which is 100 grams.
I tasted the strawberry and honey options.
When I opened it up I didn’t see any strawberries or honey but as soon as I put my spoon into the container I found an abundance of the add-in hiding at the bottom.
I was very disappointed with both flavors. They tasted extremely artificial and overly sweet to me.
I had envisioned bits of cut up strawberries and instead got something between a jam and syrup made mainly of artificial strawberry flavor. There were a few mini fruit bits mixed in to make it seem like I was eating fruit but the taste was overwhelmingly artificial.
The honey one was ever so slightly better but still did not taste like fresh natural honey. It was more of a sweet artificial syrup. It was edible but I did not particularly like it.
Bottom Line: I like the concept, but the product itself was too artificial for me.

Seeing as Israel is (as I mentioned in the past) "the land of milk and honey", as well being blessed with a wide variety of delicious fresh fruit, if you want a sweet cottage snack, my suggestion would be to buy the classic flavor cottage (snack-size) and add your own real honey or whatever fresh cut fruit you fancy.  
2 containers 125 gram each, classic cottage cheese – 6.97 NIS
2 containers 125 gram each, sweet or savory additions -7.49 NIS

Kosher: Tnuva's Mehadrin Committee

Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me.  No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Carmit's Sour Marshmallows & Taffy

Carmit recently developed a line of sour candies including marshmallows, taffies, lolly-pops, and gummy bears.
I wonder if their decision to put them on the self now, Purim time, was simply because they are new candy for Mishloach Manot or maybe because of the ונהפוך הוא ( "VeNahafoch Hu" ) aspect to them. You don’t expect a marshmallow to be sour. Then again I may be reading way too deep into when a company decides to débuted a product and maybe it has nothing to do with things getting turned around and upside down in the story of Purim. Most likely its simply that sour sweets is a huge craze in general at the moment.
I tried the sour marshmallows and sour taffies.
Sour Marshmallow
I was a little skeptical about trying the sour marshmallows but after looking at them they reminded me of sour belts with the sour-sugar coating on them. Since I kind of like sour belts I thought it wouldn't be so odd and my hesitation was gone. After the first bite I already knew that I actually preferred them over sour belts. Yes they do have the same sour-sugar coating but the perfectly soft, fluffy pink and white marshmallows are sweeter than the sour belt gummy part, making this sour marshmallow a real combination of sweet and sour. I enjoyed the contrast.
I also liked that the marshmallow melts in your mouth to some degree.  
When I roasted the marshmallows on an open fire (because we all know marshmallows were created, in part, to be roasted) they seemed to roast quicker than a regular marshmallow. I guess the sour-sugar coating helped it caramelize faster. I enjoyed the roasted marshmallow as well, although it tasted less sour once roasted.
Bottom Line: I was really glad I tasted them they were fun to eat, just as I think marshmallows are intended to be! So if you like sour-sugar coated sweets you might think these are a nice new treat.
150 gram /5.29 oz bag 7.99 NIS
Kosher: Badazt and OU
Sour Taffies
Although I don't think sour taffies are all that new, in that, I'm sure other companies make sour taffies, they are new for Carmit.
The sour taffies package was a mix of 2 flavors, strawberry-lemon and apple-lemon. The apple-lemon seemed slightly more sour to me but they were both somewhat sweet and somewhat sour with neither taste overpowering the other. In that way they reminded me, to some degree, of Jelly-Belly sour jelly beans. In every other way, shape, texture and packaging they look and feel like a regular, individually wrapped, taffy candy. The strawberry one is pink with a yellow center and the apple one is green with a yellow center.
I'd say they are exactly what they claim to be: a sour taffy. I liked them because usually taffies are too sweet for me.
An 8 and a 4 year old girl who tasted them said they would prefer a sweet taffy. Still, a 5 year old who enjoys sour-belts, and the like, really loved the sour taffies and she was so excited that it had two different colors in one taffy. Carmit's sour taffy was a "win win" for her. 
Bottom Line: They seem to totally live up to their name. I think they are a successful sour taffy.

 180 gram/6.3 oz. bag -6.99 NIS

Kosher: Badazt and OU

Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me. No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tirat Tzvi Toast-Ready Cold-Cut/Lunch Meat

After recently adding a line of sliced lunch-meats, cut in half, making it easier to prepare a half pita and cold-cut sandwich. Tirat Tzvi is now selling a lunch meat (cold-cut) for toasted sandwiches. I guess their thinking is, if you didn’t send the kids to school with the half pita version, you can serve them a toasted lunch-meat sandwich when they get home.
They advertise that the meat will remain moist and juicy even after being heated, between the bread, for 2 minutes in a sandwich-maker. Tirat Tzvi said they used a unique new technology to make the cold-cuts toast-ready. They claim, that this new technology also increases the aroma and taste as the meat is heated. 
You have 3 options: Smoked Salami, Grilled Turkey or Smoked Beef Shoulder. They all have 4% goose fat added which, I assume, is intended to gives it the extra moistness and prevent the meat from drying up when toasted.
I tried the Beef Shoulder.
I found it funny that they give you clear instructions how to prepare a toasted sandwich or a non-toasted sandwich. I'm guessing someone at the Kibbutz has a sense of humor :) or, maybe they just didn’t think anyone would actually read the entire back label of the package. Well I did!
So I followed their instructions, I actually made a toasted and non-toasted sandwich in order to do a comparison test. The lunch-meat did remain moist even after being in the sandwich-maker for more than the suggested 2 minutes.

For a beef shoulder lunch-meat sandwich it was tasty.
I actually preferred it (cold or hot) to the classic beef shoulder lunch-meat they sell. To me their original beef shoulder was very rubbery, it was a thicker slice of meat and I didn’t care for its texture or taste. As a comparison I toasted that one too. Lo and behold, it came out just as moist as the new version. (So-much for the "new technology" they claimed to have used.) The classic beef shoulder was actually a little bit better in a toasted sandwich than eating it cold, yet it remained somewhat rubbery even when it was toasted. For me, either hot or cold the toast-ready version tasted better.
This new beef shoulder lunch-meat does have 5% fat as opposed to 2% fat in the original version. That must be why I thought it tasted better and was not rubbery.
Another thing I learned, by reading the whole label, is that both of them have MSG along with many other artificial ingredients. After looking at other brands, I found that this is the case with many other lunch-meat /cold-cuts as well.   
Bottom Line: Although the original shoulder beef, when toasted, stayed just as moist, making this toast-ready version seem like a gimmick, the bottom line is, it actually tasted better to me than the original.
300 gram package -27.99 NIS
Kosher Meat: Rabbi David Verner, Chadera
Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me.  No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shavit's Pomegranate-Seed Oil Natural Shampoo

Pomegranate-seed oil has become somewhat popular in anti aging cosmetics and toiletries. Recent studies have shown it has a wide variety of benefits for our skin and body. This natural shampoo is enriched with organic pomegranate-seed oil, along with a few other oils, minerals and Dead Sea salts.
Shavait's new natural shampoo is SLS free and it doesn't get the same lather as chemical filled ones do, but, lather is not what hair needs in-order to get clean. I have been using a SLS free natural shampoo from Kamilotract for quite a while now and I really like it. I do not miss the lather my old shampoos had.
My hairdresser had told me many times ,that it's healthy for your hair to change up your shampoo, for a bit, every once and a while. When I saw the pomegranate-seed oil shampoo I wanted to give it a try as my hair "rested" from its usual Kamilotract shampoo.
In order to give a proper review of a shampoo, or the like, I would want to use the product for a longer period of time to see if it lives up to the promises advertised. In this case I used Shavit's shampoo for only two weeks and wanted to stop using it. My hair is naturally dry, being blessed to live in sun-filled Israel has made it even more dry. I thought the pomegranate-seed and other oils in the shampoo might help add moisture to my hair but instead this shampoo left my hair extremely dry and frizzy.
I don't know if over time there would be benefits for my scalp from the pomegranate-seed oil but the immediate dryness was really bothering me I didn’t want to continue using it.
Bottom Line: I assume that people with a different texture hair might find this shampoo perfect for them but for me it was just the wrong choice.
For more information about Shavit and their other products here is a link to the English page on their website.
300 ml, 10.5 fl. oz - 49.99 NIS
I purchased it on sale at Superpharm for 19.99 NIS
Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me.  No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nestle Crunch Duo Cereal

Nestle added a new cereal to their "Crunch" line of cereals. This one is called Crunch DUO because it's a combination of chocolate and white chocolate. The cereal itself is a mix of brown and white small, scoop like, moon shaped pieces.

Crunch Duo does live up to its name and is quite crunchy. Even when mixed with milk Crunch Duo remained fairly crunchy and did not get soggy like some other cereals do. It did however turn the milk in the bowl to a light chocolate-milk color and flavor.

I personally preferred the cereal dry and very crunchy, without milk, but the 9 year old, chocolate loving child, who tasted it, was much happier eating it with milk.

Although Nestle clearly advertises, along the top of the box (among other places) that the cereal is made with whole wheat flour, that's just part of the story. There's a combination of whole wheat, regular wheat and white rice flour, which in all, makes up the flour part of this cereal.

The cereal does have real white chocolate and real coco powder in it. The coco powder gives it a very chocolaty taste, but, (mainly with regard to the white chocolate) I clearly noticed, and really didn't enjoy, the waxy taste of the artificial flavor enhancers mixed in at the end.

Crunch Duo has 10.7 grams of sugar for a 30 gram portion of cereal

As with many cereals these days, this one has vitamins and minerals added, 10 in all, including Iron and Vitamin C.

Even taking into account the vitamins, minerals, and the partial whole wheat flour used in the cereal, it's by no means one of the healthier cereals available.

Bottom line: Although I can imagine many kids really enjoying this cereal, for me the waxy aftertaste will stop me from wanting to eat Crunch Duo again.

520 gram box-25.20-28.00 NIS

Kosher Dairy- French Rabbinical Court with the compliance of the
Chief Rabbinate of Israel
אבקת חלב נוחרי  

Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me.  No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Knorr's "Xtra" Soup-mix Packet

"Cup-of-soups" have been around for a long time now. What's new about this line of soups, called "Xtra" from Knorr, is the large amount of egg noodles added to the mix.

Although I would prefer a bowl of soup made of fresh produce and ingredients over any soup made from a powder. I do know there are times where pouring 200 ml. of boiling water and the soup mix into a cup, then waiting 2-3 minutes to have a cup of soup, comes in handy. At least they now make some soup mixes without MSG, preservatives or food coloring. Knorr's "Xtra" soups fits into that category.

There are 4 soups in the "Xtra" line; Vegetable, Tomato, Chicken flavor and Mushroom soup. I tried the chicken flavor and vegetable ones. Yes, there was a relatively large amount of egg noodles in the soup; 23% in the vegetable and 36% in the chicken flavor, to be exact. There was also a small amount of croutons mixed in that I wish would have been left out. The croutons tasted awful, like soggy sponges. In my opinion, they simply did not need to be there.

To me, both soups were really not very good. They were lacking in flavor, so much so, that I needed to add salt but, that didn’t do very much to improve the taste.

I like that there were much more egg noodles than your average soup mixes have. It felt like I was eating something, as opposed to drinking a broth, that had a few floating noodles in it. The noodles in the "Xtra" cup-of-soup's made the portion somewhat more satisfying to me.

Bottom Line: If it seems that your favorite cup-of-soup is missing noodles or croutons, add them on your own and stick to the soup mix you like. I would leave both Knorr "Xtra" chicken flavor and vegetable soups on the store shelf.

Chicken Flavor =28 gram packet
Vegetable=35 gram packet
3.99-5.50 NIS

Kosher Parve: Rabbinate of Chaifa

Disclaimer: All items were purchased by me. No one is paying me for this review. All opinions are my own.