Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I saw this surprising study on my blog aggregator and had to read through it twice to make sure I understood.
I’ve always been a pretty big believer in calories in/calories out as weight management. But this study kinda throws a monkey-wrench in that.
The study, performed by Wake Forest University School of Medicine on animals has found that trans fat consumption increased the girth (belly fat) of the subjects.
I’ve always been the type of person to indulge in real butter instead of margarine, and I don’t eat a lot of fried foods so I never really had a lot of trans fats in my diet. But it’s one of those things where it’s not that hard to make the switch back to unsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats once you know what to look for. Well, that’s true when you’re eating stuff with labels - it’s pretty hard when eating out, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about what sorts of oils might be used. When in doubt, eat something else.
The good news is that many candy makers are aware of the backlash against hydrogenated oils and have been reformulating their candies to get rid of them. Hershey has done a pretty good job of this, especially with their new cookies line being trans fat free.
Read more about Trans Fats on Wikipedia.
One of the seminars I attended at the All Candy Expo was about the cardiovascular benefits of chocolate. It was very promising (and I’ll try to have more about that when the study is actually published), and it’s clear that chocolate can be added to a healthy diet. What’s a little strange is the boosting of chocolate to nutritional supplement. Some companies are going with extra dark chocolates and Mars/Dove has their proprietary line of CocoaVia chocolate products.
I’ve already covered that with the Adora Calcium tablets, but Botticelli is going far and above that with their new Choco-Omeg line.
The Choco-Omeg line is built around the linchpin of the Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are found in high concentrations in fish and flax seed. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that are used for the body in maintaining healthy tissues. There is some evidence (both supporting and contradictory) that Omega-3s in higher quantities can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce inflammation.
Even if you take the Omega-3 boost out of these chocolate bites, you’ve got a super-nutritious snack because of the addition of trace minerals and vitamins to the bars.
Choco-Omeg - Calcium Formula - Belgian milk chocolate with cookie bits. Label: Excellent source of magnesium, calcium and vitamin D - supports strong bones & teeth. 50 mg of Omega-3 plus 400 mg of Calcium. (I don’t have the full nutrition label on this one.)
Taste - the milk chocolate here is rather bland and sweet and since it has no additional flavor boost like the others do, it’s kind of ordinary. The cookie bits are nice and I always enjoy a little crunchy texture. I suspect these are here to cover the graininess added by the mega-calcium. The milk chocolate in both varieties is rather American tasting, none of that European dairy flavor.
Choco-Omeg - Memory Formula - Belgian milk chocolate with orange flavor. Label: Source of antioxidants - 50 mg of Omega-3 - Excellent source of 15 essential vitamins & minerals. 55 mg of Choline (essential for brain function, possibly aids in weight loss because of its role in metabolism), 25% of the following: Vitamin A, E, B6, B12, C, Thiamin, Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Zinc and 30% of Riboflavin, Magnesium & Iron. 40% RDA of Calcium.
Taste - really nice orange scent and real orange peel in there. It’s sweet and looks and tastes a little grainy. The flavor isn’t bad. The orange is very strong and doesn’t leave much room for chocolateyness. This one also has a pretty high boost of calcium too, with 40% of your daily value, but without the grit I’ve had in other supplements.
Choco-Omeg - Cardio Formula - Belgian bittersweet chocolate with raspberries. Label: Source of heart healthy B vitamins, lycopene & co-enzyme Q10. 400 mg of Omega-3. Also contains 5 grams of fiber and 10% of the following: B6, B12, Vitamin C, Iron and Folic Acid. A serving is either a 1.27 ounce bar or three of the nuggets shown above.
Taste - it’s different, I’ll tell you that. It smells really raspberry-ish. And upon biting into it, you can see the little flecks of freeze dried raspberries. The chocolate isn’t too sweet and the berries pack a good tart punch to boost the flavor. Of course to pack that much Omega-3 in there, they’ve put in whole flax seeds. If you don’t think too much about it, they’re kind of like raspberry seeds. Lots and lots of raspberry seeds. At first I wasn’t keen on them, but after the fifth or sixth one I got used to them and found the texture and sort of nutty flavor an interesting addition.
Of the three, I think the one that I could see myself eating regularly is the orange Memory formula one with the Cardio second and the Calcium last. I could see myself alternating them, but I know that I would never be able to eat three nuggets a day forever and ever. It’s a large calorie commitment at 180-200 calories, but there’s plenty of nutrition in there, especially if you’re a person on the go and don’t always eat right.
They’re not for sale in the States yet, but they are available in Canada right now (where they’re made). American distribution is expected in the next couple of months, with the price points set at $1.99 each for the bars and $11.99 for the tub of nuggets (30 pieces, 10 servings). It’s a bit steep for candy but on par with most nutrient boosted foods. You’ll find them at drug stores in the nutrition aisle, not with the candy. The Omega-3 blend that they use comes in part from fish, so these are not appropriate for vegetarians.
This is the kind of product where you have to know yourself really well. Are you disciplined enough to eat some candy every day as a supplement, or will you get bored? Or are you just looking for a sometime treat that has a few nutritional boosters in it? The candy chefs have gotten much better at removing the compromises - these do taste pretty good and it’s not just a little extra vitamin C in there, there are some substantial nutrients added. I can see myself picking one of these up for a plane ride instead of a chocolate bar, but not eating the little nuggets every day. It is nice that they offer the different sizes so that you can just try a bar before investing in a whole hex box of nuggets.
It took me a while to decide on the rating for these. I find that I’m eating them, which is a good sign considering how many candies I have to choose from at the moment. But I don’t feel like I’m going to restock when I run out except for the odd bar that I may pick up now and again. They’re a bit tastier than the Adora, but the portion size is larger and of course the calorie tally. I ended up giving them an 8 out of 10. Feel free to argue with me because I think I could go with a 7 out of 10 just as easily.
Finally - if you’re interested in seeing more about this (and probably some other All Candy Expo products) check out the Today show tomorrow morning. Sam, from Botticelli, says that they’re doing a piece on new candy products!
(Wow, this was a really long review.)
POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:30 am
Monday, June 19, 2006
Candy Blog has been featured in the media:
Most recently on the topic of the FDA proposal to change the standards of identity for chocolate:
4/24/07 - Talk of the Nation on the topic of, well, the sanctity of chocolate.
4//27/2007 - The Washington Post’s Michael Rosenwald sums up the issue as it stood, including the fabled “Appendix C.”
5/19/07 - Good Food devotes a segment to protecting the best food, Chocolate (and all the other ones covered under the FDA petition).
7/27/07 - NPR’s Here & Now from WBUR in Boston. The interview starts with Robert Earl of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and I have the last word.
Good Food - an hour long show out of KCRW in Los Angeles hosted by Evan Kleinman. July 9, 2005. We talked about chews, malted milk balls and my favorite breakfast.
Radio Open Source - an hour long radio show out of WGBH in Boston. Hosted by Chris Lydon with guest Steve Almond. August 25, 2005. We talked about the essential nature of candy, nostalgia and all the tactile and oral qualities of candy.
Los Angeles Times: Have We Gone Blog Wild by Avital Binshtock. January 4, 2006. I’m just in the list of Los Angeles based blogs. They like my photos!
Sweet Success - Cybele May, the creator of Candy Blog, lives by the philosophy ‘lower your expectations, broaden your horizons.’ In following this mantra, she’s created a new life for herself by Craig Courtice, National Post. June 19, 2005 (see the screen grab with photos here.)
Consumed - NY Times Magazine: Short and Sweet by Rob Walker. It’s too bad Hershey’s wouldn’t talk on the record about their Limited Editions. Since that article came out, Hershey’s has brought back the Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses as another limited edition offering.
Epicurious’ editor’s blog did a brief profile of Candy Blog (and readers are leaving their comments on their favorite candy). It’s nice to be reminded of my own words to get out of my head and into the candy store more often!
Coffee Crisp in the States ... I’m quoted twice, though the last one has me rolling my eyes at myself ... “fills a big niche” ... come on, can a niche be big?
Blog of the Day by the Detroit Free Press on December 18, 2006.
Good Food again, this time the topic is Peeps, yes, those little sugary marshmallows for Easter. I was so inspired by recording this segment I documented my “Peeps Mash-Ups”. April 7, 2007
POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:56 pm
Check this out ... a couple of months ago I did an email interview with Craig Courtice of the National Post (Canada) for a possible column, then I told him about my upcoming adventures at the All Candy Expo in Chicago and he expanded the column article to a full one that’s the cover of the Avenue section (in Arts & Life in the physical paper) after we did a long phone interview while I was at the Expo.
If you’re able to get a hold of the physical paper, let me know how it looks, they used a bunch of my photos and I haven’t seen it yet!
UPDATE: Here’s a preview of what the physical paper looks like! Shazaam!
One of the things that I was asked in the FAQ was about the benefits of being the “famous” candy blogger and did I get an all-access, backstage pass. Well, no (not yet, anyway) but there are a couple of small but tasty benefits.
Witness this from last week: on Wednesday morning a large box appeared at the front door. It was marked Perfetti Van Melle. I thought, “Cool, they sent me more Airheads!” But when I lifted the package, it felt like there were three books in there.
When I was at the All Candy Expo I asked at the booth if they had any of the Pink Grapefruit (Pamplemousse) Mentos that I’d heard are so good but sold only in Canada and Europe. I saw that you can order them online, but I really didn’t want to commit to a full box of them without having a taste. But they didn’t have any samples at the Mentos booth. They said they’d send me some, and I figured that’d be the last of it, maybe I’d have my husband pick them up on his travels.
As you can already tell from the photo, they sent me not two or three rolls, but two full boxes of 20 rolls each! I scurried back to my little photo studio and quick-snapped some shots before going off on a long weekend trip to my sister’s wedding. I found that a couple of rolls of Pink Grapefruit Mentos make a lovely hostess gift when staying at a family member’s house. They are the perfect traveling candy.
The color is lovely, like the center of a Ruby Red Grapefruit. The ingredients are pretty intriguing too, with the first three being: sugar, glucose syrup, grapefruit juice (3%). Wow! The front of the package says artificially flavored, but mentions nothing about the natural part!
They don’t smell like anything, which make me a little suspicious at first, but a bite and a chew later and not only is there a wonderful citrusy tartness, but an intense aroma of freshly sliced grapefruit. There’s no hint of that terrible bitterness you can get with grapefruit, but it’s not lacking in complexity at all. There are the sweet and sour notes, but also that oily zesty feel and the fresh scent of grapefruits. There’s a lingering feeling of that grapefruit peel long after the candy is gone - far different from the green apple chemical feeling in the mouth.
It’s actually a fun candy to be around other people when they’re eating it. It’s like someone has lit an aromatherapy candle (the grapefruit scent is supposed to “increase self-esteem and bolster confidence”). Our Canadian neighbors are quite lucky to have these as a regular product. If I were a motivated person, I’d petition Mentos to sell them in the States, but part of me knows that it probably wouldn’t play well here.
I know someone is wondering if the grapefruit ones will work to make an explosive soda fountain, but I’m not gonna be the one to find out, I’m eating all of mine!
UPDATE 5/31/2008: I have word that Pink Grapefruit Mentos are discontinued. They are no longer listed on the Mentos website and I got confirmation from Mentos North America (as if they ever carried them here). However, they are also made in a Kosher version for Israel and still seem to be available at Kosher stores (I found them at Munchies in Los Angeles earlier this week). I took advantage of what may be a temporary loophole and bought a box of 40 of them from Koshermania out of Cleveland, OH a couple of weeks ago.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.